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Smugglers' Notch, Vermont
One part Disney World, one part World Cup is the vacation formula at Smugglers' Notch. During Prohibition, outlaws hid Canadian liquor in nearby caves, but these days, family fun has supplanted the illicit deeds at this condo-lined resort.
8:00 AM Local Favorites
Morning at Smugglers' Notch begins in true Vermont style, with a stack of buttermilk pancakes drizzled with maple syrup and a piping-hot cup of Green Mountain coffee. Located in the village center and steps away from the ski lift, the Morse Mountain Grill (802-644-1247) can't be beat for convenience.
9:30 AM Too Cool for School
Enroll older kids in Snow Sport University. They'll spend their day intrigued by on-mountain instruction as well as nature, science, and entertainment programs. Treasures child-care center provides certified caregivers for children ages six weeks to three years.
Spend your morning exploring 78 marked and patrolled trails, and 700 acres of unmarked terrain. Catch a chair to the top of Morse Mountain and ski over to Madonna and Sterling to seek out the most advanced slopes. Scan the horizon for New Hampshire's Mount Washington from Madonna's peak—then carve your way down Chilcoot, test your mogul skills on Upper FIS's bumps, and challenge yourself on The Black Hole at Freefall Woods—the only triple black diamond in the East.
1:00 PM Refuel and Reunite
Catch your breath at the base lodge. The Black Bear Tavern (802-644-5003) offers up steaming bowls of chowder and live music on the weekends. Scenic Meadowlark Trail returns you to Morse Mountain (best for beginners). The lifts close at 4:00 PM—just in time to enjoy a cup of cocoa in the village center with resort mascots Mogul Mouse and Billy Bob Bear.
4:00 PM Chilling-Out and Heating Up
Head back to your slope-side condo to stow your ski gear and warm up by the fire. SmuggsCentral is the hub of après-ski family entertainment, with an indoor pool, skating rink, and the FunZone play center all clustered together. Angst-ridden adolescents can skip the family bonding and photo-ops by ducking into the teen-only Outer Limits.
7:00 PM Sated Appetites
The compact village and free shuttle offer a reprieve from herding the kids around in the family car, but if you want to go further afield, the Three Mountain Lodge (Route 108, Smugglers' Notch Road, Jeffersonville, VT; 802-644-5736), just down the road, is a good bet for dinner. This log cabin with a roaring fire offers homey entrées like Squash and Cheddar Ravioli and Rack of Lamb. Save room for a dish of New York Super Fudge Chunk or Cherry Garcia ice cream at the village's Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop.
WHO SHOULD GO:
Active families with young children.
Activities run by energetic staff members that are designed to entertain even the most rambunctious youths.
Cheer on your ski instructor in the Thursday night torchlight parade down the Morse lift line, then ooh and aah over the fireworks finale.