Do you remember that first time on the slopes? The joy! The fear! No, not your first time. I’m talking your kid’s earliest ski trip!
They strap into miniature boots, and then lock into pocket-sized skis. With trepidation, they trudge up a hill that has the modest of slopes, but feels to them like Kilimanjaro. Once at the top their eyes start to twinkle. That fear disappears. Before you can open your mouth with your grand counsel, they have propelled their little body down the snowy mountain. However, a smile covers their face even as they lunge into the instructor who is attentively giving them a hand. You both sense it: delight, satisfaction, and joy. The day has only just begun.
Whether you have yet to experience skiing with your kids or it is already old hat, Beech Mountain, NC is a fantastic place for a family ski trip. You might not have time for a weeklong vacation from Atlanta, but it is easy to make a weekend jaunt to play in the snow. Here are some tips for a smooth adventure.
Atlanta traffic is brutal, especially on the weekend. You don’t need to skip work and school entirely on Friday, but departing Atlanta before rush hour will ensure you spend more time on the slopes than in the car. See to it that you are cruising I-985 before 3 p.m. or you could add up to two hours to your trip. I tell you this from experience; add to your fun factor by taking a half day of work and missing that last class at school.
Fill your gas tank before you leave, and you should not have to stop for gas again until you get there. Cruising to Beach Mountain is a one-tank trip. Beech Mountain itself has no gas stations, though. If you need to refill your tank before you get to your condominium then stop in Banner Elk, which is the town immediately before getting into Beech Mountain. They charge a fair price for gas and the stations are clean.
A 5-6 hour trip necessitates stopping for grub and at least one bathroom break. On the map there is an absence of exits long US-23. Don’t be discouraged. Fast food restaurants and gas stations line the road in several places along this route.
While You Are There
Once you check into your condo, drive down to Beech Mountain Ski Resort and pick up your rental equipment even if you will not be skiing that evening. The Resort is only a 10-minute drive from Pinnacle Inn Rentals. The rental lines in the mornings are long; your objective is to maximize time in the snow and on the slopes. If you obtain your skis the night before, there is generally not an additional charge and you will buy yourself an extra hour in the morning.
The condo’s at Pinnacle Inn have full kitchens, so you can make a breakfast for the family in your suite. If you prefer to eat in the town, have your breakfast at Fred’s Backside Deli. This restaurant serves bacon and biscuits that are hard to beat, and they are open at 7:30 a.m. This means you can dine leisurely and get to the Resort when they open.
If you or the kids are new to skiing, take a ski class. It is an extra expenditure, but worth it. Ski school helps your kiddos to feel more confident on the skis and on the snow. It will teach them fundamentals that they will use the rest of the weekend. It also creates a positive experience that he or she will bring forward with them into the next family ski trip. Ski school at Beech fills up fast, so sign up upon arriving first thing in the morning.
If you have young children then consider purchasing half-day lift tickets. This will save money and free the family up for other activities Beech Mountain offers kids. In town at the Visitor Center is a kids’ sledding hill. Sledding is free; you can rent or purchase sleds affordably (or you can bring your own). Only kids 12 and under may sled, but you can ride down with your kiddo if necessary.
You can also grab a delicious pizza at the Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria; it is directly across main street from the sledding hill. Kids enjoy dinner there because the pizza is tasty and there is a game room in the back with arcade games, pool tables and more. The family can also relax at Pinnacle Inn’s indoor heated pool. The activity building there houses a pool table and Foosball table. There’s also the option to watch a movie by the fire in the room.
Why Pick Beech Mountain
There are several ski resorts in North Carolina, but Beech Mountain is the one to visit. It boasts as the highest elevation to ski east of the Rockies. This means that if there is snow in the forecast for Western Carolina, you are most likely to experience it at Beech Mountain.
Winter in the southeast can be fussy; it can be snowing one weekend and bordering on hot the next. Don’t let this deter you from planning your trip. If the weather is not cooperating, depend on Beech Mountain Ski Resort to make excellent snow. They have 30 high-tech, powerful snow guns and over 100 smaller ones. We discovered that even in relatively warmer weather, the snow is not slushy and there are few bare spots on the open lifts. Even the locals were carving it up in 55 degree weather.
Sugar Mountain and Hawksnest Snow Tubing Resort are within 15 and 30 minutes, respectively, of Beech Mountain. If you want to explore another resort or try tubing down a 200-foot path, the opportunity is easily accessible.
If you don’t have an extra week of vacation this winter, don’t let that stop you from spending time in the snow with your family. With the right planning, you can make memories over a weekend traveling from Atlanta to Beech Mountain.