Family Fun in Tahoe Snow

I learned how to ski in the Lake Tahoe area over twenty years ago. Now that my son is old enough to take up the sport, it was wonderful fun seeing that Heavenly Valley is as perfect for family skiing as I remembered it to be!

Family Fun in Tahoe Snow

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by barbara on February 19, 2001

While many adults think of the casinos in Tahoe, the area is full of fun things to do with a family. Summer and winter alike offer the opportunity to enjoy a cruise out of Zephyr Cove (Hwy. 50) on the M.S. Dixie. After all, Lake Tahoe itself is the largest alpine lake in North America, and the water is %99.9 pure! The color of the water is amazing, and a cruise through the various coves to see some of the sites such as Vikingsholm Castle is sure to be a hit with the kids. Call 775-588-3508 to make reservations for a boat ride. If your need is for speed in the winter, an excursion on a snowmobile might accomodate you. A snowmobile tour can be embarked upon from Zephyr Cove. Call 775-588-3833 for reservations and details. Sleigh rides are a unique experience in the winter wonderland of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and are easy to find. Cross country skiing and snowshow activities are available at Camp Richardson ( And, OF COURSE, there is PLENTY of downhill skiing. With an average snowfall of 40 feet per year, Tahoe is a favorite skiing destination for people from all over the world.${QuickSuggestions} If you are skiing with kids, I HIGHLY suggest the ski schools at Heavenly Valley (South Tahoe) and North Star at Tahoe (North Tahoe). Both of these are excellent places to learn how to ski. Your children will also have a lot more fun on the mountain if they get the basics down with good instructors first.

When looking for accomodations, be sure to find a place with a heated pool. After a long day on the mountain, nothing is nicer than letting the kids splash out whatever energy they have left while you sip a Mountain Breeze in a hot tub and watch them. ${BestWay} We rented a car so as to have ultimate flexibilty of movement. After all, Reno is almost an hour away from Tahoe. However, pretty much all of the hotels and resorts have buses that run back and forth from the ski resorts on a regular basis. Walking is not a bad option to get to some places either, but you will have to stay close to your hotel. Get a car if your budget permits. If not, look at shuttle prices from the airport to Tahoe.

Embassy Suites Resort Lake Tahoe

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on February 19, 2001

The Embassy Suites in South Lake Tahoe has many great things going for it. It is a large, atrium style hotel that has a big chain feel when you first walk in, but you''ll soon be feeling right at home.

We stayed in a suite with a king bed and a separate room with a fold out couch for our son. I would highly suggest this type of sleeping arrangement for anyone traveling with kids. While there was a TV fully equipped with video games in our living room, there was also a TV in the master bedroom so there were no fights over evening viewing. There was a fully stocked mini-bar and refrigerator as well as a microwave. There was a VCR and Pay-Per-View. One evening after a hard day of skiing, we had a great time in the suite as a family eating popcorn and watching a good movie together.

I would say that the carpet and furniture in our room looked a little worn, but that is really the ONLY negative I can say about this resort. What struck me the most about this Embassy Suites was the INCREDIABLE service. I forgot my toothbrush. A new one was there within two minutes of calling housekeeping. Room rates included a SPECTACULAR, COOKED breakfast each morning. We really enjoyed the selections of fruit, eggs, pancakes, french toast, etc.... This was a big change from the bagel many hotels offer to start your day. Also, there are FREE drinks in the afternoon---as many as you want---on the second floor for about two hours. I really learned to like having a Mountain Breeze (a Skyy Vodka and lime slushy concoction) in the hot tub while my son swam in the pool.

The Embassy Suites also has a sauna and workout room. The exercise room consists mostly of treadmills (it''s hard to run in the ice!) and stairmasters. Another service I really enjoyed was getting a deep tissue massage as a present from my husband on Valentine''s Day. He simply made a reservation with the concierage, and a massage therapist came at the appointed time and set up a table in our room. Services range from $70-$160, and things such as mud wraps are offered in addition to massages. This is a great thing to indulge in after skiing or snowboarding!

Also, a block away from the hotel well within walking distance is a gondola that will take you to the top of Heavenly Valley Ski Resort (see separate Gondola Entry).

