If your New Years Resolution is to learn to ski, or if you just want to play in the snow more often, consider visiting Tahoe for your next winter escape. Getting here has never been easier. There are more and more nonstop flights now coming into Reno, a mere 40 minutes away from Truckee (where I live). Most people associate Tahoe with the stunning Caribbean-colored waters, or probably know that it is the largest alpine lake in North America. What you may not know is that Lake Tahoe is hugged by world-class ski resorts on all sides, making it a true winter wonderland.
"Tahoe" describes the entire Tahoe National Forest basin, from Truckee to North Lake to South Lake. Activities are endless: from gambling to snowmobiling, there is no place in the world like it. I've lived in Truckee for a year and a half and consistently find new ways to explore my backyard. If you've never visited Tahoe during winter, this is a great place to start:
Where to Catch Sunrise
Weather permitting, sunrise in Tahoe is a spectacular thing. Emerald Bay State Park in South Lake is a must. Thankfully, sunrise happens later in the wintertime so you'll have more time to sleep... well, a little more time at least. You'll want to park off Highway 89 near Eagle Falls, only a short walk from the road. Bring your camera and a headlamp just in case. The sunrise is spectacular over Emerald Bay, that tiny island with one building: a tea house (true story). Make sure to come back in the summertime to kayak out to the island and explore.
Donner Summit is my favorite place to view sunrise. Either drive up the summit and park in the lot right past Rainbow Bridge to watch from the warmth of your car, or if you're feeling more ambitious, bring snowshoes and climb to a higher vantage point. There are numerous trails to take although they won't necessarily be marked, so bringing a friend who is familiar with the area may be your best bet if you want to explore a bit. Make sure to stop by Donner Lake on the way down the hill!
Where to Catch Sunset
Hidden Beach isn't exactly "hidden" as it's a marked trailhead off the highway in Incline Village, although it is hidden from view as you drive along Highway 28. It's a long span of beach with large rocks to climb and an incredible view. This is a must.
Lone Eagle Grille
If you've been stalking me on Instagram long enough, chances are you've seen me post about Lone Eagle Grille. Hands down my favorite restaurant in all of Tahoe, Lone Eagle (connected to the Hyatt) has their own beach with fire pits and a pier behind the restaurant. There is no better place in all of Tahoe to go on a date and watch the sunset. Pro tip: sit at the fire pit outside when the snow is softly falling if you want to up the romance.
Where to Learn to Ski
Northstar California Resort
This season, Nick and I are riding at Northstar, and I truly cannot say enough good things. From the best snowmaking equipment in the entire region to s'mores in the Village, not only is Northstar a family friendly resort (hint: good for newbies) but it has a world class terrain park if that's more your style. Or if you're anything like me and just want to ride groomed freshies, well, it's perfect for that too. Make sure to check out the backside of the mountain for stunning views of Lake Tahoe, and don't forget about daily champagne toasts on the hill at 2 PM!
Where to Stay
As Tahoe is filled with second homes vacant most of the year, there are an unlimited amount of amazing rental options to spend your vacation at. First you want to decide if your focus will be North Lake (quieter, more stunning views) or South Lake (casinos and nightlife) or Truckee (historic and quaint local scene). When I travel, I typically reserve a house through Airbnb. Decide where you want to ski then book your lodging from there. Keep in mind that although Tahoe is a small community, it's a huge expansive place with limited public transit (although we now have Uber!). Make sure your car can handle the snow and plan your schedule accordingly, allowing extra time if there's weather.
The Truckee Hotel
A historic hotel built in the 1870's, The Truckee Hotel feels stuck in time. Once a frequent stop on the Dutch Flat Wagon Trail, the place is full of charm and history... and ghosts. Make sure to ask for a tour and check out some of the spookier aspects of the building, including the original mirror on the front landing. It's connected to Moody's Bistro Bar & Beats, one of my favorite après stops, which has excellent live music in the evenings. I have never actually stayed here before but have been told the train will wake you up, so be prepared for a true Wild West experience!
The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe
If you're looking to splurge and want the ultimate Tahoe experience, you have to stay at the Ritz. Located at Northstar with it's own gondola to take you to the Village and onto the slopes, this ski-in/ski-out style hotel is truly a luxurious experience. Make sure to spend time at the spa (check out the Après-Ski Recovery package)!
Okay, so this ONLY applies if you're weird like Nick and I and drive around looking for photogenic cabins to take pictures of. We call it cabin hunting, and as I'm typing this, I realize how lame this sounds BUT TRUST ME IT'S FUN. Tahoe is filled to the brim with Instagrammable cabins so if that's your thing, pop in a good playlist and get ready to get lost on purpose. If I had to choose just one neighborhood to scout out cabins, it would be Soda Springs past Donner Summit. Bonus points if you can find Serene Lake. Make sure to tag your photos #tahoecabinhunt so I can see them!
Historic Downtown Truckee
Yes, I live in Truckee and thus there is a Truckee slant to this article, but seriously, Truckee is the best. On the downtown strip, don't miss Dressed and Bespoke. Head across the train tracks to Tahoe University for stunning home goods and locally made graphic tees. There are numerous art galleries and fun little coffee shops dotted all over downtown.
Regardless of how you spend your time in Tahoe, you really can't go wrong. So strap on some chains and get out there!
Please note: I am a paid ambassador with Northstar California Resort this winter season. All opinions expressed are my own.