El Niño is in full effect, so there’s a good chance everyone you know is dying to hit the slopes this weekend in Tahoe. But, Tahoe’s not just a destination for skiers and snowboarders. There’s way more cool stuff to do than you’d think, from sledding to snowmobiling to horse-drawn sleigh rides. And if nothing in this list sounds like fun, you can always just cozy up to a fireplace with a hot, adult beverage—no shame in that.
If You’re Near Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows/Homewood
There’s not much going on for non-skiiers at Alpine or Homewood, though there’s plenty to eat, drink, and buy in both Tahoe City and Truckee. The Village at Squaw Valley is the place to hang when not on the mountain, plus it’s super dog-friendly. You can also easily meet up with friends who are skiing. But if shopping and day drinking don’t sound like your idea of a good time (what!?), you’ve got options:
The ice skating rink at Squaw is one of the most stunning in the world—all thanks to its panoramic view of the Sierras at 8,200 feet above sea level. It’s a little pricey because of the tram you’ll take to get there, but this once-in-a-lifetime experience is legit. Plus, while you’re there, you can check out the Olympic Museum showcasing tons of 1960s Winter Games memorabilia.
Adult tram and ice skating: $44
Ice skating only: $21
Take a “magic carpet” ride up the hill, grab a tube, and slide down a 750-foot hill, equipped with plenty of bumps and turns. Pro tip: ask the attendant for a spin and a push to get you started.
55-minute session: $29
Wanderlust Yoga Studio in the Village at Squaw is a 1,000 square foot studio with three to four classes a day. Namaste.
Drop in rate: $17
Not up for exploring the mountain on a pair of foot-strapped planks? Hop on a sled led by a team of huskies who’ll pull you through the snow on an adventure you’ll never forget. This four-person toboggan moves at about 13.5 MPH and takes you on a 2.5 mile tour through scenic meadows.
Monday — Friday: $110
Saturday, Sunday: $125
If You’re Near Northstar California Resort
Northstar’s not known for its terrain (locals call it “flatstar”) but thanks to the expansive village and moderate terrain, it’s a great place for people seeking a winter experience, or for those just learning how to ski. Plus, there’s all this stuff to do:
It seems a little weird to hit Tahoe just for a movie, but hey, do whatcha like. The Village Cinemas has not one, but two screens. Call 530-562-8800 to see what’s playing.
Right in the heart of Northstar’s village, there’s a 9,000 square foot ice skating rink. Even if you don’t feel like strapping on some skates, the outdoor fire pits that surround the rink are a perfect place to enjoy a cocktail.
You don’t need an excuse, like spending an entire day on the slopes, to justify a massage. The Balance Holistic Health Spa in Northstar’s village has massages, facials, acupuncture, body wraps and even yoga. The Ritz-Carlton also has a killer spa with 17 treatment rooms, a heated lap pool overlooking the snow-covered mountains, dry-heat lodge, eucalyptus steam room, and fitness center.
The Villager Candle Shop’s studio offers candle making and pottery painting, or you can whip up a mosaic creation and even make a stuffed animal friend complete with accessories—even stuffed bears need a handbag.
If You’re Near Diamond Peak or Mount Rose
Diamond Peak and Mt. Rose are both near Incline Village, and though neither resort has much to do if you’re not skiing or riding, Incline does offer plenty for people who prefer to keep their feet on the ground.
The Stillwater Spa & Salon at the Hyatt is where spa dreams come true. There are 16 treatment rooms, a fitness center, dry cedar sauna, eucalyptus steam room, and a full service salon, which means you can get anything from a pedicure and blow out to a facial or hot stone massage.
What more do you need when Bowl Incline’s sixteen lanes, six billiards tables, and full bar are nearby?
There are a few places to gamble near Incline Village. The Grand Lodge Casino at the Hyatt, right in the heart of town, has over 250 slots and 22 table games. But if you’re willing to take a short car ride, hit up the Biltmore which has been around since 1946, or even the Crystal Bay Club for its great live music nightly.
The friendly folks at Lake Tahoe Snowmobiling take you up 9,000 feet through aspen groves, powder-filled meadows, and summits overlooking the lake. The trailhead starts near King’s Beach, so this is a great option if you’re staying near Northstar.
Groups or Private Tours: Starting at $150
If You’re Near Heavenly Valley
South Lake is a world of its own. It definitely has more of a party vibe than the rest of Tahoe, which is actually saying a lot. If you’re not skiing at Heavenly Valley, there’s a good chance you’ll be staying up late and sleeping in, but once you cure that hangover with a Bloody Mary, there’s tons to do:
Heavenly’s snow tubing hill is over 500 feet long with a 65-foot vertical drop—one of the best snow tubing hills in the state, if not the country.
You don’t have to ski to enjoy “après.” Heavenly’s Unbuckle Après Party is one of the best après parties and it all goes down at the Tamarack Lodge. At the top of the gondola from 3:30 to 5:30 PM, drinks are half-price, there are live DJs, and even some sexy lady dancers on weekends.
Sorry this made the list 100 times (okay, maybe just three), but it doesn’t get more wintery than ice skating, especially outside. Heavenly Village has an outdoor rink that’s open from 10 AM to 8 PM all winter long.
If you don’t know where you’re going or where to start, it’s a good idea have an instructor guide your snowmobile experience. Lake Tahoe Adventures will hook you up with everything you’ll need for a two-hour tour (and one you’ll actually come back from).
Cost: $130-$220 depending on your skill level
“It’s wonderful weather for a sleigh ride together with you.” (Sorry, we had to.) Borges Sleigh and Carriage Rides has cozy sleighs for 2, 4, and even 20 people if you’re really popular. Blonde Belgian Draft horses (they’re kinda like the cousin of the Budweiser Clydesdales) will pull the sleigh for about an hour. It doesn’t get more magical than that.
Main Image: Flickr/Dave