When I hear people complaining about how cold it is outside, I must admit I do not have much sympathy for them. I grew up in New Hampshire and folks round those parts (pahts) have to be pretty tough to brave New England winters. Many might actually think that people who live in northern latitudes are nuts, and I cannot completely disagree with those views, but we do know how to have fun in the cold because… it is always cold, and there is fun to be had while everyone else is sitting inside on their couches.
Rainy cold weather in Chapel Hill in the winter could mean snow in the mountains, and the chance to go skiing (snow skiing, not water skiing) or snowboarding. Yes, there is skiing and snowboarding in North Carolina and other Southeastern states. There may be some people laughing at this notion right now, and they are probably people who are from the Northeast or lived in Colorado or Utah, or someplace like that (both of which I have done). The skiing in the Southeast is not as reputable, but it is still skiing, and it is a great way to get outside in the winter. Also, I think that skiing and snowboarding in North Carolina is somewhat of a novelty because it is a totally different crowd than you might see at New England resorts or places like Vail or Aspen. Additionally, the snowfall for Beech Mountain last year was over 104 inches, which is nothing to scoff at. Most of the skiing in New England is on man-made snow anyways and the larger resorts in the southeast have snow making just like New England. Sugar Mountain also has 1200 feet of vertical which is just under the vertical of Bromley Mountain in Vermont.
Google maps tells us that Chapel Hill residents are exactly a 3 hour drive to Sugar Mountain, and Beech Mountain is right next door. Other resorts, in North Carolina include, Cataloochee, Sapphire Valley, Appalachian, and Wolfe Ridge. Additionally, an organization called Slope and Sail Tours offers day trips to Wintergreen Resort in Virginia and Snowshoe Resort in West Virginia and they have pick-up locations in both Raleigh and Chapel Hill. Who cares if you have never been skiing? Here is your chance to start, and rather than telling people about your boring weekend of sitting around, and still not doing any school work, you can tell people about how cool your first skiing experience was.
But maybe you are more of the cardiovascular exercise type, like I am. The weather is not very conducive to road biking on a cold wet winter day but there are other options. There is cross country skiing in North Carolina, and there is no better workout or more enjoyable way to be in the woods in the winter than cross country skiing. What is cross country skiing you might ask? It is like walking on skis and is not very hard at all. During the winter you can ski in Great Smoky Mountain National Park on park roads that are closed, and Roan Mountain State park and Moses Cone Memorial Park are two other options. Another great option is skiing on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Many sections are closed for the whole winter and when it snows it makes a great track to cross country ski on. More resources can be found at http://www.skisoutheast.com/cross-country-skiing-north-carolina.php.
Get out and enjoy the cold weather! You will be glad you did.