Family-Friendly Ski Resorts in North Carolina’s High Country
Top North Carolina ski resorts for families By Sue Rodman
Skiing at Appalachian Ski Mtn in North Carolina (Appalachian Ski Mtn)
From late November through mid-March, southern skiers can enjoy a great, drivable option to get their snow fix close to home. Sugar Mountain Resort, Beech Mountain Resort, and Appalachian Ski Mtn., are all located in North Carolina’s high country, within a short distance of each other. Here’s what you need to know to find the perfect North Carolina ski resort for your family.
French Swiss Ski College (French-Swiss Ski College)
Best Places to Go with Beginners: All three ski resorts offer ski lessons and bunny slopes with a magic carpet to take skiers to the top of the hill. However, Appalachian Ski Mtn’s French Swiss Ski College is one of the best in the Southeast and has taught over a million people how to ski. App also has the best snow making capabilities and as long as Mother Nature cooperates, can blanket the mountain in short order to create a soft landing. The main slopes themselves are not as steep as other resorts, so it’s perfect for a beginner to get in a longer run without being intimidated.
Sugar Mountain Resort (Flickr: Mark Clifton)
Best Places to Go with Advanced Skiers: Sugar Mountain Resort has more than 115 skiable acres, and will have 21 trails when its newest trail debuts in winter 2014-15. It also offers the only double black diamond trail in the state of North Carolina. Beech Mountain Resort has the highest elevation of any NC ski resort with 15 trails and 95 skiable acres. It also boasts a high-speed quad lift to get up the mountain fast, so advanced skiers can get in more runs.
Best Kids Clubs: All the High Country ski resorts offer supervised child-care services for young children. Sugar Mountain’s mascot Sugar Bear can often be seen wandering throughout the lodge or on the slopes.
Best Non-Ski Related Activities: The High Country Ski Resorts offer just as much off the slopes as on. Beech Mountain is the only one of the three resorts to have a shopping area in addition to a pro shop in the lodge. The Alpine Village includes restaurants, shops, a 7,000 square foot ice rink and a large fire pit. Sugar offers the most wintertime fun off the slopes. There is a 10,000 square foot ice rink, a 700 ft tube park that is groomed and lit for nighttime fun, as well as guided snowshoe tours for younger kids 8 – 11, and a separate tour for those over 12 years old. App Mtn. has an award winning ice rink.
Fred’s General Mercantile in wintertime (Fred's General Mercantile)
Best Apres-Ski Activities: The town of Beech Mountain and Banner Elk, where Sugar Mountain Resort is located, offer numerous dining and shopping experiences. Don’t miss Fred’s General Mercantile at Beech. If Fred doesn’t have it, you don’t need it. While you’re there, grab a sled and head to the town of Beech Mountain’s free sledding hill for kids 12 and under. For families with older children, Hawksnest is a short distance and offers 20 lanes of snow tubing, as well as wintertime zip lining.
More family-friendly ski resorts: