Written by Molly Brunette.
My husband, Lanny, and I celebrated 20 years of marriage this past summer. I had always envisioned taking some kind of romantic trip to commemorate this milestone. What I hadn’t known was that we’d have a child who was only 9 years old and well, we wanted to take her along. So, instead of moonlit strolls along a deserted beach, we found ourselves in….Vermont. When told of our plans, people would ask – “Why Vermont?!” To which I would answer – “Why Not?” I discovered it’s not just for fall color tours; it’s got a lot to offer in the summer months as well.
I consider myself the queen of family vacation planning and wanted a destination that has things for adults to do, but also activities that would keep our social butterfly daughter, Krista happy. After considerable research, I found my answer at Smuggler’s Notch Resort, about an hour’s drive from Burlington.
I originally got the brilliant idea that we should drive there – after all, it’s only a few inches away on a map, right? I received the “You’ve got to be kidding” look from Lanny. While I was seeing a nice drive through the countryside, Lanny was picturing me trying to read a map (I’m “directionally challenged” – I can get lost in Lansing), endless discussion over what radio station we can all stand to listen to and best of all, Krista in the back seat yelling the battle cry of children the world over – “When are we going to be there?” It didn’t take long before my Classic Travel Specialist was booking non-stop tickets from Detroit to Burlington for around $200.00 apiece – you can’t beat that!
Upon our arrival in Burlington, we picked up our car and stopped for lunch at a hamburger place called Al’s (recommended by the friendly folks at Thrifty Car Rentals). Al’s also had great ice cream (surprisingly, not made by Ben and Jerry). The smallest serving was a double scoop so I had to try two flavors instead of just one – bummer. A short drive later and we arrived at Smuggler’s Notch Resort. Smuggler’s calls themselves “America’s Family Resort”. They live up to that claim! . While the resort is not all-inclusive, many activities are included in the price of your package. At check in, we received a 48-page booklet full of information on all the events and activities available to Smuggler guests. They offer everything from guided hikes & walks (or trail maps if you wish to go off on your own) to Health and Wellness programs (for a fee) such as Private Massage, Yoga classes and Aromatherapy classes. You can also rent bicycles, golf, play tennis, take art classes (15 different classes are offered) or take part in a large number of outdoor adventures offered outside the resort. Lanny and I participated in “Water and Wine”, which was 3 hours of canoeing followed by wine tasting at a nearby winery. Of course you could always just do one of my favorite things – kick up your feet on the deck off your room and enjoy a good book.
For kids, Smuggler’s offers Summer Fun University, their phenomenal day camp. There are several age-based groups, which meet from 10:00am to 4:00pm each day. Krista had great fun swimming in one of the resort’s 4 swimming areas (there are 3 pools with waterslides and a mountainside reservoir), hiking and exploring in the woods and playing games. Each day had a theme so there was always something new for them to do. There was even a sleepover one night at a cabin in the woods.
While Krista was at camp, Lanny and I drove into Stowe one day and Burlington another day. Stowe is approximately 30 minutes away by way of Smuggler’s Notch Pass. Because of the hairpin turns and steep declines, the pass is closed in the winter. We were fortunate to be able to take this gorgeous drive. In Stowe we window-shopped and stocked up on Vermont maple syrup – it’s a beautiful little town. We also hit downtown Burlington and checked out Church Street Marketplace. Closed to traffic, it is several blocks of specialty stores, cafes and outdoor vendors. On the way back, we couldn’t resist stopping at Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory. We skipped the tour (not the ice cream though) but did walk through the Flavor Graveyard of retired flavors. The demise of “Iced Tea with Ginseng” came as no surprise to me.
Evening at Smuggler’s is family time. They offer different entertainment every night. There is childcare available if you want to go out without children in tow. We took advantage of that on our anniversary. Smuggler’s has 4 restaurants (as well as a Ben & Jerry’s); one of which has an adult’s only dining room on the second floor. We had a wonderful candlelit meal at the Hearth and Candle Restaurant with soft jazz music playing in the background. Meanwhile, chaos reigned on the first floor where children are allowed. The restaurants are all clustered in a group so they are easily assessable. There is also a sporting goods store, general store (for groceries, video rentals, books and souvenirs) and an information center. Summer may be over now, but Smuggler’s is now gearing up for what they are known for – skiing. Their ski programs are among the best you’ll find anywhere. When it’s time to book that next family vacation, keep Smuggler’s Notch in mind. It is great for families of all ages. It would also be perfect for a family reunion. See for yourself what it is all about at www.smuggs.com.