Grandkids Would Love A Summer Day At Smugglers.

[Ski resorts are being creative about developing off-snow season attractions.  Smugglers Notch in Northern Vermont has gone the extra mile in creating three separate water parks.  There’s still time to get up there if you’re looking for a getaway for Labor Day.  Special thanks to Janet Franz, a feature story writer covering health, fitness, business, recreation and community affairs and a member of the North America Snowsports Journalists Association for this story.  She’s also chair of Vermont Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.]

View from top of slide at Mountainside Water Park. Credit: Janet Franz
View from top of slide at Mountainside Water Park.
Credit: Janet Franz

If you are entertaining your grandchildren in the Northeast this summer, consider how many bodies of water they can splash into on one day? About a dozen, if you’re spending the day at Smugglers’ Notch in northern Vermont. In summer, the ski resort transforms into a water park village, with three diverse wet “playgrounds” and two reservoirs spread across the resort’s three interconnected mountains. Consider a daytrip to Smugglers’ Notch with your little ones—a “Daycation” ticket and free, on-call shuttle give all-day access to every location.

My family of four visited Smuggs last month on a mission to plunge into every pool, slide and spray zone. Here’s how we made a splash:

We parked in the Village Center near Mountainside Water Playground, where four separate watery spaces cater to all ages. In the ankle-deep Little Smugglers’ Lagoon, tiny tots sloshed under a gentle waterfall, explored a faux cave decorated with happy bears and floated on colorful rafts. Nearby, kids up to 48 inches tall rode the Turtle Slide into a shallow pool.

My boys, ages 8 and 12, could hardly wait to try the 30-foot tall, 300-foot long Great River Rapid Ride, a slide restricted to people at least 48 inches tall, or 42 with a lifejacket. We grabbed tubes and carried them 55 steps up the tower where an attendant helped riders settle in and launch toward a pool below. On multiple rides we slid forward, backward, spinning, and — everyone in my family’s favorite — the slingshot: The staffer holds your ankles, pulls you forward, then thrusts you down banking off the sides.

After breaking for a home-packed picnic, we waded in the 75-foot long Mountainside pool. We found plenty of chairs, a snack bar and clean bathhouse with showers and changing rooms.

Using the poolside phone, I called the shuttle and we took a five-minute ride to Notchville Park, a tiered area with three pools. My kids tested Ninja skills on the Lily Pad Walk, jumping between floating mats toward the Twister Waterslide. I tried it, but disliked the sensation of lying on my back inside the enclosed tube that dumped me plunging underwater.

We sat together under a waterfall in the large pool. The boys swam and I wet my feet in Splashville, where tiny tots romped through gentle fountains and glided down a colorful slide onto a soft pad.

Again, I called the shuttle and this time a golf cart arrived. The kids sat facing backward while we zipped along a wooded trail as though on a forest safari.

At Courtside we dipped our toes in the nine-foot deep lap pool and checked out the 120-foot Flume waterslide. We felt too sweaty for hot tubbing, but I appreciated that there was an adults-only whirlpool and another, cooler one for families.

We drove our own car five minutes to Morse Mountain and hiked 10 minutes to Rum Runner’s Hideaway, a six-acre reservoir in a scenic mountain setting. The boys waded in marshy water and inspected a floating, inflated trampoline. We contemplated renting a paddleboat, but instead hiked down to our car and drove to Bootleggers’ Basin, another reservoir surrounded by fields and mountains. The inflated Zoom Flume slide was closed, so we explored the sandy beach and scenic view before heading home, exhausted, wet and happy.


Smuggs’ Water Parks are open through September 5. Daycation tickets cost $69 per day for adults, $49 per day for youth 3-18 years, under 3 free with a paying adult. Vermont residents receive a 50 percent discount with valid ID. Bring your own towels. Lifejackets, noodles and inner tubes are provided at pools and slides. Shop for supplies and food in the village (including Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop).

Overnight accommodations available here.

For plenty of fun activities to do in the region click here.

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