Although winter usually isn’t a lengthy or brutal season in Raleigh, gray skies and chillier temperatures can make the winter months feel endless. The good news is that there are many weekend getaways destinations within reach to help beat the winter blues.
A few hours west of Raleigh, weekend travelers can explore the Appalachian Mountains. The northern section of Western North Carolina is home to the state’s top ski resorts, including Appalachian Ski Mountain and Sugar Mountain ski resorts. Visitors can also take in Grandfather Mountain, the highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and Cone Manor, a Colonial Revival mansion built by textile magnate Moses Cone in 1901.
For a splurge, Relais & Chateaux-anointed Westglow Resort & Spa in nearby Blowing Rock. Westglow is home to an upscale spa and indoor pool overlooking the mountains, as well as one of the area’s finer restaurants, Rowland’s. For those seeking a less formal but equally gourmet dining experience, The Gamekeeper in Boone is known for unique dishes involving antelope, buffalo and other wild game.
To the south of the Blowing Rock and Boone area, Asheville lives up to its reputation as one of the state’s best tourist attractions. During the winter months, the Biltmore Estate is generally less crowded and visitors can take advantage of ticket specials. In addition, the arts, dining and craft brewing scenes are active year-round.
Art lovers should check out the Asheville Fringe Arts Festival, running from January 24-27, or the Arts & Crafts Conference at the Grove Park Inn from February 22-24. Beer enthusiasts may prefer to visit during the Winter Warmer Beer Festival in January. The event features brewers from Asheville, Tennessee and Georgia along with live music and food from local chefs.
Travelers seeking a charming bed and breakfast should stay at the Princess Anne Hotel in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood. Others may prefer the Hotel Indigo, a fairly new and affordable hotel in the middle of downtown. The region’s coolest restaurant, The Admiral, is not to be missed, although vegetarians may prefer Laughing Seed Cafe.
Several North Carolina coastal towns are also worth a visit during the winter months. Located at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, Southport has a small, historic downtown that’s ideal for a quiet getaway. During the winter months, Southport hosts family-friendly events like the Charles Dickens Christmas Festival.
For a classic bed and breakfast experience, travelers should book a room at the Robert Ruark Inn, known for its hospitable owners. With only a handful of dining options downtown, The Pharmacy Restaurant is definitely worth a visit for some fresh seafood.
Raleigh residents in need of a winter boost may also consider a short excursion to Greenville, South Carolina. The BMW manufacturing facility tour earns rave reviews, but reservations are a must. The Holiday Inn Express offers value and a convenient downtown location, and hotel guests can walk to dinner at nearby High Cotton Riverside Dining Restaurant.