2 Day LA Itinerary for Families

Take in the view, where to go in LA with kids.
Take in a the views along with the sun in LA on your next getaway with the kids.

Tell the kids you’re stargazing for your next family getaway, then hand them sunglasses and a bathing suit. Los Angeles offers families epic beaches, a unique cultural experience along with top museums wrapped in a SoCal vibe that tweens and teens crave. That’s why I’ve added LA to my kids bucket list. Need some help planning a trip, I’ve pulled together a two-day itinerary with where to go in LA with kids.

Day One The Shuttle and the Surf

It’s a vacay so eat like the calories don’t count.

Grand Central Market

317 S. Broadway
8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

How to get there: From your centrally located hotel, head to S. Broadway in Downtown LA.

As a downtown landmark since 1917, Grand Central Market provides a hum of early morning activity and some solid breakfast options, like Eggslut as well as coffee counters and bakeries.

After breakfast, time to explore like an astronaut.

California Space Science Center, where to go in LA with Kids.
Kids love space so explore the California Space Science Center. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

California Science Center

700 Exposition Park Dr.
Free, except for special exhibits and $2 tickets to see the Space Shuttle

How to get there: From Grand Central Market, take E. 3rd St. to I-110 South and continue for 3 miles. Take the W. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. exit (20A exit) and park in the paid parking lot.

As one of the locations to see retired Space Shuttle, this is a must for the adventurers in your car. With half of the facility dedicated to space exploration, the California Science Center is a must for families.

The Space Shuttle Endeavor requires an additional ticket but don’t miss it. And don’t forget the external tank outside the building.

The Ecosystems exhibits walks kids through 11 different ecosystems. So don’t miss the kelp forest with touch tanks mimicking tidal pools. The desert display features a mock flash flood that kids love too.

Know before you go: Since this is a free museum, it’s a favorite with school groups. Buy tickets for special exhibits and the Space Shuttle at Will Call or the Ticket Window.

After exploring the earth and stars, head out for some art.

Tour the Getty Center. where to go in LA with kids.
The Getty Center offers a lush garden along with an extensive art collection. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The Getty Center 

1200 Sepulveda Blvd.
Free  

How to get there: From the California Science Center take W. Exposition Blvd. to Normandie Ave. and head north to I-10 West. Head west on I-10 for about 3 miles to the I-405 North. Continue for about 10 miles on I-405 North then take exit 57B for Moraga Dr. Then take a left on N. Sepulveda Blvd. and then another left on Getty Center Dr. Park in the paid parking lot and take a tram to the museum (free).

Savor the beauty of LA in a beautiful place to see beautiful art overlooking a beautiful view. The Getty Museum is more than an art museum, it’s a work of art itself.

Designed by Richard Meier, The Getty Center is a top architectural delight as well as the gardens and courtyards. As a favorite among locals, sit in the grass and enjoy a sunny afternoon.

With an extensive art collection including Van Gogh’s Irises, you could spend all day so keep it limited to your interests or stroll the gardens instead.

Time for lunch.

Stop for Kye's on Montana, where to go in LA with kids.
Try a uniquely SoCal treat, a Kyerito, a combo lettuce wrap and sushi roll. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Kye’s on Montana

1518 Montana Ave.
Open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

How to get there: From The Getty Center to Kye’s it’s a 5-mile drive. Start out by taking a right on N. Sepulveda Blvd. then take a right on N. Church Lane. Next take a right on Sunset Blvd. and then take a left on S. Westgate Blvd. Finally take a right on Montana Ave. Park at metered parking where available.

Grab a Kyerito, a hand-held wrap with a host of yummy fillings, including gluten-free, wheat-free, diary-free and soy-free options. Due to the special wrapping technique, your Kyerito wrapper, romaine lettuce, nori or collard greens, remains crispy for the trek to the beach.

Head to the Santa Monica Beach for the afternoon.

the beach is where to go in LA with kids
A Southern California sunset tops my list for must dos in Los Angeles. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Santa Monica Pier and Beach

Ocean Ave. at Colorado Ave.

A trip to the beach is a must for LA. And a SoCal sunset is legendary, it will totally make up for any hiccups in parking.

How to get there: From Kye’s head south on Montana Ave. towards the Pacific Ocean. Take a left on Ocean Ave. Continue for about a mile to the pier, parking is available on the pier or use metered street parking.

Take a surf lesson, where to go in LA with kids.
The teens want to learn how to surf on vacation so sign them up for a lesson. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Surf lessons

If surfing is on the kids list then arrange for a surfing lesson from one of several surf shops that offer lessons. Don’t worry about special gear, the shop arranges all that for you, like spring or wet suits and surf boards.

I have three kids, 10, 13 and 15, and all benefitted from surf lessons. Though like any new sport, practice is the key and kids must be proficient swimmers.

Walk along Santa Monica Pier, where to go in LA with kids.
An evening walk along the Santa Monica Pier tops my list for family fun in Los Angeles. Photo Credit: Pixabay

Santa Monica Beach and Pier

After surf lessons, explore the Santa Monica beach and pier for the rest of the afternoon.

I recommend renting bikes and taking a guided tour of Santa Monica. Great way to explore and the dedicated bike lanes make it safe for families. Several rental shops next to the pier.

After a bike tour, rent a couple of chairs and watch the sunset. Let the kids play in the sand or chase waves.

After the sun sets, head to the Santa Monica Pier for dinner and family fun. It boasts carnival rides and food in abundance. I’m partial to the carousel though I found a Ferris wheel and a roller coaster.

Grab the sunglasses and a bathing suit and hop a plane bound for Hollywood with the kids for your next getaway. Got all the family fun with 2 day itinerary in LA with kids.

Day Two Hello Hollywood

Start your second day in Los Angeles with the stars. While the crowds are still sleeping hop in your car and head for breakfast off Sunset Blvd.

The Griddle Café

7916 Sunset Blvd.
Opens at 7 a.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. weekends

How to get there: From your centrally located hotel, head north on U.S. 101 and exit Sunset Blvd.

A drive down Sunset Blvd. is a must for its icon LA vibe. As a bonus, it’s early so the driving should be easy going.

Since it’s a favorite, arrive early to satisfy your breakfast dreams. The Griddle Café offers a huge menu with pancakes in every flavor along with French toast and egg dishes.

Head around the corner to see a bit of Old Hollywood history, built in the 1920s. The Château Marmot, 8221 W. Sunset Blvd. is iconic LA hotel. As the backdrop to numerous movies and a celebrity hangout, it’s a must.

Time head to the theater, so drive north and turn right on Hollywood Blvd. As home to several famous theaters, it’s a bucket list destination for movie goers.

Start with TCL Chinese Theatre’s (formerly Grauman’s) stars’ footprints, at 6925 Hollywood Blvd. Then walk to the home of the Academy Awards at the Dolby Theater, 6801 Hollywood Blvd.

Hollywood Walk of Fame, where to go in LA with kids.
Find your favorite star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Photo Credit: Pixabay

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Hollywood Blvd. between La Brea Blvd. and Vine St.
Free 

After walking by the famous theaters, find the brightest stars in California. With three-and-a-half miles of brass and granite stars, spend a few minutes finding your favorites for a star selfie.

Drive by Capital Records Building, 1750 Vine St. to see the record label’s headquarters. Built in 1956, the round building looks like a stack of 45s before changing gears and heading south.

After stargazing, take a walk through LA’s infamous tar. A must-do for generations, La Brea Tar Pits topped my list since I was 10.

La Brea Tar Pits is where to go in LA with kids.
A must for the Dino-loving kids, visit the Le Brea Tar Pits. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

La Brea Tar Pits

5801 Wilshire Blvd.
Admission

How to get there: From Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, drive west on Hollywood Blvd. to N. Highland Ave. and head south to Wiltshire Blvd. Head west on Wiltshire Blvd and park in the shared La Brea Tar Pit/LACMA parking lot.

A must for families, see the strange bubbling tar churn and spew into puddles and pools at the La Brea Tar Pits. Start with a walk around the property to see the tar pits in different sizes. Though be prepared to cover your nose, the tar reeks.

After walking around the tar pits, head into the museum to look at prehistoric animal bones found on the property. And the discovery isn’t over, La Brea Tar Pits remains an active discovery zone.

Since the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) shares a parking lot with La Brea Tar Pits. Walk through the museum next.

Tour the LACMA, where to go in LA with Kids.
See a Warhol after checking out the La Brea Tar Pits. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

5905 Wiltshire Blvd.
Adult admission, kids under 17 free

How to get there: Located in the same complex as the La Brea Tar Pits so walk to the entrance.

Don’t let the name confuse you, the LACMA (as the locals call it) is the largest art museum in the western U.S. With separate buildings dedicated to different eras and styles visitors could spend all day. I recommend hitting the highlights and check in with a docent upon arrival to tailor your visit to your interests.

After a morning with the stars, some tar followed by the arts, it’s time for lunch. For the kids, I recommend Pink’s hotdog stand, a LA icon. Hop back in the car for a 10-minute drive.

Drive by the Petersen Automotive Museum (6060 Wilshire Blvd.) before heading to lunch. The building opened in 2015 and resembles a red car racing around a corner, can’t miss it.

Eat at Pink's, where to go in LA with Kids
Grab a dog with the kids at Pink’s for messy cheap eats. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Pink’s Hot Dogs

709 N. La Brea Ave.

How to get there: From La Brea Tar Pits, take Wilshire Blvd. at S. La Brea Ave. take a left. Street parking in front and parking around the back, though watch that meter!

I will admit, I’m not a hotdog enthusiast though I enjoyed Pink’s.

First, pick a celebrity named dogs, like the Martha Stewart Dog. Then give your order to the ladies working the counter, many who have worked the stand for years.

Grab a table out back under an umbrella. And bite into an experience. Are the hotdogs messy? Yep but the kids will love it.

Griffith Park

4730 Crystal Springs Dr.
Free, attractions extra

How to get there: From Pink’s, head north on La Brea Blvd. then take right on Santa Monica Blvd. Continue east on Santa Monica Blvd. until N. Western Ave. and take a left. Continue to Fern Dell Dr. into Griffith Park. Located west of Interstate 5 and south of SR 134 (Ventura Freeway) Use the DASH Observatory Shuttle ($.50) to get around the park since parking can be hard to find, especially at the Griffith Observatory.

As one of the largest municipal parks with an urban wilderness in the U.S. Griffith Park offers days of exploring.  Depending on your family, I would choose one attraction in Griffith Park–the Los Angeles Zoo or the Griffith Observatory.

Los Angeles Zoo

5333 Zoo Dr.
Admission

Since 1966, families explore the zoo with over 250 animal species across 133 acres. Take a spin the vintage carousel with the kids too (additional ticket).

Griffith Observatory

2800 E. Observatory Rd.
Free

With amazing views of Downtown LA and the Hollywood Sign, a visit to the 1935 Griffith Observatory tops many must do lists for LA. Free to visit, the building is an Art Deco jewel and includes science exhibits including telescopes.

For the train lovers in the family, visit either the Griffith Park and Southern Railroad (4400 Crystal Springs Dr.) for a ride on a miniature train.

Another must do for train lovers, Travel Town (5200 Zoo Dr.) offers an outdoor facility with several full-size train cars to explore.

