Beech Mountain's claim to fame is that it's the highest town in the Eastern half of the country. It's located just outside of Boone, NC about 4 hours drive from Durham, and it's full of great winter fun. The drive up from Boone by itself is fun. The road snakes back and forth with beautiful views of the clouds and landscape below. While we were in Beech Mountain we tried two different winter activities, and you could do either one or both.
First, we headed to Beech Mountain ski resort. This was this Stir Crazy family's first attempt at skiing. We debated whether or not the kids were too young at 2.5 and 4.5 years old, but after calling and discovering that they did rent ski boots and skis for 3 year olds, we decided to go for it. We were not the most organized with all of our gear, but I think the way that we should have done it would be to dress everyone at the car and then walk to the rental building to go to the restroom and put on the ski boots and skis.
Once we were dressed we bought our lift/slope passes and headed out to the bunny slope. In order to be on the slopes with our kids we did have to have lift passes for the adults, but the kids were free with our tickets. Plus, I don't think it would have been possible to teach them without skis for ourselves. Our 4.5 year old was ready to go and immediately headed up to the top of the bunny slope and skied down. Before the end of the day he had headed up a chair lift with his dad and skied down with his help. The little one, on the other hand needed a bit more encouragement. We had to sit and watch everything for a while. But eventually he could ski down the slope next to me and even headed up the tow bar lift on the bunny slope in between my legs. It was a lot of physical work for the grown ups, but it was a successful first ski trip for the kiddos. We finished off our skiing with a little hot chocolate in the lodge. Oh, while there were tougher runs on the mountain, we can't really speak about them because we spent all our time on the bunny slope and the one green run which were very nice.
For our next adventure, we handed in our skis and headed two miles down the road to the Beech Mountain Town Center where they offer FREE SLEDDING. That's right, it's free. They have a great hill in the center of the town that they keep covered in snow with snow machines, and they open it up for sledding in the winter. We brought our own sleds and joined in on the fun. The hill was pretty steep, and at first we tried to head up the right side of the hill to some fairly big slopes. We made it down, but I don't think the kiddos could have done them by themselves. Then, we noticed the left side of the hill. It was much easier to walk up, and about halfway down we saw the perfect slope for our timid sledders. My 4.5 year old was happy to run up and sled down quickly by himself, and our 2.5 year old loved hopping on the sled with one of his parents. They could have stayed for a LONG time! While we didn't stop by, they even advertise pizza and hot chocolate after you finish your sledding adventure.
Summary of our day:
*Left Durham about 8am
*Ate a pack lunch in the car and arrived at Beech mountain around noon
*Got on the ski slopes at about 1pm after it took us forever to get dressed
*Skied until about 3:00pm
*Got some hot chocolate, packed up, and arrived at the sledding hill about 4pm
*Sledded until 5pm when it closed
*Drove home (the kiddos fell asleep before we were out of the parking lot) and ate dinner on the way. Arrived home about 9pm.
What we liked: We liked how this much winter fun was accessible for a day trip. However, it might be more relaxing to find a hotel and do this as a weekend trip. We loved the skiing for a new adventure that the kids had never tried before, and we loved the sledding hill for something easy and low-cost that we knew the kids would enjoy. We also liked how there were lots of activities up there to fill a weekend like skiing, ice skating at the ski resort, sledding, hot chocolate and pizza, and even checking out the nearby city of Boone. I even heard that there was a place to go tubing nearby.
What we would change: Of course, if you do it in one day, it's a long day. The adults were happy but exhausted. However, the kids got to sleep a lot in the car, so it actually worked out very well for them. In addition, skiing was expensive. It was $48 for a half day adult lift tickets on the weekends, $20 for gear rentals for adults, and $14 for kids gear rental. It was also $10 for a helmet rental, but they were sold out when we were there.
Website and other important information:
Websites: http://www.beechmountainresort.com/ (Skiing), http://www.beechmtn.com/things-to-do/winter-sports/sledding (Sledding)
Address: Beech Mountain, NC
*Skiing: For complete rates check their website-http://www.beechmountainresort.com/rates/lift_tickets.html, http://www.beechmountainresort.com/rates/rentals.html (Oh, they do also have ski school for the little ones and a nursery if you'd like to get some of your own ski time in.)
(A view of the bunny slope on our way out.)
(One view of the sledding hill)
(The less steep side of the sledding hill that my boys loved)