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 living room
Cozy on the couch at Upper Pass Lodge

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.

Upper Pass Lodge breakfast
Coffee, anyone?

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 Mountain trail map

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.

Father and son snowboarding at Magic Mountain
A little father and son snowboard time off the magic carpet.

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.

Women toasting at Magic Mountain Ski Area
Moms escape to the 80’s for a slope side toast.

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.

Kid-friendly games at Magic Mountain, Vermont
Games for kids entertained at the Black Line Tavern.

Bromley Bonus

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.

Family ski at Bromley
Bromley is incredible family-friendly year round.

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.

Toddler skiing
When a toddler calls it a day, it’s best to follow suit.


  • We love Magic Mountain! We went as a family last year and it was wonderful, love that smaller mountain feel.

  • I used to ski Magic as a teenager and from what I remember it was a great mountain! Love to ski it again w/my family.

  • My wife and I are from Swanzey, NH. We always ski at Bromly or Stratton. Both are just the greatest ski areas for us. I ski intermediate to expert and my wife skis beginner.

  • Just bought a place in Andover so looking forward to checking out the golden triangle ski mountains so our grandchildren can learn to ski there. Any recommendations on which mountain of the three might be best for kids under 5 years old?

    • I think it would depend on your budget and if they are taking lessons. Bromley is in the middle when it comes to budget, beginner terrain, and crowds, so I might suggest trying that first. It caters to families incredibly well.

    • My two kiddos learned to ski at Bromley and it was great! The terrain is a bit easier than Magic and felt more family friendly than Stratton. And with them now older, we love skiing Magic!

    • David – congrats! You are one of five winners! We will reach out via email with details.
      Also – you’d suggest starting at Bromley to get a feel there. It’s less busy than Stratton (though they have great beginner terrain), and more beginner-friendly than Magic (though they also have a magic carpet.) You can’t go wrong whatever you choose.

  • I have skied at magic mountain many times and it is very fun and challenging. It has a great big mountain feeling. Bromley is an awesome place to ski and enjoy the Vermont views! Vermont has the most amazing mountains in the northeast!

  • I haven’t been to Bromley or many places yet:/ , but it sounds like a great place to visit. The fish and chips are what I’m looking forward to trying if I go!

  • We love Magic! The east side is perfect for families and the apres vibe is great at the BLT! For the more adventurous, the west side offers more than enough challenge. But thanks to Wizard (a long blue), those not ready for some of their steep terrain or trees, can cruise through that area just to see (wink).
    Bromley is wonderful too. I finally went there after so many years of looking at it from the top of Magic, and I’m sorry I didn’t go sooner! I love the family vibe and there is something at Bromley for everyone.

  • I love Magic. Its been a terrific mountain to bring my kids, who are now teens. Getting reservations at Upper Pass isn’t easy unfortunately, or that would be a no-brainer. Love the vibe at Magic, the customer service, and their commitment to keeping the old school feel.

  • Been skiing Bromley and Magic since the 80’s. Both are great Family mountains. They are the jewels of Southern VT!

  • Hoping to visit this ski area for my first time someday!!!! I love to explore Vermont…I grew up here, and teaching the family to ski

  • Upper pass Lodge sounds like it’s right up our alley, we’ll check it out the next time we’re up! Thanks for highlighting.

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