North Carolina Mountains
WHY GO IN FEBRUARY Who needs Vermont or Vail? The North Carolina mountains are within radio-station distance from Charlotte. And in February: cooler temps + chance of snow = potential powdery slopes.
For more challenging trails, head to Beech Mountain.
No matter how hard you try, you just can’t ski down the hills in Ballantyne. So make your way through the winding roads of Boone, Blowing Rock, and the like to three very different skiing destinations.
After Fred Pfohl at Fred’s General Mercantile (501 Beech Mountain Pkwy., Beech Mountain, 828-387-4838, www.fredsgeneral.com ) serves you a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, and biscuits the size of your fist, make your way to Beech Mountain (1007 Beach Mountain Pkwy., Beech Mountain, 800-438-2093, www.skibeech.com ), the only resort to offer a high-speed detached quad lift (translation: a lift that fits four people and climbs really fast) so the lines are short and swift. Sugar Mountain Resort (1009 Sugar Mountain Dr., Banner Elk, 800-784-2768, www.skibeech.com ) offers a family-friendly vibe, with a kiddie-filled ski lodge or, for those who prefer Bailey’s-infused hot cocoa to the slopes, a bar at the top of the mountain. Book lessons (starting at $16 for one-hour group lessons) at Appalachian Ski Mountain (940 Ski Mountain Rd., Blowing Rock, 828-295-7828, www.appskimtn.com ), which is much smaller and less intimidating to beginners.
Recharge with a meal at the Banner Elk Café (119 Central Way SW, Banner Elk, 828-898-4242) or dine fireside at Dominic’s Table Restaurant (3236 Shull’s Mill Rd., Blowing Rock, 877-836-5046, www.theinnatcrestwood.com ) at The Inn at Crestwood (order the veal chop).
Spend more time on your butt than on your skis? Hit up the ice-skating rinks and snow-tubing spots offered at most resorts, or try snowshoeing on Sugar Mountain.