Your family's on-slope skills are improving by leaps and bounds - or by slaloms, jumps, and jibs - on perfect bluebird days with prime snowy conditions. With three area ski resorts within a short drive of downtown Boone, you'll always find an exciting variety of terrains and cozy lodges where your family feels right at home. After exhilarating days on the slopes, treat everyone with these après-ski activities. These work well for inclement weather days as well.


1. The Children's Playhouse400 Tracy Circle, Boone | 828-263-0011

This hands-on children's museum fills up a renovated house on the edge of downtown Boone. With a number of play areas throughout the house, The Children's Playhouse offers an intimate, child-friendly space which is open every day throughout the year. Play areas include: Arts & Crafts Studio; Romp & Stomp area; the Meadow Room for babies; a Discovery Garden with Gnome Home; a Music & Drama corner; Construction Zone; Ramps & Balls area; a Conveyor Belt; the Book Nook, a Train Climber with slide; a Train Table; Loft Play Space; Sand & Water Play; Pretend Café; Doll House Neighborhood; Science Experiments; Special Activities for 5-8 year-olds; and the Parent Resource Lending Library.


2. 10 High Country Lanes Bowling Center261 Boone Heights Drive, Boone | 828-264-3166

Eat, drink and bowl at one of Boone's favorite indoor entertainment spots. Bring your family, friends, or colleagues and get bowling on 16 lanes of fun! With a full bar of craft beer and cocktails, plus a delicious pub food menu, your family can enjoy the game as well as food and drinks at your station or on the patio outside.


3. Center 45 Climbing Gym200 Den Mac Drive, Boone | 828-386-1550 | Open until 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (until 7 p.m. Sundays; opens Mondays at 2 p.m.)

Center 45 Climbing & Fitness offers visitors 2000 square feet of indoor climbing (bouldering) terrain. Bouldering is a fun, challenging and popular form of ropeless climbing for all ages - typically done on a wall or rock formation at 20ft or less in height. The walls at Center 45 are all 14ft at the apex with a long bouldering wall varying from a sheer roof to vertical terrain, a massive 60-degree overhang, a smaller cap roof, a steep arête, a helical wall, and an independent 45-degree power wall. Every week, talented and creative route setters craft new and exciting climbs. Within the facility are additional weightlifting and general fitness opportunities, including bench-press, free weights, treadmill, stationary bike, rope climbing, gymnastic rings, core exercise spaces, jump rope, medicine balls, and more body weight fitness options. A focused climber training area includes a variety of hang boards, an array of rock-ring and power ball training resources, a campus rung and pinch ball wall, jungle gym style campus ladder, and a symmetrical systems wall. Check out the aerial silks fitness workshops, too!


4. App State Mountaineer Basketball (Women's and Men's)Holmes Convocation Center, 111 Rivers Street, Boone | 828-262-7890

In 2019-2020, Mountaineers men's basketball at Holmes Convocation Center includes five Saturday matches, with tip-off at 4:00 or 4:30 p.m.: January 4 and 18, and February 8, 22, and 29. There are also games scheduled for weeknights throughout the season, starting at 7:00 p.m.: November 7, 12, and 21, December 3, January 2, 6, and 16, February 6, and 20. Tickets for each game are $10-$15, depending on the seat. Women's home games are scheduled for October 30, November 22, 25, and 29, January 9, 11, 18, and 30, and February 1, 13, 15, 27, and 29. Tickets to watch the Women Mountaineers team compete in the Holmes Center are $5-$10, depending on the seat.


5. Blowing Rock Art & History Museum159 Chestnut Street, Blowing Rock | 828-295-9099

Families and kids will enjoy memorable outings and workshops at Blowing Rock Art & History Museum (BRAHM). Choose from weekly programs, such as Afternoon Art Club for ages 6-10 at 3:30-4:30 every Tuesday, or the Doodlebug Club for preschoolers, every Thursday from 10:30-11:30 a.m. or 1-2 p.m. Fees are $5 per person; RSVP is required. Adults will enjoy time sans-kids through art and history education programs such as Thursday Arts & Culture Talks (TAC), Movies at the Museum, Scholars & Scones, and Cork & Canvas ($$).


6. Turchin Center for the Visual Arts423 W. King Street, Boone | 828-262-3017 | Open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. (Fri. 12-8)

Connect with your expressive self through a visit to the many exhibits of the Turchin Center for the Arts, the largest such venue in the NC/TN/VA Appalachian region. Or, sign up for art workshops, or Saturday morning yoga, or Tai Chi sessions on Tuesdays at 5 p.m. Children ages 7-12 can sign up for a day session of the Blazing Easels class, Fridays at 3-4:30 p.m., February through April. Pre-registration for Blazing Easels is required (by phone, or stop at the front desk). Cost for a single class is $7.

7. Watauga County Swimming Pool

(Update: temporarily closed for construction of exciting new recreation facilities)

231 Complex Drive, Boone | 828-264-0270 | Open til 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Mon. - Thurs.; Fri. until 11 p.m.

The only saline water pool in the area, Watauga County Swim Complex offers a saline chlorination that is a safer, more effective and environmentally-friendly method for sanitizing pools. In addition, the pools also offer distinct water temperatures: the lap pool is set at 80-81 deg. F, the training pool, and kiddie pool are set at 84-86. Salt chlorinators provide mildly saline water which essentially turns the swimming pool into "mineral spa water." Closed on Sundays.

8. Mystery Hill

129 Mystery Hill Lane, Blowing Rock | 828-264-2792 | Open daily, 9-5 (winter), and 9-8 (June-August)

Explore the Natural Gravitational Anomaly, Hands-On Science and Optical Illusion Exhibits, Giant Bubbles, the 1903 Dougherty House, the Moon and Irene Mullins Arrowhead collection. 

9. Gem Mining

Gem mining is available year-round at Doc's Rocks, and at Foggy Mountain Gem Mine. As you sift through mine ore brought to you from actual Appalachian gemstone mines, your family will experience the thrill of discovering valuable gems. The staff will teach you how to use the pans and water flumes, then help you identify the gemstones you find. Have your treasure cut to order and/or made into jewelry.

Doc's Rocks, 111 Mystery Hill Lane, Blowing Rock | 828-264-4499

Foggy Mountain Gem Mine, 4416 NC Hwy. 105 S., Boone | 828-963-4367

10. Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Jams

Every Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at Ransom Café & Pub, you can enjoy a cup of local, fresh-roasted Hatchet Coffee, craft beers, or Wine to Water wines, with some of the best pub food in town, while listening (or joining in!) to old-time music jams by experienced community musicians. And, on Thursday nights at 7 p.m., at the 1908 Jones House, turned Cultural and Community Center, you'll feel welcomed for old-time music jams. This is a popular event each week, often resulting in room upon room of the two-story house filled with area musicians, playing until 11 p.m. Come to observe or bring an instrument and play along! Junior Area Musicians (JAM) programs also take place here, so the jams are open to all ages.

There is no admission fee and both venues are centrally located in downtown Boone on King Street:

Wednesdays at Ransom Café & Pub, 747 W. King St., Boone | 828-264-5117

Thursdays at The Jones House Community Center, 604 W. King St., Boone | 828-268-6280

There are plenty of fun things to do both on and off the slopes during winter in the Boone area. Ski resorts are open through March. Plan your visit today!