After exploring Griffith Park for a few hours, head back and stop for dinner at The Original Farmer’s Market.

The Original Farmer’s Market

6333 W. 3rd St.
Free

How to get there: From Griffith Park, head south out of the park on Fern Dell Dr. and onto N Western Ave. Continue until Beverly Blvd and turn right, headed west. At Fairfax Ave. make a left.

More than a fresh produce market, The Original Farmer’s Market is a foodie destination. Stocked with unique and familiar purveyors, find everything from fresh seafood to cold brew coffee.

Since so many quick service eateries are in one location, this is the ideal place to feed a family. For the teens in the family, The Grove, is next door. Offering the possibility of seeing a starlet or two (189 The Grove Dr.).

Since it’s a vacation, reserve tickets to your favorite pastime.

Walt Disney Concert Hall

111 S. Grand Ave
Admission

The only way into the concert hall is to attend an event. So if the LA Philharmonic is in season reserve tickets to the architectural marvel, sheathed in stainless steel. Designed by Frank Gehry in the Deconstructivism style, it’s an architectural icon.

While at Walt Disney Concert Hall, drive by the newer The Broad, located across the street at 221 S. Grand Ave. As a contemporary art museum, the building looks like a honeycomb.

Watch a Dodgers Game, where to go in LA with kids.
Take in a baseball game if the LA Dodgers are playing. Photo Credit: Pixabay

Dodger Stadium

1000 Vin Scully Ave.
Admission

If a concert sounds boring, get tickets to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a home baseball game. Another place to enjoy a perfect SoCal evening.

 

Prep and Pack for a Family Ski Trip

Family Skiing at Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe. How to prep for a family ski trip.
Keeping the kids warm and dry in the snow starts at home. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

How to Prep for a Family Ski Trip

The kids have spoken, they want to go skiing for their school break. Now it’s time to prep and pack up for the trip.

Rental Property vs. Hotel Room

I prefer renting a condo versus staying in a standard hotel room, especially for families. Here’s what I want in a rental property or condo for a family ski trip.

  • Washing Machine and Dryer–a must for wet clothes
  • Fully Equipped Kitchen + Dishwasher and Microwave
  • Dining table with chairs for everyone

To save money, I cook. I make breakfast and dinner then we eat out for lunch. Though I also pack a snack bag for the kids.

I pack a few extras to make a rental feel like home.

  • Cozy blankets–snuggle in the car on the way and at the rental.
  • Scented candles or plug-in air freshener
  • A bouquet of flowers–I grab some at the local grocery store.
  • Crock Pot or InstaPot–I save serious money by making hearty, easy-to-make meals.
  • Fondue Pot–So much fun for a ski trip and easy too!
  • Roasting Sticks–Most resorts feature fire pits so grab the sticks and a bag of marshmallows.


The Kids voted and they want to go skiing. Time to Prep and Pack for the family ski trip with all the gear for staying warm, packing a snack bag and even making a rental condo feel like home.

Clothes a Family Needs for a Ski Trip

Before buying new stuff, I dig out what I have. It’s amazing how much you have already.

Winter coats with Hoods–Wash them and spray them down with water repellent.

Base layer–A lot of kids use a polyester layer for sports, pack those. The old-school waffle-weave long underwear is itchy.

Fleece layer–Another item most kids own.

Wool or Cashmere Sweaters--Natural fibers are best so I pack my nice sweaters. But not something that most kids own.

Scarves and hats–Instead of scarves, my kids wear neck gaiters so there isn’t any dangling clothing while using ski lifts. Hats or beanies when not wearing a helmet.

Socks–Pack some hiking or wool-blended socks.


Ski gloves–I buy inexpensive gloves for the kids. One will get lost, every single time. Spray those down with the water repellent too.

Snow Bibs or Pants–Bibs for the little kids since the ski pants are hard to fit around little waists. Pants for teens and adults. Spray the bibs and pants down with water repellent, especially the seats of the pants.

Snow boots–Inexpensive boots if you live in a warm climate. Spray down with water repellent.

Hand and Foot Warmers–Buy these before heading to the ski resort, they are expensive in the resort’s shop.


Ski Mom Tip: Buy black items so you can pass them down as the kids grow.

I use this repellent with excellent results.

Snow Play Fun

How to Prep for a family ski trip with the right equipment.
My 13-year-old destroyed a cheap saucer on his first run so I bought him a heavy-duty saucer. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Sure the kids would love to ski every day but I can’t. So after a couple of days at the resort, I plan a snow play day.

Heavy-Duty Sled–My kids are older and harder on the equipment, I found this heavy-duty sled holds up to my sons. As a bonus, it’s made in the US.


Snoballer–A snoballer is another must for snow day fun. The snow balls are super smooth and aerodynamic. Old-school outdoor winter fun.


Snacks for Ski Trips

How to prep for a family ski trip with snacks to save money.
Pack some hot water and cup-of-soup for a warming and cheap snack. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Most family friendly resorts allow you to picnic at their outdoor tables. Some resorts even have indoor lunch rooms they allow picnickers to use. Though respect the rules of the resort.

I find the lunch line at the ski resort’s snack bar daunting during the school holidays. With my snack bag, my kids grab a quick bite, especially my boy who wants to snowboard all day.

I pack:

  • Refillable water bottles
  • Gatorade or flavor packets
  • Hot water in a thermos
  • Instant hot cider or cocoa packets and tea bags
  • Instant Cup-of-Soup
  • Granola bars and Protein bars
  • Jerky
  • Dried fruit or fruit leather
  • Freeze-dried fruit
  • Nuts
  • Cookies
  • Marshmallows and roasting sticks
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Reusable coffee cups


Other Things that Make Life Easier

I pack another bag for the non-food stuff. Including a

  • First aid kit with lots of bandages
  • Lip balm
  • Sunscreen for faces
  • Wipes and tissues
  • Extra gloves–A glove will go missing every single time.
  • Ski goggles–My kids prefer to use sunglasses for sunny days.
  • Sunglasses–Goggles are best for blustery or snowy days.
  • Giant blue IKEA bag–Some families change into ski boots at the car but I find kids slip and fall. I can fit all the boots and helmets and haul them to the ski lodge.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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13 Museum Musts for Kids in NYC

Visit the Intrepid during your 4 day NYC itinerary, a top museums for kids in NYC.
With a retired Space Shuttle and the Concorde along with a submarine, the Intrepid offers all kinds of kid fun. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Top Museums for Kids in NYC

New York City tops my list for urban getaways for families. Whether it’s visiting as a family or with a school trip, NYC offers tweens and teens a cultural excursion. Packed with museums and parks to explore, New York City teaches kids lots of traveling skills that are necessary before backpacking across Europe or Asia. NYC even packs in the cheap eats alongside some of the top restaurants in the world.

Intrepid Sea Land Space Museum

Pier 86 W.46th St. at 11th Avenue
Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission based on age.

As a top destination for kids along with the American Museum of Natural History, it’s a must for school-age kids. Don’t let the aircraft carrier throw you off, I found more than military aircraft.

Clamber across the deck of the USS Intrepid to see a retired Concorde, the supersonic jet. Then see one of the retired space shuttles, the Orbiter Enterprise, one of several on display across the U.S.

Tour the Natural History Museum during your 4 day NYC itinerary. A top museum for Kids in NYC.
A trip to the American Museum of Natural History will keep the kids engaged for hours. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

American Museum of Natural History

The Hayden Planetarium

Central Park West At 79th St.
Open from 10 a.m. To 5:45 p.m.
Admission based on age, separate tickets required for Planetarium. Babies under 2 free.

A must for families with kids of all ages, my teen daughter spent hours exploring. A sprawling museum that could take all day so hit the highlights, like “Lucy” the early human, the giant blue whale, the Hall of Dinosaurs, and the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda along with the Hall of North American Mammals.

Carve out a little time for the Hayden Planetarium to learn more about the world beyond our atmosphere.

Best Museums to Learn History

Visit the 9/11 Museum on your 4 Day NYC Itinerary. a top museum for kids in NYC.
Take a moment and remember those who lost their life on that day. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

9/11 Museum

180 Greenwich St.
Open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Admission depending on age, Kids 6 and under free.

As a former American Airlines flight attendant that lived through that horrific day, I visit the 9/11 Memorial to remember my former colleagues. The memorial is a somber space that gives visitors a place to reflect.

Walk though the 9/11 Museum to see the artifacts from the World Trade Center and actual recording of emergency calls. Touring the museum is an emotional experience though the area around the WTC has recovered, experiencing a rebirth.

Visit Ellis Island and learn about immigration. A top museum for kids in NYC.
Learn about the immigrants that crossed an ocean to make a new home in the U.S. at the Ellis Island Museum. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Statue of Liberty

Ellis Island Immigration Museum

New York City Harbor
Hours vary by season.
No Admission to Museum though a Statue of Liberty ferry ticket is required.

As a symbol of liberty and freedom known world-wide, the Statue of Liberty sits on a 12-acre island in the middle of the New York Harbor. Learn about the construction of the statue in the museum under the statue.

From 1892 until 1954, Ellis Island welcomed 12 million immigrants to the United States. The Ellis Island Immigration Museum walks visitors through the facility that processed close to 5,000 people a day.

Visit the East Side Tenement Museum during your trip. A top museum for Kids in NYC.
Walk though the apartment of an immigrant family in NYC. Packed with details, tour guides tell stories of different families from different countries. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

East Side Tenement Museum National Historic Site

Visitor Center at 103 Orchard St.
Open every day from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Admission based on age.

Walk through history in a preserved tenement building on the Lower East Side. Tour the building that housed 7,000 working class immigrants from 1863 until 1935.

With specialized tours focusing on Irish immigrants, Jewish immigrants and sweatshop workers along with neighborhood tours, get an understanding of an immigrant’s life over a hundred years ago.

Visit Federal Hall during your 4 day NYC itinerary. A top museum for kids in NYC.
Next to the New York Stock Exchange is Federal Hall, a National Park Site. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Federal Hall National Monument

26 Wall Street
Open Monday Through Friday From 9 a.m. To 5 p.m.
Free 

The building served as the first Capitol of the United States, the Supreme Court and the Executive Branch offices. George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States at Federal Hall as well.

Visit the MoMA during your 4 day NYC itinerary. A top museum for kids in NYC.
Take in the art at the MoMA, like “Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Museum of Modern Art MoMA

11 W. 53th St.
Open from 10:30 a.m. To 5:30 p.m.
Admission based on age, Kids Under 16 Free

If your kids have short attention spans, head straight for the Fifth Floor. That’s where I found Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh, Dance by Henri Matisse along with works from Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo and Pablo Picasso.

Kids under 16 get in free and the MoMA hands out family guides for kids. Walk through the gift shop for unique souvenirs.

Visit The Met during your 4 day NYC itinerary. A top museum for Kids in NYC.
As the largest art museum in the U.S. The Met is a must for art lovers. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1000 5th Ave.
Open Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. 
Admission based on age and kids 12 and under free.

As the largest art museum in the U.S. you can explore all day and still not see it all. So check out the map when you enter and concentrate on your interests.

My favorites are The Temple of Dendur, the Medieval Art for its imposing display and the American Wing. Don’t miss the extensive collection of European Masters.

