Beautiful views, towns to explore and plenty of snowy ski slopes make Western North Carolina the perfect place for a family ski adventure.

Downhill skiing isn’t something we can do in Atlanta, but there are ski resorts just five hours away from us. Atlanta Parent checked out these three; consider one for your next family ski vacation.

Beech Mountain Ski Resort is the highest ski area in the Eastern United States and has 17 trails with seven trails for beginners and seven ranked as more difficult. Our family of advanced beginners, including 6-year-old Corinne and Elliot, 8, graduated to a more difficult winding trail. The long lift to the top, amazing views and slow, easy ski down the mountain was one of the highlights of our trip. The private lessons at Beech Mountain allowed our kids to gain confidence and move up the slopes to more challenging trails. This resort reminded me of a ski resort you’d find out West.

You’ll feel as if you’re visiting the Swiss Alps at the more intimate Appalachian Ski Mountain. This family-owned resort has 12 slopes, three for beginners and six more difficult. We could keep skiing the easy Appaltizer trail all day and hop back on the magic carpet to bring us back up to the top again. Elliot and I also tackled the Strudel trail. Group and private lessons are available for kids at the French-Swiss Ski College. Our kids made friends during their lesson and had fun skiing with them afterward. The private instruction for adults is top-notch as well.

Take it easy on the long, winding Easy Street Trail at Sugar Mountain Resort. With 21 trails, including seven for beginners and nine for intermediate skiers, there’s plenty to explore. Sugar Bear Ski School offers group and private lessons for kids. Private lessons were a great way for the kids to get more skiing in, since they could skip the lines with their ski instructors.

For us, skiing in North Carolina was a great experience. Try out one resort or all three. We had plenty of snow at all three resorts (they all can make snow to add to the regular snowfall). Plus, the experience was more approachable and much less expensive than heading out West. North Carolina is a great place to visit for a family ski trip.

More Winter Fun in North Carolina

Explore the scenic wonders of Grandfather Mountain. It starts with a fun audio tour as you drive around the mountain and points out additional hikes, areas of interest and the nature museum. The nature museum includes a video history of the mountain. Hike up to the Mile High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain.
Kids love sledding! Kids younger than 12 can sled for free all day at the Beech Mountain Public Sledding Hill. Bring your own sled, or you can rent or buy sleds at nearby stores.

Tubing at Hawksnest Resort

The park has four tubing hills to choose from. Each time slot is limited to a certain number of riders, so the hills don’t get overcrowded. It’s not inexpensive, but it’s a good diversion for older kids.

Where to Eat

Lost Province Brewing Company in Boone is a local microbrewery and gastropub that uses locally sourced ingredients. The menu includes delicious meat and cheese boards, pizzas, pub fare and more. Parents can enjoy a flight of beer and the kids can choose a tasty meal from the kids’ menu.

Coyote Kitchen in Boone specializes in Southwestern Caribbean Soulfood. The bowls and boats are popular, as is their traditional Mexican fare. They offer a “Pups” menu with a variety of options. Kids can also get one Pups Quesadilla or one Pups Plate for free with an adult entree purchase.

For delicious brick oven pizza, try Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria in Beech Mountain. Excellent pizza with tasty crust, cheesy garlic bread, fries, desserts and more are served in a fun atmosphere. Every Thursday they feature live music.

Where to Stay

The Hampton Inn and Suites Boone offer clean, newly updated rooms near Appalachian State University and downtown Boone with lots of restaurants and shopping. The kids will love that it includes breakfast and has an indoor pool.

Fred’s General Mercantile offers rooms to rent behind their famous store and deli. The Guest Quarters has a great central location on Beech Mountain and is roomy, though a little dated, with a full kitchen, living/dining rooms and two bedrooms with baths. It’s nice to be able to run next door and stock up on snacks and essentials.
For more information on skiing vacations in North Carolina, go to

– Laura Powell

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