I would highly recommend the Embassy Suites Resort Lake Tahoe to anyone who wants to enjoy a family vacation.
Embassy Suites Hotel Lake Tahoe Resort
4130 Lake Tahoe Boulevard
South Lake Tahoe, California, 96150
(530) 544-5400


Member Rating 2 out of 5 by barbara on February 19, 2001

Turtles is a sports bar in the Embassy Suites Hotel. The menu is basically bar food: burgers, chicken fingers and the like. They do offer all-you-can-eat peeled shrimp, too. There is a dance floor and live entertainment at Turtles, but we ate there too early in the evening to see any of this. The service was decent, and the food was okay, but nothing great. I had a bowl of piping hot soup which WAS excellent, but the rest of our meal was average and some-what forgettable. Reasonably priced. A good place to eat with the kids the first night when you're too tired from travel to seek out something else.
Turtles Sports Bar & Dance Emporium
Embassy Suites Resort
Lake Tahoe, California
(530) 543-2135

Chevy's Mexican Restaurant

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on February 19, 2001

We really liked this restaurant. Everything here was fresh---the AWESOME salsa made on the premises---and all of it was GOOD. I had a wonderful shitake mushroom, black bean and asparagus burrito that was HUGE. My husband had an equally delicious Tex Mex meal. Our son went for the kids' menu and his old standby when he's not certain of the cuisine: chicken fingers. The service was fast and friendly. The atmosphere was nice---split level with tables and booths, warmly decorated with Mexican and old American West decor. My Kalua and coffee was especially strong. Our tab totaled right under $30, and all of us left very full and satisfied.
Chevys Fresh Mex
3678 South Lake Tahoe Blvd.
South Lake Tahoe, California, 96150
(530) 542-1741


Member Rating 3 out of 5 by barbara on February 19, 2001

We ate at Samurai's on Valentine's day as I love sushi. It was highly recommended by our hotel's concierage who said that it was the best of the Japanease restaurants on the South Shore. She made us reservations, but we did not need them as we were eating fairly early in the evening.

The center of Samurai's has a blue fire that is surrounded by a circle of chairs, but we chose to eat by ourselves at a table. We found a very nice selection of sushi and our son enjoyed the kids' menu. He is a great fan of yakitori chicken and rice. The service was quick and friendly, and the food was delicious and filling. We enjoyed our meal and conversation, but we did pay a much higher tab than we did at any other restaurant we visited while in Tahoe. Our bill topped $80. (We had several rolls though!)

I would advise you of one negative about this restaurant. The parking lot is VERY small, and it was completely full by the time we left. This restaurant is also too far from the Embassy Suites to walk to at night (approx. 3-5 miles). We did enjoy our meals.
Samurai Japanese Dining and Sushi Bar
2588 Lake Tahoe Blvd
South Lake Tahoe, California, 96150
+1 530 542 0300

Perfect Turn Heavenly Rockets Ski School

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on February 19, 2001

Heavenly Rockets Instructors come from all over the country and, indeed, all over the world. Our son's lead coach was from Argentina! Kids may rent equipment before school starts (a helmet is HIGHLY advised!), or they may come with their own equipment which will result in a small discount in the daily rate. Kids are assessed at which level they ski and grouped accordingly (Brand new skiers are level 1!). I HIGHLY suggest ski school for the first day of any child's visit to Heavenly if that child is not a solid skier. If he or she is a beginner, the rest of the trip will be MUCH more enjoyable if the basics are learned from an instructor. If he or she has been skiing before but not for a long time, ski school is a good place to brush up on the basics before tackling hard runs on the mountain. Higher level skiers are also taken up the lifts so that they do not get bored.

Also, while your child(ren) is learning how to stand on skis, you can feel very secure about his or her safety while you have full freedom to ski whatever level runs you like! My husband and I greatly enjoyed skiing with our son, but it was fun on the first day to check out the resort by ourselves. This also allowed us to figure out which runs we believed our son could handle when he joined us skiing.

In addition, we found we were very welcomed to watch a bit of the kids' instruction whenever we liked, and this was comforting to me. We popped into the ski school before and after lunch (kids are fed at the school) to watch our young skier at work!

