Beyond the Slopes in North Lake Tahoe

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North Shore offers activities beyond the mountain

Compliments of Liz Bowling
The Abbi Agency

Photo: Jeff Dow

The first snow has already dusted the high peaks that rim Lake Tahoe, stoking skiers and snowboarders on a fun winter to come. With 13 resorts ranging from cross-country to extreme downhill, there is no shortage of ways to get on the mountain, from beginner to advanced. Across Tahoe’s North Shore, terrain parks are expertly designed and snowmaking equipment is top of the line, ensuring prime conditions of great scale. Newer sports like snow kiting, skating and biking are gaining popularity among locals, each resort offering ample opportunities to give something new a try. Beyond the majestic beauty un-paralleled by other ski towns, North Lake Tahoe far exceeds winter destination expectations.

Skiers and riders are not the only ones who will enjoy North Lake Tahoe’s world-class winter season. The area is a playground for all, with activities ranging from sledding to ice skating to fine dining and more.

Check out this roundup of winter activities, and go to GoTahoeNorth.com for more.

Be entertained
The fun in North Lake Tahoe extends well beyond the slopes. Homewood Mountain Resort kicks things off with the movie premier of “Less” by Level One Productions on Nov. 23. The screening will take place outside the resort’s South Lodge by the fire pit, with heat lamps and warm cocktail specials available. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door, with raffle prizes available from sponsors.

Other events include Sugar Bowl’s Torchlight Parade with Santa and the Backcountry Ball on Dec. 13, which serves as a fundraiser for the Sierra Avalanche Center and features professional big-mountain snowboarder Jeremy Jones. The event includes food and drinks, live music by the Sierra Drifters, a silent auction, and a 30-minute presentation by Jones. It takes place in the Judah Lodge from 5 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

Northstar California Resort will host a Northern Lights Festival and Mardi Gras Celebration, as well as its annual Carve Tahoe ice-sculpting contest from Jan. 28 to Feb. 2. The best snow sculptors in the world will be on hand, carving day and night, while guests can take in the talented creations while drinking and dining.

The North Lake Tahoe SnowFest is also an annual hit, with a multitude of events scheduled from Feb. 27 through March 8. And the music never stops in North Lake Tahoe, with venues such as the Crystal Bay Club and Moody’s Bistro Bar & Beats boasting hot lineups of live music scheduled throughout the season.

New this season is WinterWonderGrass, establishing its first year at Squaw Valley I Alpine Meadows, March 20-22, 2015. The boutique winter music and craft beer festival features more than 15 acclaimed bluegrass bands, including Trampled by Turtles, Greensky Bluegrass, The Infamous Stringdusters and Elephant Revival as well as bluegrass legend Sam Bush.  California favorites Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, Dead Winter Carpenters, The California Honey Drops and Brothers Comatose will also be performing, adding to the stellar line up. 

Sliding around
Whether 5 years old or 40, everyone loves sledding. Granlibakken resort above Tahoe City offers a sledding area with saucer rentals, while Soda Springs Winter Resort on Donner Summit has a more extreme option with its snow tubing area, Tube Town. Soda Springs also has Planet Kids, which includes a play area for children ages 8 and under with tubing lanes, tube carousels, and a climbing volcano. Other North Shore resorts that offer groomed sledding or tubing hills include Boreal Mountain Resort, Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Sugar Bowl Resort, Northstar California and Tahoe Donner Downhill.

Got your own sled? Head up Mount Rose Highway and slide for free on the wide-open slopes of Tahoe Meadows, or find mellow sled hills in Tahoe City and Truckee. But beware: Sledding poses its dangers, and hills should be chosen wisely.

For those seeking more power than gravity can provide, Coldstream Adventures out of Truckee and Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours on Brockway Summit offer snowmobile rentals and tours. SnoVentures at the base of Squaw Valley has mini snowmobile rides for kids in addition to snow tubing, and the Resort at Squaw Creek has dog-sledding and horse-drawn sleigh rides.

Winter visitors can also strut their skills on the ice. The Northstar Village Ice Skating Rink and the Truckee-Donner Recreation & Park District’s ice rink at Truckee River Regional Park offer skate rentals and are open seven days a week. Squaw Valley offers ice skating with a view, as patrons can ride up the aerial tram to High Camp, where they can also drink and dine.

Eat and Drink Well
The West Shore Cafe will offer a new “brunchish” lunch this winter starting at 10 a.m., with new options such as the basket of beignets, steak and eggs, breakfast burritos, brunchish potatoes, eggs Benedict, $20 endless mimosas and more.

There is no shortage of wine along the North Shore and staples like Petra and Uncorked showcase a large selection of limited production wines from around the world. For those who would prefer a cold beer, visitors and tourists alike flock to Mellow Fellow in Crystal Bay. With 40 craft beers on tap, locally made sausages to snack on and an abundance of board games to play, they usually end up here longer than anticipated.

Looking for a beverage to kick-start your day? Try Tahoe Central Market in Kings Beach where made-to-order juices, smoothies and wheatgrass boost energy and immune health. Need to warm up? The Wild Thai Seafood soup is a local favorite at Wild Alaskan in Incline Village. This locally owned and operated restaurant specializes in seafood but truly has something for everyone. Dining options are endless, from fine to casual, eclectic to familiar. Often times most challenging, is narrowing where to go.

Other activities
While Lake Tahoe may lose its swimming appeal in the cold winter months — with the exception of the Gar Woods Polar Bear Swim on March 1 — visitors can still enjoy the lake on a paddleboard or kayak, or with a cruise aboard the Tahoe Gal out of Tahoe City.

Those looking for exercise can enjoy a peaceful snowshoe hike or cross-country ski tour, or take the workout inside at any of North Lake Tahoe’s numerous yoga and Pilates studios. Guests also have a plethora of shopping options, with artisan shops located across the North Shore.

About North Lake Tahoe
For more information about North Lake Tahoe, visit www.GoTahoeNorth.com. And for the best bargains, including lodging, check out the “Cool Deals,” tab, which is updated daily. North Lake Tahoe is a 45-minute drive from the Reno Tahoe International Airport, two hours from Sacramento International Airport and just over three hours from San Francisco International Airport. Visitor information centers are located at 100 North Lake Boulevard in Tahoe City and 969 Tahoe Boulevard in Incline Village.

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