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.
Nestled into a secluded spot in the Green Mountains just a few miles from Killington, you will find the Mountain Top Inn. It is the perfect vacation choice for families seeking rest and relaxation. But with 350 acres of space to play it also offers a myriad of outdoor activities for all ages.
The original Inn was purchased in 1945 and once hosted President Eisenhower! Although the inn was destroyed by a fire in the 1970s, it was rebuilt in traditional post and beam style. Now families have a seemingly endless amount of choices for accommodations to choose from in with the main inn, small cottages and large vacation homes. It is worth noting that the Vacation Homes can be rented by the night, not just by the week which, is unusual for accommodations of this caliber (two night minimum).
With such a remote location, dining options are limited to the what is on property — the Mountain Top Tavern and the Highlands Dining Room. There is also a complimentary tea service offered in the afternoon with cookies, lemonade, iced tea and iced coffee. Most accommodations have a kitchenette or full kitchen in them. I would suggest stocking up before you arrive and bringing food with you. The kitchenette in our one-bedroom cabin (Saddlebrook C) had a mini-fridge, stove-top, microwave, coffee-maker, full size sink and granite countertop. I could have easily prepared small meals.
This well known cross country ski resort has a fantastic equestrian center that is open May – October. Families will find their stables filled with horses for beginners through experts. You can take a guided trail ride through miles of wooded trails and mountain fields, and along lakes and ponds as well. Inexperienced riders or young children might like the pony rides or benefit from private or group horseback riding instruction.
Our equestrian experience began with a one-hour guided trail ride that was suitable for all abilities. As my 12-year old daughter had never ridden before they choose to put her in a western saddle, but with my prior experience I rode English. As we left the barn, we headed out and up into the mountains for a beautiful scenic ride. My daughter enjoyed it so much that the next day she took a private lesson to garner a bit more experience and learn some basic riding skills. If we were to come back I would consider putting her in the Summer Horsemanship Camp next time. The Mountain Top Inn was a was a great first experience for my child who has always wanted to ride, but never quite been willing to take the plunge.
Horses may be the mane attraction in the summer months but there is no shortage of other things to do. We spent time at the kids’ fishing pond eagerly trying to catch some trout from their well-stock supply, but alas all we caught were some lily pads that seemed to get in the way.
The resort also has a private beach with plenty of waterfront activities on the Chittenden Reservoir. There, in addition to swimming, families will find paddle boards, kayaks, and canoes that are all complimentary for resort guest to use. We took an hour-long pontoon boat ride that gave us a full view of the lake. If that is not enough to keep your kids entertained there is a sand volleyball court, tennis courts and 9-hole disc golf course on property as well. Adjacent to the newly built barn, there is an outdoor swimming pool and hot tub. The barn houses a video game room, yoga studio and fitness center.
Things to know:
- Technophiles be ready to unplug. Although there is free wi-fi, it is only offered in the main lodge and in the barn. And depending on your cell phone provider, cell service is spotty at best.
- Most equipment like tennis racquets, fishing poles & tackle boxes, volley balls, horseback riding helmets, etc can be found at the activity center.
- The resort is pet friendly so if you are planning to bring fido, be sure to inquire about which accommodations are right for your dog.
It is easy to envision the resort transformed into a winter playground for families when the riding trails become Cross County ski trails and the lake is frozen over to provide an outdoor ice skating rink. And although most of the horses are moved off property by November, the draft horses remain to pull the sleds over the rolling hills for sleigh rides. We will likely return to the Mountain Top Inn in the winter for another season of fun!