It’s a common sticking point in family vacation planning: How to find a spot that’s just right for everyone in the crew.
One kid is into the arts; the other loves to run, hike and swim. Mom is really into zip lining; dad’s more of a disc golf kind of guy. What’s a family to do?
Smugglers’ Notch Resort in Jeffersonville, Vt., has been answering that question for decades now. Smuggs has since been known as — summer or winter — the master of family vacations.
My children grew up with summer and winter Smuggs visits. To me, with multiple pools, endless activities and great amenities, it’s always felt like a cruise ship on land.
This year, Smuggs is back to full speed and offering all the things that make for a great family vacation.
Smugglers’ Notch is located a short drive north of Stowe, Vt. In the summer you drive up over the Notch itself, a cool drive that starts — and ends — your trip beautifully.
Guests settle into mountainside condos — they have a space and size for every family. There are full kitchens (and a cute little on-site store; I’d stop in Stowe and shop for essentials there first though) and bright, airy rooms, all walking distance from the resort.
Childcare — and programs — are offered from ages 6 weeks to 17 years old, each designed with a specific age group’s needs and likes in mind.
When our kids were at the programs, my husband and I would take part in amazing guided hikes (one up over Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak), play tennis (and now pickleball) or just hang out by a pool.
You won’t have a hard time finding “the” pool: Smuggs has eight peppering their property, along with four water slides.
By afternoon and into the evening, we’d do all the fun family things that build memories. My daughters — one is now a mother herself — are still shaking their heads at my karaoke rendition of “Leader of the Pack” I pulled off on a Smuggs trip long ago. I thought I was pretty great.
There are those traditional things, but Smuggs is all about creative fun, too.
Daily events include a large farmers market (you can shop not just for during your stay but to take along home), country fairs and fireworks displays.
Goodtime Charlie is a legend. He was the DJ at the karaoke event way back when (about 25 years ago). He rocks with a house band under the stars on the Village Green every Thursday night.
And they’ve come up with new things for the season.
You can head home champions by taking part in “The Big Smuggle,” a race in which family teams navigate a course of several challenge stations before returning to the finish. Families choose their own path, collecting gold bullion along the way.
The “I-Did-A-Cart” is a Big Air Dummy Derby in which you use an assortment of supplies such as duct tape, balloons, paints and cardboard — along with your creativity — to build a derby dummy.
In “Friendly Pirate’s Raingutter Regatta,” participants create their own ship from materials provided by the Activities Crew. Ships (and their captain/creators) then compete to see who has the fastest ship to sail down the rain gutters. Prizes are also given for tall, longest, widest, most seaworthy, most pirate-like and cutest. Of course, it’s all led by Rockin’ Ron the Friendly Pirate.
And they now offer Llama Treks.
They bring you and your llama for the day out for a hike and picnic in the woods and trails of the resort. The llamas are from the Northern Vermont Llama Co.
There are cookouts, dinners and more.
Smuggs wasn’t a part of our lives for a few years — my daughters are grown-ups now. But for my two little granddaughters Molly and Lucy, many visits will come.
After all, they need to see how great their Rara is at karaoke. And dummy building. You can learn more at smuggs.com.