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Lake Tahoe is a winter lovers' paradise, comprised of mountain towns in both California and Nevada, and sectioned into South Lake Tahoe and North Lake Tahoe. The entire ski area is home to 15 ski resorts of varying size and terrain offerings. And of course, there are exceptional ski vacation rentals and hotels, as well as eclectic dining options and plenty of non-skiing things to do in Tahoe. As creatives slowly trickle out of San Francisco, Tahoe has become an even trendier enclave and an intriguing destination for art and culture just as much as their winter activities. Here, the best things to do in Lake Tahoe this winter, including our favorite ski resorts, après-ski meals and gathering spots, and of course, activities for the non-skiers.
Best Ski Resorts in Lake Tahoe
Heavenly Ski Resort
In South Lake Tahoe, Heavenly Ski Resort is right on the California-Nevada border (and which state you’re in is marked on the slopes). Perhaps the most well-visited resort in Tahoe, Heavenly is on Epic Pass and is part of the Vail Resorts network. Heavenly has a five-mile elevation gain, 28 lifts, 97 runs, and the highest summit in Tahoe (at 10,067 feet elevation).
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has 34 lifts and 6,000 skiable acres, which gives you a real sense of the breadth of Lake Tahoe’s mountains. Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows are technically two different North Lake Tahoe resorts under one umbrella, but all passes can be used at both mountains, which are connected by the Squaw Alpine Express Shuttle. Note that Squaw Valley is undergoing a name change right now and a new name will be announced this year.
Kirkwood Ski Resort
Kirkwood Mountain is a favorite among locals and is also part of the Vail Resorts network and on Epic Pass. Kirkwood’s 2,300 skiable acres are geared toward the intermediate and advanced skiers and riders (30% of the 86 trails are intermediate, 38% are advanced).
Things to Do in Lake Tahoe If You Don’t Ski or Snowboard
Ritz-Carlton Spa, Lake Tahoe
Fancy an après-no-ski kind of vacation? You don’t have to hit the slopes to earn the winter spa experience. Head right to the Ritz-Carlton Spa, Lake Tahoe for a full day of pampering. Located at the five-star hotel in North Lake Tahoe, the spa is all about luxe natural healing and CBD-infused treatments surrounded by gorgeous Tahoe pine trees and lush Northern California scenery.
Still Water Yoga
Stretch your weary, ski-ridden limbs at Still Water Yoga, offering in-studio classes in a serene, contemplative environment. Book your vinyasa flow in advance at the South Lake Tahoe studio, near Zephyr Cove and Edgewood Tahoe, on the Nevada side.
Ice Skating at Northstar
Whether you’re after a romantic winter date night or a snow-covered activity for the whole family, make your way to the skating rink at Northstar. Northstar California Resort, also an Epic Pass-approved mountain, has a myriad of non-skiing winter activities, including tubing (though tubing is not being offered for the 2020 to 2021 winter season) and ice skating. Their skating rink is right in the center of the Village at Northstar.
On the California side of North Lake Tahoe, opposite Incline Village on the Nevada side, Kings Beach is a creative enclave right on the shores of the lake. It’s a lovely place to shop and gallery hop downtown, and even visiting the beach (otherwise known as Kings Beach State Recreation Area) in the winter is a treat just for the views of the semi-translucent lake. For the shoppers and art lovers, visit The Stevenson Gallery and Jai Yen, a boutique set in a log cabin with chic exports primarily from Thailand.
Where to Eat, Drink, and Après-ski in Lake Tahoe
MacDuff’s Public House
Known for the best bread pudding in Lake Tahoe, MacDuff’s is a cozy, Scottish-inspired pub serving skier-approved comfort food. The South Lake Tahoe public house is a favorite among skiers who come back year after year and locals. Don’t miss their shepherd's pie with ground lamb or their beer-battered fish and chips.
Located within Edgewood Tahoe, Edgewood Restaurant is set on the lake with gorgeous, panoramic views of the water and décor accented by exposed wood and perfectly framed windows. They call the restaurant an “intimate epicurean amphitheater where both your palate and your soul will be awed and entertained,” and from the ambiance to the culinary delights, foodies will be blown away by the fine dining experience.
Revive Coffee & Wine
In South Lake Tahoe, Revive is a charming coffee shop that also sources exceptional local wines. Stop by in the morning for your soy vanilla latte, or have a lovely meal of small plates alongside their local craft beer and wine selection—you can dine indoors or al fresco on the charming, tree-surrounded patio.
South of North Brewing Company
South of North Brewing Company is pouring their beers on tap in an outdoor setting this year, so you can enjoy craft beer by the firepit under picturesque string lights. On the California side of South Lake Tahoe (though their location on Stateline Avenue puts them literal steps from Nevada), South of North has every accoutrement needed to be dubbed the best indie hangout in Tahoe—from the hoppy beers to the Airstream in the middle of their outdoor space.
Where to Stay in Lake Tahoe
Edgewood Tahoe, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, is an idyllic lakefront resort fit for royalty in any season. The 235-acre, LEED-certified hotel has an 18-hole championship golf course that summer guests love, but their winter programming is just as enticing. They have a Veuve Clicquot Champagne Chalet—one of the most delightful après-ski experiences in Tahoe—and snowshoeing and ice skating on-site. Before heading to Heavenly to ski or ride, guests can join the property’s morning yoga sessions, too.
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, is in Truckee, California with ski-in/ski-out access to Northstar Mountain. Nestled in the Sierra Nevadas, the suites at The Ritz-Carlton are decked out for après-ski, with gorgeous soaking tubs and gas fireplaces. Come for the slopeside access and the blissful spa, stay for the cocktails at Highlands Bar.