Visit the Guggenheim Museum, a top museum for kids in NYC.
On the edge of Central Park, The Guggenheim Museum offers top art and architecture. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

1071 5th Ave.
Open Monday through Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.
Open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. Closed Thursday.
Admission based on age, Kids Under 12 Free

I love the Guggenheim for its architecture. Originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, head to the top floor and explore the exhibits on your way down.

Kids and Museums. Sure with the right museum. I've got 13 of the best in New York City for families for your next trip.

The Whitney Museum of American Art

99 Gansevoort St.
Open Monday, Wednesday through Sunday various hours. Closed on Tuesday.
Admission based on age, kids under 18 are free.

Anchoring the southern end of High Line Park, The Whitney showcases contemporary art from the 20th and 21st century with a focus on living artists.

Visit the Morgan Museum and Library, a top museum for kids in NYC.
The Morgan Museum and Library reminds me of Hogwarts. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The Morgan Library and Museum

225 Madison Ave.
Open Tuesday though Sunday various hours. Closed Monday.
Admission based on age, kids under 12 are free.

My favorite space to explore is Pierpont Morgan’s three-story library, rotunda and study. The opulent interiors have to be visited to appreciate. A must for readers and even Harry Potter fans since it reminds me of Hogwarts.

Know Before You Go: 

  • Travel like a New Yorker and take the subway. I’ve got the directions for you. Or grab a cab or other car service.
  • Free public restrooms are hard to find. Pack hand wipes, bleach wipes and hand sanitizer to clean up. McDonald’s is reliable but be prepared to buy a dink to get the key.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and pack the FitBit to track those steps.
  • The streets of New York are safe but be aware who and what is around you at all times.
Disclosure:

Consideration for brands mentioned. I used a complimentary CityPass New York for admission to several attractions and some of the museums offered complimentary admission.

 

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75 Must Have Road Trip Snacks

best road trip snacks for kids
Hitting the road on the Great American Road Trip then you need some snacks. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The Great American Road Trip, it’s part of our culture. We yearn to discover our country much like the first explorers.

We pack up the SUV and hit the road nearly every school break. So what’s the best road trip snack for kids?

Road trip snacks are just as important as the map. My kids, 10, 13 and 15, have road trip snack opinions so I take them shopping. That’s when it gets fun. I say yes to most things. Since it’s just for our road trip.

best road trip snacks for kids
Pack the SUV and don’t forget to pack the snack bag. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Best Road Trip Snacks for Kids

I could tell you I pack the most nutrient-rich, organic items that I can find. But Mom needs a break. I want to be the Fun Mom for our road trip. So I’m packing all the fun snacks, just for vacation. We’ll go back on the nutritious wagon when we get home. Promise.

The Classic Road Trip Snacks

  • Beef Jerky
  • Pringles
  • Cheez-Its
  • Moon pie
  • Twizzlers
  • Cracker Jack
  • Corn nuts
  • Slurpees

Road Tripping Protein 

Sometimes I’m in the middle of a desert and there’s not a place to stop for a meal.

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Yogurt. Don’t forget the spoons or get the tubes.
  • Breakfast in a Pouch, a combination of nuts and fruit in a single-serve pouch
  • Flavored almonds, sweet or salty
  • Hummus
  • Nut butter, peanut, almond or cashew
  • Pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

Best Bars for Road Trips

Bars are a must for any car. Stash a few in console compartment, just in case.

  • Protein bars
  • Granola bars
  • Cereal bars
  • Fig Newtons
  • Date Bars

Fruit Snacks for Road Trips 

My kids love their fruit but most fresh fruit doesn’t travel well. It really needs a cooler or to be eaten on the first day.

  • A banana or two. Not too many because they bruise.
  • Mandarin oranges or Cuties
  • Apples
  • Fresh Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Fruit leather
  • Freeze-dried fruit– Apples and pears seem to be the winners here.
  • Applesauce pouches
  • Yogurt-covered raisins
  • Dried cherries or apricots
  • Bagged fruit snacks

Got the Ultimate List of Road Trips Snacks. Got something for everyone, including the road tripping purists.

Cheese

A good source of protein and travels well if individually wrapped. Put it in a cooler during the summer.

  • String cheese
  • Babybel
  • Laughing Cow
  • Individually packaged pieces of cheddar or Colby.

Salty Snacks

I stay away from any snacks that will cover my SUV in cheesy fingerprints.

  • Cracker sandwiches. I get the variety pack to keep everyone happy.
  • Gold Fish. My kids still love these.
  • Pretzels
  • Popped popcorn
  • Chex Mix
  • Bagel chips
  • Potato chips
  • Pita chips

Just for Fun Sweet Treats

  • Cookies, a couple of varieties. I even buy the kind I usually say No to, except chocolate-coated for melty mess reasons.
  • Rice Crispy Treats
  • Graham crackers
  • Gummy anything
  • Animal crackers
  • Marshmallows
  • Trail Mix
  • Muddy Buddies Mix

Road Trip Snack Bag Must Haves 

  • Paper towels
  • Wet wipes
  • Disposable silverware
  • Ziploc bags, quarts and gallon size
  • Clothes pins or Chip Clips
  • Refillable water bottles

Snacks for Mom

I do the majority of the driving on our road trips so I have my own snacks in the front seat since my kids will eat everything within their reach.

  • Sweet and salty nuts
  • Good crackers
  • Edamame
  • Bean Chips, like the SnapPeas Crisps
  • Good Cheese
  • Bottled cold coffee drinks
  • Canned sparkling water
  • Gum
  • Sweet tarts or other really tart candy

I also pack treats that wake up my mouth so I can stay alert. After a few hours on the road I like to chew gum. I have a roll of Sweet Tarts or other candy that’s really tart. I alternate unsweet ice tea or iced coffee and sparkling water.

What About Dad?

Dads want a break from the daily obligations of parenting too. So let him eat junk, just for the trip.

  • Pork Rinds
  • Bugles
  • Pistachios, just give him something for the shells
  • Sunflower seeds, same
  • Gas station hotdog
  • Slim Jim
  • Hot Fries
  • Hostess Cupcakes
  • Twinkies
  • Fried Pies
  • Antacid
best road trip snacks for kids
Grab a reusable bag and pack it full of your favorites. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Tips for Road Trip Snacking

First off, I make it easy and fun. I forget about the cute little containers I saw on Pinterest. Let’s get real for a minute, what am I supposed to do with all those containers on the second day of our trip?

I skip the plastic containers and especially the glass Mason jars. I buy individual serving sizes so I grab all the trash from the back seat when I stop for gas. Don’t think I’m the only one with messy kids.

Then I load everything up in one of my reusable shopping bags. Since it’s soft-sided, I can stash the bag in another place if needed.

Since it’s vacation my kids get what they want, except for chocolate, a giant barrel of cheez balls and Capri Suns. The chocolate and the cheez balls for obvious messy reasons.

Let me tell you a story from the summer of 2010, a Capri Sun gunfight broke out in the backseat of my Toyota 4 Runner. I didn’t know that my boys could turn drink pouches into sticky sweet weapons. They did and they had a great time. Now Capri Suns are permanently banned from my SUV.

The snack bag is another passenger and has its own spot in the the back seat. My 15-year-old daughter is in charge of the snack bag in route. As the driver I need to stay focused on driving. That and I don’t have time for any snack squabbles that break out.

I really have two snack bags. One with the kids and one hidden in the back of the SUV. I use as it as back stock. If if give all the snacks to my kids at once, they would eat everything like a pack of puppies.

Did I miss your favorite? Let me know in the comments.

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16 Ways to Apres at Squaw Valley Village with Kids

 

Enjoy Squaw Valley with kids where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe.
Squaw Valley offers families the place to ski big  plus a village full of family fun. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Squaw Valley–More than a Ski Resort

Taking the entire family skiing requires more than a few lift tickets. Squaw Valley Ski Resort offers a village packed full of fun for everyone on a family ski getaway, not just the skiers.

When I’m planning my family’s annual winter getaway, I look for fun activities for everyone. I want shopping, dining, and winter activities like sledding and skating all within walking distance. I found all that in Squaw Valley’s Village on a recent visit. 

Top Family Fun at Squaw Valley

  • Snow Tubing
  • Mini Snow Mobiles
  • Sledding
  • Indoor rock wall
  • Outdoor trampoline
  • Roasting s’mores
  • Take the aerial tram to High Camp
  • Tour the Olympic Museum
  • Snow shoeing
  • Dog sledding
  • Cross country skiing
  • Shopping
  • Spa treatments
  • Yoga
  • Fireworks on select nights
  • Live music on select nights
  • Horse-drawn sleigh rides on select nights
  • Plus lots of holiday fun during December

What I loved about The Village at Squaw Valley

  • Everything is right in the Village so you don’t have to leave the resort.
  • Even in the busiest time of the year it never felt crowded.

What I wanted from The Village at Squaw Valley

  • A skating rink in the Village.
  • Better labeling in the parking lots since it tends to be a sea of cars.
family fun at Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
I found lots of family fun at Squaw Valley that doesn’t require a lift ticket. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Family Fun without a Lift Ticket

My kids could ski or snowboard everyday but Mom can’t. I need a break after a few days or my legs will fall off or worse.

Sure, my kids would love to explore on their own but I’m not comfortable letting my kids, 10, 13 and 15-years-old run wild on the mountain. So I add a rest day into our family ski getaway.

I might get to sleep in an extra hour but I’ve got to keep the kids moving. And that means heading outdoors for winter family fun.

What to do at Squaw Valley Village with Kids

In a corner of the Squaw Valley Ski Resort, I found the SnoVentures area packed with winter fun. Located next to Squaw Kids, the ski and snowboarding school, SnoVentures offers a day’s worth of fun.

For kids of all ages, snow tubing gives families a fun outlet for competition. Grab a tube and use the covered surface lift for more fun with less work.

A free sledding area, located next to the snow tubing area, offers all-day fun for free if you bring-your-own equipment. Or pick up a sled in Tahoe City, just 10 miles away.

For the kids, mini snowmobiles offer thrills and a taste of the adrenaline sport with just-the-right-size option for kids. Limited to kids 6 to 12.

The Village at Squaw Valley also features an indoor rock wall. Outside I found a Sky Jump Trampoline for the kids.

More than a ski resort, Squaw Valley Village offers family fun off the slopes with outdoor sports along with indoor activities as well. See a full list to plan your winter getaway.

For the winter athlete, the Nordic Center at the Resort of Squaw Creek at Squaw Valley offers 18km of groomed trails, located close by. Winding through the meadows in Squaw Valley offers postcard-perfect scenery.

Too much of a workout for a vacation? Try snow shoeing and pull the kids in a toboggan for fun with the littles.

Families looking for an Arctic-inspired adventure can find it at Squaw Valley. Imagine a team of Alaskan Huskies pulling the family through the snow-covered meadow on a dog sled.

Don’t forget that Squaw Valley offers horse-drawn sleigh rides and live entertainment during December. Santa skies into Squaw too. And remember to try one fo the festive meals for the holiday season.

Squaw Valley’s Aerial Tram

The aerial tram offers spectacular views of Squaw Valley and Lake Tahoe beyond. A scenic ride aboard a large tram car offers a fun outing to High Camp, the terminus for the tram.

