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 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 

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 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.

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? 

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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Lake Tahoe–A Winter Wonderland for Family Skiers

My 13-year-old loves the new green runs in the Enchanted Forest. Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, carful of kids, family-friendly ski resorts
With 15 ski and snowboarding resorts, Lake Tahoe is my go-to family ski destination.

If the snow is deep, there’s only one place that the carful of kids want to go–Lake Tahoe. I love Lake Tahoe as a family ski destination and the snow is just part of it.

Why I love Lake Tahoe

With fifteen different ski resorts close by, I find a resort for every skier or snowboarder in my family. With trails and terrain that are the best in the West, Lake Tahoe has been a winter destination for over 100 years and the host of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games.

Mt. Rose Ski Resort is one of the fifteen Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts that offers runs for every level of skier.
Mt. Rose Ski Resort is one of the fifteen Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts that offers plenty of family-friendly green runs.

Looking for an intimate ski hill that never feels crowded, Tahoe has it. A high-end, ski-in, ski-out resort your idea of fabulous ski trip, Tahoe has that too. Looking to expand your tricks in a terrain park, Tahoe has you covered.

I love to ski while looking at beautiful scenery. You can’t beat the lake for scenery and because of its depth–it never freezes. My kids just want to play in the deep, pristine snow that they never see in Texas.

Winter Sports and Activities

The scenery is for Mom, but what about the kids? I found a crazy amount of tubing and sledding. Most ski resorts have embraced it and added tubing or sledding areas to their resorts.

Don't know what the carful of kids love more, sledding or skiing. Granlibakken-Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, Family ski destinations,
Granlibakken-Tahoe is one of the Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts that offer sledding along with skiing.

Is ice skating your winter sport of choice–Northstar, Heavenly and Squaw Valley ski resorts have outdoor rinks with rentals. You can skate for the day without skiing then take a break by their fire pits and roast some marshmallows.

I found snowmobile tours and horse-drawn sleigh rides if you want to enjoy some backcountry scenery.

 

Ice skating at Northstar Ski Resort is a great way to spend the day when not on the slopes. family friendly ski destination, Lake Tahoe.
Ice skating at Northstar Ski Resort is a great way to spend the day when not on the slopes.

Are you’re an avid hiker then strap on some snowshoes to explore the national forests that surround the Lake Tahoe basin. There are numerous cross-country ski trails as well.

If apres-ski is more your thing, you will love trying your luck at the gaming tables on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. You can find casinos in Incline Village, Stateline and Crystal Bay.

Getting to Lake Tahoe

The largest airport near Lake Tahoe is Reno/Tahoe International Airport (RNO). Serviced by most carriers it’s about 40 miles from Lake Tahoe depending on your destination. South Lake Tahoe is serviced by a small regional airport as well.

 

In every direction is a picture waiting to be captured in Lake Tahoe, family friendly ski destination,
In every direction is a picture waiting to be captured in Lake Tahoe.

Need a shuttle? The Tahoe Area Regional Transit (TART) bus that rings the lake and to and from the resorts. If you are staying more than a few days and skiing at more than one resort, I recommend renting an all-wheel drive SUV to get around.

Lake Tahoe is conveniently located between Interstate 80 and U.S. Route 50 for the West Coast residents driving in for a weekend away. Check out local road conditions before heading out with the Nevada Department of Transportation.

Lodging in Lake Tahoe

From camping to five-star, Lake Tahoe offers lodging for most budgets. Including thousands of condos and rental properties that rim the lake.

Sugar Pine Point State Park offers year-round camping with a heated bathroom. Lake Tahoe is home to a couple of hostels as well.

Looking to enjoy the snow with your family? Lake Tahoe offers 15 ski resorts within a 45-minute drive for families.
The snow is unbelievable and 15 ski resorts within a 45-minute drive are enough for me to love Lake Tahoe.

For luxury travelers, the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe near Northstar Resort featuring ski-in, ski-out. The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe in Incline Village sits on the lake and offers a casino and a fine dining restaurant.

History of Lake Tahoe

The area around Lake Tahoe was inhabited by the Washoe Tribe, where Lake Tahoe got its name. During the 1840s, the area was discovered by a snow-shoeing mail carrier.

The railroad arrived and the area grew as a summer getaway for wealthy West Coast families, who built mansions at Emerald Bay and along the shore. The winter activities arrived after the nearby town of Truckee introduced them at the turn of the century.

Several senators unsuccessfully tried to get the area declared a national park in the 1910s. Though a large portion of the area is protected as a national forest today.

If you are looking for a winter wonderland for your family for your next ski trip, I urge you to check out Lake Tahoe. It has been a family favorite of mine for years.