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When you think of East Coast skiing, you may not think of the mountains of North Carolina. But with several ski mountains within a 20-mile radius, downhill variety, terrain parks, ice skating, tubing, ziplining, southern hospitality, consistently temperate weather, and, this year, truckloads of natural snow, North Carolina has become a legitimate winter sports destination.

Tucked between the northwestern towns of Banner Elk and Blowing Rock, North Carolina, the winter sports offerings at Beech Mountain, Sugar Mountain, Appalachian Ski Mountain  and Hawksnest rank among some of the best East Coast options. Whether it’s catching the right-hand side of Robbins Run early in the morning on Beech Mountain, sledding down the public sled hill right in town, snowshoeing up to Lizards Lane at the top of Sugar Mountain, or taking a run down double-black diamond Whoopdedoo, zip lining 50’ above the blanket of snow at Hawksnest, or tearing it up on the Appal Jam terrain park at Appalachian Ski Mountain, North Carolina means snow biz.

And, that doesn’t even cover all of the apres-ski activities. From cozy inn rooms and cabins for the entire family at Archer’s Inn (be sure to have dinner in their Jackelope‘s View restaurant), enjoying a huge (think the size of a small boy’s head) cup of cocoa at Banner Elk Cafe, shopping for groceries, ski garb, boots, or even hardware at eclectic Fred’s Mercantile in Beech Mountain, taking an afternoon off the slopes to explore the shops, cafes and restaurants of charming downtown Blowing Rock, or checking out one of the many dayspas in the area to soothe your tired bones, the area has something for everyone.