With a couple of restaurants at High Camp, take the family on a ride for lunch or dinner. Don’t forget to tour the Olympic Museum. Tickets are required.

Olympic Museum where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Learn a little ski history at the Olympic Museum at Squaw Valley’s High Camp and remember to grab a gold win selfie. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Squaw Valley’s Olympic History

Squaw Valley’s skiing is not the only thing that’s legendary. Their successful 1960 Olympic bid is as legendary as the games themselves.

In 1955 Alex Cushing, the chairman of Squaw Valley, saw a newspaper article announcing Reno as the possible site for the 1960 Olympic Games. He threw his resort in the mix, boasting only a single chairlift and a couple of rope tows at the time.

The place to beat—Innsbruck, Austria, an international favorite.

Against all odds, Cushing secured the vote in France. With the help of the State of California and Walt Disney, the infrastructure grew out of the valley virtually overnight.

Days before the opening, Squaw Valley lacked the snow it needed. Then a fierce snowstorm blew in from the West and dumped the much needed snow.

As if orchestrated by Walt Disney himself, the head of pageantry, the clouds cleared moments before the official the start of the Olympic Games. Moments later Walt Disney released 2,000 doves into the air signaling the start of the 10-day long games.

Be sure to walk through the Olympic Museum at High Camp. My kids loved standing on the Olympic podium.

Indoor Winter Escapes

Need an escape? Sneak out to the Trilogy Spa located in The Village at Squaw Valley. Don’t forget that massages can work out the mountain kinks.

The Wanderlust Yoga Studio, located in The Village, offers drop-in classes.

The Village is packed with shopping and offers more than winter gear. Shop at the Squaw Valley Logo Company or any of the shops featuring home, kids or toy shopping.

The kids can even craft on their winter getaway.

Après-Ski Fun

Every Saturday evening, the Village at Squaw Valley offers live music. Then at 6 p.m., the night sky lights up with fireworks.

Squaw Valley also features a film series selected nights throughout the winter season for free movies at the Olympic Village Lodge.

For adults looking to unwind, the Auld Dubliner Irish Pub draws a crowd along with several other bars in the Village area. 

Rocker Where to take kids Skiing in Lake Tahoe
My kids ate big after a day on the slopes at Rocker in the Squaw Valley Village. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Where to Eat in The Village

The Village at Squaw Valley offers lots of options for families.

During my visit, we ate at Rocker, steps from the lifts. It features a patio to watch the fireworks and a casual environment for families.

My kids dominated a plate of nachos as big as the state of California. With a little kids’ menu, big kid pleasing hamburgers, a choice of farm fresh salads, the whole table left full and happy.

Snacks for kids where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
We love crepes and I found lots of tasty treats across Squaw Valley Ski Resort for families. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

For snacking during the day, I stopped by the Euro Snack trailer for savory and sweet crepes. Of course, I ran into Starbucks for coffee and hot chocolate. I also found pizza, sushi and grill options.

For the Skiers and Snowboarders

Squaw Valley Ski Resort is more than a ski resort, it’s a bucket list destination and an international favorite for over 50 years. And it was recently voted Best Ski Resort in North America by the readers of USA Today.

Any day on the mountain can’t be beat, and a day at Squaw is epic. It’s more than the world-class runs, it’s a the feeling seeps in and takes hold. It’s the kind a day that you remember for decades.

Family Skiing at Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Heading up the First Venture lift right after we get to the SnoVentures area. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Squaw Valley by-the-Numbers

Base Elevation: 6,200 ft. Summit Elevation: 9,050 ft.
Vertical Drop: 2,850 ft. Skiable Acres: 3,600
Type of Terrain Percentage of Runs
Green 25%
Blue 45%
Black 30%
Total Named Runs: 170
Lifts: 29 total:

1 aerial tram, 1 funitel, 1 high speed 6-pack, 3 high-speed quads, 1 quad, 9 triples, 3 doubles and 5 surface lifts

Squaw Valley Ski School

Squaw Valley offers programs divided by age. For the youngest skiers, ages 3 to 4 (potty-trained kids only), the Pioneers program focuses on fun with first time, full-day and half-day programs available.

For the 5 to 7-year-olds, kids can choose from skiing or snowboarding. The Explorers Ski and Grommets Snowboard Program is for more active kids and broken down by ability–green, blue or black-level runs.

Kids 8 to 13-years-old explore the mountain trying lots of runs along side similarly-skilled kids. The Mountaineers Ski and Jibbers Snowboard program will be on the snow the majority of the day.

All kids’ programs (ages 3 to 13) feature an afternoon first time package. Teen group lessons are available though they meet in the adult lesson area.

Is it Your First Family Ski Trip?

What do you need to pack for family ski trip? I’ve been there. And here’s a list to prep and pack.

Need some advice on picking a ski school for your kids? I’ve got some tips for families to find the best program. 

More Lake Tahoe Fun for Families

Looking for more places to discover in Lake Tahoe? Got a couple of my favorite spots to share.

Mt Rose Meadows for sledding 

Spooner Lake for sledding 

Granlibakken Tahoe  

Northstar Ski

Mt Rose Ski Tahoe 

Then discover a quaint town to spend an afternoon, like Tahoe City.

Where’s Squaw Valley Ski Resort

Squaw Valley Ski Resort is located at 1960 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley, California. Squaw Valley is 12 miles south of Truckee, California, along California Highway 89. Tahoe City, California, a quaint mountain town on the western shores of Lake Tahoe is 10 miles away.

If flying into Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) to visit Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley is 48 miles from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) via Interstate 80.

Parking Available

General Parking Free
Premier Parking $20
Valet Garage Parking $30 or $40 holiday

Disclosure: 

My family was hosted by Squaw Valley Ski Resort though I have skied at Squaw Valley for years.

Know Before You Go

  • Pack a bag of marshmallows and a couple of roasting sticks, I found several fire pits, perfect for an après-ski
  • Squaw Valley Ski Resort’s partner resort, Alpine Meadows is a short complimentary shuttle ride away.
  • Before heading out check out road conditions at NVroads.com for tire chain requirements. I use Nevada’s website for the Lake Tahoe region since it’s easier to use on a mobile device than California’s website.

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Crush it Local Style at Lake Tahoe’s Diamond Peak

Diamond Peak Resort for Kids
With peeks of Lake Tahoe below the skiing and boarding at Incline Village’s Diamond Peak is some of the most scenic. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Diamond Peak, the Locals Ski Resort at Lake Tahoe

On my first trip to Tahoe, I pulled on a pair of ski boots for the first time at Diamond Peak Ski Resort. After a couple of days on the snow, I was hooked for life. Flash forward 20 years and now I want to know how’s Diamond Peak Resort for kids.

A lot has changed in my life since my first Tahoe weekend. I’m toting a carful of kids in ski and snowboard boots now. What impressed me the most was all the perks and deals for families at Diamond Peak Ski Resort.

2017 Diamond Peak Lift Tickets

Ages Regular Holiday
24 to 64, Interchangeable Parent’s Pass $79 1/2 Day $74 $89 1/2 Day $84
13 to 23, 65 to 79 $59 1/2 Day $54 $60 1/2 Day $64
7 to 12 $34 1/2 Day $29 $44 1/2 Day $39
Child under 6, 80+ FREE FREE

Online discounts available though must be purchase in advance. Family packages are available. Diamond Peak offers discounts for the active military, first responders and adaptive skiers.

What I loved about Diamond Peak Ski Resort

  • Convenience for families staying in Incline Village. No traffic.
  • Manageable size of Diamond Peak and all runs end at the Base Lodge.
  • The sense of community at Diamond Peak can’t be beat. It’s a locals’ hangout.

What I wanted at Diamond Ski Resort: 

  • More green runs. It has 3 runs for kids just starting out.
  • More close-in parking. I had to take an open air shuttle down the mountain.

Diamond Peak By-the-Numbers

Base Elevation: 6,700 ft. Summit Elevation: 8,540 ft.
Vertical Drop: 1,840 ft. Skiable Acres: 655
Type of Terrain Percentage of Runs
Green 18%
Blue 46%
Black 36%
Total Named Runs: 30
Lifts: 1 high-speed quad, 2 quads. 3 doubles and 1 surface lift for ski school.
Diamond Peak Resort for Kids
My 10-year-old moves up to the easiest blue trail at Diamond Peak. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Diamond Peak Resort for Kids

Learn to ski with the local kids. Diamond Peak Ski Resort is the go-to program for Lake Tahoe kids. Since it offers half-day and full-day programs along with six-week programs over the entire season.

Diamond Peak Ski School has an efficient drop-off procedure and after checking in at their desk, the staff handles the rest. It’s a relief to have someone else fit the kiddos with their equipment, especially ski boots.

After outfitting the kids with their equipment, the ski instructors pull all the skis in a toboggan. Then the kids walk to practice area, centrally located next to the ski services building or the school yard green run.

Diamond Peak Resort for Kids
Diamond Peak’s Ski School features a surface lift along with the Schoolyard chair lift. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The ski school has a surface lift and the School House lift is very close to the ground, about 10 to 15 feet off the ground depending on the snow base. The ideal situation for little kids advancing to ski lifts.

For all day ski programs, Diamond Peak offers kids favorites like, mac-and-cheese and pizza, for lunch.

Terrain Parks at Diamond Peak

I’ve got two boys, 10 and 13-years-old, so I’ve learned about terrain parks over the last few seasons. It’s not as crazy as I originally thought.

I will admit, when my daredevil son told me he wanted to check out a terrain park a couple of years ago, I envisioned something I’d seen on the Olympics. Don’t worry, think of terrain parks as snow playgrounds.

During my visit, my kids started with the terrain features at the bottom of the Logdepole run. Then moved up to the Popular Progression Park. Even my 15-year-old daughter started to ski over the small jumps.

Be sure and check out the terrain park signs to see if your kids are in the right playground. Most resorts install several terrain parks with differing levels of difficulty. Take it easy and start small.

Ski like a local at Diamond Peak in Incline Village on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. With kids lessons along with some of the best views, Diamond Peak offers family skiers some serious perks, like FREE skiing for some kids.

Parent Perks at Diamond Peak Ski Resort

I’ll take any perk. Diamond Peak offers an interchangeable parents pass so parents can share a single lift ticket. Allowing one parent to watch the baby while the other shreds the mountain.

Diamond Peak features family packages for two adults and two kids. And don’t forget kids under 6 ski FREE.

A shout out to Grandma and Grandpa, take the kids skiing for FREE. Those over 80 get free lift passes too.

Where to Eat at Diamond Peak

Diamond Peak Resort for Kids
Grab a table on Diamond Peak’s sun deck to enjoy the view of Lake Tahoe. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Diamond Peak offers a couple of lodges, their Base Lodge and Snowflake Lodge at top of the Lakeview Quad lift. The Base Lodge features a food court where I got my kids a couple of hotdogs, though vegetarian options are available.

Wild Bill’s BBQ hits the spot for the older crowd with two locations. During busy days, grab some Wild Bill’s on the Base Lodge Deck, the place to relax under a blue bird sky. Venture up to the Snowflake Lodge for more BBQ.

The Loft Bar serves up the classics for après ski unwinding. Staying open a couple hours after the lifts close, it’s the place to toast a perfect run. 

