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? 

Need help packing for a family ski getaway. I’ve pulled together a list of must haves for the whole family. 

Finding the perfect resort for your family requires research. I’ve got a list of the features I look for in a family friendly ski resort.

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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Granlibakken A Grand Sledding Hill in Lake Tahoe

 

Lake Tahoe offers a crazy fast sledding hill for kids
Granlibakken-Tahoe, minutes from Tahoe City on the western shore of Lake Tahoe, offers a crazy fast sledding hill along with skiing, just right for family skiers.

Nestled in a glade of evergreens, Granlibakken Tahoe offers families a winter escape along the western shores of Lake Tahoe, minutes away from Tahoe City. A family favorite for years, I appreciate that my kids sled and ski to their heart’s desire while I watch on.

Granlibakken — Rich in Tahoe History

Granlibakken (725 Granlibakken Road) opened in 1928, offering skiing and sledding when a local hotel remained open year-round. Borrowing its name from Norwegian, it means a hill sheltered by trees. A Norwegian jumper built a ski jump in 1930 that became the location for numerous contests in the early years.

On the western shores of Lake Tahoe offers the best place for sledding
I found Old Tahoe charm inside of Granlibakken’s ski hut that offers freshly-made soups and Mexican favorites.

Nestled on 74-acres surrounded by fir trees, it’s not uncommon to see wildlife walking through their property. Granlibakken offers lodging ranging from lodge rooms to three-bedroom town homes.

Though conveniently located near Tahoe City, one of the largest towns on Lake Tahoe, it seems secluded from the hum of tourists. Some guests even walk to Tahoe City for its restaurants and shopping.

A Crazy Fast Sled Hill

My kids crave a super fast sledding hill. For nearly half what other ski resort’s charge for an hour of snow tubing, Granlibakken offers a full day of crazy, sledding fun.

Granlibakken features the fastest sled hill in Lake Tahoe
My 12-year-old needs a sturdy sled as his ride and Granlibakken features MH sleds, made in the U.S.

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

After a few hours of sledding fun, I treat the kids to s’mores. The ski hut offers s’mores packages with enough chocolate, grahams and marshmallows for a family to toast at their fire pit. The ski hut also features hot drinks, soups and Mexican favorites, all reasonably priced in an authentic log cabin with a pot belly stove.

Looking for a crazy fast sledding hill in Lake Tahoe? I found one, minutes from all the action in Tahoe City.
Granlibakken-Tahoe on the western shores of Lake Tahoe features one the fastest sledding hills in the area.

Granlibakken’s Ski Hill

With inexpensive lift tickets ($30 – $35 per person for a full day) we ski this resort on our first day back on the snow. It features a small ski hill with a rope tow and platter lift, half-day lift tickets are available.

What this Mom likes about Granlibakken

As one of the smallest, lowest and least inexpensive ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area, it’s an excellent option for families skiing with several children.

Granlibakken offers one of the fastest sled hills in Lake Tahoe
Granlibakken offers families a cozy place for winter fun with a crazy fast sledding hill and intimate ski hill.

I need a small resort.

Let’s face it, each kid has their own needs. Since I’m taking the kids skiing by myself, I can’t lose my kids, 9, 12 and 14-years-old at a mega-huge resort. What’s a Mom to do? Surrender and stay home?

Nope. You can keep them all happy at Granlibakken and still have time for Mom to ski.

I need a low resort.

Granlibakken’s elevation tops out at 6,350 feet, a great option for people who suffer from elevation issues at higher elevations, especially kids. My 12-year-old gets sick over 9,000 feet so we ski at lower elevations and Lake Tahoe tops our list.

One of the fastest sledding hills in Lake Tahoe
Finish up the perfect day of sledding at the fire pit, toasting up some marshmallows.

It’s important to let your body adjust for the first few days to prevent headaches and nausea.

I need an inexpensive resort.

The best feature of Granlibakken is its affordability.

