Learning to ski or snowboard at an early age is the perfect way to help young children instill a love for winter. Exploring the slopes helps kids build self-confidence, meet new friends and develop a lifelong affinity for the outdoors.
Think winter is the only time for your kids to have fun at Vermont’s ski resorts? Guess again. Summer brings a slew of adventure activities that don’t require snow or skis. My family has a long tradition of spending summer vacation in the Vermont mountains and we’re never at a loss for things to do. From climbing to ziplining to bungee trampolines there are lots of options.
Here’s a look at what some Vermont ski areas have on tap for families in the summer months.
Skim through the treetops with Arbortrek Canopy Adventures
My family and I spent a wet summer afternoon flying through the mountain canopy at Smuggler’s Notch. With an impressive eight ziplines (the longest is 1000 feet) the guided tour lasts for several hours. In addition to flying down the lines, you also get to rappel down from platforms and cross a suspension bridge.
Got younger kids who are too light for the zipline? Arbortrek also offers two aerial trekking obstacle courses, one of which is designed for kids ages four and up. Other options for adventure fun at Smuggs include geocaching and rock climbing. There’s also great hiking nearby. Try the challenging trail to Sterling Pond, which is the highest stocked trout pond in the state.
Ride the gondola to the top of Vermont’s highest mountain at Stowe Mountain Resort
The gondola ride at Stowe Mountain Resort isn’t just for skiers – during the summer you can ride to the top with your family. Have lunch at the Cliff House Restaurant, or hike all the way to the summit so that you can say you’ve stood in the highest spot in the Green Mountains. If you’re feeling a little less adventurous, or have a little one who is napping in the car, you can also drive up the Auto Toll Road, which ascends to 3850 feet.
Other fun options at Stow Mountain Lodge include the Alpine Slide – which has two tracks, so you can have the satisfaction, as I did, of beating your trash-talking child to the bottom. There’s also a climbing wall and a bungee trampoline. Feel the need for a little luxury when you’ve finished your outside adventures? The spa at Stowe Mountain Lodge offers treatments for grownups and kids alike.
Play a round of disc golf at Sugarbush Resort
Even kids who have never thrown a disc before will enjoy the mountainside course at Sugarbush, which adds a touch of fun competition to a walk in the woods. My kids also love the fact that they are walking on ski trails.
Sugarbush also offers a variety of fun other activities including lift rides to mountain biking or hiking trails (moose occasionally wander across the paths in the summer, adding to the excitement). On hot days, drive to one of the many swimming holes in the nearby Mad River to cool off or enjoy a maple creemee at Maynard’s on Route 100.
These aren’t the only mountain resorts offering families summer fun. My son loved the Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster at Okemo Mountain Resort when we were there on a ski trip in March; I’m sure he’d love it equally this summer. The Okemo Adventure Zone offers other fun as well, including a new self-guided treetop tour with platforms, bridges, and cables.
Dates of operation generally start around Memorial Day weekend and run through the summer months; check with individual resorts for specific dates, times, and age restrictions for various activities. Many of these mountains also have day camp options for kids – schedule individual days or entire weeks.