This winter, trade your water skis in for snow skis and give skiing in the south a try. Instead of booking a flight to Utah or Colorado—especially if you’re testing the family waters when it comes to a new sport—load up the wagon for an old-fashioned road trip to the nearest powder, instead. And if you’re a planner, be sure to check out our tips on skiing hacks you’ll be glad you know on the slopes and packing the right stuff for kids to ski. Here are five spots to see the snow just a hop, skip and a jump from Hotlanta.
Banner Elk, North Carolina: Sugar Mountain and Beech Mountain
The sisters of North Carolina Skiing, Sugar is the largest ski area in North Carolina with 115 acres of skiable terrain, while Beech’s claim to fame is its personality (think quaint and Southern). Both excellent options for beginner to intermediate skiers, Sugar has the steepest vertical drop of the two, but Beech boasts a higher elevation. The good news? Both locations offer alternatives to the slopes for when the kiddos cash out (tubing, ice skating, snowball fighting).
1009 Sugar Mountain Dr.
Sugar Mountain, NC
1007 Beech Mountain Pkwy.
Beech Mountain, NC
Maggie Valley, North Carolina: Cataloochee Ski Resort
The oldest ski resort in North Carolina, Cataloochee boasts fourteen different trails and runs on twenty-five acres about a half-hour west of Asheville. Three-quarters of the runs are either beginner or intermediate, and when the littles get tired of the slopes you can head into Maggie Valley or over to Ghost Town in the Sky to catch the next gunfight and saloon show.
1080 Ski Lodge Rd.
Maggie Valley, NC
Gatlinburg, Tennessee: Ober Gatlinburg
One of the closest options to Atlanta, Ober Gatlinburg’s offerings include skiing, wildlife encounters (black bears, river otters, birds of prey, and other regional wildlife), tubing, ice skating, and plenty more in the town of Gatlinburg, just down the mountain tram. Those in the know suggest staying in downtown Gatlinburg or renting a chalet nearby, and plan to save a little time to check out the Wilderness indoor water amusement park or even Dollywood, weather permitting.
1339 Ski Mountain Rd.
Snowshoe, West Virginia: Snowshoe Mountain
Definitely the most similar to Rocky Mountain skiing of the resorts mentioned above, Snowshoe Mountain is consistently voted in the top ten spots to ski in the East, but it is also the farthest from Atlanta (nearly nine hours). However, those brave enough to make the pilgrimage with little ones in tow will certainly be rewarded with a professional operation and more than passable powder. Additionally, the littles will love The Big Top, a 15,000 square foot indoor play area filled with inflatables, rock climbing, Eurobungy, and live entertainment ranging from magic shows to craft activities to music.
10 Snowshoe Dr.
Mentone, Alabama: Cloudmont Ski Resort
What it lacks in consistency it makes up for in convenience. Mentone is nestled in the southernmost Appalachian Mountains and gets a respectable two to six inches of snow each year. True, those two to six inches may happen all in the same two weeks, but the good news is that you can be there in just under two hours (that’s one Disney movie, folks!), there are overnight chalet accommodations available, reasonable ski packages (with lessons), and if the weather turns 70-degrees and sunny, you can go horseback riding instead!
721 County Road 614