An adult lift ticket is $30 or $35 for a holiday. For kids 12 and under, a lift ticket is $20 and $25 during their school break. Half-day lift tickets are $16 for adults and $10 for the kids under 12. What a bargain.

Besides downhill skiing and snowboarding, they have snowshoe and cross-country ski trails as well. The rental shop at Granlibakken has equipment for downhill and cross country skiing, snow boarding and snow shoeing, along with helmets.

Is it Your First Family Ski Trip?

What do you need to pack for family ski trip? I’ve been there and pulled together a list to help you out.

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.

 

 

Disclosure: 

My family was hosted by Granlibakken-Tahoe.

Know Before You Go: 

  • Granlibakken’s Sled Hill doesn’t have a magic carpet but I climbed it all afternoon. Nice workout for Mom, easy for my kids.
  • The skiing is best for novice skiers and snow boarders.
  • Granlibakken caters to families that have some children that ski and some that want to sled. I watched both hills at the same time and comfortable letting my kids go back and forth.
  • A good resort to start your ski vacation if it has been a few years since your last family ski trip.
  • They do not teach kids under 4 and don’t feature a separate ski school area.

 

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Granlibakken-Tahoe–A Grand Resort for Family Skiers

 

Granlibakken-Tahoe in Lake Tahoe offers an intimate ski hill that gets my kids on the snow for a reasonable price after taking a year off.
Granlibakken-Tahoe is what this Mom headed to take the kids alone. Easy on the wallet and the back and I even had time to ski a few runs myself.

Have you heard, it’s dumping snow in Lake Tahoe right now. If spending time with your family on the snow on your bucket list, I urge you to check out Lake Tahoe for your next weekend away.

The carful of kids are loaded in the SUV and ready to go. It’s been two years since we hit the slopes; I think we might need a little practice. I need to find a place that can get us back up and skiing where we left off.

My oldest is 13 and shouldn’t have a problem. For the 8-year-old, two years is a long time and he might need a lesson. My 11-year-old board boy falls in between. With that in mind, I’ve got a great, first day planned to get the carful of kids back in form.

Granlibakken-Tahoe, more than a Ski Hill

The carful of kids want to check out Granlibakken-Tahoe, half a mile from Tahoe City (725 Granlibakken Road, Tahoe City). This resort is great for families with novice skiers or skiers that have taken a break for a few years.

Granlibakken-Tahoe has offered skiing and sledding in Lake Tahoe since 1928, when a local hotel stayed open year-round. Borrowing its name from Norwegian, it means a hill sheltered by trees.

I can watch my kids on the ski hill and the sledding hill at the same time. Granlibakken-Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, Family Ski Destinations
I can watch my kids on the ski hill and the sledding hill at the same time. For a Mom with three kids out alone for the day, that’s amazing.

Granlibakken-Tahoe offers lodging ranging from lodge rooms to three-bedroom town homes. Nestled on 74-acres surrounded by fir trees, it’s not uncommon to see wildlife walking through their property.

Though conveniently located near Tahoe City, one of the largest towns on Lake Tahoe, Granlibakken-Tahoe seems secluded from the hum of tourists. Some guests even walk to Tahoe City for its restaurants and shopping.

Besides downhill skiing and snowboarding, they have snowshoe and cross-country ski trails as well. The rental shop at Granlibakken has equipment for downhill and cross country skiing, snow boarding and snow shoeing, along with helmets.

We love the scenery of Granlibakken and snapped a family picture.
We love the scenery of Granlibakken and snapped a family picture.

In addition to the snow sports, they feature a year-round heated, outdoor pool and hot tub. Partnering with North Tahoe Adventures, Granlibakken has an aerial adventure park that’s open year-round. With several different courses, it’s open to kids ages 5 and older.

What this Mom likes about Granlibakken-Tahoe

Granlibakken-Tahoe is one of the smallest, lowest and least inexpensive ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area. This makes it an excellent option for families with several children.

I need a small resort.

