Oct 172013

We recently made a quick getaway to Vermont to check out that state’s classic fall foliage season.  Finding time in between work, school and sports can be challenging in the fall but we are glad we took the family time to enjoy this special season that only comes once a year!

Classic Vermont Fall Foliage 2013

Classic Vermont Fall Foliage 2013

As usual, Vermont did not disappoint with the tree showing all manner of colors.  We particularly enjoyed the views along the back roads.

Vermont back roads fall 2013

Vermont back roads fall 2013

Despite somewhat overcast conditions, the colors around lakes and rivers stood out.

Vermont rivers in the fall

Vermont rivers in the fall

Our quick trip inspired us to reach out to some of our favorite family travel bloggers to see what they have been doing during foliage season. As usual they have  great ideas for foliage destinations and tips for getting the most fun out of your family time together.

Adrienne Veglia Mazeau of Wandering Working Mom just got back from a great time riding the Catskill Mountain Railroad.  Look for great color in the photos in her post Fall Foliage Ride in the Catskills

Jessica Bowers at Suitcases and Sippy Cups shared her favorite tips on Favorite Ways to Photograph Fall Leaves.  She has some great ideas for keeping those fall shots interesting.

To keep the little ones motivated, Amie O’Shaughnessy of Ciao Bambino pointed us to her post 10 Ways To Make Leaf-Peeping Fun For Kids This Fall

Looking back on last season for inspiration about where to go this year, Patricia King of Savvy Traveling shared Chasing fall colors in New England from 2012.

Keryn Means from Walking On Travels noted that Washington may be the evergreen state but they sure know how to show off their colors in her 2012 article Seattle Garden Experience: Five Favorites Show off Their Autumn Wardrobe.

Allison Laypath of Tips for Family Trips also looked back to 2012 post about when to see the best fall foliage in Utah’s mountains. It specifically mentions late September, but she reminds us the mountain colors are still gorgeous right now in 2013.

There is still time to catch these special seasonal views.  Get your family out for a day amid the leaves before its too late!

Jun 062013

Vermont’s Smugglers’ Notch Resort is one our favorite four season family getaway destinations with a wide range of on site lodging options, pools, restaurants and many opportunities to explore Vermont’s Green Mountains.  This is one resort where there really is something for everyone from the youngest kids to  teens and tweens to mom and dad looking for a little adult time.

Arbortrek at Vermont's Smugglers' Notch Resort adds a treetop obstacle course for summer fun

Arbortrek at Vermont’s Smugglers’ Notch Resort adds a treetop obstacle course for summer fun

Year round, including summer, the resort offers a range of age appropriate kids camps and programs.  Summer options feature a number of special interest camps for teens and tweens including:

  • A 2-day/2-night hiking exploration on Vermont’s Long Trail which runs across the spines of the resort’s Sterling and Madonna Mountains.  The 4,000 foot elevations provide quite a view!  Nights are spent in wooden shelters on the trail.
  • A 4-day Survival Camp for 12-17 years olds which adds two days of wilderness survival training to the 2 day hiking and camping experience.  Some of the skills learned include plant and animal identification and tracking, as well as Native American stories and journaling. See this Smugglers Notch Survival Camp video for more info.
  • A Treetop Obstacle Course with over 50 elements brings aerial trekking to the resort’s  Arbotrek adventure center.  The whole family can do this activity together with two courses to choose from – the Apple Creek Course that serves ages 4 and up and the Back Forty Course for ages 8 and up.  Enjoy wobbly bridges, balance beams, zip lines, rope swings, cargo nets, and more connecting tree platforms anchored 3 to 25 feet above the ground.

In addition to the existing treetop canopy zipline tour, ArborTrek  is also launching a new climbing program that blends new belay technology with innovative climbing holds that make tree climbing easy and tree-friendly. In addition to tree climbs, climbers can challenge themselves on vertical challenge obstacles and a climbing wall that offers multiple routes ranging from easy to challenging.

Other specialty camps for teens and tweens include tennis and skateboard options.  This is definitely one family resort where the teens and tweens will never get bored.  Select the mix of age specific options and together times that work for your family and enjoy summer in Vermont.

Photo courtesy ArborTrek at Smugglers’ Notch

Jan 012013

With Boston and most of New England seeing its first solid snowfall and sustained cold weather in two years, we couldn’t pass up a last minute invite to welcome in the New Year by hitting the slopes at the Sugarbush Resort with our Vermont cousins.  With access to  two mountains (including 4,000 ft Mt Ellen), 3 terrain parks, tons of gladed areas and the 2,000 acre Slide Brook Wilderness area, Sugarbush offers incredible views of Vermont’s rustic Mad River Valley while providing all the creature comforts that family travelers love including over 50 miles of trails,  top of the line rentals, a great lodge, good food, on mountain hotels and condos with room for more than 2,000 guests, and well regarded ski and snowboard schools.

