Winter in North Lake Tahoe means skiing or boarding amid gorgeous snow-capped mountains and clear blue skies. From old-world charm to modern luxury, North Lake Tahoe ski resorts each have their own personality. Crafting your family itinerary can be tough because of so many frogerrific choices. Not to worry, our frog family is here to help!
Depending on your skiing level, interests off the ski hill, time of year and children’s skiing abilities, some resorts will meet your needs better than others. Our frog family hopped around the North Lake Tahoe ski resorts to help you navigate this new terrain. Read on for our family guide to North Lake Tahoe ski resorts, some that boast long ski seasons! Oh, and don't froget, we're now booking discount hotel rooms and lift tickets to key ski destinations, including the Lake Tahoe area!
Overview of the North Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts for Families
Get Treated Like a Star at Northstar Ski Resort
Northstar is one of the most family-friendly ski resorts in North Lake Tahoe. It's also one of the most pampering. As soon as you pull up to drop off gear, wagons are lined up for your convenience. One of the hardest parts about skiing with family is lugging around all the heavy equipment, but Northstar brilliantly and literally took this load off of our frog shoulders. We were able to easily load and transport our skis, boots, extra layers, snacks, coats, etc. in the wagon and to the locker area. We stowed smaller items in lockers and then carted our skis, poles and boards straight to the gondola.
At the end of the day, we reloaded our items in the wagon and rolled it around as we hopped and lounged around the village. We change out of our ski boots for walking around the village — a feat made much easier by the wagons.
The Northstar Village has restaurants, activities, fire pits and lounge seating, all of which surrounds the ice rink. You can even put tired froglets in the wagon for whine-free trekking. For more tip like this, read our Sanity-Saving Tips for an Amazing Family Ski Trip. If that wasn't enough to make you fall in love, this will. You can hop by for free s'mores in the village at the end of the ski day. Or you can literally ski by for a slope-side free champagne toast (cider for the tadpoles) right on the mountain!
I could go on all day about the wagons, but you probably want to know how the skiing is. Thanks for asking — it’s great. This resort has the highest amount of easy terrain, making it a favorite among beginner and intermediate skiers. One of our tips to keep your tadpoles hoppy is not too push them too hard. With plenty of easy runs, beginners can gain confidence and continue to improve their skills without getting too frustrated. The resort also works well for skiers and riders of all levels. More advanced skiers have plenty of black diamond terrains to explore on The Backside and Lookout Mountain areas. Northstar also has many award-winning terrain parks and half pipes for the adventurous skiers and snowboarders.
Safety is high priority for parents like us with little ones, so you'll be hoppy to know the lifts all come with safety bars. The safety bars have handy trail maps and details about current events on the mountain, which is how we learned about free s’mores (and free champagne). Our frog family toadally likes anything "free" and "s'mores" so we definitely got our fill.
Off the ski hill, there is plenty to do at Northstar Ski Resort. You can enjoy:
- Cross-country skiing (you can even pull the tadpoles behind you in what can be described as a stroller sled)
- Fat tire biking
- Tubing (both on the mountain and a smaller hill just above the village)
- Bungee trampolining (in warmer weather)
- Ice skating (or roller skating, come spring and summer)
- Crafting, such as making candles or painting pottery at the Villager Candle Shop
- Watching movies
- Visiting the spa
- Doing yoga
- Going on stargazing adventures
- Building your own hot chocolate at the Overlook Bar’s hot chocolate bar
- Friday Fun Nights with DJs, disco lights, face painting and more!
Northstar is an excellent ski resort, but it does melt down a little earlier in the season than Squaw Valley, so you’ll want to enjoy Northstar in winter and early spring. Lodging is available in the village and on the mountain. There are some ski-in/ski-out locations, and others that are connected by a short shuttle ride to the base. You may be able to save money on lodging, rentals and lift tickets by bundling these elements through Undercover Tourist. Northstar is included with South Lake Tahoe resorts Heavenly and Kirkwood on the Epic Pass and multiday lift tickets in case you want to do some resort hopping.
Enjoy Diverse Terrain at Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows Ski Resort
Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows are two ski resorts combined on one ticket. They are currently connected by a 15-minute shuttle bus ride, but there are plans in place to connect them with a base-to-base gondola.
Squaw is the larger of the two ski resorts, and also a better location for families with more to do off the mountain. With an average snowfall of 450 inches per year and occupying 3,600 acres, this resort offers a lot of ski area with a tremendously long season — including excellent spring skiing. While known for some of its more challenging terrain, it also offers plenty of green and blue runs. Beginner skiers can find plenty of green runs at the top of the mountain, where you can drink in the lake views. Plus, every lift has signs pointing skiers to the easiest way down. Squaw Valley provides a nice blend of challenging and family-friendly terrain. Many chair lifts offer safety bars to keep froglets safe. Thumbs up on that!
