Beech Mountain Is a Spectacular Summer Getaway From Raleigh

Not just a ski resort, Beech Mountain beckons visitors with spectacular scenery, delightful dining and high-altitude adventure for a summer getaway like no other.

You’ve never seen a natural beauty quite like Beech Mountain, NC. Sitting pretty at 5,506 feet, eastern America’s highest town greets travelers with sweeping panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, setting the backdrop for an unforgettable weekend escape

Although the resort destination is widely known for epic skiing and snowboarding during the winter months, we’re convinced that summer—when the air is gloriously cool and the options for outdoor activities abound—may just be the ideal time to experience this North Carolina gem. Here, we share our takeaways from a recent jaunt (FYI, it’s just under a four-hour drive from the City of Oaks!) for those looking to beat the heat and explore a different kind of Beech this season.

Come for the views, stay for the brews

Upon arrival, head straight to Beech Mountain Resort, hop on the chairlift and prepare to have your breath taken away. The resort converts its ski slopes into downhill mountain biking trails each summer, so you’ll be entertained by the action below as you glide upward on this stunning scenic ride. 

At the top awaits 5506’ Skybar, whose name, of course, pays tribute to Beech Mountain’s signature elevation. And there’s no better place to soak in the majestic views than here—picture a 2,800-square-foot deck complete with Adirondack chairs, picnic tables and a bar area enclosed in a glass roundhouse. At the bar, order a citrusy Downhill IPA or refreshing Beech Mountain Lager by the resort’s own Beech Mountain Brewing Co. to sip while you unwind on this peaceful perch. 

Once you’ve returned to the resort village, be sure to stop by the brewery—one of the only in the U.S. owned and operated by a ski area—to sample its latest seasonal offerings. If you’re lucky, you may bump into head brewer Aaron Maas, who is as passionate about the outdoors (he’s the head skiing and snowboarding coach at nearby Lees-McRae College) as he is about making great beer. Cheers!

You should most definitely take a hike

Beech Mountain is home to 25 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, with the Emerald Outback trail system located near the summit as one of the most popular options for its pristine conditions and high elevations promising gorgeous vistas. Its nine interconnected trails offer something for every type of hiker. 

Enter the trails on the easy Oz Forest Run before connecting to more moderate trails such as Wizard’s Way and Ruby Slippers. (Notice a theme among the trail names? They nod to the former Land of Oz theme park, which reopens its yellow brick road for the popular Autumn at Oz festival each September!) 

No matter the trail you choose, expect to be surrounded by lush green forests, waterfalls and mossy stones that will make you feel as though you’ve been transported to some faraway realm—plus plenty of overlooks and vantage points for securing that perfect selfie. Bikers, watch out for the strenuous Witch’s Backbone and Witch’s Tail trails!       

The restaurant scene is small but mighty

Although the list of Beech restos is relatively short, each spot offers something special. Our picks? Start the day with a hearty homestyle breakfast at Fred’s General Mercantile’s Backside Deli, a staple of this high-country community where owner and former Beech Mountain Mayor Fred Pfohl greets locals by name. But the beloved haunt is so much more than just an eatery—it’s also a grocery, ski and snowboard outfitter, hardware store, gift shop, wild bird supplier and more. (Fun fact: Pfohl lived in the upstairs portion of the building—which now houses a photo gallery—with his wife and five kids for years after establishing his eponymous biz in 1979.) 

After an active morning spent on the trails, refuel at Holy Smokes BBQ inside the White Wolf Lodge, a must-visit for mouthwatering North Carolina pulled pork BBQ, Southern sides, and a range of sweet and zesty sauces made in-house daily. For a sweet finish, the restaurant’s homemade fudge counter—and the views off the back deck—are not to be missed. 

Cap off the day with flavorful fare and cold margs at Mi Jalisco Mexican Grill, which boasts a large menu of authentic dishes, including vegetarian options. We recommend a sizzling fajita or the mariscada, which combines seafood and mixed veggies in a savory tomato-based broth and is served with warm tortillas for a tasty touch.      

The town is a giant playground for kids—and kids at heart

Both adults and children are in for a treat when they visit Beech during the summer months thanks to its family-friendly facilities and programming. Check out Buckeye Recreation Center, the town’s ~23,000-square-foot rec facility boasting everything from full-size tennis and pickleball courts (if your fam’s the competitive kind) to an outdoor playground and padded indoor playroom perfect for littles who need to burn off some energy before naptime. 

The center also offers free kayak, canoe and fishing pole rentals for a relaxing afternoon spent on Buckeye Lake, plus summer camps and an impressive lineup of events—think themed hikes, drive-in movies, a local race series and—for those in town for the Fourth of July—a water party featuring a mega slip-n-slide on the nearby sled hill.

When it comes to dining, gather the whole crew and head to the casual-cool Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria, a local pizza joint that offers family fun nights (bounce house, anyone?), live music, movies under the stars and much more throughout the season.

Everything can—and should—be taken alfresco

Happy hour, exercise, live music… everything moves outdoors when the weather’s this good (we’re talking temps that consistently hover in the 60s and 70s—aka heaven!). From Mile High Yoga classes presented by Avery Community Yoga, which take place on the 5506’ Skybar deck, to Beech Mountain Resort’s summer concert series (Amos Lee! Sheryl Crow! Grace Potter!), there’s no shortage of ways to get outside and relish every cool mountain breeze. In the evenings, hit up the aptly named Sunset Park overlook for one final peek at Beech Mountain’s picturesque landscapes before nightfall—you may even want to bring a light jacket. 

Whether you’re seeking a relaxing escape from city life or a thrill-packed adventure this summer, Beech Mountain is calling—and, Raleighites, you must go.

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About the Author

Angela Brown
Angela Brown is the author of our Business & Economy section.