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Ski Vermont & Pennsylvania

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Ski Vermont & Pennsylvania
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Smugglers' Notch & Blue Mountain

Smugglers' Notch: A great place to bond with your grandkids.

Ski lessonsA grandparent's job, in my opinion, is to sprinkle stardust into the lives of their grandchildren. Sometimes that stardust is made of sand, as in beach vacations, and other times it involves snow, as in skiing and snowmen and sledding and skating. A grandparent needs to be in sufficient shape however, to handle these latter four “S” words.

One of the best places in the U.S. for these four "S" words is Smugglers' Notch, a winter wonderland of snow activities and mountain resort sprawling across the heart of Vermont's Green Mountains. Travelers, either driving or shuttled in from nearby Burlington airport or Essex Junction train station, begin to relax the moment they arrive.

Catering especially to families, Smugglers' Notch is a colorful village that contains a variety of eateries, a Country Store, the Mountain Massage Center, and an ice-skating rink as well as a Nordic Center, a Fun Zone, several teen centers, a daycare center, and 5 communities of condominium housing. Founded in the early 1960s, Smugglers Notch has grown with the times, offering a modern smorgasbord of choices for families. High- tech amenities – including wireless computer access in the rooms, X-Box in the teen center, the newest of snow equipment, and a Glowball Dance party – blend seamlessly with the mountains and natural beauty of surrounding forests.

For grandparents in search of a bonding experience and never to be forgotten memories, Smugglers Notch is the answer. Families return, year-after-year, some with several generations in tow.
Skiing the slopesI met one of these families on a snowshoeing trek from the Nordic Center, an adventure center offering cross-country skiing, ice skating, and snow shoeing. A plethora of choices includes the popular Snowshoe Night Tour, the Family Snowshoe Cider Walk, and Fireworks and Snowshoes. I chose the Forest Heritage trek, led by nature and fitness expert Zeke Zucker. Zeke's reverence for the forest and trails and trees is obvious, and in his speech one senses a sacred respect for nature. My trail mates - Joan and Jack from Brooklyn - were visiting with their grandchildren.

"This has been an amazing experience," Joan said. "Love, bonding, fun, laughter, education, entertainment. Our grand-parent/grandchild vacation is everything we could have dreamed."

"I like that there's a TV in every bedroom," said Joan's granddaughter. "And one in the living room, too! Granny can watch her show, Pop-Pop watches his, and I watch mine!"

The condos are conducive to comfort. Cozy, clean, and quiet, many have fireplaces and sweeping views of the Green Mountains. They also come with washers and dryers and fully-equipped kitchens. Grandparents may choose to cook in-room, or visit one of the restaurants.
I sampled a little bit of everything: pizza at Riga-Bello's, monkfish at the cozy country restaurant Hearth and Candle, a hot fudge sundae at Ben and Jerry's Scoop Shop, a delicious chicken salad sandwich at the Green Mountain Deli, a bountiful breakfast buffet at the Morse Mountain Grille, a bowl of steaming chili at Green Peppers, and a fresh salad at the Black Bear Tavern. And located just 100 yards across the road from the resort, Stella Notte Restaurant serves up scrumptious Italian cuisine made from Vermont country products. Tables flickering with candlelight, the restaurant is a special treat at night and seeing the stars of frosty New England with one's grandchildren is an experience not to be missed. Despite its elegance, the cordial owners are very open to serving families, many with a slew of chattering, squirming youngsters in tow.

For those travelers with artistic leanings, Smugglers Notch offers the innovative Artists In The Mountains program with classes in beading, painting, sculpting, glass etching, and stenciling. The Snowman Family Painting class is a popular choice for grandparents and children.
Moon shines over night activities.
Making every grandchild's day is a snowmobile tour or dog sled ride. "My grandson says this is the most fun he's ever had," enthused one woman with a rosy-cheeked cherub waving goodbye to the sled dogs.

Snow Sport University offers ski and snowboard lessons for all levels, guaranteeing that each member of the family will learn to ski or snowboard or will improve their technique. Also check out Sir Henry's Learning & Fun Park, serviced by a "magic carpet," and the Children's FunFeast pizza party that includes appearances by the resort mascots Billy Bob Bear and Mogul Mouse. For grandchildren who are skipping school, there's The Sorcerer's Study Hall, with academic tricks by Marko The Magician. There's the Cookie Race for the tiny tots, and Airboarding for extreme teens. Kids of all ages are entertained by the Fun Zone, a huge inflatable tent filled with even more inflatable climbing courses, as well as the old-fashioned games of mini golf, ping pong, and basketball.

For families with infants and toddlers there's Treasures, a state-of-the-art childcare center for ages 6 weeks to 3 years. The large center features giant fish tanks in every room, tiny toilets and sinks, ski-in/ski-out convenience, one-way mirror viewing for parents and grandparents, and heated snowmelt walkways.

Other family fun features at Smugglers' Notch include the hot chocolate warm up around the bonfire, Bingo Blast, family karaoke and dance parties, Hawaiian Hula Parties, tubing parties, Showtime, lap swims, a sled-building class, a video arcade, and the indoor heated pool and hot tubs at SmuggsCentral.

For you and the kids be sure to bring your "S" clothes: swimsuits and snowsuits. The smiling em-ployees all seem happy and the on-demand shuttles save energy for the important stuff. Grandparents with a goal of sprinkling stardust in grandchildren's lives find it easy at Smugglers Notch. The snow sparkles like diamonds in the sunlight, and as every Sinatra fan over the age of 50 knows, there’s nothing quite like the moon light in Vermont.

I'll bring my grandson Connor to Smugglers Notch as soon as he can walk. He has no idea of the magic that awaits. It's sweet as maple sugar.

For further information: www.smuggs.com



 

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    What if you could still enjoy these experiences? ...and with your kids? ...together as a family?  ...You can!

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