When you think of skiing, you want to naturally think of heading out west to the big ski resorts, right? But did you know that there are some spectacular places to ski in the South? Yep! Not only can you learn the basics, you don’t even need to ski to be able to enjoy a visit. Ready to strap on those skis and get the scoop on one of our favorite resorts in West Virginia? Here’s why Snowshoe Mountain with family makes for a great ski vacation – skiing or not.
My first visit to Snowshoe Mountain in Snowshoe, WV, was a memorable one. With a family of three that had never set foot in a pair of ski boots, we were the ultimate newbies. But it only took a couple of hours in the gorgeous mountains to realize that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. And by old dog, I mean me. Yes, the resort is a fine choice for skiers of all levels and abilities but there’s so much more to it than hitting the slopes.
As for its location, it’s roughly a 4 1/2 hour winter road trip from both Washington, DC, and Pittsburgh, PA. That’s in ideal road conditions, of course.
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First Time Skier? No Problem.
I have to mention this one first as it’s one of the best features the resort has to offer. Terrain Based Learning is the process of becoming more proficient on skis by using basic techniques and gradually advancing to more difficult ones. With the technique, TBL started us out on a flat surface, then to a divot-style hill, and then to super small hills.
What I wasn’t expecting was to not be able to use ski poles during our sessions. I thought the poles would help me with my balance in the beginning, but it turns out they’re more of a hindrance than a help. I learned to balance on skis on my own and eventually used the poles for pivoting and carving. It’s this technique that gave me confidence to move from level to level.
Yes, the Terrain Based Learning Program is an additional charge but, honestly, if you or the kids have never skied before, it’s a worthwhile investment.
Lodging at Snowshoe Mountain
I had the pleasure of staying at a couple of the Mountain’s resorts and I can tell you, there’s something to be written in you get what you pay for.
Snowshoe Mountain has a number of different resorts and guest houses, each with its own comfort level and style. During our visit, we stayed at both the Highland House and Allegheny Springs areas. Both are great options for families with beginner skiers and snowboarders, as they sit close to the beginner Skidder slope and are adjacent to the Terrain Based Learning program.
Ski lockers are available on the ground level at each resort, so we were able to grab our ski equipment for first tracks and go! Full kitchens and gas fireplaces allowed us to feel right at home, and daily housekeeping services changed our bedding and freshened our towels. If you want to save some cash, consider taking meal items with you and cook.
TravelingMom Tip: One of our favorite things to do when taking a vacation is to hire a photographer for family photos. This is a special gift and souvenir that we cherish. We use Flytographer to book a local photographer located in the area that we're traveling to. Use this link and you will get $25 off your photo session.
TravelingMom Tip: cell phone reception is very spotty in this area. As of a couple of years ago, AT&T did enhance the cell phone coverage but if you’re a Verizon Wireless customer, you may have problems. You can consider it a blessing if you really want to take a tech break, however.
Allegheny Springs does offer valet parking and had a call-ahead option to retrieve our car. Even with several inches of newly fallen snow, our car was brushed off and its windows scraped. Both lodging areas are located in The Village- the main hub of Snowshoe Mountain – and are only a few minute’s walk to several restaurants.
Dining at Snowshoe Mountain
There’s plenty of dining options at Snowshoe Mountain and many of its restaurants are made for families and a younger crowd. One of my family’s favorites was definitely Cheat Mountain Pizza. Adjacent to the beginner Skidder slope and Terrain Based Learning program, it’s in the same building as Highland House and across from The Depot (a rental and ticket shop). Its proximity to the many popular areas in The Village make it an easy choice for lunch and dinner. We loved the ability to leave our skis, poles, and boards outside while dining, and boots are permitted in the restaurant.
TravelingMom Tip: Cheat Mountain opens at 11 a.m. daily and, in our experience, eating when it opens was a really good idea as the restaurant tends to really fill up around noon.
If you’re looking for a good restaurant for breakfast, my choice is The Junction. It has a great location near the Skidder slope and lift with a ski-in, ski-out option. With ski/snowboard racks outside of the entrance, popping off our equipment and walking in with our boots still on was super convenient! Wifi is not available at this location, but Starbucks is just a few steps away and does have it. The Junction opens daily at 8 a.m.
I know I’ve mentioned it once already, but bringing food to do your own cooking is not only a way to save a ton of money, it’s fun to hang out at the resort for a couple of hours to just relax. We had all of the cooking utensils provided so all we had to bring was the food and condiments.
Two Major Ways to Relax at Snowshoe Mountain
So let’s say you don’t ski and really want to visit Snowshoe. Will you still have fun? One word: absolutely. There’s two major ways and both involve a little bit of “me” time.
The Spa at Snowshoe
On my first visit, I never realized how much my entire body would hurt compliments of all of the training. Seriously, everything from my neck to my feet hurt! There is a luxurious on-property remedy, though: The Spa at Snowshoe.
Needless to write, I was excited and eagerly watched the clock for my midday appointment time to arrive. Fifteen minutes before my scheduled massage, I headed to The Spa to fill out basic information on their standard questionnaire. I was asked to write down any problem areas, body parts that were sore or needed special attention. They also wanted to know any and all ailments I may have suffered from.
Say you want more than a massage, that’s no problem, too. The Spa offers facials, body treatments, mani/pedis, and a full service salon. If you have an appointment, you can also take full advantage for the onsite fitness center.
Outdoor Pools & Hot Tubs
Another cool feature of the resort is the fact that the outdoor pools are open year round. Sure, it may have been 20 below zero with the wind chill, but the outdoor pools and hot tubs were so relaxing! Honestly, it was fun to sit in the hot water with the nippy air on our faces.
Maybe the kids want to take a day off skiing but you still want to hit the slopes. No problem. The Big Top, a 15,000 square foot indoor playground, is a good alternative for younger kids. Bonus: it offers free admission for guests staying on property. Of course, you’ll have to sign a release waiver and both sign in and out the kids, but there’s plenty of fun including a climbing wall, arts and crafts, and even movies.
Two nighttime alternatives for the younger crowd are Kids Night Out and the 20 Below Teen Center. Kids Night Out is a separate admission cost but lets the adults go out and have some fun. As for 20 Below, ages 13-20 are permitted in the center. The best part? It offers just what all teens want: wifi, charging stations, snacks, and a video cafe.
Probably the most fun alternative to skiing is the outdoor tubing area. The Coca-Cola Tube Park has two-hour timed tickets and the prices are pretty decent. You can also purchase a Family 4-pack of tickets to cut down the cost.
In addition to the indoor clubs and tube park, there’s horseback riding, off-road tours and a new escape room. We had the pleasure of taking a RZR tour through the snowy mountains at dusk and it’s still one of the highlights of our visit.