By Lashawnda Becoats
I don’t like cold weather, so when the temperature drops, it usually means I’m heading someplace warm with lots of sun. As a way to change up my routine, I decided to ditch the familiar and head to the N.C. High Country for some winter fun.
Located just two hours away from Charlotte, Boone is known as the ski capital of the South, and has plenty of options to explore during all seasons, especially if you are an outdoor enthusiast.
Home to Appalachian State University, this region of North Carolina is filled with quaint shops, boutiques, restaurants and of course the top ski resorts in the Southeast.
As a newbie to exploring cold weather fun, I was excited to try it all; after all, my motto is “You only live once!” My wonderland adventure included skiing for the first time, snowboarding, snow tubing, snowshoeing and ice-skating.
Here’s a roundup of the top spots to try when planning your own High Country excursion.
Where to Go
Appalachian Ski Mountain
My adventure started off at Appalachian Ski Mountain Resort. This top-notch resort is equipped to handle every detail you can imagine, from the moment you arrive. From apparel fittings to and equipment rental (no, you don’t need to bring a hat or ski gloves; you can rent them. How cool!), this family-owned establishment has everything you’ll need to get started.
Known for its French-Swiss Ski College, this one of the best places to learn the basics of how to ski and snowboard. My ski lessons were thorough and made me feel confident enough to want to give skiing a chance. Be sure to stay and have lunch. The homemade cuisine is delicious. Don’t miss the gift shop, packed with the best ski apparel and fun gifts to take home.
Hawk’s Nest Zip Line and Snow Tubing
Hawk’s Nest is the East Coast’s largest snow tubing park, with 30 lanes of snow tubing. If you are looking for the perfect alternative to hitting the slopes, this park features zip lining and snow tubing at its best. At Hawk’s Nest, my inner kid really came out! I couldn’t get enough of the thrill of sliding down the hill on a tube at fast speeds. Warm up in between sessions inside at the coffee bar with some hot chocolate, or nosh on pizza or barbeque if you’re hungry. Hawk’s Nest is open seven days a week and is sure to be a hit with the entire family.
For dinner, try: Lost Province for tasty craft brews and a delicious menu made with fresh local ingredients.
Sugar Mountain Resort
Sugar Mountain has a 5,300-foot peak, and a ride up on the Summit Express ski lift is breathtaking. It’s easy to spend quality time at this resort, experiencing all aspects of outdoor winter activities.
I decided to give snowshoeing and ice-skating a try. What an exhilarating workout! Snowshoeing takes coordination, as well as endurance. The instructors were patient and full of helpful tips on how to navigate the trails. It’s a must try for anyone who wants another option to skiing.
For dinner, try: Mile High Tavern for a fun evening of house-made vittles, tasty drinks and an outdoor fire pit that makes for great conversation under the stars.
Beech Mountain Resort
Beech Mountain is the place to go for a one-stop experience to remember. The Alpine Ski Village has an on-site brewery, shops, a game room, snow tubing, a nice skating rink and the famous 5506 Skybar on top of the mountain. I took snowboarding lessons and I loved it! Although I spent more time on my bottom than actually snowboarding, it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Things heat up when the bonfire in the middle of the ski village gets going. The trails are also lit for skiing at night. Don’t miss the Totally ‘80s Retro Ski Weekend, Feb. 23-26, for a celebration of all things 1980s.
For breakfast or lunch, try: For nearly 38 years, Fred’s General Mercantile has been a landmark on Beech Mountain. Stop in for a hearty breakfast (the biscuits melt in your mouth) or lunch. In this family-owned store, you can find everything from basic hardware supplies to milk, candles or a bottle of wine. Be sure to chat with owners Fred and Margie Pfohl if they are on-site, and ask them to tell you about the key. You can’t help but smile after hearing their heartwarming story.