Snow has finally arrived, transforming Tahoe into a wintry wonderland. It’s time to hit the road and see (and ski) the famed mountain resort

After a stifling summer with heat and smoke, we are so excited for winter at Tahoe! If your family is ready for some winter fun, we have all the tips on how to turn Tahoe into your winter wonderland playground below. For snow play and non-skiing/boarding activities, make sure to check out our sledding and tubing hill guide and either way, get ready to hit the slopes!

Where to Stay in Tahoe: The North Shore

Christine Lai

For those who prefer the north side of the lake, the Village at Northstar boasts a ton of comfy lodging options for you and the fam and most rooms come with a mini kitchen so you can cook up your own hot cocoa. Dine at the Bourbon Pub in the Village and go ice skating at the on-site rink.

Check out our insider's guide to skiing at Northstar with kids who never skied before. 

For an elevated experience, check into the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe mid-mountain at Northstar. Expect five-star Ritz-Carlton service, with ski-in-ski-out convenience, plus a spa worth bribing your significant other to take the kids for a couple of hours. Two- and three-bedroom luxury residences make for an easy family retreat or upgrade your hotel room to concierge level for all those benefits.

If being close to the action is what you crave, the Village at Tahoe Palisades plunks you and the fam just steps from the gondola, lifts, shops and great restaurants of the former Olympic Village. Condos come in all sizes from studios to three-bedrooms, so there’s room for all. Bonus: many have hot tubs!

Tahoe Getaways also offers some stunning homes perfect for groups or large families, including some homes within residential community Mountainside at Northstar, which offers everything from ski butler, to a communal club house with a fitness center and heated pool, to back doors that open up right to the runs on the mountain.

Where to Stay in Tahoe: The South Shore

On the South side of the lake, there are sometimes better deals to be found, as well as some top-notch skiing. The Hotel Becket boasts gorgeous modern rooms and is located just across the street from Heavenly Village, which offers 4,800 acres of world-class skiing and snow boarding. The Landing Lake Tahoe Resort and Spa, a Destination Hotel, offers a popcorn cart, snowga (yoga in the snow!) and helicopter programming to take your visit the the sky! The all-suite Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel means extra room for families to spread out plus free breakfast (think: eggs and bacon!) is included in every stay so the family hits the slopes with full bellies.  

If you’re looking to team up with another family or simply prefer more space, (plus have your own yard for snowman-building and snowball-hurling) the widest array of options are found on or

Where to Ski in Tahoe

Christine Lai

Some of you may be itching to get the little ones up on skis for the first time. If they’re ready to go for it, most of the larger ski resorts have ski schools that are perfect for tiny beginners. Palisade Tahoe's program takes kids as young as three and these “Pioneers" learn on the flats, with about a 3-to-1 student to teacher ratio. Slightly older kids (4-6) learn with the Explorers group. Northstar-at-Tahoe’s youth ski/snowboard  program takes three-year-olds and up as well.

Insider Tip: For first-timers, most resorts recommend starting off with a half-day, to keep their little legs from getting too tired, then checking them into day care so kids can have a blast while you go big on the slopes. Check out our full  guide to kids' ski and snowboard lessons.

But if the real thrill is teaching your little shredder yourself, there are plenty of slopes perfect for learning. The Little Dipper sits right behind the Ritz-Carlton and even has it's own mini chair lift, which tends to make kids extra excited about the whole snowy endeavor. Closer to Northstar Village, there are two Kids' Adventure Parks with tiny terrain perfect for the beginner to practice on.

Where to Sled, Skate, Sleigh & Snowtube in Tahoe

Snow Play in Tahoe: This outdoor adventure wonderland is perfect for families who have more on their wish list than skiing and snowboarding. While there are great options for downhill and cross-country here, we went nuts for the snow play area. Sledding (sleds provided!), tubing and even a snowball launch make this an all-in-one winter wonderland for kids (and grownups who may have forgotten the joy of coasting down a snow-covered hill on their butts). Ample parking and one ticket lets you play all day. There are fire pits, picnic tables and a food truck serving up sandwiches, hot cocoa and more.