Enjoying a New Year's ski day at Vermont's Sugarbush Resort

Enjoying a New Year’s ski day at Vermont’s Sugarbush Resort

We arrived about 10:30 am on what was likely to be one of the Resort’s busiest days of the year.  We were in and out of the rental building in about 15 minutes.  Even at mid-morning on a crowded day they had plenty equipment available and the automated equipment management system sped us through the fitting process.  Out on the mountains, five high speed quads plus almost a dozen other lifts kept us moving all day.

Welcome to the bunny hill at Sugarbush Resort

Welcome to the bunny hill at Sugarbush Resort

We had a mixed group of skiers of all abilities and ages, including a couple of folks who preferred to spend most of the day in the lodge.  From the bunny hill at Lincoln Peak to the double black diamonds and moguls on Castlerock Peak, to the cozy fire in the main lodge, everyone had a great time.

The Timbers restaurant at the Sugarbush Resort

The Timbers restaurant at the Sugarbush Resort

Sugarbush is joining most of the other major Vermont ski resorts by celebrating January is Learn to Ski and Ride Month.  They will be offering a $29 lesson and rental package until the end of the month for first time skiers.

Sunset view of Vermont's Mad River Valley from the Sugarbush Resort

Sunset view of Vermont’s Mad River Valley from the Sugarbush Resort

Check the Resort’s web page for lodging and ticket discount packages.  Its looking like a snowy winter in New England so its time to get skiing.

Dec 262012
Escape to the trails on Mt Madonna and Mt Sterling at Smugglers' Notch

Escape to the trails on Mt Madonna and Mt Sterling at Smugglers’ Notch

Smugglers’ Notch, one of our favorite Vermont ski resorts, has added a new Winter Adventure program for teens ages 16-20.  The program mixes intermediate and advanced ski fun with the opportunity to explore a wide range of alternative winter sport options on and off the mountain. Thursday through Sunday, the morning starts at the teen friendly time of 10:00 am with an intermediate to advanced Snow Sense Session where the group skis and rides together focusing on exploring the mountain, reading terrain, and having fun — instead of focusing on formal technique. After lunch, the group heads back out with  instructors for specialty sessions such as ice climbing, backcountry snowshoeing, Ice Canyon Via Ferrata, and Winter survival skills.

Smuggs has always offered one of the most comprehensive on mountain ski and snowboard programs for tweens and teens including the Notch Squad all day camps for ages 11-15, private lessons, night time free style boarding lessons, and the Mountain Explorer half day group option for teens age 16 and 17 that want to work on ski and boarding skills.  The Winter Adventure program fills a real gap for families that want to take a winter holiday together but have older teens (including college students home on break) who might not want to ski all week but would welcome a break from non-stop family bonding as well as the chance to do something new and challenging.

The Notch Squad on the move

The Notch Squad on the move

Smuggs also offers full and half day Adaptive ski lessons and runs five-day Autism Snowman Camps  for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Campers  participate in a variety of winter activities including sleigh rides, alpine and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, horseback riding, dog sledding, ice skating and swimming.

Combined with all the other off-mountain fun available for kids and adults of all abilities and ages – –  like cross country skiing, snowmobiles, zip-lines, tubing, outdoor ice skating, and a large indoor playspace — plus high quality day care and lessons for younger kids,  Smugglers’ Notch continues to be top of our list for resorts that can meet the needs for very diverse families and interests.

For the best deals, book the a Club Smugglers’ Classic or Summit Package that includes on-mountain lodging but always check to make sure the programs you want are included in the package you select since options vary.

Dec 182012
Vermont Ski and Snowboard Resorts are banding together to offer great "learn to" deals in January 2013

Vermont Ski and Snowboard Resorts are banding together to offer great “learn to” deals in January 2013

Thinking about taking the family on a ski trip but worried that not everyone knows how to ski or snowboard?  Don’t worry its never too late — our teens didn’t learn until they were in middle school.  This year, the major Vermont ski resorts are banding together to help make it more affordable that ever to learn to ski.

Specifically, January 2013 will find most of Vermont’s major mountains offering some of their best ever Learn to Ski and Snowboard promotions all month long.  Many resorts will be featuring  a  $29 non-holiday package that includes professional lessons, equipment rentals and a beginner lift ticket.   Registration for the $29 package at any of the participating mountains is available at skivermont.com/learn .   Lessons are available non-holiday while supplies last.

