This season, 2021-22, Vermont Ski + Ride took a page from our sister publication, Vermont Sports, and sent out the Black Diamond Reader Survey. The survey asked readers to rate the best ski areas in Vermont in 14 categories, including Best Overall, Best to Avoid Crowds, Best Snowmaking/Grooming, Toughest Trail, Best Ski Bar, Best Ski Town and more. (Scroll down for links to all categories.)
Here’s what our readers said were the:
BEST SKI AREA FOR KIDS & FAMILIES
While so many areas try to be all things to all people, Smuggler’s Notch Resort has focused its efforts and branding around one very important group: families with kids. That resonates with our readers —as well as with those of SKI Magazine who rated Smugg’s the best ski resort in the East, ahead of Holiday Valley, N.Y. and Killington.
Locally owned and managed by Bill Stritzler (a former AT&T exec who was asked to run the ski area in 1987), Smuggs operates on the guiding principle that if the kids aren’t having a good time, no one is. And that means keeping them entertained on and off the slopes. Children ages 3 to 15 can sign up for an all-day camp where they use a Flaik GPS to track their runs. There’s night boarding in the terrain park and Smuggs has one of the best freeski programs. On Feb. 26, top freeskiers compete at the Extreme Challenge for a chance to qualify for the Freeride World Tour.
After skiing, young ones can head to the bouncy house, inflatable slide or play Laser Tag. There’s also tubing, ice skating, an indoor pool and outdoor bonfires. “Kids get bored easily and there’s almost always something new to do there – it feels like a destination resort,” said Sarah Smythe, one of our respondents. Activities can range from Pirate Bingo to snowshoe adventure dinners at the candle-lit Top of the Notch cabin, where there’s venison chili or roasted salmon with walnut pesto.
As another respondent noted, “I went thinking it would be fun for the kids, but I think my husband had a better time than they did.”
Okemo was the runner up here, and not surprising, considering the mountain has plenty of kid-friendly, groomed blue terrain and lots of ski-in/ski-out lodging at the base. And with ice skating and snow tubing right on the slopes, there’s plenty to do when the skiing stops. For many kids, the highlight is the Timber Ripper Coaster, where you can ride a sled that’s fixed to a track for over 3,100 feet of rollers, berms and banked turns.
Bromley came in third in this category, thanks to its $89 lift tickets (all-day, every day), south-facing slopes and kid-friendly groomers. Close behind were Sugarbush and Bolton Valley Resort.
1. Smuggler’s Notch, 2. Okemo, 3. Bromley, 4. Sugarbush, 5. Bolton Valley
Opening photo: Family fun at Smuggler’s Notch Resort. Courtesy photo.
See the other VT Ski + Ride Reader Survey Winners: