Just because we own more flip-flops than waterproof winter gear, doesn’t mean that Atlanta families aren’t up for an adventure of the frozen variety. Often times many families miss out due to the preconceived notion that it just isn’t affordable. There is the gear, the plane tickets, the lift tickets, the hotel, the meals, and the ever-important ski lessons for southerners.
While snow is a rarity in Atlanta, less than a tank of gas will get you to higher elevations and support your desire to scream, “Let it SNOW, let it snow, let it snow!” We have broken it down to help you take a travel dream and make it a reality. Does that make it more feasible??
Location, Location, Location
I must admit that when the topic of skiing comes up, geographically my mind automatically goes out West- Tahoe, Vail, Jackson Hole, etc. While this might be more in line with Forbes’ list of top ski resorts, it is the wrong advice should you want to hang-on to more of your hard-earned dollars.
Eliminate airfare costs– While it wasn’t as much of a hindrance when you were single, having a family changes everything. $265 roundtrip becomes $1060 for a family of 4…and you still have to rent a car! Think East Coast! Make it driving distance and you have just saved a bundle of cash right there.
Choose your resort wisely- Even East Coast resorts are varied in their personalities. Lower elevation resorts mean less chance of snow and more chance of ice. While most Southeastern ski resorts excel at making snow, colder temperatures at higher altitudes make all the difference between swishing through the powder, and holding on for dear life as you slide down a long elevated hill of ice.
Look for resorts that are not isolated unto themselves. Not only do you open up your chance for more activities, but you also expand your food and lodging options.
We’ll use Beech Mountain, North Carolina as a perfect example. A roughly 5-hour car trip makes this a wise choice for Atlanta families. With an average yearly snowfall of 84.6 inches, Beech Mountain stakes it’s claim as the highest incorporated town in Eastern America.
- Lodging options at Beech Mountain are about as varied as they come. Pet-friendly, slope-side chalets, multi-bedroom condominiums, private home rentals and even amenity-resorts round out your choices of where to lay your head.
- From fine dining with a three state mountain view to eclectic pizzerias and local deli’s, Beech Mountain can satisfy a wide variety of taste buds and budgets.
Want a glimpse into what it is all about? Beech Mountain live webcams help you immerse yourself in the adventure.
As with most things in life, timing makes all the difference. You can cut your costs significantly by knowing when to stay home, and when to pack up the car and head for the slopes.
Avoid holidays- This seems like such a no-brainer, but winter has some holidays that sneak up on us and can really throw your plans for a loop. Most resorts and activities will charge holiday rates the week of Martin Luther King Day (2014: January 20), as well as the week of Valentine’s Day and President’s Day (2014: February 17).
Consider late season- Once March hits, the temperate zone of the Southeast can swing from Arctic to Tropical. This unpredictability can dissuade the choosier skiers. Some of my favorite days on the slopes have been spent in only a t-shirt on under my ski bibs. Those times have also coincided with some of the cheapest days I have ever gone skiing.
Always think midweek- Going when everyone else is NOT going equates to discounts and special offers. Not only do you decrease the actual money shelled out, you also increase the value of what you spend. With less crowds, more of your time is spent actually doing various activities as opposed to standing in line waiting to do them.
A perfect example is Beech Mountain’s highly popular Skiing 101 program from last year that is making a comeback for this season. Monday through Friday you can enroll in their program for $101 per person, double occupancy. Included in your program is one night’s lodging, equipment rental, helmet rental for extra safety, a full-day lift ticket, and a beginner ski or snowboard lesson at Beech Mountain Resort. Beech Mountain’s Skiing 101 program, that won an award for promoting learn-to-ski month, is only open to ages 8 and above.
Look For Other Area Activities
Just because you are on a ski vacation, doesn’t mean that every moment has to be spent conquering the black diamonds…or the bunny slopes for some of us. Save money by taking in activities that are low on costs, but high in fun. Beech Mountain boasts a wide range of non-ski activities for the winter.
- Snowtubing- A state-of-the-art snow tubing park is the newest activity in Beech Mountain as of the 2015-2016 winter season. Session are every two hours and you are not required to have a lift ticket. The park will be open daily and nightly, with rates discounted for weekdays.
- Sled Hill– This FREE activity is geared towards kiddos aged 12 and under. It is a BYOB hill..Bring Your Own Bob-Sled. Go ahead and take those aspirations of the Atlanta version of Cool Runnings out of your head. Plastic sleds, not aluminum and steel, are required. If you don’t have your own, sleds are available for rent or purchase. The Youth Sledding Hill is conveniently located next to the town’s visitor center. Not only does it have safety personnel on duty, but it also has music. Oh, and did I mention there are HEATED restrooms in the visitor’s center, as well as free Wi-Fi. Add in the hot cocoa from one of the many surrounding restaurants and that spells HEAVEN.
- Special Events– Each February Beech Mountain hosts their family-friendly snow man building contest, complete with prizes. $5 will enter you in a chance to show off your prowess for frozen art.
- Enjoy guided hikes through the Beech Mountain Parks and Recreation Department.
- Grab a map and go it on your own. Take a stroll around the town Greenway and happen upon the many deer that call the area home. If your idea of wildlife watching includes wings and feathers, then head to Buckeye Recreation Center and stroll it’s four season official NC Birding Trail.