Let’s face it, each kid has their own needs. Since I’m taking the kids skiing by myself, I can’t lose a kid at a mega-huge resort.

The 13-year-old is annoyed by her family and wants some freedom. The 11-year-old board boy doesn’t know his limits. We need gentle terrain so we don’t end up in the ER later. The 8-year-old is timid and would play on his iPad all day, if I let him.

What’s a Mom to do? Surrender and stay home?

Nope. You can keep them all happy at Granlibakken and still have time for Mom to ski.

The youngest enjoys playing in the snow, while the older two sled just a few feet away. Granlibakken-Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, Family ski destinations,
The youngest enjoys playing in the snow while the older two sled just a few feet away.

Since their resort is one of the smallest, I could watch all my kids at the same time. Even when they were doing different things. It took me no time to round them up for a break and they couldn’t tell me they didn’t see me.

I need a low resort.

With Granlibakken’s elevation at 6,350 feet, it’s the best resort for people who have problems at higher elevations, especially kids. It’s important to let your body adjust for the first few days to prevent headaches and nausea.

My 11-year-old gets sick over 9,000 feet so I have find resorts that are at lower elevations. The carful of kids can’t ski in some states since the resorts are too high, like Colorado.

I need an inexpensive resort.

The best feature of Granlibakken-Tahoe is its affordability.

For a lift ticket and rental equipment for an adult, it’s $70 a day during the kids’ school break. For kids 12 and under, it’s $55 a day during their school break. If you want to take the kids skiing for a half-day, they have lift tickets for $16 for adults and $10 for the kids under 12. What a bargain.

For $70 per person, 7 and older, you can sign up for a beginner group lesson including rentals and a lift ticket. If your kids are under 7-years-old, you have to sign them up for a private lesson.

Our Day at Granlibakken-Tahoe

The carful of kids ski over school breaks. You know what that means–crowds. Not at Granlibakken, I don’t see any crazy lines and it doesn’t feel crowded.

After a late start, we pull into the resort at 10 a.m. This would’ve been a disaster at another resort. I am able to park close to the entrance and I find one family in front of us in the rental line.

Grandlibakken-Tahoe: an intimate ski hill that's easy for Mom and her wallet. Lake Tahoe, Family Ski Destinations,
Grandlibakken-Tahoe: an intimate ski hill that’s easy on Mom and her wallet.

In the rental shop, the guys size up the kids and get them in great gear, fast. When I slip on my ski boots, I’m amazed–virtually brand new and very comfy.

The carful of kids walk out on the deck behind the rental shop and find an empty table. I put down our stuff and spray the kids’ faces with sunscreen.

I’m not finished getting the youngest suited up when the 13-year-old is gone. I look around and spot her in the lift line. With her bright scarf, I can spot her anywhere in the ski or sled area.

The next to bail is my boy and his board. I check out the terrain, it’s relativity tame. He wanders over to the lift line behind his sister.

Now the 8-year-old is suited up and we ski about 20 feet and he goes down. And then he’s out. I can’t get him to continue.

He gets the gear on then decides that's enough for the day. Granlibakken-Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, family ski destinations,
He gets the gear on then decides that’s enough for the day.

I think, this is it, we’ll have to leave. Then he agrees to play in the snow making a snowman just feet from the rest of the carful of kids on the beginner lift.

Day saved. I would not have been comfortable doing this at any other resort.

The Lifts at Granlibakken 

Granlibakken has a rope tow instead of a magic carpet for their beginner hill. This is the first time that the carful of kids have used one.

My 13-year-old has no problems getting up the rope tow. Granlibakken-Tahoe, Family Ski Destination, Lake Tahoe,
My 13-year-old has no problems getting up the rope tow.

Once the norm at ski resorts across the country, they have disappeared due to the popularity of the Magic Carpet lift. The rope tow requires a little more coordination for younger skiers that must ski up the hill while being pulled by the tow.

The 11 and 13-year-olds don’t have a problem. They follow the directions of the lift operator and up they go. I didn’t have a problem either.

