Connect With Your Family, Not Your Phone
Lake Tahoe is a sure bet for families looking to stretch their travel dollar and fill their ski vacation with one-of-a-kind memories that are certain to last a lifetime. Not only does Lake Tahoe offer more resorts in close proximity than any other winter destination in North America, parents and kids can choose from an endless variety of adventures off-the-slopes as well including ice skating, tubing, dogsledding, sleigh rides, swimming lagoons, paddlewheeler boat tours and even year-round climbing walls, ziplines, and tree-top canopy tours.
The modern mountain villages located on both shores of Lake Tahoe serve as ideal basecamps for families hoping to park the car once for the entire vacation with restaurants, shopping, theatres and arcades all within walking distance. Convenient shuttle options exist between the resorts and most lodging properties along with reliable roundtrip transportation options for destination guests flying into the recently remodeled Reno-Tahoe International Airport, which has never experienced a closure due to snow.
Averaging more than 300 days of sunshine each year, the California approach to skiing and snowboarding allows families to focus on the fun side of the sport and leave the facemasks and extra layers at home. Additionally, the Ski Lake Tahoe resorts have been designed with families in mind boasting heated walkways, specialized surface lifts, enclosed gondolas and aerial trams, all of which make for a more enjoyable day on the slopes for mom, dad and kids.
World-class ski and snowboard instruction are available at all seven resorts with many of the resorts designating areas of their mountain as “Beginner Zones” or “Family Fun Areas” complete with interactive features and entertaining characters. For moms and dads looking to sneak in a little grown-up time while on vacation, certified daycare options exist both at the ski resorts and at many of the lodging properties around the lake.
Building on the mantra that “the family that plays together, stays-and-skis free together”, the seven Ski Lake Tahoe resorts offer the most affordable ski vacation packages in the country including a number of kids stay-and-ski free promotions throughout the season. Many of the resorts continue to offer recession-minded deals this season with added value and free additional nights that end up costing less for a family than a trip to a theme park…not to mention the health benefits of an active vacation are invaluable.
The following is a cursory rundown of new amenities and family-focused activities both on and off the slopes at all seven world-class resorts for parents and kids looking to experience the ultimate family ski vacation this season in Lake Tahoe. Heavenly Mountain Resort unveiled its new Bear Cave kids center a few seasons back conveniently located mid-mountain at the top of the resort’s gondola. The building’s design mirrors the architecture of the recently completed 14,720 square foot Tamarack Lodge anchoring the family-friendly amenities available at Adventure Peak including sightseeing, snow play areas, lift-served tubing lanes, zip lines and a mountain coaster. Kids can also join Heavenly’s mascot Ripperoo on Saturdays as he leads kids on a merry jaunt with his marching band in tow as they sing, dance, and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies to cap off a great day on the slopes.
Kirkwood Mountain Resort serves as an ideal base camp for families hoping to fill their vacations with adventurous experiences such as snowmobile tours, tubing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or evening snowcat tours to the top of Red Cliffs Mountain for spectacular views of the High Sierra. The Tahoe Learning Center at Timber Creek offers all the products and services kids need for an enjoyable day on the slopes in a dedicated base area for first-timers and families.
Families can make turns right off the plane at Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe located less than 25 minutes from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. The resort’s layout is ideal for families with its naturally funneling trails, dedicated beginners’ area, easy-to-use conveyor lifts and detachable six-pack lifts. The Wild Horse Adventure Trail is always a hit with the kids as it winds through the trees evoking audible cries of excitement and laughter from both the young and the young-at-heart. The resort offers Family Packs for just $320 including lift tickets for two adults and two children ages 17 and under valid every day of the season.
Northstar California Resort continues to improve upon its family-friendly village with the addition of new storefronts, movie theatres and hands-on arts and craft shops for the kids. The ever-popular ice rink serves as the focal point for family activities with comfortable cabanas and fire pits perfect for roasting s’mores. More adventurous types can check out Northstar’s Apex Bungy trampoline, mid-mountain tubing park and moonlight snowshoe tours. Thanks to the implementation of EpicMix technology, families can now use their existing social media profiles to instantly share photos taken by resort photographers situated around the mountain.
In conjunction with Burton Snowboards and Lucasfilm, Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort has unleashed the force in young snowboarding padawans thanks to its new Burton Star Wars Experience combining industry-leading teaching methodology with lifelike replicas from the Star Wars galaxy. Kids and adults alike will be amazed by the craftsmanship behind these chainsaw carvings of fan favorites such as Yoda, Chewbacca, R2D2, C3P0 and of course plenty of loveable Ewoks. The resort has also upgraded the amenities available at its dedicated snowplay area Blizzard Mountain with lift-served tubing, bounce houses, snowman kits, snowball makers, fire pits and more. Sierra-at-Tahoe also offers an interchangeable “Parent Predicament” lift ticket so mom and dad can swap out sneaking in turns on the slopes.
Squaw Valley continues to make significant investments in upgrading both its facilities and on-mountain experience for families. The new SnoVentures Activity Zone consists of a renovated family-friendly lodge, lift-accessed tubing lanes and even mini snowmobiles designed especially for kids. Four new conveyor lifts, named after the resort’s avalanche rescue dogs, have also been installed at the base of the mountain as part of an evolution taking shape to vastly improve the beginner learning experience. Families should mark their calendars for the week-long Kid-O-Rama celebration slated to take place in mid-February consisting of parades, concerts, street parties, balloon animals and Big Truck Nights in the Village is always a crowd-favorite as kids can get close-up views of fire trucks, snowplows and grooming machines.