HOLIDAY WEEKENDER: Chetola Resort
There’s nothing quite like cozying up in a mountain lodge at the height of the holiday season. At just over two hours from Charlotte, Chetola Resort is a magical weekend getaway in Blowing Rock, a Rockwell-esque town off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Book a stay this month to catch a glittering holiday light display, roast marshmallows by a bonfire, hunt for sneaky elves, play snowman bowling, and curl up by a crackling fireplace with hot cocoa. Break out your matching jammies, ignore your shopping lists for a few days, and experience the holidays like a kid again.
Chetola Resort, an 78-acre retreat nestled in the mountains of Blowing Rock, has a mix of hotel rooms, suites, and condominiums. If you can swing it, book a two- or three-bedroom condo that’s equipped with a kitchen, washer and dryer, whirlpool tub, and fireplace. Now through January 30, 2022, catch “The Festival of Lights” on display at the resort. Drive or stroll around Chetola Lake to see glittering ice skaters, Rudolph reeling in a big fish, and carolers. Kids can play outdoor games like Christmas Tic-Tac-Toe and Snowman Bowling; at each stop, they can add a holiday sticker to their game sheet. When you’ve hit them all, visit the recreation center for a holiday treat. On Friday and Saturday nights from 6 to 9 p.m., head to Chetola’s lakeside fire pit for Bonfire Nights. Kids can grab a s’mores kit and parents can order a festive cocktail from the bar.
Have breakfast, lunch, or dinner (ideally all three) at Timberlake’s, the resort’s onsite restaurant in the historic Manor House. Start your day with a Bananas Foster Waffle, Stuffed French Toast, or Chicken and Biscuits, and feel free to linger by the fireplace with a second cup of coffee. If you have early risers, aim to get there around 8 a.m. for quicker seating and less wait time due to staffing shortages. Grab lunch at the adjacent Headwaters Pub and enjoy a sandwich and salad, or warm up with a bowl of the soup du jour. For dinner, book a table in the dining room and feast on Miso Marinated Sea Bass and Butternut Squash Ravioli; a children’s menu includes kid-friendly staples like chicken tenders and grilled cheese. If you’d rather stay in, have a family meal delivered to your room. Pop a lasagna or chicken pot pie in the oven and snuggle up on the couch with a holiday movie.
When you check in, get the kiddos a Kids Adventure Pack at the front desk. The $25 bundle includes a tote bag, water bottle, Junior Ranger booklet, snack, and hiking socks. If your crew is outdoorsy, take a 1.8-mile family-friendly hike on the Bass Lake Track Trail on the Chetola property. Around the corner from the resort, visit the Tanger Outlets and do the Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt. Sign up online and stop by Shopper Services to collect your map of clues; when you’ve spotted them all, head back to Shopper Services for a special gift. If you still need to get some wiggles out, check out the indoor pool at the sports and recreation center, stop by the onsite playground, or rent a few frisbees and play a game of 9-hole disc golf on the property.
WONDER, WANDER, REPEAT
If you can pull your kiddos away from the resort’s winter wonderland for an afternoon, take a 30-minute drive to Grandfather Mountain. Reserve your tickets online before you go; entry is $22 for adults and $9 for children ages 4 to 12. Walk the Mile-High Swinging Bridge; explore the extensive trails; and see elk, black bears, and bald eagles in their wildlife habitats. Allot about three hours for a visit that includes the drive up and back, and keep in mind that the road up to Grandfather is very curvy. Be sure to pack some dramamine if your crew is prone to motion sickness.