If your children are under 6-years-old, this might be a problem. Some Moms put their smaller kids between their legs and scoot them up the hill while Mom holds the rope tow handle.

After multiple runs down the beginner hill, the carful of kids are feeling good. It’s all coming back. Time we move up the mountain to the longer run.

Granlibakken utilizes a platter lift for the steeper side of their ski hill. It requires you to pull a pole that has a round disc down and place it between your legs. Then you are pulled up the hill by the disc about the size of a dinner plate.

My 11-year-old son has no problem with the platter lift at Granlibakken. Lake Tahoe, Family Ski Destination,
My 11-year-old son has no problem with the platter lift at Granlibakken.

The lift operator patiently explains this to my board boy and myself. The first time is a bit tricky but my son has no problems. For a Mom who has birthed three kids, I’m really working those thigh muscles. If I didn’t squeeze tight, I might slide right down the hill, backwards.

I didn’t.

Granlibakken’s Ski Hut

The carful of kids are ready for a break and Granlibakken has that covered. We head inside of their heated Ski Hut Snack Bar.

The interior of Granlibakken's Snack Hut is Old Tahoe, so charming and warm.
The interior of Granlibakken’s Snack Hut is Old Tahoe, so charming and warm.

I love it. It’s a log cabin that takes me back to vintage Tahoe. The vintage Tahoe that you see in the posters on the walls of most resorts.

Inside, we find a wood stove with a rack to warm your gloves. There are tables around the stove with plenty of seating.

You will find kid-friendly items on the menu. We grab a snack and head back outside to our table. With a blue bird sky and endless sun, the conditions in Lake Tahoe could not be better. Hard to believe it’s not above freezing.

The Sledding Hill at Granlibakken

After our snack, the carful of kids move on to the sledding hill. Since it’s right next to the ski hill, I can watch the kids and work on my skiing at the same time.

Don't know what the carful of kids love more, sledding or skiing. Granlibakken-Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, Family ski destinations,
Don’t know what the carful of kids love more, sledding or skiing.

For $15 per person, you get a saucer and access to the sled hill. I didn’t find a Magic Carpet lift on the sled hill but my kids didn’t need one. It’s a manageable climb for most kids.

The carful of kids love it. It’s fast. The staff at Granlibakken-Tahoe keeps the sledding area safe since the previous sledders walk off before the next sledders can slide down.

The carful of kids sled down it again and again, alternating between linking together and racing each other.

Ski, Sled and S’more

As soon as the sun sinks behind the mountain, it’s time to find someplace warm. Granlibakken-Tahoe lights a fire pit surrounded by log benches that adds to the rustic charm of a day of skiing in their secluded resort.

In the Ski Hut, you can purchase a bag with a chocolate bar, four graham crackers and six marshmallows for $5. At the fire pit, the resort has skewers to roast them up, a must-do for the kids.

Does it get any better than S'mores after a day of skiing? Kits are available at Guest Services for $5.
Does it get any better than S’mores after a day of skiing. Kits are available at Guest Services for $5.

After a long day of skiing and sledding, nothing beats a S’more. A little treat can really make the difference and hold my kids over until dinner.

Is it Your First Family Ski Trip?

What do you need to pack for family ski trip? I’ve been there and pulled together a list to help you out.

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 

Northstar Ski Resort 

Squaw Valley Ski Resort

Mt Rose Ski Tahoe 

Diamond Peak Ski Resort 

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

Disclosure

My family was hosted by Grandlibakken-Tahoe.

Know before you go:

  • The skiing at Granlibakken is best for novice skiers and snow boarders.
  • Granlibakken caters to families that have some children that ski and some that want to sled. You can watch both hills at the same time. I was comfortable letting my kids go back and forth.
  • Granlibakken is a good resort to start your ski vacation if it has been a few years since your last ski trip.
  • Granlibakken does not teach kids under 4 and doesn’t feature a separate ski school area.

 

 

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