Is it Your First Family Ski Trip?

What do you need to pack for family ski trip? I’ve been there. And here’s a list to prep and pack.

Need some advice on picking a ski school for your kids? I’ve got some tips for families to find the best program. 

More Lake Tahoe Fun for Families

Looking for more places to discover in Lake Tahoe? Got a couple of my favorite spots to share.

Mt Rose

Spooner Lake

Granlibakken 

Northstar

Squaw Valley

Then discover a quaint town to spend an afternoon, like Tahoe City.

Where’s Diamond Peak Ski Resort

Diamond Peak Ski Resort is located in Incline Village at 1210 Ski Way, on the northern shore of Lake Tahoe. Just 35 miles south of the Reno-Tahoe International Airport when driving  Mt. Rose Highway (NV Hwy 431).

If flying into Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) to visit Lake Tahoe, several airport shuttles drop off in Incline Village at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, located at 111 Country Club Dr. Diamond Peak Ski Resort runs a Free ski shuttle bus from the Hyatt as well as several other locations throughout Incline Village.

Disclosure:

My family was hosted at Diamond Peak Ski Resort though I have skied this resort through the years.

Know Before You Go: 

  • Reservations are recommended during holiday breaks and long weekends. Ski School sells out.
  • Helmets are recommended but not required at Diamond Peak and not included in the ski lesson package. Helmets are $10 additional.
  • Arrive early to ski school to allow for smooth transition.
  • Group snowboarding lessons begin at 7-years-old or at 3 with a private instructor.
  • Before heading out check out road conditions at NVroads.com for tire chain requirements, especially Mt. Rose Highway (NV Hwy 431). I use Nevada’s website for the Lake Tahoe region since it’s easier to use on a mobile device than California’s website.

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9 Things To Do in Tahoe City with Kids this Winter

Watson Cabin, Where to go in Tahoe City with Kids.
Walk by the Watson Cabin along the shores of Lake Tahoe. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

What to do in Tahoe City with Kids

A day on the mountain can’t be beat, but Mom needs a break after a couple of days. That’s why I plan a day to sled and ice skate with the kids. Tahoe City offers 9 activities perfect for families that scream fun like sledding, ice skating and snowshoeing, all within walking distance. Then answer the question, what to do in Tahoe City with kids.

Tops for Sledding Granlibakken Tahoe

Granlibakken features the fastest sled hill in Lake Tahoe
My 12-year-old needs a sturdy ride and Granlibakken features MH sleds.

Nestled in the evergreens, Granlibakken Tahoe offers lodging and a small ski operation, although my kids love their crazy fast sledding hill. For nearly half what other ski resorts charge for an hour of snow tubing, Granlibakken offers a full day of sledding fun.

For $16 per person ($17 during holidays), kids get unlimited rides down their monitored hill and a saucer sled for the day. Kids can climb Granlibakken’s hill over and over, racing each other and even Mom.

Tahoe City where to sled at Lake Tahoe
My kids discuss strategy as they figure out how to beat Mom down the hill. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

After a few sledding runs, time for s’mores! The ski hut at Granlibakken sells s’mores packages with enough chocolate, grahams, and marshmallows for a family of four to toast at the fire pit. Or bring your own in your snack bag. The ski hut also features hot drinks, soups and Mexican favorites in an authentic log cabin with a pot belly stove.

Find Granlibakken Tahoe at 725 Granlibakken Road. It features a small ski hill with a rope tow and inexpensive lift tickets ($30 – $35 per person for a full day).

Tahoe City Winter Sports Park

First on my kids list, the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park, to ice skate. All the winter sports activities are conveniently located next to each other and rental equipment is available.

Go ice skating in Tahoe City
Take the kids ice skating in Tahoe City. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

TAHOE CITY ICE RINK

Tahoe City features an ice rink with jamming tunes and festive lights, perfect for kids of all ages. Located in the center of town (251 North Lake Blvd), this rink offers families a place to strap on their skates for some outdoor fun.

We laced up our skates and hit the ice under a canopy of twinkling lights. My kids grabbed the seals that beginners use to push around the ice for confidence and stability.

Rental skates are available or bring your own. Admission for skaters and tables for non-skaters.

CROSS-COUNTRY SKI TRAILS IN TAHOE CITY

For outdoor enthusiasts, Tahoe City Winter Sports Park offers 4 km of groomed trails. Meander through a meadow in the center of Tahoe City enjoying the sights and scents of the season.

The Tahoe City Winter Sports Park offers ski rental. And trail passes required.

Tip: Teens enjoy cross-country skiing though not suited for the youngest kids.

TAHOE CITY SLEDDING HILL

Looking for more outdoor kid fun? Tahoe City Winter Sports Park offers a small sledding hill steps away from the ice skating rink. Admission based on age.

SNOWSHOE TRAIL IN TAHOE CITY

Snowshoeing requires no new skills, just strap on snowshoes and walk with a couple of poles. I found a snowshoe loop that’s dog-friendly at the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park. Grab a toboggan and pull the littles for family fun.

Special shoes aren’t required and the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park offers snowshoe rental.  I just strap them to my snow boots. Admission for the snowshoe loop pass.

 

Tip: Want to do it all? Buy a Sports Park All Day Fun Pass.

CAFÉ ZENON

Tahoe City where to sled at Lake Tahoe
I sampled the mac-and-cheese along with the fries at Cafe Zenon after skating for a while in Tahoe City. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

After a couple of hours on the ice, we needed to eat. Steps away from the ice rink at Tahoe City Winter Sport Park I found Café Zenon. With a large menu of upscale comfort food offerings, I found entrees that satisfied my palate and the kids.

The mac-and-cheese is not just for the kids. Adults can order it with pride. The chicken tenders with fries are cheat-worthy. Don’t tell the kids! But the fries are really frites–yummy.

Café Zenon offers a full bar with inventive and signature cocktails. For the kids, order a hot chocolate.

THE TAHOE ART HAUS AND CINEMA

See a Movie, what to do in Tahoe City with Kids
Baby it’s cold outside so grab a seat and see a movie. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Evening comes early in the winter so escape to the movies. Sit in the cozy couch seating or rock away in a leather seat, the Tahoe Art Haus Cinema shows latest blockbusters.

As Lake Tahoe’s only cinema draft house, order a local draft beer or coffee drink. Don’t miss the popcorn spice bar and I found hotdogs and cheese pizza too.

COMMONS BEACH PARK AND PLAYGROUND 

Visit the Playground, What to do in Tahoe City with Kids.
Kids have lots of choices at the Commons Beach playground. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

If the snow isn’t too deep then let the kids play along one of most picturesque walking paths at Lake Tahoe. The Common Beach Park features open spaces for running, a walking path and a playground.

The divided path offers a lane for cyclists and walkers along with interpretive signs. My kids found playground gold at Commons Beach Park. Even my 14-year-old scrambled over the climbing wall.

Since I found plenty of seating, a few picnic tables and a restroom located next to the playground, families congregate here year-round. Even the little kids have a separate play structure. Free

Along the shore of Lake Tahoe, the quaint hamlet of Tahoe City offers families winter fun, minutes from the area's best ski resorts.

Where to Shop in Tahoe City 

Quaint, locally owned shops line the streets of Tahoe City. As a bonus, you can walk between all the shopping in Tahoe City.

Skiing and Sledding Near Tahoe City

Enjoy Squaw Valley with kids where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe.
Lake Tahoe offers families the place to ski big with lots of family friendly runs and terrain parks. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Lake Tahoe offers world-class skiing for families, including some of the best ski schools around. And Tahoe City is minutes from several top resorts.

Squaw Valley Ski Resort offers families Olympic skiing and history with lots of mountaintop green runs served by a large gondola.

Northstar Ski Resort offers families a luxury ski getaway with a premier kids learning center.

Diamond Peak Ski Resort has been a locals favorite for years.

Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe boasts lots of green runs just for kids along in the Enchanted Forest.

Then I’ve got a couple of FREE sledding hills nearby too.

Tahoe Meadows

Spooner Summit

First Time Skiing? 

What do you need to pack for family ski trip? I’ve been there. And here’s a list to prep and pack.

Need some advice on picking a ski school for your kids? I’ve got some tips for families to find the best program. 

Disclosure:

My family was hosted for part of our visit to Tahoe City. Consideration for locations listed.

Know Before You Go:

  • The ice rink is open everyday throughout the winter season though check after a heavy snowfall when snow removal temporarily closes the rink.
  • Outdoor ice skating rinks have faster ice than indoor rinks. Bring a helmet for kids learning since falls are common.
  • Park at the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park and walk to the park, movie theatre and shopping.
  • Before heading out check out road conditions at NVroads.com for tire chain requirements. I use Nevada’s website for the Lake Tahoe region since it’s easier to use on a mobile device than California’s website.

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Your Guide to Skiing at Northstar in Lake Tahoe with Kids

Enjoy Northstar Ski Resort best ski lessons for kids in Lake Tahoe
A day enjoying the blue bird sky while skiing down a perfectly groomed run is divine. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Carving my way through a treed glade as the diamond-dusted mountains sparkle soothes my soul. For my kids, catching a bit of air in the terrain park makes them forget about homework. My husband just wants to be away from his office and work obligations. A family ski getaway should be filled with moments of wonder and excitement, not frustration and tantrums. To do that, a family needs a ski resort that caters to the needs of families. By providing kids a superior learning environment, Northstar Ski Resort offers the best ski lessons for kids in Lake Tahoe. With a village full of après fun, families create memories instead of meltdowns.

Northstar Ski Resort at Lake Tahoe

Located near California’s Lake Tahoe, Northstar Ski Resort boasts a secluded ski resort that caters to families.

What I loved about Northstar Ski Resort

  • The sheltered location reduces wind issues.
  • They love families, kids are everywhere.

What I wanted from Northstar Ski Resort

  • Better labeling in the Village.
  • Less traffic.

Northstar By the Numbers

The Mountain Statistics

Base Elevation: 6,330ft. Summit Elevation: 8,610ft.
Vertical Drop: 2,280 ft. Skiable Acres: 3,170
Type of Terrain Percentage of Runs
Green 11%
Blue 56%
Black 33%
Total Named Runs: 100
Lifts: 20 total:

2 gondolas,1 high speed 6-pack, 7 high-speed quads, 1 fixed-grip quad, 2 triples, 2 surface lifts and 5 Magic Carpet lifts

 

Our Day Skiing and Riding at Northstar

Enjoy Northstar Ski Resort best ski lessons for kids in Lake Tahoe
Skiing with kids down Northstar’s engineered runs make this Mom a better skier. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

My kids, 9, 12 and 14-years-old, have skied and snowboarders for several years, each year taking lessons and starting on the green runs. Though we’re making progress and moving up to the easiest blue trails.

My youngest and I rode the Big Easy lift, the easiest lift for younger kids. This area offered banked turns and a spine that my 9-year-old son loved. This is the place to start your first day on the snow.

My kids moved up from the Big Easy lift to the Arrow Express lift. This lift offers a longer green run for kids and families. It’s also a designated slow zone and Northstar positions ski patrol along this route to control speed during peak periods, like holidays.

After a few runs down the Lumberjack trail and the Lower Main Street, my kids tried the Vista Express Lift to tackle Skid Trail. Another green run that connects with Lumberjack and Lower Main Street for an even longer green run.

