This tiny northern Vermont town, tucked into the picturesque Lamoille River Valley, is an outdoor lover’s dream. The designated scenic highway through Smugglers’ Notch (closed to cars in winter) is a snowy, icy wonderland, where you can snowmobile, ice climb, and snowshoe in the shadows of Mount Mansfield, the state’s highest peak. There’s downhill and cross-country skiing at Smugglers’ Notch resort, sleigh rides, horseback riding, and zip-line canopy tours. The town has a cluster of restaurants and shops, and a distillery, where tastings of award-winning
vodka, rum, and bourbon are guaranteed to warm you up in a hurry.
Smugglers’ Notch Inn (55 Church St., 802-644-6607, www.smuggsinn.com, $89-$129), a rambling 1790 farmhouse, has 11 updated rooms, with simple, country décor. Guests rave about the friendly innkeepers and relaxed atmosphere. The inn also features a dining room and the popular Village Tavern, with a rusticatmosphere and well-prepared pub food, like the nicely seasoned chicken pot pie, spicy jambalaya, and beef tenderloin sliders. You’ll find home-away-from-home condo accommodations at Smugglers’ Notch Resort (4323 Route 108 South, 800-419-4615, www.smuggs.com, winter packages including lodging and lift tickets start at $89 per youth and $119 per adult per night), including one- to four-bedroom units with kitchen facilities and easy walking access or shuttle service to the resort village. The condos are clustered in five communities tucked in the hillside woods surrounding the resort, some with their own fitness centers, swimming pools, and hot tubs. Check into your own log cabin in the woods at the Sterling Ridge Resort (155 Sterling Ridge Dr., 800-347-8266, www.sterlingridgeresort.com, winter rates for studio, one-and two-bedroom cabins $185-
$260). Cabins come in all sizes, including the seven-bedroom Mansfield House ($655), the four-bedroom Pond House ($450), and the Field and Stream cabin ($495) that was custom built in 2007 as Field and Stream magazine’s “dream” structure.
The beloved 158 Main Restaurant and Bakery (158 Main St., 802-644-8100, www.158main.com, breakfast $4-$12, dinner $9-$21), housed in an historic building with high ceilings and wooden booths, is alocal favorite, serving hefty portions of well-prepared comfort food at fair prices. Breakfast is a must; you’ll find a huge selection of specialty omelets and benedicts, along with classics like apple and walnut pancakes and cinnamon-raisin French toast, made with their fresh-baked bread. The dinner menu is large too, featuring favorites like the Vermont turkey dinner, almond-crusted salmon, steak, and specialty flatbreads. Thetiny Mix Cafe (55 Church St., 802-644-6371, www.themixcafevt.com, $6-$10) is another great breakfast place. Start your day right with an order of crème brulee, blueberry-smothered French toast or go savory with beet-and-kale hash with poached eggs. Hearth and Candle (4323 Route 108, 802-644-8090, www.hearthandcandle.com, $23-$35) is as upscale as it gets in Jeffersonville. The restaurant, located at the base of the mountain at Smugglers’ Notch Resort, has several dining areas including the dimly lit, adults-only room with a bar and fireplace. Start with the unique ostrich tartare or the tender, wine-braised octopus, followed by entrees like wild boar gnocchi, hanger steak served with a Boucher Blue
risotto cake or the elk tenderloin. Heat it up at El Zorro (87 Edwards Road, 802-644-1499, www.elzorrovt.com, $12-$18) with a serving of spicy chicken mole, orange chipotle shrimp, or traditional fajitas. The atmosphere is relaxed,service efficient, and themargaritas aren’t bad.
DURING THE DAY
Smugglers’ Notch Resort (4323 Route 108 South, 800-419-4615, www.smuggs.com, one-day lift tickets adults $68, ages 6-18 and 65 and older $52, 5 and under free) is consistently ranked as the No. 1 family ski resort; this season readers of Ski Magazine also ranked it the top ski resort in the Northeast overall. You’ll find three mountain peaks spread across more than 1,000 acres and criss-crossed with 78 trails. There’s also 30 kilometers of terrain for cross-country skiing and24 kilometers set aside for snowshoeing. ArborTrekCanopy Adventures (1239Edward Road, 802-644-9300, www.arbortrek.com) offers three high-speed zip-line adventures, including some 4,500 feet of line and two sky bridges. The courses are tucked in the mountain valley and forest below Smugglers’ Notch. The Wild Ride, offered year-round, is 2½-3 hours and includes eight zip lines, two bridges, and one rappel ($99.95). The Wild Winter Ride, offered November-April, is 2-2½ hours with six zip lines ($85); the Express adventure, also offered November-April, is 1-2 hours and includes three lines. If motor power is more your speed, take a snowmobile ride through the Green Mountain forests with Green Mountain SnowmobileAdventures (300 Stoney Meadow Lane, 802-644-1438, www.greenmtnsnowmobile.com, one-hour ride $89 single, $99 double). Evening rides into Smugglers’ Notch are also offered. Smugglers’ Notch Distillery (276 Main St., 802-309-3077, www.smugglersnotchdistillery.com, free) is a fun stop. The outside looks like a warehouse, but inside you’ll find a clean, efficient operation and a passionate staff — and, yes, great booze. Wine Enthusiast gave its vodka 95 points, the highest-rated domestic vodka in 2011. Have a taste of it, along with samplings of bourbon, gin, and rum. Distillery tours are offered. Travel through snow-blanketed meadows and forests on a scenic sleigh ride or horseback ride through open fields and woodlands in the shadows of the Green Mountains with Lajoie Stables (992 Pollander Road, 802-644-5347,www.lajoiestables.com, one-hour sleigh rides $125 per couple, one-hour horseback rides $50) In town, stop by the Jeffersonville Country Store (21 Mill St., 802-644-6300) with a large selection of Vermont-made products; locals rave about the homemade doughnuts, too. Anglers will want to check out Green Mountain Troutfitters (211 Mill St., 802-644-2214, www.gmtrout.com).
The friendly and relaxed Brewster River Pub & Brewery (4087 Route 108, 802-644-6366, www.brewsterriverpubnbrewery.com) has a decent beer selection featuring local New England craft breweries and its own on-site brews, and live music 2-3 times a week. The food is good, too, with lots of menu options from curry mussels and andouille corn dogs to wild mushroom risotto and char-grilled burgers ($7.95-$18.95). Robbie’s Wildlife Refuge (Route 15, 802-644-8837) is where the locals go for cheap drinks and a game of pool.Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at email@example.com.