ULTIMATE LAKE TAHOE SKI TRIP

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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Lake Tahoe Travel Guide

Discover the Charm of Truckee

Just a short 10 minute drive from Northstar up in Lake Tahoe’s north shore is the town of Truckee. Truckee is a mix of Wild West with vibrant new shops, art galleries and historic buildings.

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

Heavenly South Lake Tahoe
Ski Suit from Tipsy Elves

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.

Popover Tip: If you’re staying up in North Lake Tahoe in the Truckee area budget around 45-60 minutes for you to make your way over to South Shore where Heavenly is located. Also anticipate long lines for the gondola on weekends, or holiday periods.

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.

Cottonwood Restaurant

Cottonwood Restaurant Truckee
Entrance to Cottonwood

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!

Shotski at Cottonwood

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

Northstar Mountain Snowboarding in a Tipsy Elves Ski Suit
Northstar Mountain

If Heavenly has the views, then Northstar-at-Tahoe has the ambiance.  Northstar is my favorite ski resort in all of Tahoe. 

Tri-Tip at Northstar
BBQ Tri-Tip at Northstar

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! 

Northstar at Tahoe
Scarf from Nuno and Sweater from H&M

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

Tost Northstar Tahoe

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.

 Popover Tip: Tost kicks off right at two o’clock with complimentary glasses of sparkling wine. You can purchase bottles and half bottles of upgraded Champagne like Veuve Clicquot immediately after. Last call is at 2:45PM…. don’t be late!

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!

Sierra Bakehouse Winter 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

Cedar House Sport Hotel
Cedar House Sport Hotel Lobby
Tiko Travel Suitcase
Tiko Travel Carryon Suitcase

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.

Cedar House Sport Hotel

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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Lake Tahoe Winter Trip

 

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58 Comments

  1. Wow! I had no idea about Truckee!! I grew up skiing as a kid…but hate the cold despite still living in New England, so I use my fiance’s inability to ski or snowboard as an excuse to not go lol but this post has made me add Heavenly to my bucket list! Thanks for all the incredible information! #gltlove

    1. Thanks Jen! Even if you don’t ski, or snowboard it’s still such a fun place to be! The best secret to surviving the winter weather is to dress warm!

    2. I’m so glad you liked the post, Jenn! Even if you don’t ski you still have a ton of fun ways to relax! Northstar has a ton of great spas too! #gltlove

  2. Wow! I’ve never made it to the US to ski (I’ve always skiied in the Alps in Europe), but this post has me wanting to book a transatlantic flight immediately. What a diverse and wonderful ski area … and barbecue? I’m not sure I could be happier! Thanks for opening my eyes to Lake Tahoe, there’s a new destination on my bucket list 🙂

  3. OMG these all look SO FUN!!! I used to go to Tahoe all the time when I was at uni and I feel like I totally missed out now! Def going to do a shotski for old time’s sake next time I’m around 🙂 Amazing post girl!!

    1. A skishot is a blast! I feel like you can’t have a ski trip without taking one with your friends!

    1. It was a great trip! I love that Heavenly was designed where you could ski on both sides! It makes it that more fun!

  4. Looks like a super fun trip, I need to visit Lake Tahoe in winter!! And I had no idea they have ski shots there as well, I had one in Canada 😀

  5. Heavenly is my favorite for the views! I need to check out Truckee next time for sure! That eco lodge also looks amazing – we have stayed a few places out there but would try that one next time we go!

    1. You definitely should! Cedar House is amazing! Be sure to keep an eye out on any deals they run on their website! They usually have a promotion going on!

  6. You totally sold me on Lake Tahoe! I always thought I wanted to go during the summertime, but I may consider this as my ski trip for next year! 🙂 What an amazing way to celebrate your birthday too!

  7. Skiing between two states seems so cool! I wish I learned how to ski so that I could go on trips like this. I guess I could always go and stay warm by a fire to drink wine! haha

  8. Years ago I hiked the trail around Lake Tahoe. I would love to come back and ski there. It was great to visit the different ski resorts with you.

  9. Even though I am not a skier I still love the mountains and snow so visiting Lake Tahoe in the winter is something I would love to do! Plus the town of Truckee looks so cute and would be such a fun place to spend the evenings!

    1. Definitely! They have so many things to do for non-skiers as well! Snowshoeing, sleigh rides, and ice skating are all popular!

  10. This is something I’ve always wanted to do! It looks so much fun and those views are amazing. Love the shotski too haha! 😁

  11. Thanks for sharing. I am from the UK and only recently came across Lake Tahoe and was blown away by the incredible water! I’ve booked to go this summer (fingers crossed it still goes ahead!) so it was really useful to see what lays in store (with a bit of added snow). A winter trip may have to be on the cards some day too!

    1. I hope you can go! Tahoe is a stunning place in the summer as well! If you visit Truckee I really recommend staying at the Cedar House!

  12. I have always wanted to ski Lake Tahoe – you make it look like so much fun (and so much delicious!) haha.

  13. I haven’t been to the US and hadn’t heard of Lake Tahoe before this- it looks like my kind of place. Great photos and I hope to visit some day.

  14. 1) Your snowsuit is freaking adorable.
    2) I LOVE your blog.
    3) You’re making me want to travel to Lake Tahoe SO BAD.

    <3Stacey

  15. Great post and so many helpful tips! I’ve been to Tahoe many times but never in the winter. This has me wanting to go as it looks so pretty and cozy. I love that they made a custom cake, that makes celebrating so much more fun!

  16. Lake Tahoe looks amazing! I don’t ski, but hubby does… but I’m sure I could be just as happy lounging around or finding something else to do!

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