Smugglers’ Notch Resort isn’t called “America’s Family Resort” by accident. Though the nickname may sound a bit superfluous, one trip to Smuggs, as it’s commonly called, will convince you that the title is on-point. On and off the trail, Smuggs serves up stellar entertainment in a family-oriented atmosphere. Spend one day exploring the kid friendly options on the slopes, and you will be amazed at how well Smuggs can make even the most reluctant skier or snowboarder crack a smile. Meanwhile, mom and dad have countless options of ways to pass the time running laps on some of the best terrain in the Northeast. And when your legs are cold and tired, day’s end promises even more fun, with or without the family.
Before even stepping out of your layers, that well-earned brew for the 21 plus crowd in your clan, can be found at the Black Bear Tavern in the Madonna Base Lodge. Smugglers’ Notch’s very own Prohibition Ale is brewed exclusively for the mountain by Vermont’s legendary Long Trail Brewing Company. Official APRES SPORT Parties happen here from Friday-Sunday from mid-December to the end of March.
If you have kids or a cold brew is not what you are looking for, try a classic Vermont option that’s sure to leave a smile (and ice-cream mustache) on the kids’ faces by paying a visit to the Ben and Jerry’s Scoop Shop located downstairs in the Village Lodge. With flavors ranging from old standbys like “Chunky Monkey” to new creations like the Jimmy Fallon inspired “The Tonight Dough," there’s sure to be a flavor to suit everyone’s sweet tooth.
Another possibility is retiring to the roaring bonfire to roast marshmallows and swap stories of your ski and snowboard heroics with other happy and tired riders. With mugs of steaming hot cocoa, you’ll quickly forget the cold and on many winter evenings you’ll be awed by amazing displays of fireworks that illuminate the snowy Green Mountains.
For those that would rather escape the elements after their day on the slopes, indoor recreation is thankfully also in abundance at Smuggs. There’s the FunZone, an immense arcade and fun center, that features miniature golf, a bouncy house, ping pong, rock climbing, obstacle course, and huge double lane slide among other exciting games. Adults are welcome and get free entry if accompanying a paying child. There are also indoor heated pools and hot tubs at both the FunZone and Nordic center that are sure to rejuvenate and relax tired muscles after a long day of riding.
And don’t stress dinner–multiple dining options abound in addition to a general store for groceries. There’s no need to even leave the resort for your après ski pleasure.
The Morse Mountain Grille is the main restaurant at Smugglers' Notch. For beer lovers there’s a craft brew sampler which is a fantastic way to taste three local favorites including Drop-In Brewery’s Sunshine & Hoppiness, Smugglers’ Prohibition Ale, and Burlington’s immensely popular Switchback Ale. If you’ve never tried poutine before, this is the spot to give it a go. A Quebecois specialty from Vermont’s neighbor’s to the north, this combination of a heaping pile of fries smothered with gravy and cheese really fills you up. The New England clam chowder is another winner.
The Hearth and Candle, in the center of Smuggs village, is a warm and cozy restaurant that incorporates locally sourced ingredients in their fare. To start, there’s a fun and whimsical martini menu that includes a refreshing and not-too-sweet strawberry rhubarb gimlet and a smoky maple bacon Manhattan. For those in search of a great local beer, there’s the crisp and hoppy Fiddlehead IPA brewed by former Magic Hat honcho Matty O. The food here is a treat as well. Of note, the wild boar bone-in ribeye is sure to satisfy even the hungriest of carnivores. While this restaurant offers a family-friendly menu (with a nightly coloring contest for the kids), it also has a separate, quiet and sophisticated dining-for-adults-only in the Birch Room. Perfect for date night.
If a trip off-campus is in the stars, hop on the trolley and head to Brewster River Pub & Brewery . Taste one of their own brews on draft including crowd favorites like their barrel aged Extra Special Bitter or delicious coconut toasted porter. Order a pound of wings (try the teriyaki duck wings for a real treat!) or an 8-inch high Godzilla Burger that adds everything but the kitchen sink with pastrami, pulled pork, beef brisket, pork roll, smoked bacon, fried egg, hash brown, pepper jack, and cheddar. If that behemoth doesn’t put you into a food coma there’s often great live music to tap your foot to, plus a pool table downstairs. You can also catch the game on one of the many TVs. The waitstaff is friendly and that local sitting next you at the bar was probably riding next to you on the slopes earlier in the day.
The quaint picturesque village of Jeffersonville (population 729) is just a few short miles down the hill from the resort. Here, you can enjoy a rustic dinner at 158 Main. Favorites include their Coq au Vin and Filet Mignon Au Bleu. Prices are reasonable for this elevated cuisine and their in-house bakery does one of the best bread baskets around. There’s also an extensive wine selection with a well-curated group of whites and reds offered by both the bottle or glass.
The historic Village Tavern has been serving drinks for years. In fact the inn that it’s attached to dates back to 1790. Both the wings and nachos here are out of this world. The garrulous bartenders mix a strong cocktail and the local beers are cold and cheap. Try your hand at the heavily-trafficked dart board, or, if you're throwing arm isn't feeling up to the challenge, there’s pool and foosball. Local bands often swing by to play a few sets for the amiable crowd.
The biggest struggle at Smuggs is figuring out how to fit in all the fun. Because the resort serves up family and après ski entertainment so well, you’ll almost find yourself wishing for more time off the slopes. But with such stellar terrain to explore by day and countless entertainment options at night, you’ll most likely be planning your next trip before you’ve even polished off your last Prohibition Ale.