At the end of the day, my kids took the Village Run back to Northstar’s Village. Since everyone makes their way back down the mountain this way, I don’t suggested this for beginners due to congestion.

Northstar Terrain Parks

Enjoy Northstar Ski Resort best ski lessons for kids in Lake Tahoe
Spend time in Northstar’s terrain park, let the kids show you some new tricks. Even better, shoot a video. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

I’ve got two boys, 9 and 12-years-old, so I’ve learned about terrain parks over the last few years. They’re not as crazy as I originally thought.

When my daredevil son told me he wanted to check out a terrain park, I envisioned something I’d seen on the Olympics. Don’t worry, think of terrain parks like snow playgrounds. Most resorts offer several parks with different terrain features.

At Northstar, my boys stayed on the Warren Miller’s Playground, off Skid Trail after riding the Vista Express Lift. This terrain area boasts features made of snow, like small jumps.

As a mom, be sure and check out the terrain park signs to see if your kids are in the right playground. Most resorts install several terrain parks with differing levels of difficulty. Take it easy, start small and keep an eye out for the more advanced teens.

Northstar Ski School

Enjoy Northstar Ski Resort best ski lessons for kids in Lake Tahoe
Ski School is the only way to get the kids on the snow and loving it. Let the professionals handle it. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

After seven years of kids in ski school, I can spot an excellent program.

My Must Haves for Ski School

  • Trained staff that actually like kids and know how to talk and play with kids. Corny jokes and riddles a plus.
  • A separate facility with an indoor transition area that allows for kids to rest or warm up.
  • A separate outdoor area that’s fenced off from the rest of the resort yet visible for parents wanting to check-in.
  • Separate magic carpet lifts or surface lifts for ski school only.
  • Staff that fits kids with skis.
  • Helmets for kids regardless of local laws.

An Outstanding Program will have

  • A program that keeps the littlest kids off the elevated lifts before 6-years-old.
  • A chef-inspired lunched that’s accommodates kids’ special diets, like gluten-free or vegan.
  • Engineered runs that makes turning easier.
  • Covered lifts

As a Mom, I notice the details. I want the best possible program with the best possible instructors.

Though the kids just want to have fun.

That’s what it’s all about. Getting kids on the snow and loving it. Northstar gets that. They aim to groom lifelong skiers and riders with a super fun day on the slopes. S’mores included.

Enjoy Northstar Ski Resort best ski lessons for kids in Lake Tahoe
The engineered trails at Northstar help kids and adults master turns. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Northstar makes it look easy but it takes skill and talent behind the scenes. From the instructors to the groomers and even the chefs that prepare lunch, the ski school team works together for the best possible experience for your kids.

The instructors connect with kids of a certain age naturally. Northstar pairs instructors with kids that age, making the instructor-student relationship stronger. I remember that feeling when I was a preschool teacher.

The groomers work overnight to create an environment that helps kids learn faster. By banking the turns and adding fun features like rollers, Northstar’s beginner runs give kids confidence and a high-five moment of fun.

Even the chefs at Northstar elevate lunch for the kids with freshly cooked options like chicken or fish. Along with healthier lunches, Northstar also serves a daily soup, vegetarian and gluten-free items.

At the end of the day, I want to see kids beaming with a smile and announce, I love skiing.

Snowboarding for Preschoolers

Grandlibakken-Tahoe: an intimate ski hill that's easy for Mom and her wallet. Lake Tahoe, Family Ski Destinations,
Northstar offers snow boarding lessons for kids as young as 3. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Northstar offers one of the few programs in the U.S. with snowboarding as an option for potty-trained 3-year olds. The Burton Academy gets the littlest kids on a board and loving it in a riglet park.

In the Ripperoo’s Riglet Park, named after the riglet reel that attaches to the front of the snowboard, instructors pull kids through tiny terrain features. Kids get the feeling of snowboarding sooner and progress faster.

Back when my 12-year-old son started on the snowboard, he had to wait until he was 7 to take a group lesson. A lot has changed for the youngest kids in the last few years, with Northstar and Burton leading the pack with the littlest riders.

Northstar’s Signature Programs

The Ultimate 4 Program at Northstar offers small group instruction for four people ages 4 and up. Grouped with similarly skilled skiers and riders, students get individualized instruction in a fun, more social environment.

Get all the details for skiing with kids at Northstar Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe. Take a look at where to learn, where to ski and where to play. Even tips on what to do after the lifts close.

Moms looking to move up the mountain, Northstar offers Womens Ultimate Four, an afternoon lesson offering quality instruction from a female coach. It’s a casual environment for moms that missed a few seasons and want to improve their skiing.

Platinum Access offers guests a one-day pass for a no-wait lift line access. Seasonal options available for season pass holders.

Private family lessons are available and accommodate up to six people for the same price.

For families with special needs children, Achieve Tahoe offers private lessons for kids with physical, sensory or intellectual challenges with adaptive ski and snowboard equipment and trained instructors.

Where to Eat at Northstar Ski Resort

During my visit to Northstar, we ate at The Lodge at Big Springs located at mid-mountain, right off the Big Springs Express Gondola. With a pizza station, burgers, soups, salads and baked potatoes, I found something for everyone in my family. Kids meals are available.

For skiers farther up the mountain, The Zephyr Lodge is located close to the Tahoe Zephyr Express lift. At Northstar’s summit, The Summit Smokehouse offers views of Lake Tahoe.

The Village at Northstar offers families lots of options, like pizza, sushi, tacos and food trailers. Paired with activities for the family, après-ski continues after sunset. 

Family Fun at The Village at Northstar

The Village at Northstar offers iceskating, movies, crafts, shopping, s’mores and the list goes on. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The family fun starts at Northstar’s ice skating rink that features a stage with live music. When the Zamboni takes a spin, kids gather around the fire pits for s’mores while adults enjoy a Starbuck’s coffee or a cocktail from the Cabana Bar.

For the active kids, I found a bungee trampoline. Not all kids want to play outdoors, so the The Village Candle Shop offers arts and crafts, like candle making, pottery painting and mosaics. Build a souvenir at The Bear Village.

I found a spa offering massages and spa services along with yoga in The Village. And don’t forget the movie theater with two screens.

For families with little kids (ages 2 to 6) that don’t ski, Minor’s Camp Child Care offers licensed daycare services at Northstar. Kids will enjoy arts and crafts and outdoor play in the snow while mom and dad enjoy a day on the slopes.

Winter Fun off the Slopes

Northstar Ski Resort hosts star gazing with a star guide that takes guests through a tour of the night sky. Several different tours offered from family tours to snowshoeing night star tours.

At the Cross-Country, Telemark and Snowshoe Center, I found fat tire bike rentals and rental equipment for cross-country skiing, Telemark skiing and snowshoeing.

Kids love tubing and Northstar offers tubing just off the Big Springs Express Gondola. First-come, first-serve for one-hour of tubing fun and a separate lift ticket is not required. Kids have to use their own tube and be 42” tall. 

Where to stay at Northstar Ski Resort

Enjoy Northstar Ski Resort best ski lessons for kids in Lake Tahoe
Enjoy the house-made s’mores on the patio after a day of skiing at the Ritz-Carlton – Lake Tahoe. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Located mid-mountain I found the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offering an AAA five-diamond resort that caters to families. During my visit, I toured the property and found a contemporary mountain retreat that reminded me of national park lodge.

The central fireplace anchors the gathering space, outfitted with small groupings of sofas that allow for intimate conversations. Families enjoy live music and sip on cider while playing board games with the kids.

The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe offers a mountain concierge that stores ski equipment slopeside. A luxury feature for families skiing with several kids. Hauling gear is never fun, especially with small kids.

My kids love to stay active, even on a getaway. The Ritz-Carlton offers seasonal activities geared towards families. The complimentary s’mores are a winter must-do. Every afternoon, a marshmologist passes out house-made marshmallows to toast at the firepit.

During my visit, this mom had to sample a couple of marshmallows and it was so worth it. Next to the firepit, I found Ritz-Carlton’s Après-Ski Champagne Experience for an afternoon treat. Champagne makes everything better, even a near perfect ski day.

More Lake Tahoe Fun for Families

Looking for more places to discover in Lake Tahoe. Got a couple of my favorite spots to share.

Mt Rose Meadows for sledding 

Spooner Lake for sledding 

Granlibakken Tahoe

Squaw Valley Ski Resort

Mt Rose Ski Tahoe

Diamond Peak Ski Resort 

Then discover a quaint town to spend an afternoon, like Tahoe City.

Prep and Pack for Lake Tahoe

 

What do you need to pack for family ski trip? I’ve been there. And here’s a list to prep and pack.

Need some advice on picking a ski school for your kids? I’ve got some tips for families to find the best program. 

How to get to Northstar Ski Resort

Northstar Ski Resort is located at 5001 Northstar Drive, Truckee, California. It’s 7 miles south of Truckee, along California Highway 267. Tahoe City, California, a quaint mountain town on the western shores of Lake Tahoe is 17 miles away.

If flying into Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) to visit Lake Tahoe, Northstar is 41 miles from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport via Interstate 80.

Disclosure:

NorthstarCalifornia Ski Resort hosted my family for one day. Though I have enjoyed Northstar on several occasions before that visit.

Know Before You Go: 

  • Reservations are required during holiday breaks and long weekends. Ski School sells out.
  • Kids under 12 are required to wear a helmet during ski school.
  • Arrive early to ski school to allow for a smooth transition.
  • Pack lip balm, googles, and an extra set of gloves for kids in ski school.
  • Pack a bag of marshmallows and a couple of roasting sticks, I found several fire pits, perfect for an après-ski treat.
  • Before heading out check out road conditions at NVroads.com for tire chain requirements. I use Nevada’s website for the Lake Tahoe region since it’s easier to use on a mobile device than California’s website.

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A Family Guide to Skiing Squaw Valley

Enjoy Squaw Valley with kids where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe.
Squaw Valley offers families the place to ski big with lots of family friendly runs and terrain parks. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Where to Take Kids Skiing in Lake Tahoe

Squaw Valley is a legendary Olympic resort in Lake Tahoe that boasts 6,500 acres to explore. Their runs top lists across the world, like the KT-22. It’s a bucket list destination for skiers from around the world.

Squaw is the resort where locals take their friends when they want to ski big. A day at Squaw is a day kissing the clouds while the snow and the lake try to out sparkle each other.

Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Been working with my kids for years to reach the point when we could ski Squaw Valley as a family. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

But what about the kids? My family loves this resort, part of it is the allure of Old Tahoe, the make-you-smile vibe that resonates with today’s kids as much as it did 50 years ago. The other is telling the kids back home you got to ski Squaw.

What I love about Squaw Valley Ski Resort

  • The skiing can’t be beat. Known as one of the top North American Ski Resorts.
  • It’s Olympic history as the host of the 1960 Winter Games.
  • The Village at Squaw Valley offers lots family fun with restaurants, shopping and activities.

What I wanted from Squaw Valley Ski Resort

  • More green skiing in the SnoVentures area, near the Ski School
  • Ice skating in The Village.
  • More discounts for families.

