With a lake as blue as sapphire, Lake Tahoe is a skiers paradise. If you’ve caught the ski bug, and you’ve started the search on where to plan your next ski trip – then Lake Tahoe needs to be on your list!
Lake Tahoe, California is located high up in the Sierra Nevadas between the California-Nevada border. It’s a destination with a vibrant après ski life, incredible local restaurants, and stunning mountain views. Read on and enjoy my tips on how you can plan the perfect Lake Tahoe ski trip.
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Discover the Charm of Truckee
The town of Truckee is best described as charismatic and the perfect example of a place that brings together forward-thinking and trendy with the respected past.
Tips for Skiing at Heavenly
Start your day on the slopes in California and stop for lunch in Nevada by crossing state lines on skis at Heavenly in South Lake Tahoe!
Heavenly is unique not just for its location on the state line of California and Nevada, but it hands down offers the best panoramic views of Lake Tahoe for skiers, and snowboarders. You won’t find a skier, or snowboarder who won’t love a run with a scenic view of the lake.
Difficulty Level of Heavenly
To get to the base of Heavenly all skiers and snowboarders need to ride a Gondola. The Gondola takes around 30 minutes. If you are not a skier, you can still go up the mountain of Heavenly on the Gondola for a fee. You can hop off the Gondola at the first stop which is an observation deck, for a panoramic view of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Lake Tahoe, or make your way up to the base of the mountain.
If you’re a more advanced skier you’ll want to head to the Nevada side of Heavenly when you exit the Gondola. On the Nevada side you’ll find three times as many blue runs (intermediate) compared to the California side which is mostly made up of greens (beginner).
As a snowboarder, I’ll have to say that Heavenly is more skier friendly. I noticed on the Heavenly runs I came across places where I hit a flat period (a snowboarders worst nightmare!) which made it difficult to keep momentum up.
Takeaway from Skiing Heavenly
Ski at Heavenly if you’re searching for the best views of Lake Tahoe and the”bucket list” opportunity to ski between two state lines on the same day. The area of South Lake Tahoe around Heavenly is known for its nightlife. You’ll find Harrah’s and the Hard Rock Casino on the Nevada side if you enjoy gambling, or live shows. If a luxury après ski scene is more your style I would spend your time at Northstar in North Lake Tahoe.
Find the Best Place for Dinner and a Shotski
Play hard on the mountain and eat well at night! One of my favorite reasons for staying in Truckee is the charming local restaurants.
If you have a weakness for vintage ski decor and a cozy mountain lodge Cottonwood is your place! Cottonwood overlooks downtown Truckee built inside one of the nation’s oldest ski lodges decorated with vintage skis memorabilia.
What to Order: The braised baby back pork ribs are a must! They’re a local favorite that used to be an appetizer, but was added it to their regular menu because of how popular they were. The meat falls right off the bone and the chipotle BBQ sauce was so good I was honestly licking it off my fingers without any shame.
Where to find a Shotski!
You won’t find more of the “après ski vibes” than taking a Shotski! In case you aren’t familiar a shotski is a drinking tool made from old wooden ski with shot glasses attached to the top of the ski. The trick is learning how to take the shot along with 3-5 other people with you at the same time.
Cottonwood is one of the handful of restaurants in Truckee that have a shotski in their bar. So pick your favorite shot and grab some friends and take a shotski together!
Tips for Skiing at Northstar
If Heavenly has the views, then Northstar-at-Tahoe has the ambiance. Northstar is my favorite ski resort in all of Tahoe.
Northstar is easy to navigate and has some of the fastest chairlifts in Tahoe. It’s known as being a great place to learn how to ski with “slow zones” toward the base of the mountain to be respectful to beginners.
For a peak of Lake Tahoe the best view is at Mt. Pluto at the top of Comstock Express.
Stop and refuel with a local craft beer and my favorite bbq! Despite living in Texas I’ve only found this cut of BBQ on the west coast!
Once the lifts close the Village at Northstar is the perfect place to switch out those ski boots for snow boots. They have a beautiful ice rink that’s built in the center of the Village. You might get lucky and snag some of the complimentary s’mores that are passed beginning at 4 p.m.
You’ll find me near one of the fire pits under a cabana with a hot cocktail in one hand a s’more in the other.
Northstar Level of Difficulty
Some of the widest, best groomed runs, and longest runs are at Northstar. A majority of the 63 trails are blue runs, but if you’re looking for more of a challenge you can checkout The Backside and Lookout Mountain which are typically far less crowded too.
Where to Find the Champagne Bar at Northstar
Raise your glass at “Tost” for Northstar’s most unique traditions – a champagne toast on the slopes!
Strap on your skis and head over to Tost located right off Northstar’s East Ridge at the top of the mountain for a glass of complimentary champagne. If just one glass isn’t enough don’t worry because you’ll have the option to purchase bottles and 1/2 bottles if you want to relax and bit and enjoy the extra bubbly.
Sit back and enjoy one of the many fire pits and toast to a perfect ski day. The “Tost” champagne bar is open from 2:00 – 2:45 p.m.
Final Thoughts of Skiing Northstar
While Northstar doesn’t hold the crown for the views that Heavenly has Northstar makes up for it in their long runs, excellent ski and snowboard school for beginners, and a luxurious après ski village.
Celebrating? Here’s Where you Find the Best Cake!
If you want to really live it up on your Lake Tahoe ski weekend why not celebrate with a custom cake? I was celebrating my 27th birthday in Tahoe and was searching the Truckee area for a local bakery. I was so happy when I came across Sierra Bakehouse!
The owner Daniella is so thoughtful and she prides herself on giving her customers the best experience. She helped make my vision for a winter wonderland inspired cake come alive.
Best Hotel in Lake Tahoe
The Cedar House Sport Hotel is the best hotel in Lake Tahoe! The Cedar House Sport Hotel combines rustic architecture of Truckee with a distinct modern and sustainable design. You won’t find a better place in Tahoe to relax and recharge over your ski weekend.
The staff and owners at The Cedar House were so hospitable throughout our entire stay. When they found out it was my birthday they surprised me with a gift basket in my room filled with local Truckee cookies, coffee and bath products!
This was my first “boutique eco-lodge” I stayed in and I loved it! Rooms were stocked with reusable glass water bottles as well as glass mugs for coffee. You’ll wake up to heated tile floors from a hydraulic in-floor heating system.
The owners at the Cedar House Sport Hotel know that part of creating a memorable guest experience is sharing a meal together. Their on-site restaurant, Stella, helps build community through their “Pop Up” diner series on Friday and Saturday’s nights.
A special menu is crafted at Stella for each Pop Up dinner. Past dinners have included baked brie in a puff pastry, seared scallops, and homemade fresh bread. While a dinner at Stella will run you between $97-$125 a person the quality of dishes and service you receive is comparable to Michelin Star level quality.
Did I mention the hotel includes a complimentary breakfast buffet spread and a happy hour with hors d’oeuvres in the evening? You won’t find a better hotel in Truckee than The Cedar House.
Final Thoughts on Lake Tahoe
I love the town of Truckee in North Lake Tahoe. Truckee feels like my own little escape back to the days of the rustic wild west with a modern flair. I hope this “weekend popover” guide has helped inspire you to plan your next ski trip to beautiful Lake Tahoe.
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