Tucked up above the clouds at an elevation of 5,506 feet sits Beech Mountain, the highest town in the Eastern United States. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, this community boasts incredible scenic views across the Blue Ridge Mountains, excellent dining and activity options, as well as near-perfect weather.
When we visited, we left behind a sweltering summer day in Columbia that was climbing into the upper 90s; however, upon arriving in Beech Mountain, the crisp, thin air took my breath away. It rarely tops 80 degrees there, even in the hottest days of summer. The rule of the 80s applies to winter, too, as they typically receive more than 80 inches of snow, making it a wonderful ski destination.
While I enjoyed an adults-only girls getaway weekend, this would also be a great place to bring kids for a summer vacation — or in the winter to hit the ski slopes — as many of the activities and dining options are perfect for little ones.
Where to Stay
Beech Mountain Realty and Rentals offers a large selection of luxurious mountain homes in which to enjoy a relaxing retreat. The house where we stayed reminded me of an upscale Western lodge. Cleverly designed, the upper floor housed the two master suites, the kitchen, and the living area with a balcony that made us feel like we were in a treehouse. The views across the mountain ridge were breathtaking, and the outdoor amenities included picnic tables, a fire pit, a grill, and a hot tub.
What to Do
With more than 50 acres of developed parkland, several lakes, nearly 30 miles of designated hiking and biking trails, and a ski resort in the middle of town that doubles as a downhill mountain bike park in the summer, Beech Mountain is chockful of activities!
Ski Lift — Stunning mountain scenery from five different states makes riding the chairlift to the peak of Beech Mountain an activity in and of itself. However, adventures are also waiting at the top…
Mile High Yoga — A beautiful deck stretches out from the highest point above the chairlift, creating a very dramatic venue for our Saturday morning guided yoga practice. This is a must-do if you go in the summer.
5506’ Skybar — Visitors can claim an Adirondack chair at 5506’ Skybar and sit back to enjoy snacks and cold beverages with spectacular panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. From June through August, a concert series is held on the deck, adding great outdoor music to the mix.
Golf — While a traditional golf course is located at the public club, we took advantage of the disc golf course in making our way down the mountain, laughing at our poor frisbee abilities! We even saw a baby fawn curled up in a grassy field that will be a ski slope this winter.
Beech Mountain Brewing Co.— We enjoyed a beer flight at the bottom of the slopes at Beech Mountain Brewing, one of the only breweries in America owned and operated by a resort. They brew a variety of ales on-site, ranging from dark Patroller Porter to the award-winning Beech Blonde.
Buckeye Lake —The Buckeye Lake & Recreation Center offers a wide variety of outdoor activity options such as hiking trails and opportunities for fishing, boating, kayaking, and birdwatching. Visitors can also take part in guided hikes, bird-watching groups, sensory night hikes, and exercise classes. We enjoyed the complimentary kayaks and canoe rentals for a tranquil paddle around Buckeye Lake.
Hike the Emerald Outback — The Emerald Outback, so named for its proximity to the Land of Oz theme park and its lush green terrain, offers a myriad of scenic overlooks. The seven miles of trails are named with nods to The Wizard of Oz, such as “Wizard’s Way” and “Witches Tail,” and vary in difficulty to accommodate all exertion levels. Ubiquitous beech tree groves clearly indicate the origins of the mountain’s appellation and add to the enchanted ambiance.
The Land of Oz Theme Park — As a major Wizard of Oz enthusiast, I can attest that this truly is THE Land of Oz! Guests are greeted with a bucolic farming scene from Kansas and wander in the farmhouse front door to an impressive replica of the movie home. Due to the impending tornado, our guide led us down to the storm cellar. As we exited the bottom of the storm cellar, we were led back through the house, which was now completely tilted with everything in disarray! We then stepped out into Munchkin Land, where we began our tour down the yellow brick road. Sitting on the highest peak of the mountain, the unearthly terrain lends itself perfectly for the magical Land of Oz. This remarkable tour sells out quickly, so be sure to book far in advance!
Where to Eat
Fred’s Backside Deli — Each morning we enjoyed breakfast at Fred’s, which has been a Beech Mountain staple since 1979. We chose from a homestyle cooking menu of large waffles and traditional platters of eggs, toast, grits or hash browns, bacon or sausage, and country ham or steak. With both indoor and outdoor patio seating, it was the perfect way to start the day.
Holy Smokes BBQ —Traditional North Carolina barbecue is never something to pass up! Owners Trisha and Mike Moore prepared us a sample platter of their incredible pulled pork, beef brisket, smoked turkey, and smoked sausage with sides of coleslaw, hot mac and cheese, and string beans. As someone who is all about the sauce, their menagerie of homemade sauces and spreads absolutely made it for me. We were sure to save a little room for dessert, though, as they also have delicious fudge that Trisha makes each day.
The Taproom — Connected to Beech Mountain Brewing Company, where we enjoyed our beer flight at the bottom of the ski slopes, the Taproom provided us with a wonderful lunch after our morning of mountain activities. I highly recommend the bean burger and sweet potato French fries!
Mi Jalisco Mexican Grille — Our first night at Beech was punctuated with authentic, award-winning Mexican cuisine. Gorgeous views over the mountains complemented the sizzling fajitas … with a cold margarita on top.
The Famous Brick Oven — This was definitely the place to be on Friday night! Kids bounced in and out of an arcade in the back room as we got in line to order, and a small train chugged around the ceiling. Bright colors, laughter, more than 150 types of beer, and the presence of a huge, sundry dessert bar with giant cookies branded this place as a playground for kids and adults alike. As we sat down at a picnic table outside, the Deep Creek Bluegrass Band serenaded us in front of a vibrant mountain sunset while the children who weren’t in the arcade played at a small put-put course. I elected to have the “white pie” pizza with an olive oil base, fresh garlic, tomatoes, and ricotta cheese. Thick doughy crust was the perfect finish to each slice.
Alpen Inn — Our last night at Beech Mountain took us to an elegant fine dining establishment with three-state mountain views. Sipping a dry chardonnay, we started our meal with jumbo shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad with specialty homemade dressing, and crab bisque with sherry. I then chose the Alpen pecan sauteed trout with sweet dill carrots, mushrooms, and rice pilaf for my entree. We finished our meal and our trip with a shared crème brûlée and a chocolate decadence cake for dessert. What a wonderful experience!