This blog is in partnership with Beech Mountain Tourism and Development Authority. We were honored to be hosted by the businesses included, but this did not change our opinions in any way.
It seems as though all kids have an innate sense of wanting to be in the snow! Even though we're from Florida and the closest thing we have to snow is our sandy beaches, and it hasn't snowed since the "big" Christmas snow of 1989, my kids have been asking to see snow for years because they just somehow KNOW about it! So last fall we started researching places to see snow a drive's distance from Jacksonville Florida. Beech Mountain North Carolina started popping up in our searches. Upon further research, we found that the Beach Mountain Resort with skiing is considered the highest point on the east coast! We decided to take the plunge and booked our trip for a 4 day February winter break vacation. Scroll down for info on where we stayed, enjoyed meals, and explored as a first time family trip to see snow! Visit our youtube video to explore the fun!
Where to Play in the Snow
Let's jump right in to the most important part - the snow!! It wasn't snowing the weekend we were there, but that was ok because there was plenty of snow around! Right when you pull into the quaint little town of Beech Mountain North Carolina, the Visitors Center has a snow hill set up for sledding! it was so exciting to see their first view of snow in person right away! Sledding is free and you just need to rent a sled for $5 from the ski shop two doors down from the visitor's center. We ran to our condo, quickly changed into our base layers and snow pants, jackets, and gloves, snow boots and hats and drove back down to the sledding. Our kids were going crazy seeing the snow and being in such cold weather! They loved sledding and had no fear of going down. I couldn't believe how excited they were! They were swimming in the snow, making snow angels, throwing it and sledded over and over again. There was something about the snow and how different it was being in the cold that they absolutely loved!
Sledding Tips: Bring a towel in case it is not snowing, or even if it is - the snow melting at the bottom can be wet and you might want to wipe off jackets or the sled if you keep it multiple days and store it in your car. If you're walking across to eat dinner or lunch afterwards and it isn't snowing or that cold, throw your snow pants and jackets in the car. Our kids got so warm in the restaurant that they took all of their stuff off and we were quite embarrassed at how undressed the kids were. One lady thought there was a child underneath our table because my son took off his snow pants and boots and they were all still connected under the table. We quickly got reassembled before heading back out for fun!
Our next experience with snow was day two inside Beech Mountain Resort. We took our time getting to the mountain our first full day there and let the rush of people get in to go skiing. Then we got our tubing tickets and started talking about tubing. After a fearless day going sledding, we had to hide our laughter as the kids immediately said they didn't want to tube and wanted to do something else. When we got into the tubing area, their anxiety became worse. We told them to just take a look at the tubing and see what they thought. When they saw the first person go down, their fear changed to excitement and hurry, "Yes- let's do it, Ma!!!" Once we went down one time, we were all hooked! The kids loved it and went over and over and over again. It wasn't too fast for them and the ride was long on the way down with one tiny hill before continuing to go down. They loved the snow at the bottom and walking in it to the magic carpet ride return. I was worried about them on the magic carpet and wanted to hold hands, but they wouldn't have any of it. They were snow professionals now!
We thought that after going down hundreds of times our time would be up, but it had only been 30 minutes and the tubing tickets last for one hour forty five minutes, which is so great! So we changed partners, I grabbed our little buddy and our daughter went with my husband and we started out again. Our four year old was so funny - he now knew the fastest of the six lanes and took me where he wanted to go and showed me how to do it. One time we went down first and my husband and daughter came down behind and while videoing them, they bumped into our tube and the kids thought that was so funny! See the video here. We lasted for a total of an hour before we thought the kids would be tired and melt down (ok let's be real, the adults were tired!!) and we headed to the coffee shop for hot chocolate. What a fun experience tubing was for Floridians!
Tubing Tips: The rule of thumb is you have to be 42" to tube and your feet have to touch the ground when sitting in the tube to go by yourself because feet on the ground is how you stop. We found that the two person tubes were too slow for us master tubers so we stuck with the one tubes and had the kids on our laps. Pretty quickly our 6 year old became brave and wanted to go down alone. My husband and son went together and she followed them down by herself with no fear! She did fine until she got half way to the bottom and was too light to go all the way down. She stopped and got scared that someone was going to bump into her so she got out and ran down. First time snow mom here didn't tighten her shoes so one came off and she ran in the show without a shoe!! It took them a long time to get on the magic carpet so I called their phone in panic. We had a slight fear based melt down when they got back to the top, but all was fine and somehow her sock wasn't wet and she got right back on the tube with me 2 minutes later.
Bring snacks like granola bars to avoid meltdowns because you use a lot of energy. We grabbed hot chocolate and muffins in the coffee shop right at the tubing/ice skating area, but you can save money by having items in your pockets. Also, place your bag in your car that is right near the tubing or in the locker rooms so you don't have to set it down or tube with it.
