Our family of four planned a visit to Smugglers’ Notch to put their wintertime activities to the test. After a smooth check-in with the friendly and informative front desk staff, we zipped over to the rental shop to pick up our daughter’s snowboard gear for her morning lesson. Like a fine oiled machine, they have an assembly line process going on there that works. You go through each room — sign in, boots, board/skis and then you are out the door. Perfect for us because we were on a mission. Our kids had their sights set on the FunZone as their Friday night activity.
Who said bigger isn’t always better? You must go to the FunZone at some point during your stay. Kids will have a blast on the large slide, on the obstacle, playing indoor mini golf, or over in the small arcade area. The games pay-to-play like any other arcade. Shuffleboard and ping-pong were big hit for us while our kids were off playing. We found the whole space to be airy and bright with lots of variety.
There is a separate area for kids eight and under with their own smaller bouncy houses and obstacle course. We noticed that even during peak hours when the FunZone was crowded, it never felt like things were out of control. There is plenty of staff who we’re not shy about making sure kids did the right thing.
Saturday morning our youngest wanted to try snowboarding for the first time. As she is a veteran skier, we decided the best way to approach this new challenge was to sign her up for an adventure snowboard group lesson. This hour and a half morning lesson allowed her to get some instruction yet still let us spend the afternoon skiing as a family. Our son, an advanced skier, joined the Notch Squad Alpine Group for a lesson at the same time up at Sterling Mountain.
Locals take note: Want to learn to ride too? On Tuesdays and Wednesday from 4:30 – 7:30pm Smuggs’ offers Night School Boarding for beginners. This is a great way to for families to go snowboarding for the first time. For just $49 the package includes Burton Learn-to-Ride equipment rental, an hour of instruction and an additional hour and a half of freestyle time on the hill. The coaches hang around should you need help.
Rather than apres-ski, our kids wanted to check out the indoor swimming pools, midday. We figured we would just go with it. Depending on what area of Smugglers’ you stay in you may have exclusive use of an indoor/outdoor pool area. We were staying in the North Hill Community and had access to the North Hill Central that had an awesome water playground, an indoor heated pool, and two hot tubs.
Zipline Canopy Tour
Probably the most unexpected highlight of our weekend came on Sunday. After a few ski runs in the morning, we headed over to the Arbortrek Canopy Tour Center. A few things to remember before your arrival: dress in layers, wear a full balaclava (the provided helmet doesn’t cover ears, neck), bring your own goggles, glove liners and hand-warmers. You should definitely eat something — the zip-line tour is 3 hours. You might even pocket a granola bar for your kids to sustain them along the way.
I had no doubt that my son and husband would thoroughly enjoy this. However, I thought my daughter and I would be looking for the “chicken out door” after the first zip (there is none). A pleasant surprise for both of us – we really enjoyed it! On the longer zips, she needed to ride tandem with an instructor because she was just over the 70 lb minimum and didn’t gain enough speed to get to the platform. She didn’t mind, this just made it more fun. Before the tour is over you will have zipped seven times, crossed a sky bridge and rappelled down from the trees. By the end, we all had a sense of accomplishment both as individuals and as a family that we have not achieved from any other family activity we have participated in thus far.
It seems like we did a lot, and we sure did pack a whole lot of fun into 48 hours, however I feel like we barely scratched the surface! Smuggs is really all that and more. It is a place for families who really enjoy doing things together.
You may have heard of the 5 ‘P’s — Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. I’d suggest in order to take advantage of all this non-stop fun do some advance planning. Not only should you use the Smuggs web site, but take full advantage of the fabulous front desk staff before you get there to help get your bearings and pre-plan some of your trip. They can help you select the best accommodations depending on your family’s needs. Be sure to let them know the location to the mountain you are most likely to ski at — they have three. Let them know if you want to be close to daycare and which pool you want to use. The Smugglers’ Notch staff will help you choose the best ski and stay package for your family’s budget and get your kids registered for lessons before they arrive.
There is a phenomenal slope-side day care, should you need it, for kids ages 6 weeks through 3 years old. Treasures is nicer than most daycare facilities I have ever seen. This state licensed facility is bright, immaculate and modern, they even have radiant heat to keep those little tootsies warm. There is a mini-magic carpet and ski rentals in-house for the Little Rascals Ski Program (ages 2 & 1/2 – 3). What I noticed right off the bat is how happy all the kids appeared, no one was crying. Everyone was engaged in their arts & craft projects, playing or eating the fresh baked muffin of the day. Even in the baby room the infants seemed soothed.
Great care has been taken to make sure guests are not inconvenienced while at the resort. The Country Store, located right in the village, stocks everything you need (or forgot) like videos, snacks, drinks, magazines, and toiletries. There is a shuttle on-demand system to get you around the resort. Everything is self-contained so there is little reason to use your car or ever worry about parking. The village center is all walkable and has shopping, dining and many of the kids programs.
One weekend wasn’t enough for us to fit in ice skating, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, dog sledding or even try all the restaurants. And let’s not forget, Smugglers’ Notch is a year-round resort for family fun, so we will definitely be back!
Disclosure: While I was invited to Smuggler’s Notch and they paid for most of my expenses, my review reflects the honest opinions of my experience without outside influence.