The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

How To Enjoy A Ski Vacation If You Don't Ski

By NC Department of Travel and Tourism

Issue: February, 1986

BOONE, NC - Your husband has talked of nothing but heading for the High Country for a weekend of skiing ever since he tore the October sheet off the calendar. Your best friend is trying to talk you into splitting the costs of renting a chalet for a winter vacation in the mountains.

If you ski, it sounds great. If you don't, it sounds like the beginning of a fight, but it doesn't have to be. The good news from here is that you can enjoy a ski vacation even if you don't want to learn how.

Though most people think fun in the High Country in winter is synonymous with skiing, it isn't, necessarily. There are lots of other ways to have a good time. If you're athletically inclined, there are other sports activities available to you. Beech Mountain has an ice skating rink; recreation areas along the Blue Ridge Parkway offer winter hiking, sledding, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing opportunities; and several of the area's hotels and motels have swimming pools for guests.

If shopping is your forte, the area offers everything from department to turn-of-the-century general stores like the Mast General Store in Valley Crucis, a 102 year old building listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Todd General Store between Boone and West Jefferson, and Old Hampton Store in Linville where you'll find anything from corduroy bib overalls to buckwheat flour and exotic coffees to flannel nightgowns.

Two unique Christmas shops-- Christmas Creations and A Christmas House (both located between Boone and Blowing Rock) offer something different for your Christmas celebration: handmade creations from the mountains, ornaments from around the world, candles, crystal, music boxes and nativities. Christmas Creations is open year-round, but A Christmas House closes after Christmas until the first of February.

Collectors of Handcrafted items can browse through craft emporiums like Hand Crafts Gallery and Blue Ridge Hearthside Crafts; where grapevine wreaths, hand-blown glass, patchwork quilts, wood-fired pottery and woven tapestries can be purchased to add to country collections.

If you'd like to watch craftspeople at work, why not spend a morning watching the sixth generation of the Goodwin family of Blowing Rock weaving authentic colonial coverlets of wool and cotton, incorporating patterns that can be traced to 18th century Scotland? Goodwin Guild Weavers is open every day but Sunday.

And if you've never seen cheese made before, consider a trip to Ashe County Cheese, the Carolinas only cheese manufacturer, in West Jefferson, where the store and viewing room is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. And while you're there, you might want to go on to St. Mary's Episcopal Church in West Jefferson or Holy Trinity in Glendale Springs to see the famous frescoes, open every day.

Though most people think of the area's outstanding attractions; Grandfather Mountain, Mystery Hill and Linville Caverns as summertime - only places to go, they are open (weather permitting, until dusk, for Grandfather Mountain) during the winter as well. The caverns (which remains at a constant 55 degrees, winter, spring, summer, and fall) are open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Mystery Hill's hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

For additional suggestions about ways to spend an off-the-slopes ski vacation in the High Country call High Country Host toll free at 1-800-222-7515 in North Carolina and 1-800-438-7500, or locally at 264-2225 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.