On to day three and our day of skiing! The kids were beyond excited and it was mom's turn to be nervous! The Beech Mountain Resort Staff was so kind to take us everywhere we needed to go to get ski equipment. First we got our lift tickets and attached those to our jackets. Then we went up to the bunny slopes area and got fitted for our skis, ski boots, helmets, and for the adults, poles. Then we stepped outside and put on our jackets, gloves, and helmets with masks and were all set before we realized we needed to put our snow boots and backpack somewhere. The staff member was so kind to take me down to the locker rooms and I stored everything there. Then we signed up for our ski lessons and were able to rest for a moment and let the kids play in the snow.
The kids met with their ski instructor, Avery, and we went off with Mr. Lee Bailey, who has 40 years of experience and we were going to need all of it to help us adults! We were in utter shock that our kids went off for a private lesson without us... and didn't look back! I thought they would need me or be scared, but nope! Our lesson was near theirs so we tried to listen to Mr. Bailey while we kept an eye on them in awe of how they were learning so quickly. They learned how to put their skis on by themselves, how to side step, and how to do the pizza wedge, while we learned how to spread the butter with our skis to get into a wedge. It was muscle memory for us as we had been skiing years ago and we picked it back up pretty quickly. But not more quickly than our kids. We looked up and they had gone down the bunny slopes and were riding up the magic carpet, on their skis! It was so fun to watch them come down and there was so much joy and wonder in how they could learn so quickly and be so fearless in the snow! One hour into their lesson and they were zooming. This was a far cry from the 6 years it took us to learn how to swim with years of tears. It was at this point in time that I began to consider moving up to the mountain...
Skiing With Kids Tips: Again, bring snacks for extra energy and water in your pockets, definitely take a lesson, have one person be assigned to each child to help keep an eye on them, and two words: Ski School. You can let the kids have fun learning how to ski with other kids while parents enjoy free time to ski on their own.
Where We Ate
There are many places to eat in Beech Mountain North Carolina and within Beech Mountain Resort. Our first night we ate at Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria across the street from the Visitor's Center and just down from our condo. It was perfect because every child loves pizza, hot chocolate and desserts! After a long day, we appreciated the pizza and especially the wings covered with mango jalapeno sauce! We saw a huge group there with Jaguars hats and it turned out that the youth group leader was a family member I grew up with right in my neighborhood in Jacksonville! Small world!
Our condo was fully equipped so one morning we ate at home and one morning we went to Fred's Backside Deli. Actually we went to Fred's for everything - snacks and water/Gatorade, dinner supplies, you could get ski supplies, and you can eat breakfast and lunch. It is just down from the Visitors Center on the way to Beech Mountain Resort so it was convenient every time we went to the resort and came home. Thank goodness for Fred's as they just celebrated their 40th year! The breakfast was perfect to fill us up for a full day of skiing and the kids loved meeting the mercantile cat, Jet (don't pet her though!).
We also ate on site at Beech Mountain Resort and it was so convenient. Right before tubing we ate at the Beech Mountain Resort Cafeteria for burgers, chicken nuggets and fries. It was right at the bunny slopes so we could watch the skiers coming down and set our skis down while we ate. We also ate at the resort at the Beech Mountain Tap Room and Grill. It's right at the entrance near the ice skating rink and hosts local beers from the Beech Mountain Brewery right next door. The kids loved the hamburgers and chicken nuggets with french fries and we loved the convenience.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at The Pinnacle Inn Resort, which is up a hill right when you come into Beech Mountain and see the sledding hill at the Visitors Center. These are condos owned and rented and run around $150/night depending on number of rooms or specials. They have a pool, hot tub, playground and mini golf and we loved our view of the slopes! It was easy access to Beech Mountain Resort, Visitors Center, and Restaurants. There are plenty of places to stay on the mountain - some are closer to the resort and some up in the mountains in local homes. You can find more lodging info, here.
The Beech Mountain Resort was a quaint village that looked like place Queen Elsa and Princess Anna would vacation! There are three large parking areas, but they also have shuttle busses running from the resorts, including The Pinnacle Resort. When you walk in at the entrance they have a warm bonfire, an ice skating rink, shopping, and the Beech Mountain Brewery and Beech Mountain Tap Room and Grill, coffee, hot chocolate and snacks, and on that level you can purchase tickets for tubing, ice skating, and more. Further up on the next level is the cafeteria, lift tickets, ski rentals, lessons and the bunny slopes with access to the ski lifts.
We had so much fun on our first trip to see snow! We wish we had stayed longer to enjoy more winter mountain fun like hiking, ice skating, and even just playing on play grounds and enjoying mini golf at our condo in the cold weather. The kids really were right: being in the snow is a really fun and unique experience and they loved it just as much as we hoped they would. When we asked the kids where they would like to go for spring break, they both said skiing again! It was worth the drive up from Jacksonville to see snow and we're so glad we had this experience for our kids. We loved creating memories that will last a lifetime...and keep us cool as we live in our Florida warm weather until our next trip. Thank you to the Beech Mountain TDA for hosting us! We hope to visit again soon!