What it's like to stay, ski and play at Magic Mountain in Vermont.
I’ve been to (almost) every ski area in Vermont, but my kids only rock sweatshirts from one of them. You guessed it. It’s Magic Mountain in Londonderry, Vermont. Magic might be the most humble and yet rad ski area in Vermont. It’s got fun rugged terrain, a no-nonsense vibe, and one of my favorite places to stay, Upper Pass Lodge.
Upper Pass Lodge
The first time I stayed at Upper Pass Lodge was about 10 years ago and I was child-free. We brought our dog instead of children (it’s pet-friendly!) and hung out at the bar and in the living space with friends. I was excited to do the same with my kids in March 2023 when we stayed there with another family.
Upper Pass Lodge did not disappoint. Our two families had rooms on the first floor and our kids felt right at home, just as we did the first time we visited. While the Lodge is obviously for visitors, it also seems to be a haunt for locals and you feel like part of the community just stepping through its doors. A cozy bar serving Vermont brews and spirits lays just right of the entrance, a divider between the Red Slate restaurant and what I call the “living room.” Two couches, a few armchairs, and a roaring fire welcome guests to settle in with a drink, games, or in our case, Legos.
The Red Slate Restaurant boasts delicious food from a variety of steaks to fancy sandwiches, fish and chips to a kid-friendly menu. Breakfast is served Saturdays and Sundays from 7:30 to 10 am, and a spread of coffee and tea awaits at the bar every morning.
Insider tip: It’s worth noting that Upper Pass Lodge isn’t fancy. The rooms have a motel feel, and it’s a bit worn, but it’s also affordable with standard rooms usually running under $200 on a weekend. For us, it also feels like home. It’s not stuffy or uptight. We could let our kids play and be kids without worrying about them being scolded by management, patrons, or ourselves.
Magic the Mountain
Magic Mountain boasts 1500 vertical feet with a variety of terrain from classic rugged Vermont black diamond runs to low-angle greens near the base. We were keen on exploring the beginner area with the two 3-year-olds we had in tow, and blues with our 6-year-old. It was late March and a gamble on conditions, but despite the lack of recent snow and recent thaw-freeze, the terrain was well-covered and edge-able.
The beginner area was a few steps from the Black Line Tavern and base lodge. A nice low-angle slope, it featured a conveyor lift, or “magic carpet.” The littles enjoyed a few cycles with their dads, while our oldest was in a lesson, learning to fine-tune his parallel turns. The moms snuck in a run together and a stop at the on-mountain snack shack for a beverage by the fire.
The group reconvened at the base lodge. The top floor of the lodge is an open-air space called the Black Line Tavern, with a slope-level deck and lots of space to spread out. Whether ordering classic ski lodge food from the kitchen, snacking on your own brown bag lunch or just hanging out, it’s a place for all and everyone. They even have games to entertain the kids while you grab a bevvie from the bar. Stay long enough on a weekend night and you can dance the night away to live music.
When in Rome… Visiting from northern Vermont, we took the opportunity to swing by Bromley on our return travel day. Bromley is just a few minutes down the road from Magic and they are two of the three corners that make the Golden Triangle of Vermont ski areas. The third is Stratton Mountain. All 3 mountains boast views of the others from certain trails.
It was a blustery day at Bromley, but the snow was sugary, soft, and fast. My oldest, Ollie, had a blast practicing everything he learned from his lessons the day before. He showed off his newly learned hockey stops spraying snow on us whenever he could.
Inside the base lodge, two 3-year-olds resisted going back outside. The base lodge at Bromley also has a cozy local feel, with folks setting up crock pots in the cafeteria and racers prepping for a day of training. They were feeling pretty comfy by the fireplace. That said, we eventually got them out for a few runs on the covered magic carpet lift. When my youngest decided he didn’t want to stand on his own anymore, we trekked back to the base lodge. There the kids spent a half hour sliding down a little slope of snow, having a blast. At that age, sometimes you just need to go with the flow.
Sarah Wojcik is the founder of All Mountains Mamas. Becoming a mother in 2017, she grasped the opportunity to share her passion of skiing and snowboarding with families across the U.S. Formerly the Director or Marketing and Communications for Ski Vermont, she writes with great knowledge of the ski industry in Vermont and from the point of view of a new mother working to get back out on the slopes with two kids in tow.