Skiing in Vermont with Kids: Tips from a Local


Thank you Dana Freeman, aka @MissMagpieFGS on Twitter, for these excellent tips on Skiing in Vermont! She lives in Burlington with her children Flynn (10) and Callahan (8) and publishes a comprehensive guide to family-friendly activities in Northern Vermont called

It is no wonder that Children’s Health Magazine recently named Burlington the #1 place to raise a family or that National Geographic Adventure picked us as a top city to live and play in. Therefore, it makes sense that we have so many great family-friendly ski resorts jammed into our tiny state. So get packing and head north this winter!

What are the ski areas for toddlers and really young kids that need a great daycare/introduction to skiing program?

Smuggler’s Notch offers a slope side child care center called “Treasures” for ages 6 weeks to three years old, with age appropriate play rooms, giant fish tanks in each room, and one-way mirrors for quick for easy parent check-ins if needed. Little Rascals on Snow can start skiing at 2 ½. They go right out of the facilities’ back door to use the Magic Carpet, making it easy to come back in should fingers and toes get cold and they need a hot cocoa break. Bonus child care special: 50% off the regular rate of $85 per day during December 11-23, 2009 and January 3-30, 2010

Stowe has a great program called‘3-Ski’. It is a combination of daycare and an intro to skiing. 3-Ski is a fun, no pressure introduction to the sport of skiing with specially trained instructors.The lesson includes the appropriate amount of skiing and games. There is a 3:1 child to instructor ratio.The only caveat, kids need to be toilet trained and willing to participate.

What are the best ski areas for school age kids with fun, well-run ski school programs and ideal terrain for post-lesson skiing with Mom and Dad?

How’s this for 21st century ski school technology? New this year at Smugg’s they are using Flaik GPS with the kids. That means nervous Nelly mommies have peace of mind knowing their children can be tracked down in an instant and at night techie daddies can go back to their condo and check out exactly where Jr. has skied, which trails and how many miles he logged. Super cool!

The motto at Sugarbush’s ski school is “safety, fun & learning” (in that order). Micro Bear lessons start as early as age 3. Their goal is to foster a love a skiing in all of their students. During vacation weeks they offer camps and clinics that have campers thinking beyond the ski trail. They trade in skis for snowshoes, build snow forts and shelters, and go on scavenger hunts turning your kids into real Vermont outdoorsmen. At the end of the day not only do you get back a better skier but you get one tired kiddo ready for bed.

Which resorts areas have the best set-up for skiing with kids? i.e. convenience plus a nice selection of kid-friendly restaurants and accommodations?

Clay Brook at Sugarbush offers perfect slope side accommodations for families, with ski and boot valet, a heated outdoor pool and hot tubs, and the freedom to walk from your room to Timbers Restaurant without having to put on your shoes. This year they have added an inflatable obstacle course to the offerings at the Sugarbush Health and Racquet Club, so now, in addition to indoor swimming, rock-climbing, tennis, and racquet ball, kids can bounce their way up ladders and down slides to burn off any energy left after a day on the slopes. If that weren’t enough on select weekends they offer“Parent’s Night Out”, where parents drop their children off for games, pizza, and a movie while they can grab a quiet dinner out for themselves.

Do you have any insider Vermont skiing logistics tips to share? i.e. periods of the season to avoid and conversely, fantastic times?

If you can be flexible with your schedule and you are a fair weather skier, come in March. It is warmer, the crowds start to thin out, the snow is great and you are bound to find a deal on lift tickets.

If you’re the outdoor adventure type and your family creed is something like “Ski it if you Can!” then keep Mad River Glen in mind because a few times a year they have crazy discounts likeRoll Back the Clock day (Jan. 26) when tickets are $3.50, the original price in 1948. And on St. Patty’s Day if get your Irish on literally, they’ll let you ski for $17.

In southern Vermont, families looking to save a little coin should check into Mount Snow. Three times a year they offer aYouth Pay Their Age promo (Dec. 13, Jan. 10 & Mar. 21). Simple really: your kid is 7, the lift ticket is $7.

If you plan to rent for the day, weekend, or week, consider using a local ski shop in your town or on the way to the mountain. It’s convenient so you have more time on the mountain. And some offer discounts on the lift tickets–like the Ski & Snowboard Express. Located on Rt.2 in the center of Richmond, it’s a local-owned shop with great service and lift ticket discounts for Sugarbush and Bolton Valley. And you can stop into the Richmond Corner Market located caddy-corner that stocks just about everything you might need for your weekend away.

What are your favorite winter activities with kids in and around the ski resorts other than skiing?

While in Stowe take a trip to, or even stay at, The Trapp Family Lodge (yes, the same yodeling children from the Sound of Music fame). With their world-renowned groomed and back-country trails, XC-ers of all ages and skill level will be able to find a trail that is just right for them. These paths are great for also great for snowshoeing. To make it even more fun, Ski Vermont offers “Nordic Quests”, a treasure hunt on cross country skis or snowshoes. Print one today.

Trapp also offers horse drawn sleigh rides through the mountains and maple sugaring in the old fashioned way beginning in March. This is known to Vermonters as “sugar on snow”, that is Maple Syrup drizzled on fresh snow with a side order of pickles. (Something about cutting the sweet…I think you just have to experience it first hand).

Check back for updates.

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