5 hours or less drive from Knoxville

We tend to not get a lot of snow here in Knoxville (understatement!), so if your friends and family are longing for more of the white stuff, here are a few ideas of where to make that happen. Whether it’s a day trip or an extended stay away, going towards winter weather creates a break from the ordinary and makes space for new activities and experiences.

Taking your traveling companions to snow is an adventure within itself. We have all seen kids play in the smallest, slightest bit of snow available, so how fun would unstructured time with an accumulation of snow be? Snow angels, building snowmen and forts, throwing snowballs – let your inner child have some fun!

Ski resorts are specifically set up to provide wonderful vacations for their patrons. Most are open through mid-March and are worthwhile destinations even if you are not a skier! The resort lovely settings are fun for everyone in your party by offering other activities in addition to winter sports. So whether you are someone who has snow skied before or are just interested in trying it out, or someone who simply enjoys hanging out by a warm fire with an awesome view, a ski resort may just fit the bill.

There are also many private rentals available in snowy locations. Check for accommodations like Airbnbs, Vrbos, and quaint hotels the area you are interested in visiting to see what best suits you and your traveling partners. Maybe a fireplace and a large room with bunkbeds for the kids? Or a gorgeous view of the slopes from an outside deck?

Let’s start with the clothing essentials for winter play:
• Dress everyone in layers so clothing can be added or removed as needed
• Thermal underwear (top and bottom) is highly recommended for wicking moisture to keep you more comfortable
• Wear waterproof pants and a windproof/waterproof coat
• Waterproof gloves or mittens are also a must, as staying dry is key for playing in the snow
• Avoid cotton fabric, as it tends to get wet and stay wet
• Quality sunglasses and/or goggles are also a good idea
• Use sunscreen on face and neck that are exposed, as snow really reflects the sun

Now that everyone is suited up for a day at play, let’s find something to do:

Skiing and Snowboarding
Taking to the slopes – whether a seasoned skier or snowboarder or an absolute beginner – is fantastic exercise that becomes more enjoyable as you practice. First time or seldom skiers/snowboarders are encouraged to take lessons at their destination. Learning the basics or having a refresher course (stopping, being an important skill!) will keep you and those around you safer.

Skiing is a sport that can begin at just about any age, with resorts set up for the novice, as well as the experienced, to enjoy their time and efforts. Most include graduated areas beginning with flatter, smooth trails for beginners so everyone can enjoy improving at their own pace. So if burning a few calories and beating the winter blues are part of your vacation agenda, then skiing and snowboarding are an excellent choice.

Snow Tubing
For those who want the fun of traveling down the side of a mountain without as much effort, there is always snow tubing. Just hop on the inflated rubber tube and enjoy the ride! This activity is great for all ages (most have a height or age restriction, so check before you go), and many resorts also include a “magic carpet” to return you to the top of the run – yay! Tubing with friends and family is really fun with laughs to spare! Most vacation resorts have snow tubing areas or one located nearby, and some are set up exclusively for tubing.

Outdoor Strolls and Hiking
Maybe walking in a winter wonderland is more of your speed – just being out in nature and taking in the fresh air can be exhilarating and a welcome respite from the busyness of everyday life. Cooler temperatures make it easier to enjoy a short hike where leafless trees don’t block the views of sunrises and sunsets. Appreciate the quiet beauty, marvel at the snow laden trees, and practice your winter photography. Surreal landscapes, frozen waterfalls, and friends with pink cheeks and noses all make excellent subjects to create lasting memories of your trip.

Many resorts, vacation areas, and lodges have indoor heated pools, hot tubs, and/or spa services – the perfect way to warm up and relax after a fun day in the winter weather. Treat yourself to a massage or facial as a break from outside activities – or instead of them!

Snow on the ground is an undeniable excuse to cozy up to a warm fire with a steaming mug of your favorite beverage! It could be a shared fireplace in a lodge, an outdoor fire pit, or the cozy one in your rental cabin. Your “ski” vacation could very well be simply enjoying the snow-covered views from the window next to the fireplace with a good book – aaaahh!

Find Your Winter Wonderland
Remember, even if you’re not a skier, you can still enjoy the ambiance of snow covered mountains and plenty of winter activities: Shopping, ice skating, relaxing, meeting new people, sitting fireside, re-connecting with family, snowshoeing, catching up with friends, playing in the snow, and so much more.

1. Ober Gatlinburg
Can’t get much closer than this!
Gatlinburg, TN – 1.5 hours from Knoxville
• Skiing – 10+ runs and trails
• Snowboarding • Snow Tubing
• Alpine Coaster • Aerial Tramway
• Ice Skating • Restaurant & Bar

North Carolina
2. Cataloochee Ski Area
Just on the other side of the gorge
Maggie Valley, NC – 2 hours from Knoxville
• Skiing – 18+ runs and trails
• Snowboarding • Snow Tubing
• Restaurant & Bar
3. Moonshine Mountain
Slightly south of Asheville, NC
Hendersonville, NC – 2.75 hours from Knoxville
• Snow Tubing • Food Truck
4. Zip N Slip
Family-owned and operated for more than 20 years
Mars Hill, NC – 2.5 hours from Knoxville
• Snow Tubing • Limited tickets sold so no overcrowding
5. Wolf Ridge
Formerly known as Wolf Laurel Ski Area
Mars Hill, NC – 2.75 hours from Knoxville
• Skiing – 15 runs and trails • Snowboarding
• Snow Tubing • Restaurant
6. Jonas Ridge
Less crowded than the larger resorts
Jonas Ridge, NC – 3 hours from Knoxville
• Snow Tubing • Night Snow Tubing
7. Sugar Mountain
Surrounded by Pisgah National Forest
Sugar Mountain, NC – 2.75 hours from Knoxville
• Skiing – 21 runs and trails • Night Skiing
• Snowboarding • Snow Tubing • Ice Skating • Snowshoe Tours • Alpine Coaster • Restaurant & Bar
8. Beech Mountain
Highest elevation town in the southeast
Beech Mountain, NC – 2.75 hours from Knoxville
• Skiing – 15+ runs and trails
• Snowboarding • Snow Tubing • Ice Skating • Snowshoe Tours • Restaurants & Bar
9. Hawksnest
Longest tubing run in the southeast
Seven Devils, NC – 3 hours from Knoxville
• Snow Tubing • Ziplining • Small Restaurant
10. Appalachain Ski Mountain
Opened more than 50 years ago
Blowing Rock, NC – 3.25 hours from Knoxville
• Skiing – 9+ runs and trails
• Snowboarding • Restaurant

11. Liberty Mountain Snowflex
Great place to practice
Lynchburgh, VA – 5 hours from Knoxville
• Skiing • Snowboarding • Snow Tubing

West Virginia
12. Winterplace
Voted best place to learn to ski by Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine
Ghent, WV – 4 hours from Knoxville
• Skiing – 28 runs and trails • Night Skiing
• Snowboarding • Snow Tubing
• Restaurants & Bar

13. Perfect North Slopes
Online snow cams
Lawrenceberg, IN – 4.25 hours from Knoxville
• Skiing – 22 runs and trails
• Snowboarding • Snow Tubing
• Restaurant
14. Paoli Peaks
Just northwest of Louisville, KY
Paoli, IN – 5 hours from Knoxville
• Skiing – 17 runs and trails • Night Skiing
• Snowboarding • Snow Tubing
• Restaurant