Pocket Friendly Family Travel

by Jennifer Kelly Geddes

Pocket Friendly Family Travel

We checked out two ski resorts that totally rock during the off-season.  Thinner crowds, fewer dollars, and more fun!

Green Mountain Marvel

The fall foliage is ah-may-zing (and the maple sugar is delish), but the best part about a trip to northern Vermont is Smugglers’ Notch ( Why? The eight—count ’em—heated pools, four waterslides, aqua basketball, waterfalls, and inflatable trampoline…and that’s just the wet stuff! Dry off and check out the camps. Even babies can enjoy a swing with a view at Treasures childcare center. Kids choose from an à la carte menu of activities, including scavenger hunts and costume-making. Chris Epstein, a Philadelphia mom of six, says her kids rush to their favorites every year (sound and stage and adventure games).

Get Out There:  Next up, a llama trek. Tromp through the woods and nosh on baked treats, fresh fruit, and ice cream. Say goodbye to your furry friend, then try a round of disc golf on the nine-hole course. Land as many Frisbees as you can into baskets set on top of poles. It’s harder than it sounds!

Fly High: An ArborTrek Zip Line Canopy Tour ( is a primo adventure. Guides usher the kids (and hesitant adults) safely along.Rocky Mountain High Jinks

After years of skiing there, the Haaijer family of Toronto returned to Utah’s Park City Mountain Resort ( last July. “We loved riding the lifts—especially my three-year-old—to go hiking and biking. We couldn’t believe how many moose we saw,” recalls mom Kristen. Start your little ones at the Adventure Zone, where they’ll traverse the neon Climbing Web—a Spidey fantasy. The theme continues on the Spider Slide: Tiny hikers scale five different routes through crosshatched netting and bolt down a lightning-fast inflated chute.

Big-Kid Fun: The resort has one of the world’s longest, steepest (at over 3,000 feet), and curviest alpine slides. The mountain coaster (like a roller coaster, but set on a mountainside) covers more than a mile.

Indoor Action: Check out the Park City Museum (, where kids can “set off” dynamite explosions and “drill” with a jackhammer. Utah Olympic Park (, home of the 2002 Winter Games, is also just five minutes away. The whole family can learn (gulp!) freestyle ski jumping. OK, it’s just a mini-ramp and you land in a heated pool—but still, you’re totally catching air!

Drop the Bags: Spread out in a suite at the chalet-style MountainSide ( Younger kids can make survival bracelets (cool must-haves for camping or hiking) out of parachute cord at the Mine; the Blast Shaft is a tween hangout with computers, couches, and a big-screen TV.