At the end of the day, make sure you have the claim ticket you need to pick up your child. We found the Rocket staff to be very protective of the kids, and we had to wait for our son to finish up with his coach before we could collect him. We liked getting the Skiing Progress Card that gave us a general idea about how he did during the day, and we were thrilled the next morning to take him up on a green run with us. We also invested in one private lesson for our son ($80/hour) to help him further gain control of turning and stopping. If you can afford it, a private lesson is VERY helpful for your child(ren) (and you, too!) regardless of the level of skiing.

When we went to Tahoe, our son could not ski at all. Before we left Tahoe, he was able to ski on every blue run the resort had to offer! This, of course, made skiing with him much more fun for us, too! Heavenly has a great program!
Perfect Turn Heavenly Rockets Ski School
Heavenly Base Lodge
Lake Tahoe, California, 89449

Heavenly Valley Ski Resort

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on February 19, 2001

Heavenly Valley is one of the BIG FOUR (there are over 20 downhill and X-C resorts in the area) of the most well known alpine resorts in Tahoe: Heavenly, Squaw Valley, Kirkwood, and North Star. I would say it and North Star are the best suited for families though you can't go wrong with ANY of these places (Squaw Valley was, in fact, the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. It has some wonderful runs for more advanced skiers!). There is an excellent ski school at Heavenly Valley that I would highly recommend for beginners (see separate Heavenly Rockets entry). Most of the trails are intermediate, but there are also plenty of blacks and double blacks for the expert skier. There is a half pipe that is new and being further developed for snow boarders. There is a new gondola (Winter 2000-2001) that accesses the top of the mountain so that you do not have to park or ride a bus to either base camp (see separate Gondola entry). The views are spectacular and varied depending upon whether or not you are skiing the California (great views of Lake Tahoe) or Nevada (wonderful views of the flat, patchwork valleys and Carson City) sides of the resort. I actually preferred the runs on the Nevada side, but the views at the top of Ridge Run on the California side can not be beaten. If you take the Gondola to the top of Heavenly, make sure you can get down a moderate blue (intermediate) run! Average temperature in Tahoe is 27 degrees due to the dryness of the winter climate, so even on the top of the mountain, we did not experience the bitter cold that sometimes makes skiing miserable. In fact, one GORGEOUS day, I would have been completely comfortable without a ski jacket!
Heavenly Ski Resort
Highway 50 at Ski Run Blvd
Stateline, California, 89449
+1 775 586 7000

Sleigh Ride by the Borges Family

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on February 19, 2001

As we live in Georgia, riding in a one-horse-open-sleigh is not an easy experience to come by! This was a nice afternoon activity (sleighs stop running right before sundown) for the family, and the sleighs were VERY close to the Embassy Suites where we were staying. We met Charlie, our horse, and then embarked on an approximately 35 minute ride through the snow. Our guide gave a friendly narration of the area complete with the recitation of a poem by Robert Frost. It was interesting to learn about the family that owned the land on which we were riding as well as to hear some general history of the area. The boarding house that was once a family home, was also a Pony Express outpost and once served as lodging for Mark Twain!

In the summer this same company gives hayrides and carriage rides, but I think the whole Jingle Bells experience in the snow was the most fun.

After fininshing your sleigh ride, I'd suggest going for hot chocolate with the kids to top off a unique activity.
Borges Carriage Rides
50 Highway 50
Stateline, California, 89449
+1 775 588 2953

Harvey's (Casino and ARCADE)

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on February 19, 2001

Harvey's is, of course, a huge casino right on the Nevada side of the Nevada/California state line. If you want to ask the concierage about babysitting services in Tahoe, you can go to the casino one evening (there is also a Harrah's and a Caesar's within a block of each other!) for gambling or a floor show. There are lots of slots, tables, sportsbooks, etc.... HOWEVER, we did not do this. We were on a family vacation, and we went to Harvey's solely because it did offer something fun for our kid, too.

On the bottom floor of Harvey's is a huge arcade. As we would have done for ourselves had we been in the casino gambling, we set a spending limit for our son. We gave him $10.00 and let him play what he liked as my husband and I wagered with each other over the air hockey table. We were actually impressed that he was smart enough to play the quarter games that lasted longer rather than the $1.00 games that ate his money quickly!

