Let’s face it, 2020 was a beast, and we’re all looking for a little escape in 2021, right? A winter vacation to the North Carolina Smoky Mountains is the perfect cure for cabin fever and cold weather blues. This time of year, there are far fewer visitors and a lot less traffic. So, you can have a safe and socially distanced trip with easy access to breathtaking mountain views and invigorating winter activities. Kick off 2021 with a fresh start and new adventures!

  1. Hit the Slopes in the Smoky Mountains this Winter

Skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing are some of the most popular winter activities in Maggie Valley, NC. The Cataloochee Ski Area has something for all ages and skill levels. Strap on skis or a snowboard and carve your own trail through fresh powder. Beginner skiers can take a group class or private lesson, and intermediate and pro skiers can fly down the expert slopes. You don’t even need your own equipment – affordable ski rentals make it easy to just strap in and go. And if you’re a bit intimidated by skiing or snowboarding, then head over to Tube World for a fun day of snow tubing. It’s a great time for the entire family!

  1. Go Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Hiking isn’t just for springtime in the Great Smoky Mountains. An exhilarating winter hike is an incredible way to enjoy the great outdoors. The trails are clear of the typical warm-weather crowds, making it feel like you have the whole of the Smokies to yourself. Nearby trails are inspiring with their natural beauty, and if you know where to look, you might just find a little winter magic. Waterfalls transform into dazzling frozen spectacles when the temperatures drop. Pics of these sparkling ice formations will light up your social media feeds. Just be careful of ice and snow along the trail and dangling icicles when you walk under cliffs. And dress warmly!

  1. Take a Cross-Country Ski Adventure Up to Clingmans Dome

Strap on a pair of cross-country skis, and head to the iconic Clingman’s Dome for a one-of-a-kind Smoky Mountain winter adventure. There’s nothing quite like the slower pace of cross-country skiing. It gives you time and space to take in the picturesque winter scenery, and the majestic 360-degree views at the top of the dome stretch out for miles. (BONUS, the 6-mile trek is a really good workout.) Follow US 441 up the mountain and park your car at the intersection of Dome Road. Then bundle up and clip into your skis (or snowshoes if you prefer hiking) for a unique winter activity that you’ll never forget.

  1. Hop in Your Car for a Smoky Mountain Winter Drive

The North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains has some spectacular lookouts and vistas. The views are incredible any time of year, but when winter covers the land in fresh white powder, the picturesque views become an enchanting landscape of ice and snow. Not all roads are open, but you will find some scenic stretches that are regularly cleared. Enjoy a leisurely drive filled with beautiful scenes dotted with wildlife out roaming the open fields. Look for animals like white-tailed deer grazing against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains with historic cabins scattered across the valley. You’ll definitely want to pull over to capture this unique photo-op.

  1. Enjoy Dinner with a Snowy View

All this exciting outdoor adventure can really work up an appetite. If you’re feeling a little peckish, it’s time to fill your belly. There’s nothing quite like watching the snow fall outside while you’re tucked safely indoors enjoying a delicious meal and a glass of wine beside a blazing fire. Whether you’re ordering in from your cabin or motel room, or enjoying a socially distanced dinner at one of Maggie Valley’s fantastic restaurants, you’ll find something to satisfy any appetite.

  1. Warm Up with a Dram of Whiskey

After you’ve eaten your dinner (or before, if you prefer) a hot toddy will warm you up from the inside out. The Smoky Mountains are famous for their moonshine and whisky, and Maggie Valley has one of the best distilleries in the Smokies. Elevated Mountain is a craft distillery that produces delicious Smoky Mountain Whiskey as well as other premium spirits with the same time-honored traditions and secrets of their forefathers. Plus, they have live music on their outdoor patio on Friday and Saturday nights.

  1. Snuggle Up for a Cozy Evening by the Fire

At the end of an exciting day hitting all the winter attractions in the Smoky Mountains, head back to your cabin and warm up beside a crackling fire. Drape yourself in a comfy blanket and snuggle up on the couch while you sip hot cocoa or wine in the glow of the dancing flames. There’s no better way to wrap up your winter adventure!