Already know how to ski?  Then bring a friend (or sibling)! You can be entered to win a ski and stay package at Smugglers’ Notch Resort by participating in the nationwide Bring A Friend program.    Beyond the $29 package, most Vermont ski resorts are offering additional lesson and clinic options for those looking to expand their skills.  Here some examples that will work for teens and tweens from across the state:

Bolton Valley Resort

Bolton Valley Resort offers a special Learn to Love It at Bolton Valley Package for first-time adult and teen skiers or riders. The three-day Learn To Love It Program provides three days of beginner lessons. After completing the third day, the new skier or snowboard will receive a Learn To Love It card, entitling the cardholder to 50 percent off of lift tickets, lessons and rentals for the remainder of the 2012-2013 season. The three-day program is $149/person and includes a 90 minute lesson and a full-day limited access lift ticket plus rentals each day.

The Burton Learn To Ride program at Bolton Valley combines advanced equipment, teaching techniques and learning environments for first-timer riders, using Burton-specific learn to ride snowboards.  The Burton Progression Park  is designed to take the park newbie and introduce them to standard park features in a progressive format.

Bromley Mountain

Bromley has redesigned its beginner area and offers a covered carpet lift on sunny south facing terrain known as Sun Mountain.  Bromley is offering its best deals online for both kids and adults this season.   Book your reservation online for the Kidsrule Mountain Camps and save $20! (non-holiday, 48 hour advance booking)  This is a limited offer. You must be within the first 25 bookings for that day to receive discount.

New this season, Bromley’s GET skiing and riding programs for adults and older teens includes  a 90 minute lesson in the learning zone, equipment specially designed for beginner’s success, and a limited lift ticket for easy-to-ride lifts!  Book online and save $10!   Complete a GET lesson and receive a GET Recognition Card for these great incentives:  $25 off Lift Tickets, $15 off Rentals, and $15 off Group Lessons for the remainder of the season!

Killington Resort

Killington Resort provides a great option for getting some individual attentions with its  Max 3 / Max 5 Learn To Ski & Ride programs which guarantees groups of no more than three to five students per class and includes a lesson, rental equipment and a learning area lift ticket. Book a 2-day Learn To package and get a third day free.

Magic Mountain

Magic’s  Learn to Ski and Ride programs for first-timer adults and older teens feature dedicated morning and afternoon instruction for just $129 including the lift ticket.  For the younger set children’s group lessons are $120 all day with ticket.  A full-season “Devo” program is $575.   Magic has many options for adults and children that can all be found at www.magicmtn.com.

Smugglers’ Notch Resort

Smugglers’ Notch Resort is offering novice skiers and riders visiting on the Base Package January 6-13, 2013 free daily beginner ski or snowboard two-hour group lessons and rental equipment for their entire stay. Package pricing is $115 per adult and $85 per youth per night.   Throughout the winter Smugglers’ programs for beginning skiers and riders include all-day camps for ages 3-15, two-hour group lessons for ages 6 to adult, private lessons, and parent/child lessons. A Burton Riglet Park with treehouse and mini terrain park features is a fun learning area for snowboarding novices 6 and younger. For those older than 6, Night School for Snowboarding under the lights on the learning slope teaches basic snowboarding skills in a group lesson followed by a practice session with instructors’ support.  All winter, Smugglers’ offers a guarantee that each family member will learn to ski or snowboard or improve their ability level, or the lesson portion of that person’s package will be refunded. (www.smuggs.com/skivtw, 855-814-7325)

Stowe Mountain Resort

For the month of January the Big Easy and Stowe for Starters afternoon lesson products will be priced at $29.00 (not including $5 ESC fee) These packages include a 2 hour beginner children’s lesson or 1.5 hour adult beginner lesson, rental package and limited access to lifts (Alpine, Easy Street, Adventure lift). The offer will run Monday 1/07/13 – Thursday 1/31/13 – not including MLK Weekend.

Ski Vermont in 2013

Vermont continues to be one of our favorite winter destinations.  Be sure to bookmark the Ski Vermont site and check often for info on current conditions and deals across the state.

Photo Courtesy Ski Vermont

Dec 042012
Middlebury College Le Chateau classroom and residential building in the snow

Middlebury College Le Chateau classroom and residential building in the snow

Internationally recognized Middlebury College, located in the Champlain Valley of Vermont, is well known for its challenging liberal arts curriculum and its excellence in foreign language studies.  Founded in 1800, the college is home to 2,500 undergraduates from 50 states and dozens of foreign countries.

Many of its students choose Middlebury for the excellent academics combined with the opportunity to spend four years living at a historic  New England campus surrounded by beautiful views of the Green Mountains and the Adirondacks plus unlimited access to all variety of outdoor adventures in any season.  According to Wikipedia, “The campus is known as “Club Midd” because of its bucolic setting and the quality of its recreational and residential facilities.”

