Blowing Rock

Blowing Rock : County: Watauga, Population: 1,425
Share this

Though winter travel usually rewards with lower rates and lighter crowds, it can also mean poor weather.

But while Blowing Rock does see its share of snow, the quiet streets cloaked in white, softly lit storefronts, and snow-blanketed peaks make this High Country town’s natural beauty just as breathtaking in the off-season. Make the most of a wintertime excursion to Blowing Rock with these tips on where to stay and play.

Blowing Rock Winterfest won’t let the winter blues keep you inside for long. This year’s festivities kick off Thursday, January 23, with Winterfeast at Timberlake’s Restaurant, where you can sample small plates from more than a dozen local restaurants, including the new Blowing Rock Ale House. On Saturday, it’s a riot to watch costumed daredevils dive into the frigid waters of Lake Chetola during the Polar Plunge. A chili cook-off at Blowing Rock Elementary School and a wine tasting and auction held at the historic Green Park Inn will warm the heart. And don’t miss the ice carving demonstrations at Memorial Park. Hayrides, hot cocoa, and glowing storefronts along quaint, frosty streets set a lovely, Rockwellesque scene. January 23-26; (828) 295-7851; www.blowingrockwinterfest.com

After an action-packed day, find respite at The New Public House & Hotel. The newly restored, circa-1922 inn and restaurant blends Southern charm with modern comforts. Inspired by the public houses of London, the menu offers locally sourced, Southern cuisine prepared by Chef Michael Foreman, formerly of Gideon Ridge Inn and Bistro Roca. For dinner, a delectable selection of small plates—pimento cheese and tomato jam biscuits, winter vegetable succotash, smoked pork and corn bread with house-made chowchow—delivers a hearty dose of Southern comfort. Cocktails and local beers can be enjoyed at the bar, before retiring to one of seven light-filled guest rooms, featuring soothing earth-toned furnishings and luxurious amenities. Before hitting the slopes the next day, fuel up with the New River Benedict, featuring a North Carolina trout cake. 239 Sunset Dr.; (828) 295-3487; www.thenewpublichouse.com

A 10-minute drive from town, Appalachian Ski Mountain has 12 slopes where skiers and snowboarders can get their thrills. Newcomers can sign up for lessons taught by the renowned French Swiss Ski College or the Burton Learn to Ride Center for snowboarders, while experienced riders can test their skills at two terrain parks. And this winter, you don’t have to leave when the sun sets. New extended nighttime skiing hours run January 3-March 1. 940 Ski Mountain Rd.; (828) 295-7828; www.appskimtn.com