Just Because the Snow Isn’t Real Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Have a Real Good Time!
Let’s face it — when it comes to winter sports in the Carolinas, the Palmetto and Tar Heel States are not prime destinations for skiing and snowboarding. Never cold enough for skating on top of frozen water, and too flat to compete against destinations like Vail, Colorado, and Stowe, Vermont, our main contact with rarely-witnessed snow mainly involves flailing awkwardly a la snow angel-style, or dabbling in snow cocktail mixology on an unanticipated snow day.
Looking for things to do in the Carolinas during wintertime? Try your hand (or snowshoe or curling brush…) at some of these unique winter sports in the Carolinas. While most are relegated to the mountain region of the Carolinas, some are accessible to the frost-challenged denizens of the Piedmont and coastal plain.
Bobsledding (or something like it)
For some, the best kind of winter sport is the type that involves the least possible amount of physical exertion. That makes bobsledding an excellent option for younger Carolinians and people operating at either end of the couch potato to adrenaline seeker extremes of the activity spectrum!
Strap into the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster in Banner Elk, NC, which recently opened in 2020. Careen down the mountainside in this tandem contraption, where you’ll exceed speeds of 27 miles per hour and complete three 360-degree loops! Packages include three rides through the seven-minute course, and if you’re still on the hunt for more thrills, you can edge over to the Wilderness Run Adventure Course next door.
Put down your curling iron – you’re going to need both hands for this one! You’ve seen it done at the Olympics and surely thought to yourself, I could do that! Now is your chance to put your money where your mouth is.
Curling involves two teammates using special brushes (not for your hair) to guide a stone along the ice and into a target zone. Think darts + ice – bar peanuts. A great activity to play in groups of four to eight, you can learn how to curl at various locations across the Carolinas. In fact, Charlotte Curling, the Palmetto Curling Club of Greenville, SC, and the Triangle Curling Club are already filling up sessions for the new year!
Few corners of the Carolinas grant reliable access to the four-to-six inches of snow required for snowshoeing. Beech Mountain – the highest town above sea level in the eastern United States – offers a rare exception.
At Buckeye Recreation Center, you can take advantage of free snowshoe rentals for half-day excursions or embark upon a guided snowshoe tour through the town’s 30+ miles of hiking paths. You’ll be surprised at how invigorating a simple walk in the snow can be!
While indoor skydiving may not be first on your list of winter sports to try in the Carolinas, it is totally possible in the 21st century, and accessible for adrenaline seekers as young as three years old! You’ll feel like Santa blasting through the skies on Christmas Eve in his supersonic sleigh as you careen through a wind tunnel engineered to mimic the experience of freefalling from thousands of feet above ground.
Check out iFly in Charlotte, NC or Urban Air Adventure Park, with locations all throughout the Carolinas including Winston-Salem, Raleigh, Columbia, North Charleston, and Greenville. The latter features additional attractions like laser tag, miniature golf, go-kart racing, and indoor ropes courses – all winter-friendly thrills!
In addition to the likelihood of wiping out in a snowbank, winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, and skating share one more element: the need for above-average athletic ability.
Thankfully, there’s an alternative which packs all of the thrill and requires none of the skill: snow-tubing, truly the people’s winter sport. Places like Wolf Ridge Snow Tubing Park in Mars Hill, NC offer sessions for snow bunnies of all ages. Simply hook your tube to the marvelous towing invention referred to as the “Magic Carpet” and enjoy the ride downhill, again and again and again! At least, until your two hour session has come to an end.
What are some of your favorite winter sports in the Carolinas? Share your stories and pictures with us for a chance to be featured on our social media page!