Squaw Valley by the Numbers

2017 Lift Tickets at Squaw Valley Ski Resort
Ages Online Advance Tickets
18 to 64 $129
13 to 17 $112
5 to 12 $78
65+ $112
The Mountain Statistics
Base Elevation: 6,200 ft. Summit Elevation: 9,050 ft.
Vertical Drop: 2,850 ft. Skiable Acres: 3,600
Type of Terrain Percentage of Runs
Green 25%
Blue 45%
Black 30%
Total Named Runs: 170
Lifts: 29 total:

1 aerial tram, 1 funitel, 1 high speed 6-pack, 3 high-speed quads, 1 quad, 9 triples, 3 doubles and 5 surface lifts

My Visit to Squaw Valley

Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
With views of Lake Tahoe and the Squaw Valley area, I take a moment to savor the view. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Skiing with three kids can be a challenge at a large resort. Keeping the kids corralled requires a Mom with wings, not skis. And I will admit I shied away from the larger ski resorts when my kids were younger.

I can report that my kids, 9 12 and 14, had the best day on the snow at Squaw Valley Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe. During our two-day visit, we spent our first day on the snow getting our ski legs underneath us again at the SnoVentures area its beginner lifts and green runs.

Enjoy Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Skiing with these two requires a Mom with some stamina and a little bit of skill. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The SnoVentures area is perfect for families since it’s next to the parking lot. Making trips to the car for forgotten items is no big deal.

The SnoVentures area features a separate lodge with some indoor seating along with a microwave and a hot water spigot. I found outdoor picnic tables and a couple of food vendors so I didn’t have to hike back to the Village.

Most of the skiing at Squaw Valley is mountaintop skiing that requires a ride up an aerial tram. I checked out my kids and reassured myself that they knew how to stop and turn before we headed up the mountain.

This area also offers mini snowmobiles, snow tubing, and cross-country ski trails as well.

High Camp with Kids

Ski Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
The High Camp area offers wide open skiing with lots of green runs just right for families. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

On our second day, we wanted to head up the mountain so we boarded the aerial tram for High Camp. I double-checked I had everything I needed to keep my three kids happy for the day. It’s a hike back down to the car.

For this ride, skiers and boarders carry their equipment and don’t wear it since High Camp features a lodge where the tram loads and unloads. The tram ride up the mountain includes a sway that might frighten some younger kids though my 9-year-old was fine. And remember to hold on.

Enjoy Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Even during busy holiday weeks, I found lift lines easy to manage, especially early and late in the day. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The High Camp offers sweeping views of Squaw Valley along with peeks of Lake Tahoe beyond. It features the Olympic Museum, an ice-skating rink, a seasonal pool and hot tub (spring through summer) and several options for lunch or dinner.

The High Camp area offers lots of green runs, beginner terrain parks and several different lifts. My kids loved the mountaintop skiing and snow boarding including my 9-year-old.

Ski Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Be prepared to ski at a higher elevation at High Camp with googles, a neck gaiter or scarf and thicker gloves. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

At 8,200 feet, the winds can be an issue at High Camp, especially on the lifts. I suggest goggles for all, even on sunny days. I could see smaller kids having possible issues with the wind.

For our trip, my kids covered lots of the green runs using the Bailey’s Beach, Mountain Meadow and the Belmont lifts. I found the skiing open and uncrowded on the busiest week of the year.

During our visit, we used the Squaw Valley app that features real-time information. I could find my teen skiing even with spotty data coverage.

Squaw Valley Terrain Parks

Enjoy Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Catching air is tops for my kids when skiing and boarding in the terrain parks. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

I’m a boy mom. So I’ve learned about terrain parks over the last few seasons. They’re not as crazy as I originally thought.

I will admit, when my daredevil son told me he wanted to check out a terrain park a couple of years ago, I envisioned something I’d seen on the Olympics. Don’t worry, think of terrain parks like snow playgrounds.

At Squaw Valley, my kids, 9, 12 and 13, started on the terrain features at the High Camp Start Park. Then they moved on to the Belmont Park near the Belmont Lift. And stayed there the majority of the day.

Sure the kids want to SKI Big but what's it really like to ski with kids at Lake Tahoe's Squaw Valley? Got all the details from lessons to terrain parks along with places to eat.

As a Mom, be sure and check out the terrain park signs to see if your kids are in the right playground. Most resorts install several terrain parks with differing levels of difficulty. Take it easy, start small and keep an eye out for the more advanced teens.

Squaw Valley’s Terrain Parks
  • SnoVentures Start Park
  • High Camp Start Park
  • Belmont Park
  • Gold Coast Park
  • Mainline Park

Night Skiing at Squaw Valley Ski Resort

Try night skiing at Squaw Valley, where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Squaw Valley offers night skiing and boarding on a 3.2-mile blue trail. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

My 12-year-old begged for hours to snowboard down the Mountain Run, a blue run that’s a whopping 3.2-miles long. After talking with several ski instructors, I said yes and made his day.

Dad accompanied him down the mountain. My son had no problems but Dad felt his age (40+).

Night Skiing lift tickets can be purchased for an additional fee and are valid from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The aerial tram transports skiers and snowboarders. Night Skiing is usually available the week after Christmas and Saturdays through March.

Squaw Valley Ski School

Learn to ski at Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Squaw Valley’s covered surface lifts top my list for premium features of the best ski schools. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Squaw Kids, the Squaw Valley Ski and Snowboard School, offers programs divided by age. All lessons begin at their separate facility, located between SnoVentures and the Village.

For the youngest skiers, ages 3 to 4 (potty-trained kids only), the Pioneers program focuses on fun with first-timers, full-day and half-day programs available. The littlest skiers will be on the snow and in lessons for several hours and nap time is not included.

Family Skiing at Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Heading up the First Venture lift right after we get to the SnoVentures area. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

For the 5 to 7-year-olds, kids can choose from skiing or snowboarding. The Explorers Ski Program and Grommets Snowboard Program is for more active kids and broken down by ability–green, blue or black-level runs. A lunch break is included for all-day students.

Kids 8 to 13-years-old explore the mountain trying lots of runs alongside similarly-skilled kids. The Mountaineers Ski Program and Jibbers Snowboard Program will be on the snow the majority of the day and includes a lunch break for all-day students.

All kids’ programs (ages 3 to 13) feature an afternoon first-time package. Teen group lessons are available though they meet in the adult lesson area.

Squaw Valley Programs and Clinics

Squaw Valley features a couple of programs geared towards Moms looking to move up the mountain. For blue or black-level skiers, check out the 3-day Women of Winter Camp in January.

Looking for a guide to showcase the best that Squaw Valley offers? A non-instructional guide and priority lift access will allow for more exploring. A complimentary jacket is included and guide services are for blue or black-level skiers.

Private lessons are available and accommodate up to four people. Discounts for multiple days are available.

For families with a special needs child, Achieve Tahoe offers private lessons for kids with physical, sensory or intellectual challenges with adaptive ski and snowboard equipment and trained instructors.

Where to Eat at Squaw Valley Ski Resort

Rocker Where to take kids Skiing in Lake Tahoe
My kids ate big after a day on the slopes at Rocker in the Squaw Valley Village. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

At the end of a killer day of skiing, I love to grab a bite to eat before I head back. The Village at Squaw Valley offers lots of options for families.

During my visit, we ate at Rocker and my kids dominated a plate of nachos as big as the state of California. With a little kids’ menu, big kid pleasing hamburgers, a choice of farm fresh salads, the whole table left happy.

Snacks for kids where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
We love crepes and I found lots of tasty treats across Squaw Valley Ski Resort for families. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

For snacking during the day, I stopped by the Euro Snack trailer for savory and sweet crepes. Of course, I ran into Starbucks for coffee and hot chocolate. I also found pizza, sushi and grill options.

For adults looking to unwind, the Auld Dubliner Irish Pub draws a crowd along with several other bars in the Village area. Be sure and visit the World’s first ski-in, ski-out Starbucks located in the Gold Coast Lodge at the top of the Gold Coast Funitel, the only funitel in the U.S.

Squaw Valley’s Olympic History

Olympic Museum where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Learn a little ski history at the Olympic Museum at Squaw Valley’s High Camp and remember to grab a gold win selfie. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Squaw Valley’s skiing is not the only thing that’s legendary. Their successful Olympic bid is as legendary as the games themselves.

In 1954 Alex Cushing, the chairman of Squaw Valley, saw a newspaper article announcing Reno as the possible site for the 1960 Olympic games. He threw his resort in the mix, boasting only a single chairlift and a couple of rope tows at the time.

The place to beat—Innsbruck, Austria, an international favorite. Cushing had the U.S. vote since the State of California backed the cause. Though it took a scale model so enormous it couldn’t get into the presentation room to win over the rest of the Olympic Committee.

After the successful bid, roads and facilities had to be built and fast. Even Walt Disney helped make the 1960 Olympic Games a success by orchestrating the pageantry.

After an unseasonable warm winter a fierce snowstorm dumped the much needed snow days before the start of the Olympic Games. Then the games needed the clouds to clear to light the eternal flame.

As if orchestrated by Disney himself, the clouds cleared and the torch was lit. Then 2,000 doves rose into the air above Squaw Valley signaling the start of the 10-day long games.

Be sure to walk through the Olympic Museum at High Camp. The Olympic podium offers a perfect picture spot for kids.

Family Fun Without a Lift Ticket:

family fun at Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
I found lots of family fun at Squaw Valley that doesn’t require a lift ticket. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Taking the entire family skiing requires more than a few lift tickets. Squaw Valley Ski Resort offers a village packed full of fun for everyone on a family ski getaway, not just the skiers and boarders.

During my visit, I found a spa, yoga and shopping for Mom and Grandma. The kids can craft at the craft studio, roast marshmallows, sled, snow tube, and ride a mini-snow mobile.

Try a new sport. I found dog sledding, cross-country skiing, and snow shoeing. I even found trampolines and climbing walls.

If celebrating the holidays, Squaw Valley offers horse-drawn carriages, Santa visits and special seasonal performances. Nightly fireworks are a must. And the chefs at Squaw Valley turn out special holiday meals.

Is it Your First Family Ski Trip?

What do you need to pack for family ski trip? I’ve been there. And here’s a list to prep and pack.

 

Need some advice on picking a ski school for your kids? I’ve got some tips for families to find the best program. 

More Lake Tahoe Fun for Families

A day at the resort is fun but so is finding a perfect sled hill in a nearby forest. Got a couple of my favorite spots to share.

Mt Rose

Spooner Lake

Granlibakken 

Northstar

Diamond Peak

Then discover a quaint town to spend an afternoon, like Tahoe City.

Where’s Squaw Valley Ski Resort

Squaw Valley Ski Resort is located at 1960 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley, California. Squaw Valley is 12 miles south of Truckee, California, along California Highway 89. Tahoe City, California, a quaint mountain town on the western shores of Lake Tahoe is 10 miles away.

If flying into Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) to visit Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley is 48 miles from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport via Interstate 80.

Parking Available
General Parking Free
Premier Parking $20
Valet Garage Parking $30 or $40 holiday

Disclosure:

Squaw Valley hosted my family for one ski trip. Though I have skied Squaw Valley on numerous occasions without any sponsorship.

