While Lake Tahoe is renowned for its skiing and snowboarding, there are equally cool options for those who don’t participate in downhill action. Group, solo and couple snow adventures can be found all through the Tahoe Basin and in the Sierra Nevada, from sledding to snow-play parks. Discover some of the best places to head when you’re looking for winter fun off the slopes.
Once the snow hits the Truckee Meadows, there are no shortage of area hills perfect for a morning of sledding fun. In town, the hill at McQueen High School is a favorite in the northwest and out near Sparks, the hills near Pah Rah Park are a great bet. The Tahoe area offers even more sledding action, popular spots including Tahoe Meadows and several snow play parks dedicated to lower-key winter fun. Speaking of snow play areas …
Don’t count out the big resorts, even if you’re not a skier. Places like Sierra-at-Tahoe, Tahoe Donner ski area and Squaw Valley have dedicated snow play areas featuring rentals and activities like sledding, tubing and mini snowmobile rentals, and some even have fire pits with hot cocoa for purchase. Outside the resorts, there are free snow play areas at the Incline Village Snow Play Area and Spooner Summit Snow Park.
Mix snowshoeing with stargazing tours and you have a recipe for amazing winter memories. Local resorts like Northstar offer moonlit, guided snowshoe tours, featuring rentable equipment and area experts who will guide you through wooded trails and to unparalleled views of the night sky above the Sierra Nevadas. Some, like the tour available at Alpine Meadows, begin with a seated dinner before embarking on the journey.
Horse-drawn sleigh rides
Re-enact your own version of “Jingle Bells” as you dash through the snow in on a sleigh ride. For more than 30 years, the Borges family have brought European sleigh rides to Lake Tahoe, offering gorgeous views of the lake from a horse-drawn carriage. The Resort at Squaw Creek and Camp Richardson also offer sleigh rides (Squaw also has dog sledding available), as do the sleigh masters at Sierra Adventures.
Running through January, the city of Reno operates an outdoor ice rink at Greater Nevada Field featuring skate rentals, themed skate nights, and even offers birthday party packages. Up in the mountains, budding figure skaters can practice their double axels at Squaw Valley’s Olympic Ice Pavilion, and the South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena is an indoor rink complete with shopping, hockey and figure skating, an arcade and a snack bar.
Brave the cold in your bathing suit for a true Sierra Nevada experience at one of the area’s outdoor hot springs. An hour and a half from Reno is year-round Grover Hot Springs, which welcomes adults and children to relax in the emerald-green natural springs. For a rustic (clothing optional!) retreat, the Sierra Hot Springs outside Sierraville offers 24/7 hot, warm and meditation pools that also welcome the whole family.