11509 Northwoods Blvd.

Sledding in Tahoe: Bundled-up kids will enjoy a sleigh ride pulled by horses: there’s one at Sand Harbor Nevada State Park, a family-run outfit. Dog-sledding trips might thrill older kids who can stand to be on a husky-pulled sled for an hour. Also check out Running Creek Dog Sled Rides if you think this classic outdoors adventure is a fit for your family.

If your tot prefers to pull his own sled, there are dozens of options for sledding hills and tubing parks all around the lake. If you’re planning to ski at one of the major resorts, you’ll be glad to know that Squaw, Northstar, Kirkwood and Sierra-at-Tahoe all boast tubing parks where kids can slide in a giant doughnut for a small fee. And the smaller resorts have some pretty tricked-out sledding hills these days, too: Soda Springs lets tots as little as three take its tow ropes to the Tube Express, or, for a slower ride, the Little Dipper; Granlibakken rents saucers (no tubes or toboggans). For good, old-fashioned classic sledding, there are some hills around the lake that do it old-school: BYO sled, and best of all, no fee.

Ice Skating in Tahoe: And let’s not leave out that classic winter pastime: ice skating! The year-round rink at Northstar (roller-skating in the summer) is in the center of the village, so parents can sip a hot toddy while kids twirl away in their sightline on the ice. And the resort at Squaw Creek’s outdoor rink makes a perfect photo op, with its Sierra backdrop and hot chocolate on hand.

Where to Eat in Tahoe with Kids

Pretty much any of the restaurants within the villages at Northstar or Squaw are perfect for filling up your snow covered crew any time of day. The Michael Mina Bourbon Pub is a great option for families looking for comfort food with all the beverages to go with it. But if you are venturing out to the towns, there are lots of family-friendly places to check out.

Dine in an old train car Jax at the Trax, which serves up thick milkshakes, sweet potato fries and even whipped cream topped Irish coffees for mom and dad. This Truckee favorite is almost always bustling, but the incredibly friendly staff will make sure you feel well taken care of. The menu is multiple pages long and even offers breakfast favorites served all day. Portions are large, so maybe pick a few favorites and go family style. Their chicken fingers are the real deal (as opposed to of the suspiciously shaped McNugget variety), so order 'em up.

For some special views, the lakeside dining at Riva Grill in South Lake Tahoe is surprisingly kid-friendly. Order up a Virgin Woody (the nonalcoholic version of their famous house cocktail) and soak up the scenery of that iconic lake.

For the best Frosty the Snowman pancakes in town, grab a table at Donner Lake Kitchen. It’s tucked behind the Donner Pines Market on Donner Pass Road. The service is as sweet as the M&Ms used for Frosty’s buttons, and the menu is extensive (we recommend the Bloody Marys for mom and dad). The portions are massive, but luckily they offer half sizes on the most monster-sized meals. They are only open for breakfast and lunch.

On your way in our out of town, be sure to fuel up at the Wagon Train Coffee Shop. Located in the heart of downtown Truckee, right on the strip, this place is a must visit for a taste of local flavor and fun. A model train runs on tracks suspended over the dining room and dozens of license plates and taxidermy trophy heads line the walls. The family business has been going strong for decades and their baked goods are out of this world. Just don’t try and ask what is in the biscuit’s sweet sauce—that’s proprietary. This place is a haven for thoughtful parents who want to let their partner sleep in, as they open up at 5:30 a.m. every morning and offer early bird pricing during those wee hours. 

Tips for Driving to Tahoe

During the snowy season, always carry chains when driving to Tahoe (unless you are driving a four-wheel-drive with snow tires). But if you come empty handed, there are always chain services selling and installing on the side of the road, and you'll pay from $50 to $75 for the whole shebang, without ever having to get out of your car.


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