Know Before You Go: 

  • Reservations are required during holiday breaks and long weekends. Ski School sells out.
  • Arrive early to ski school to allow for smooth transition.
  • Kids helmets are mandatory in Squaw Valley’s Ski and Snowboard School.
  • Pack lip balm, googles, a small snack and an extra set of gloves for your kids.
  • Kids in ski school (ages 3 to 13) will ride ski lifts when they can turn and stop.
  • I found several fire pits so pack a bag of marshmallows and a couple of roasting sticks for a perfect for an après-ski treat for the kids.
  • If your kids are afraid of heights, keep them in the center of the tram and focused on the view in front of them.
  • Before heading out check out road conditions at NVroads.com for tire chain requirements. I use Nevada’s website for the Lake Tahoe region since it’s easier to use on a mobile device than California’s website.

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11 Tips for Car-free Fun on Amtrak’s California Trains

tips for taking Amtrak in California.
One of the amazing views from Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner in California. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

As a road tripping maniac that’s driven three kids across North America, I hate my car at times. I love to use different forms of transportation. So when the opportunity came up to take the train from Southern California to the Central California Coast, I jumped abroad. After my trip, I came up with 11 tips for taking Amtrak in California.

Tips for Taking Amtrak in California 

1: Book the right train.

On my trip to Santa Barbara and Solvang this summer I boarded two different trains, Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner and the Coast Starlight. Each offering a different experience though they share part of the same track.

Tips for take the Coast Starlight in California
Hop abroad an Amtrak train for car-free fun in California. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The Pacific Surfliner is a regional route that travels between San Diego and San Luis Obispo, California, stopping at most Amtrak stations along the way. It features a business-class car and coach cars with unreserved seats plus an observation car with a snack bar below.

The Coast Starlight runs between Los Angeles’s Union Station and Seattle with limited stops. It offers reserved coach seats, business class, an observation/snack bar car, a dining car, a parlor car plus sleeping cars.

California Driving Ain’t a Dream

2: Ditch the car and go car-free.

Tips of taking Amtrak in California.
Riding the rails instead of battling the roads tops my list of reasons to ditch the car and go car-free. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

As I look at my maps app, I blink again hoping that it’s a joke. But sadly, it’s true. Sometimes driving in Southern California is a nightmare.

With hours eaten up behind the wheel, the dream vacation crumbles as kids melt down in the backseat and this Mom loses it as another driver cuts her off.

I found a solution, ditch the car and go car-free. That’s what I did recently when I grabbed an Amtrak train. With dedicated parking at most stations, it’s easy to park the car and explore California car-free instead.

Transportation that Does More than Transport

3: The customer service difference on Amtrak.

I get it, I used to fly the friendly skies as a flight attendant for a major airline. And those skies aren’t friendly anymore.

What surprised me the most on my Amtrak train, customer service still shines on the rails. The conductor and the train stewards were polite and informative.

Looking to escape from the craziness of Southern California, then hop aboard Amtrak's Coast Starlight. Got all the tips and hints for your trip along with a video.

A steward helps passengers on-and-off the train. If the train hinted at slowing down, the conductor explained what was happening and when we would be on our way again.

I had a coach seat on the train that had to accommodate another train’s passengers when it went out-of-service. Passengers were standing everywhere, in the aisles and on the stairs.

But we were all on the train. There’s relief in that.

The stewards walked up-and-down the crowded train cars and apologized for the conditions. Then they informed us how many passengers would be getting off at upcoming stations. Then they thanked us for choosing Amtrak.

Wow. So simple but so often ignored. The passengers remained calm and even gave seats to the passengers who needed them the most–injured, elderly and those with disabilities.

Not All Trains Seats are the Same

4: If sitting in a seat is important to you, reserve a business-class or reserved coach seat.

Price sells many things in life in the case of train travel, buy up. As I learned on my weekend trip, things go wrong and when they do the train fills up.

Get a business seat, tips for taking Amtrak in California.
Looking for a reserved seat on the Pacific Surfliner then reserve a business class seat. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

If you and your family are traveling with luggage out of the area, buy a reserved coach seat or business-class seat. This guarantees a seat on the train. A regular coach ticket guarantees passage, meaning you could be standing at peak times or off-schedule operations.

Though I will be honest, when the trains went off-schedule the day I was traveling, I was grateful to be on the train.

Did I have to stand part of my journey? Yes, but the train conductor and the rest of the train staff constantly communicated to the passengers what was going on.

In our case, a train had to be taken out-of-service coupled with a big convention. That meant Amtrak had a busy weekend already then another train’s passengers had to be accommodated on my train.

If I had been flying, I would have been stuck at the gate watching planes leave the airport without me. As promised, a lot of the passengers disembarked in LA and I got a seat.

In a situation that could have escalated into some seriously pissed-off passengers. Everyone remained calm by opening a book or their phone and made do.

ThruWay Buses

5: ThruWay Buses make for easy transfers.

For stops beyond traditional Amtrak stations, ThruWay buses take passengers to their final destinations. As the case for my journey to Solvang, California, a charming Danish community, I boarded a charter-like bus at the Santa Barbara Train Station.

thru buses, tips for taking Amtrak in California.
Hop on Amtrak’s Thru Bus service to destinations beyond the train station. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

My train incurred delays but my ThruWay bus waited for the train to arrive. The process of getting off the train at Santa Barbara and onto an Amtrak ThruWay bus was painless. Requiring a lot less walking than changing planes at a mega airport, like Dallas/Forth Worth.

Coast Starlight

6: Book the Coast Starlight if your itinerary permits.

After exploring Solvang and Santa Barbara for several days, I needed to meet my family near San Francisco. I boarded Amtrak’s Coast Starlight at the 1905 historic Santa Barbara Train Station.

Where the Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner is a regional train route that stops at the majority of the stations along its route, the Coast Starlight does not. Running along the west coast from Los Angeles’s Union Station to Seattle, the entire journey takes about 36 hours.

Known as Amtrak’s the most scenic route, I was blown away. I took the segment from Santa Barbara to Salinas, California, taking about six hours.

My plan was to pull out the laptop and work. But I was glued to my picture window.

This route passes though untouched California coast north of Santa Barbara. For fans of the Pacific Coast Highway, when the PCH heads inland north of Gaviota, the train rolls through. This includes Vanderburg Air Force Base.

My Coast Starlight Experience

7: Pack all you want! Four bags are allowed.

tips for taking Amtrak in California.
I took four bags aboard with me. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Call me silly, but I felt a bit of old school glamour getting on my train. Maybe it’s the oversized sunglasses I was wearing or the fabulous weather in Santa Barbara but I imagined how a starlet would have ridden the train in the 50s. (Now, this 40ish Mom of three is not saying she’s a starlet but I had a vacation-induced fantasy. Don’t spoil it with reality. Or I’ll call you my husband.)

Arriving within minutes of it’s scheduled departure, my train arrived at the Santa Barbara Station, located on State St. in downtown. For my journey, I had a reserved coach seat. Finding the correct car was no problem and a steward greeted me at the coach car entrance. Then he asked if I preferred a window or aisle seat.

I grabbed my four bags (yes, I had one standard roll abroad, a backpack plus two shopping bags full of goodies) and stepped onboard. First, I stowed the larger suitcase on the rack downstairs next to the car entrance. Then I took the rest of my items to my window seat upstairs.

My Reserved Coach Seat

8: Forget the airplane luggage hassle.

tips for taking Amtrak in California.
Look Mom, it’s legroom and a legrest at my reserved coach seat. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

I had no problem storing my stuff since my train wasn’t taking off and traveling 500 m.p.h. through the air so I didn’t have to secure it. I left my backpack in my seat and the shopping bags in the open rack above.

No one was fighting for storage space. My bag wasn’t deemed oversized and checked either.

After I settled in, the first thing that I noticed was all the space. I could have danced in the space between the edge of my seat and the seat in front of me. Amazing.

I’m an average-sized woman and I’ve had to wedge myself into some small jet seats lately. It seems I’m always flying in the back of some regional jet that looks smaller than a sparrow. So this train seat was luxurious.

Tips for taking Amtrak in California.
Seat power on each row. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

I had a picture window to enjoy all to myself since the aisle seat was vacant. Then I found the standard 110-volt plug. Pulled out my chargers and plugged in my phone and my laptop at the same time.

The Amtrak Experience

9: Explore your train, especially the observation car.

explore the train, tips for taking Amtrak in California.
I love sitting in the observation car and watching the scenery roll by. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

My train pulled a line of train cars. Actually the Coast Starlight train blocks traffic on the streets at the Santa Barbara Station when stopped.

It wasn’t long before I was out of my seat and exploring my train. I went to the observation car with its domed skylights and enjoyed the view. This car is a favorite so it can be hard to get a seat at times.

10: Feel free to bring snacks aboard for your journey.

cafe cars, tips for taking Amtrak in California.
Amtrak trains feature a cafe car, below the observation car. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Below the observation lounge, I found the cafe car with a couple of tables. It’s kinda like the convenience store of the train. There’s a selection of drinks, hot and cold, treats and small meals. Nothing really glamorous so I purchased a sandwich before I boarded my train in Santa Barbara.

I met a cabin steward, James Lake, a 12-year Amtrak veteran. He graciously took me on a tour of the rest of the train.

Special Amtrak Cars on the Coast Starlight

11: Ask for a tour.

Make reservations for dinner, tips for taking Amtrak in California.
Make reservations for the Dining Car if traveling during dinner. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

We walked through the dining car where waiters and waitresses served food made onboard. With a printed menu, including a kids’ menu, I found chef-inspired selections. Reservations are accepted for dinner in the dining car, with business-class passengers getting first dibs.

The business class car was next and includes complimentary Wi-fi and bottled water along with an invitation to a wine and cheese tasting in the Pacific Parlour Car (additional fee applies). At Los Angeles and Portland, business-class passengers get access to the Metropolitan Lounges.

Tips for taking Amtrak in California.
With signature cocktails and special events like wine and cheese tastings, the Pacific Parlour Car is another reason to upgrade to Business Class. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

After the business class car, I walked through the Pacific Parlour Car, a vintage 1950s railcar. They were originally on the Empire Builder from Chicago to the Pacific Northwest but moved to the Coast Starlight.

Pacific Parlour Car

With a wood interior that reminded me of hotel bars where men in fedoras smoked cigars, I found the ambience enchanting. The Pacific Parlour Car features a full bar with signature cocktails along with coffee drinks and snacks.

Meals are served in the Pacific Parlour Car for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The parlour car offers a separate menu with a more limited selection than the dining car.

On the first level of the Pacific Parlour Car my guide walked me through a small movie theater where Amtrak used to show movies. Unfortunately, this theater is not being used at the time.

Tips for taking Amtrak in California.
The vintage theater in the Pacific Parlour Car isn’t showing movies right now. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

After the Pacific Parlour Car, I found the Superliner Sleeper cars, where overnight passengers enjoy a roomette with berths. Since it was booked to capacity for my summertime mid-week train journey,  I didn’t tour an Amtrak roomette.

After my tour, I returned to my seat and enjoyed the scenery whisk by until my destination.

Disclosure:

My Amtrak train journey was part of an hosted press trip. The opinions are my own.

Know Before You Go:

  • Amtrak doesn’t feature in-seat entertainment.
  • Sleeping cars feature a shared shower in each car.

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