What to Do During a Lake Tahoe Winter
Spending some time in Lake Tahoe during the winter months? Take a look at our guide to the best things to do.
Lake Tahoe and its eponymous…Lake Tahoe…make for a year-round highlight. In winter, gone are the green hills, with snowy peaks and ski villages in their stead. The lake itself doesn’t freeze over, but we wouldn’t recommend going for a dip unless you’re a fan of frostbite. But the cold has its advantages, as the resorts open up their slopes from November to April, allowing you to rush down on skis, snowboards, snowtubes and all sorts of wonderful contraptions for all the family. (The aforementioned tubes are basically big donuts that you and your kids can sit on and slip down the slopes.)
Pretend you’re a James Bond character as you zip down the mountains in front of a gorgeous view of the lake. Away from the resorts, you can cross-country ski across Nevada, although you might prefer the skating rings, fire pits and bars of the villages in the resorts. Here's the Plum Guide...guide...to Lake Tahoe winter.
It’s not all about the skiing. We mean, it mostly is. But this being a sophisticated destination, there are all manner of indoor activities to try. Head out from your Plum home like Stargazer and get ready to study the works lining the art galleries of Tahoe City and watch one of the latest flicks at the cinemas. Depending on your preference, you might want to try your luck on the slot machines of Nevada’s casinos, since it’s legal here.
The ski season
Before you get excited and turn up with skiing gear in the middle of summer, let’s take a look at the seasons here. It varies by resort, but in general, the ski season lasts from mid-November until mid-April. If you get hold of a season pass at one of the complexes, you’ll be able to visit whenever you want and get your share of snow. Did you know (it'd be strange if you did) that the Kirkwood Mountain Resort apparently receives the most snow of all of the resorts in the area. We can’t say we know how they do this, but can only presume they’re stealing snow in the dead of night from rival resorts. And good on them, we say. If they go to such extreme lengths to provide extra snow for their customers, the service can’t be bad.
Ok, not everything ski-related is about the resorts. If you’re a bit of an explorer and like off-the-beaten-path activities, you can travel on the…beaten path...in the town of Truckee. You’ll scurry, slip and slide up and down the trails marking the hills and valleys around the town, rubbing ski shoulders (which are like normal shoulders, but while skiing) with everyone from newbies to competitive ski people (or skiers).
Right, leave stubborn ol’ dad to fend for himself in the wilderness of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, while you and the rest of the family enjoy the pampered lifestyle of the resorts. Maybe you’ll even pick him out trudging through the snow from your relaxing position in the gondola leading to the Heavenly Mountain Resort, which claims to be the largest of its kind in California and Nevada. And who are we to dispute that. Go for some skiing and snowboarding lessons for adults and kids in this vast ski resort. Make sure to also check out the Squaw Valley resort, the Northstar Ski Resort and the Kirkwood Ski Resort among the snowy wonderlands spread across the mountains.
Does the French name somehow make it classier and more exclusive? We certainly think so. So, get ready at your Plum home like Mermaid – summon your inner Va Va Voom and a certain je ne sais quoi, dress in your finest accoutrements and make your way to the villages for the eclectic nightlife. Drink yourself to a state of embarrassment, until you’ve forgotten the heaviness and soreness that comes from a day’s skiing. The Northstar Village has a skating rink the kids will enjoy (so maybe get on that before the drinking), while the Squaw Valley Village is known for its fire pits and bars with heated outdoor terraces that allow you to enjoy the picturesque scenery on a winter’s evening.
Remember, it’s not just about you, as much as you’d like it to be. If you had kids (that’s a big if), you made a Faustian pact that committed you to things like the Adventure Peak play area, where you’ll find a charming little ski school for children.
By the lifts of the Squaw and Alpine villages lies the SnoVentures area for kids (and beginners, who are treated in these parts like children). Let them climb aboard the mini snowmobiles, taking care they don’t drive off the edge of a cliff. Take the whole family around the Sierra Nevada mountains on the free shuttle and sit on top of the snow tube donut things, as they whoosh down the slopes. Later, grab the kids and sit by a fire pit, as you roast marshmallows and other gooey sugary items.