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Smugglers’ Notch: Vermont Family Resort Fun

Once upon a time, back in the year 2019, our family experienced something astounding and magical: a resort with childcare! Let me tell you this tale of our time at Smugglers’ Notch family resort in Vermont, so you can join me in this dreamy vision.

One of the 5 pools at Smuggs.
One of the 5 pools at Smuggs.

A Vacation With Childcare

If you have kids — or have even just been around kids — you’re likely present to the fact that a vacation with children is in many ways more exhausting than just staying home.

Much was my euphoria, then, upon learning that our 2019 summer visit to Smugglers’ Notch (hosted) would include full-day camps for both our young kids!

Bootleggers' Basin, where our kids spent some of their camp time at Smuggs.
Bootleggers’ Basin, where our kids spent some of their camp time at Smuggs.

Activities for All Ages at Smuggs

A resort with real childcare is a GAME CHANGER. Since the day camp that Smuggs offers was so well-run and entertaining (even for our sometimes shy, nervous kids), my spouse and I could actually relax, and truly be on vacation.

VT maple syrup at the Vermont Country Fair.
VT maple syrup at the Vermont Country Fair.

We were able to do a Vermont cheese tasting, take long hikes in the gorgeous mountains, and even take a llama trek (!) where we learned which side we fall in the alpaca vs. llama debate. Smuggs is known for its skiing during winter but my oh my are there a lot of great things to do during the warm months as well.

The entrance to Smugglers' Notch.
The entrance to Smugglers’ Notch.

Smuggs is Made for Kids

When you hear the term “resort,” you likely think of a fancy, stuffy place where children could break everything in sight. Smugglers’ Notch family resort, however, is made 100% with kids in mind.

Billy Bob Bear is one of the lovable mascots walking around Smuggs for hugs.
Billy Bob Bear is one of the lovable mascots walking around Smuggs for hugs.

Heck: there was even a pirate and giant bear and mouse available to entertain our kids during every meal! (See the hug above: one of many Billy Bob Bear hugs our kids enjoyed.)

Life-size kid chess outside FunZone 2.0.
Life-size kid chess outside FunZone 2.0.

As a huge example of the kid-friendliness of the resort, see my review and video of our Smuggs condo to notice the meticulous family-in-mind details in our living space: from stools for the sink, to children’s books already in the bedrooms.

One of 3 giant waterslides at Smuggs.
One of 3 giant waterslides at Smuggs.

Indoor Rainy Day Activities for Kids: FunZone

You know a place has kids in mind when it has a designated space for indoor fun, in the event of rain. The new 26,000 square foot entertainment space, FunZone 2.0 had everything from an arcade, to bouncy houses, to mini-golf that our children delighted in during the one day it poured!

Indoor mini-golf at FunZone 2.0.
Indoor mini-golf at FunZone 2.0.

FunZone 2.0 is divided into sections for different ages, with a massive rock climbing wall for teens (you can see part of it in the upper left of the photo above), larger bouncy houses and slides for older young kids, and an upstairs area with smaller playthings for the wee ones.

The huge arcade at FunZone 2.0.
The huge arcade at FunZone 2.0.

To go with the pirate theme of the whole resort, there is even a pirate ship bouncy house! Avast, mateys — you can see it in the photo below, near the drawing tables and the fabulous blue foam building materials.

Bouncy houses and building foam at FunZone 2.0.
Bouncy houses and building foam at FunZone 2.0.

Vermont Country Fair at Smuggs

If you check the official Smuggs website, (which you should definitely do if considering a stay so you get the most up-to-date information), you’ll see that one of the perks of the resort is that there are always great new activities going on. One of the most famous signature Smuggs events is the Vermont Country Fair.

Colorful llama wool yarn at the Country Fair.
Colorful llama wool yarn at the Country Fair.

The Country Fair is the definition of wholesome family fun. There are games like balloon tosses, attractions like pony rides, plenty of local goods and food to buy — and all of this nestled between the glorious green mountains.

This guy won the sack race at the Country Fair by walking on his hands!
This guy won the sack race at the Country Fair by walking on his hands!

The Secret to Winning a Sack Race

Our favorite moment of the Country Fair is pictured above: As dozens of people hopped forward during the sack race, one boy flipped onto his hands and did a walking hand stand all the way to the finish line — winning by leaps and bounds! Brilliant.

Gemstones and crystals at the VT Country Fair.
Gemstones and crystals at the VT Country Fair.

Disc Golf in Vermont

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Smugglers’ Notch boasts some of the best Disc Golf (frisbee golf) grounds in all of New England. As you’re hiking the mountains, you’ll see the goals scattered throughout the grounds, and major competitions are often played there.

Smuggs is famous for its Disc Golf (frisbee golf)!
Smuggs is famous for its Disc Golf (frisbee golf)!

The Kindness of Smugglers’ Notch

Here’s a story to illustrate the warm heart of Smuggs, and the ways in which everyone at the resort — guests, staff, and locals — exude kindness. In order to attend the camp, our kids needed closed-toed shoes… but we’d forgotten to pack them.

As luck would have it, I happened to start chatting with a local Vermont photographer, and when she heard our predicament, she ran home and got an extra set of girl shoes to lend to us! She even offered to take our family portrait, but timing didn’t work out.

The thoughtfulness of the whole interaction was so appreciated, and ended up saving the day. This is my dream vacation characteristic: the calm of being surrounded by kindness and care.

A second Smuggs waterslide.
A second Smuggs waterslide.

Smuggs in Summary

So what about you? Have you been to or heard of Smugglers’ Notch? If so, what was your experience there? If not, does it seem like a place you and your family might enjoy visiting? Do share!

Bootleggers' Basin in idyllic swimming paradise.
Bootleggers’ Basin in idyllic swimming paradise.

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Helen

Tuesday 19th of January 2021

This resort sound just great. A holiday with child care -- what's not to like? My children have done some great activities in kids clubs. One time in France they had tuition from a French Patisserie baker and their creations were much better than anything I could have made. (We are firmly in the alpaca camp).

Lillie Marshall

Tuesday 19th of January 2021

I love the idea of teaching kids baking as part of their camp! Speaking of camp -- we may have to battle it out in the llama vs. alpaca feud...

Jennifer L Brommer

Monday 18th of January 2021

Wow! What an incredible looking place! Your photos are amazing! Thanks for sharing and for opening my eyes to this beautiful destination :)

Lillie Marshall

Monday 18th of January 2021

Glad you like the photos! I took over 400 and spent forever trying to narrow them down -- hehe. I wanted to capture the beauty of the green mountains next to the fun activities.

Kathryn Dickson

Monday 18th of January 2021

I have definitely read and heard about Snuggler's Notch and all the perks of winter, but happy to see if's all season and things for kids in the summer too. Hopefully, our border opens back up and I can explore Vermont with my kids.

Lillie Marshall

Monday 18th of January 2021

It's famous! I'd definitely heard about Smuggs for years before finally visiting, and now I see why it's such a beloved family resort.

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