This is a fun place to be, inside and warm, after a day on the slopes. And what kid doesn't like video games? There is also a Hard Rock Cafe in Harvey's if you want to grab a bite to eat along with several other restaurants. There are even some nice shops to peruse.

We did not go to another casino, but I was told Harrah's also has an arcade.
Harvey's Tahoe
Highway 50
Stateline, California, 89449
+1 775 588 2411

Nevada State Museum and Mint

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on February 19, 2001

Carson City is in between Lake Tahoe and Reno. It is a very small state capital but a city worth a look. On the way to the airport we had some time to explore this area, and we chose to visit the State Museum. There were several other museums that looked interesting as well among which were the state's largest railroad museum and an interactive children's museum that might be worth a visit. A day in Carson City might also be a nice way to break up a week of skiing on a family vacation!

The State Museum is in a building that used to be home to one of the US mints. Anyone with an interest in coins would enjoy the exhibits dealing with this history. It is also interesting to learn all about the silver mines that gave Nevada the nickname of the Silver State. Kids will like the state animals they will find on exhibit as well as the mining town replica.

The museum is surprisingly large, and we spent a couple of hours there. The gift store has some nice things, tons of books, and is worth a look.

The day we visited we also enjoyed the fact that we had the place practically to ourselves.

My husband liked the gun collection. I enjoyed looking at some of the items owned by the many Chinese men who worked on the railroad. This is a nice family excursion.
Nevada State Museum and Mint
600 North Carson Street
Lake Tahoe, California
(775) 687-4810


Member Rating 3 out of 5 by barbara on February 19, 2001

Early one evening we walked along the street and looked inside some of the shops on South Lake Tahoe Blvd. There were some neat items for sale, but you will mostly find what you would expect: t-shirts, postcards, and other touristy stuff. We did need to pick up some new ski clothing, however, and we found The Village Mountain Surf at 3552 Lake Tahoe Blvd to have everything we needed. They even had bathing suits, so I could buy a new pair of board shorts and bikini top to wear in the hot tub! There is also a K-mart to pick up essentials you may have left behind a little more cheaply than you would in a ski shop. My husband found a great pair of ski pants in the grocery store (Roley's), believe it or not!!!

Even though South Lake Tahoe is not as nice as some ski village areas (Breckinridge, CO comes to mind), we still enjoyed a walk up and down the street, grabbing a cup of coffee, considering having our palms read by a psychic.

We also found it interesting to notice how many Las Vegas type wedding chapel places there were in South Lake Tahoe! That amused us.... And yes.... I did pick up the customary tourist's shirt....
Village Mountain Surf
3552 Lake Tahoe Blvd
Lake Tahoe, California

Heavnely Valley Gondola

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by barbara on February 19, 2001

The Heavenly Valley Gondola is new to the resort. It offers very convenient access to the mountain for skiers, but it is also popular with people who just want a spectacular view. Lift tickets cover access to the gondola, of course, but if someone in your party is not skiing, they may ride the gondola for $20.

Gondola riders get some spectacular views of Lake Tahoe as they are taken up the mountain to an observation deck. The views from the deck are breath taking! Still, the view is the only thing you'll find. Currently there is no restaurant or even place to get coffee. We were told that a restaurant is slated to be built on the observation deck in the summer of 2001. Once this is done, I think the $20 ticket up the mountain for non-skiers will be more worth the money.

After skiing one afternoon, we changed into tennis shoes and rode the gondola back up the mountain to the observation deck (one stop below where you would get off to access ski lifts). We spent about fifteen minutes there oohing and ahhing at God's incrediable creation of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and Lake Tahoe. I'd highly suggest taking a moment or two to enjoy the views from the observation deck if you have a lift ticket to the top (you may park your skis and walk around in ski boots before riding up to the lifts if you'd like). It's worth the time!


If you have a beginner in your party, do NOT use the gondola the first time you access the mountain. There are NO green runs to get you to any of the base lodges where you might get lessons. Once a skier has good control with turns and stopping, the gondola runs are fine. We took the gondola the third day with our son who had just started skiing, and he had no problems AFTER learning the basics navigating the blue runs.
Heavenly Aerial Tram
Highway 50 at Ski Run Boulevard
Stateline, California, 89449
+1 775 586 7000

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