The ski mountain is divided into zones. Younger families and beginners will find plenty of blue and green terrain in the Big Blue area and Gold Coast to High Camp region. Big Blue is the best area to learn to ski. Advanced skiers will be in heaven anywhere else at this resort. The Village at Squaw Valley is located right at the base of the ski runs, offering many excellent restaurant dining choices, family-friendly bars, musical entertainment and great energy as soon as you step off the snow for lunch or après ski time. We found plenty of delicious food at restaurants in the village.
The Alpine Meadows side does not offer as many green runs in its 2,400 skiable acres. But intermediate skiers will be in paradise. You can find blue runs in both the front side and back side. Alpine Meadows boasts beautiful lake views from the Sherwood Forest area and the top of the aptly named Lakeview Chair. You can now access these area from Treeline Cirque, a new lift directly from the base. Alpine Meadows does not have a village, but it does have a new lodge. This is the place to go to escape the crowds.
Off the ski hill, there is plenty to do at Squaw Valley, including:
- Snow tubing
- Mini snowmobiling for the kids
- Dog sledding
- Cross-country skiing
- Bungee Sky Jump (in warmer weather)
- Climbing wall
- Touring the Olympic Museum (take the aerial tram to High Camp)
- Ice skating (at The Resort at Squaw Creek)
- Aerial tram rides (included in lift ticket, but can also be purchased separately)
- Summer activities include golf, biking, hiking, swimming in pools and waterfalls, hot tub at High Camp, climbing walls, disk golf, roller skating and more.
You can stay at several properties right in The Village at Squaw Valley. Squaw Valley Lodge has condos with full kitchens that are just a short hop from village restaurants, ski lifts, the funitel and aerial tram. You can also stay off-site (as well as at Northstar). Get discounted hotel rooms and ski resort lift tickets with us!
We have stayed at the Resort at Squaw Creek, which is has ski-in/ski-out access, plus a shuttle to the village. It's located between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. It's a great family resort! Try the heatedpool and hot tubs! The froglets enjoyed having snowball fights while jumping in the warm pool.
You can also enjoy ice skating, cross-country skiing, fire pits, games, sledding and other great family-friendly entertainment and restaurants at Squaw Creek. Our frog family sipped hot chocolate and coffee for free during the weekend mornings. The ski concierge (near the shuttle stop and lift) means never having to carry equipment very far. They also have cubbies to keep your regular shoes so you do not have to walk far in ski boots. If you plan to spend time in the village or go tubing after skiing, you might want to take the shuttle and store your shoes in a locker in the village.
One of the great things about Squaw Alpine, is that you do not have to get in the car. You can use the free Squaw Alpine shuttles for getting around. You can also get free rides in the area via the Mountaineer app. It's like Lyft or Uber for the region, but FREE!
Go Old School at Homewood Ski Resort
Homewood is located on the western shore of Lake Tahoe and has spectacular lake views. Although not as extensive in amenities as Northstar and Squaw/Alpine, it offers a certain kind of old-school charm along with great terrains. When you pull into the parking lot off the side of the road, you will notice a small building where you will purchase tickets to attach to your clothes. There is no village. Food choices are limited, although the Big Blue View Bar has great views and the West Shore Café across the street offers complimentary s’mores from 4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
No ski valet or concierge or wagons are there to cart your stuff, however, the base is small so walking is minimal. Most of the lifts are older triple chairs, unlike the detachable, high-speed chairs at the other resorts. Keep in mind that most lifts do not offer a safety bar, so it makes us nervous with our little ones.
Don’t let that deter you, because we have many praises for Homewood. The price is about half the cost of the other resorts, making Homewood a great option if you are looking to save money on a ski trip. Get the best deal by purchasing online in advance. You can save up to 55% off the window rate!
Homewood ski resort caters to first-time skiers, with a magic carpet (a conveyor belt) and a surface lift in a dedicated area for beginners like Leap. The rest of the mountain is geared toward intermediate and advanced skiers. Strong skiers may want to take advantage of the Snowcat Adventures, which offers guided access to more than 750 acres of steep runs, intermediate-level glades and powder bowls located above the rest of the resort. On a powder day, that is the place to be. People who are beyond their first lesson but still preferring green runs might hop over to the other resorts to gain some confidence and skills before returning to Homewood.
Homewood ski resort does not currently have on-mountain lodging. A complimentary shuttle service runs from Homewood to anywhere on the West Shore.
Other North Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts for Families
The above three resorts are closest to Tahoe City on the north end of the lake and are about a 20-minute, easy drive from each other. Other North Lake Tahoe ski resorts include:
- Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area, which offers lessons to tadpoles as young as 3 years old.
- Sugar Bowl, which is located near the Donner Summit and is home to the first chairlift in California.
- Mt. Rose, which is located in Nevada and is the closest resort to the Reno/Tahoe International Airport.
- Diamond Peak Ski Resort, which is known for being an uncrowded learning mountain.
We hope you've found our Family Guide to the North Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts helpful! There is still time to plan. Consult this handy guide for the basics on ski resorts, whether you are looking at the best Lake Tahoe ski resorts or other ski areas. Don't forget, we offer discounts on lodging, equipment rentals and multi-day lift ticket packages as well as 4-day, 7-day, and Unlimited Epic Passes (select times of year).