Some of my favorite childhood winter memories took place on ski slopes alongside my brother and friends. In hand-me-down CB Sports jackets, with a few dollars for the lodge, and a tin of Dermatone in my pocket – skiing elevated my winter playground in so many ways.
I want my kids to have similar adventuring experiences (except with helmets on their heads!), especially during the colder months – because winter is for so much more than hunkering down.
Nicole at Momtrends has a pretty cool commitment to sharing her family’s love of skiing and unplugged-togetherness on the slopes with as many families as possible. She got my crew hooked last year – and we all couldn’t wait to experience Vermont’s Stratton Mountain Resort, at Momtrends’ fourth annual Family Ski & Ride Weekend to kick off our 2020 season.
Located a bit over four hours from NYC, our drive to Stratton was hassle-free. Enticing scenic views and farm animal sightings gave us respite from city life. There are also a few nice spots along the way to pick up Vermont’s finest local goodies like maple syrup, cheese, and more.
Skiing and Riding FUN
With 99 trails between an Upper Mountain, Lower Mountain, Sun Bowl, and Learning Area – I was super pumped to get the kids in riding lessons, click my boots into skiis, and find my path to fun. Highlights included taking the gondola to the summit (hello, breathtaking views), and getting lots of runs (mostly on the Upper Mountian) with friends while the kids were having a blast at camp. The immaculately groomed trails and ample terrain offer something for all levels and abilities. And, as much as I adore being with my children on the slopes and sharing in this incredible hobby together, I also love the gift of time that Stratton Mountain Sports School provides. While my kiddos learned from pro riding instructors, it was exhilarating to reconnect with that familiar feeling of pure joy set on skiis. Every parent needs time for their own fun too.
Stratton Mountain Sports School offers ski and riding lessons from age three all the way up to adults. With a range of private lessons, group lessons, and full and half-day programs – we opted for the full-day camp for the kids’ first day back on snowboards. I’m convinced that this is the way to go! The day includes lunch, hot cocoa breaks as needed (and, according to my son, a special mitten dryer!). I returned to my excited kiddos in the late afternoon and could not believe how much they both accelerated in just one full day with Stratton’s expert, supportive, personalized coaching. They leveled-up in confidence and skills (while living their best lives!), which made our time together on the mountain all the more fun. In addition to showing mama their accomplishments, the kiddos were super excited to be able to handle going off on their own, along with other friends, after lessons. It’s remarkable what a shot of confidence can do.
The Lodging and Stratton Village
We stayed on-site at Stratton’s Black Bear Lodge (a few minutes from the village). Greeted by a friendly staff, Black Bear Lodge offers a lot of helpful amenities. Like most, I want an early start on the slopes, and mornings require extra time to make sure that everyone is suited up, gear is in hand, and rentals are secured. The included breakfast was a time-saver with kids, and I so appreciated the endless Starbucks coffee and water in the lobby (note, there are no coffee makers or mini-fridges in the rooms). Stratton runs a super-efficient shuttle service with what felt like non-stopped transportation to and from the village and other areas. We actually never had to move our car all weekend. Stratton also has a charming village, with a steller rental service (we were in and out super-quick), lots of food and après-ski options, an outdoor fire pit, and more. The village shops will make you wish you left your gear at home (and absolutely need that new Patagonia, Burton, Spy or Volcom purchase!).
Our fun continued well past the last chair of the day over at the Coca-Cola Tube Park located in Stratton’s Sun Bowl. With four lanes of snow tubing (and a cable lift service to get you to the top), a fire pit, and warming hut, everyone can be the undisputed champ of the tubing hill under the Sun Bowl’s cool night lights.
Visit Mulligan’s for mountain views, American and Japanese cuisine options, solid selections of Vermont craft beer, and specialty cocktails (including CBD infused drinks). Some of the portions (like the tasty nacho appetizer), were more than enough to feed a small village. We found Mulligan’s to be super family-friendly with arcade games on the lower level.
Although I didn’t make it to Grizzly’s in the Main Base, I did notice the packed deck facing the terrain park. Grizzly’s looks like THE après spot to be.
During the day, we fueled up and took breaks at the Mid Mountain Lodge. My kids seemed to enjoy the Asian Bowls – while I just wanted to sit and guzzle water and coffee!
Stratton also hosted a wonderful dinner for us to sample the local flavors reflected in their restaurants – many of which we recognized the following night at Table 43.1 at Black Bear Lodge. It was all so well done and memorable.
I even had the chance to meet Stratton’s official photographer since 1968, Hubert Schriebl, and glace through his book of images that tell the story of Stratton through the decades (50 years, actually!). I may be secretly dreaming of becoming his apprentice and relocating to a beautiful VT timber frame home.
Big thank you to Stratton for hosting my family and to the Momtrends team for injecting our first family ski and boarding trip of the season with so much excitement.