If your family vacation or college visit plans bring you to this part of New England during the winter, be sure to save some time to explore the on campus ski options.  Middlebury is one of only a few colleges to own and operate its own nordic and downhill ski areas.  Specifically, the Rikert Nordic Center and the Snow Bowl downhill ski area.   The Middlebury College Snow Bowl has two triple chair lifts and one double and serves 17 trails, plus several gladed areas for skiing and riding in the trees. The mountain’s historic lodge, with a cafeteria and rentals available, was expanded and remodeled in 2003.  Snowmaking makes up for mother nature if needed.

Tweens check out the conditions at the Middlebury College Rikert Nordic Center

Tweens check out the conditions at the Middlebury College Rikert Nordic Center

Just a mile and a half away at the College’s Bread Loaf Campus in Ripton, VT, the Rikert Nordic Center offers 42 KM of trails on unspoiled land in the Green Mountain National Forest  and operates in partnership with the USDA-Forest Service

The Rikert Center has been recently upgraded with the addition of a new internationally recognized 5 KM championship level trail that has been certified for competition at the highest level by skiing’s governing body, the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS).  The center  has completely renovated the lodge  and offers hearty food and first quality rental skis and snowshoes.

The Rikert Center is open for recreational as well as competitive cross country skiers and serves as the base of operations for the college’s Nordic Ski team.  It will also host a number of special events this winter including the Middlebury College winter carnival ski race in February, Adaptive Ski days, half marathon ski races and snowshoe races.

Both the Rikert Center and the Snow Bowl are in first rate condition and offer family friendly on campus skiing, snowboarding and even snowshoe adventures at affordable prices.  Any wintertime visit to Middlebury College and the surrounding area requires at least a half day of skiing to really understand what makes this such a special area all year round.

Rikert Center photo courtesy the Rikert Center, used with permission, copyright 2012, Brett Simison

Middlebury College photo courtesy Wikimedia

Jay Peak Lowers Prices and Adds More Fun for Teens and Tweens

 Posted by on November 20, 2012  Comments Off
Nov 202012

Since being acquired by new owners in 2008, northern Vermont’s Jay Peak Resort has undergone a multi-million dollar transformation to become a state-of-the-art four-season destination with a range of   on-site amenities including expanded ski trails and snowboard terrain, new lifts and snowmaking, a new nordic center, ski-in ski-out lodging, an ice rink, an indoor waterpark, and a golf course.  With 2100 feet of vertical,  385 skiable acres, and 77 trails, slopes and glades teens and tweens are sure to find plenty of options regardless of their skill level.  The Resort rates 20% of trails as novice, 40% intermediate and 40% advanced.  The Resort typically gets 375 inches of natural snow in a winter so it opens early and closes late each season.

Vermont's Jay Peak Resort offers 77 trails, slopes and glades

Vermont’s Jay Peak Resort offers 77 trails, slopes and glades

For cost conscious families, the Resort has announced that it is lowering the prices of all of its lift tickets this season. For the best deals buy tickets online.  The Resort promises that skiers and riders will see price drops in all ticket categories, from single to multiday, when they reload their tickets online.  The Resort states that some ticket prices will be lowered by as much as $50.   The Resort also continues its annual tradition of  offering free season passes to all immediate family members of Vermonters currently deployed, or about to be deployed, overseas.

The 60,000 square foot Pump House indoor waterpark at Vermont's Jay Peak Resort

The 60,000 square foot Pump House indoor waterpark at Vermont’s Jay Peak Resort

Off ice, the  Pump House indoor waterpark and the Ice Haus ski rink offers more ways to keep teens and tweens busy.  The Resort hosts a youth hockey tournament almost every weekend in the winter but saves hours for public skating as well.  The 60,000 sq foot  Pump House waterpark has a wide range of water slides, a lazy river, a flowrider, hot tubs and an arcade to entertain the teens in the evening or if they want to take a break from the mountain.

The Ice Haus Arena at Jay Peak attracts hockey players and skaters from across New England

The Ice Haus Arena at Jay Peak attracts hockey players and skaters from across New England

Lodging options range from hotel rooms to multi-room suites with kitchens and multi-bedroom townhouse style condos.  Many are close to the lifts while a shuttle bus provides access for the rest.  The Resort is continuing to invest aggressively in building additional lodging and to upgrade and expand the facilities.  The Jay Peak ownership group recently bought Burke Mountain, located about 45 minutes from Jay Peak, and will allow customers to use tickets at both mountains.  Look for continued investments at both Jay Peak and Burke Mountains in the coming  years.

For families with teens and tweens that are looking for a destination ski and snowboard resort with something for everyone, Jay Peak Resort is a great new alternative.

Photos courtesy of Jay Peak Resort