Write this down: Southern ski resorts in the off-season make great getaways. For one thing, they aren’t crowded with, well, skiers. Also, they have a tendency to be gorgeous because of the mountain scenery. Right now, Beech Mountain, North Carolina, is open for incredible autumn views of the Tarheel State, as well as Virginia and Tennessee. It’s cool during the daytime, with serious fireplace weather at night, so you can finally wear all those sweaters you were dreaming about when it was 90 in the shade back in September.
The village on top of the mountain bills itself as “the highest town in Eastern America” (so if there are any Southeastern burgs out there higher than 5,506 feet, speak now or forever hold your peace). You’ll find an assortment of lodging on the mountain, from inns to chalets. Get the scoop on Beech Mountain Resort and a variety of accommodations here.
Banner Elk (and its winery) are a short drive away, and you can get to cool neighboring towns like Boone and Blowing Rock in about an hour. That said, if you love the great outdoors, you can keep yourself entertained without ever leaving Beech Mountain. There are 28 miles of trails here, from the strollable to the challenging. Among them is Beech Mountain’s Emerald Outback, a big draw for mountain bikers, given 7 miles of trails with elevation ranging from 4700 to 5400 feet. This time of year, you can book a hiking and mountain biking package that includes two nights’ lodging, trail maps, two day passes to the 23,000-square-foot Buckeye Recreation Center, and a wine tasting. Visit emeraldoutback.com for details.
Fish Buckeye Lake (open for line-dipping year-round) or Lake Coffee, where you can fish from early April through February. Buy a three-day license for just five bucks and enjoy the Mountain Heritage Trout Water program, which includes Buckeye Creek and Pond Creek on Beech Mountain. Call 828-387-9283 for a free guide or 888-248-6834 to buy your three-day license. (Locals who already have a North Carolina statewide license don’t need to buy an additional one.)
Not much for angling? Take advantage of indoor tennis and pickle ball courts, a gymnasium, and a fitness area in the Buckeye Rec Center. But once those mountain views start calling, it'll be game-set-match for indoor fun. Crisp fall air awaits. So do those cozy sweaters.
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