Just going to the snow can be a great thrill for kids (particularly City kids). While snow vacations can be really expensive, a quick day trip or an overnighter doesn't need to break the bank. We have included some money saving tips, ideas about where to get gear and where to stay, safety tips, and ideas about other things you can do in the snow besides just skiing or boarding.
If you haven't been up to Tahoe a lot, one of the most stressful decisions about your trip can be where to stay. There are a lot of options, some more kid-friendly than others.
Hotels & Motels: While possibly the cheapest option, they can be the least kid-friendly. Hotel rooms are often really small, you don't have the ability to make your own food, and the huge TV with full cable can be either a blessing or a curse. While you can find some hotel and motel options with small kitchens and a little more space, you need to do a little research. Check GoTahoeNorth.com, which lists hotels and resorts that have kitchens in the rooms.
When booking a room or renting a house, ask about safety features and potential dangers. A house that's great for 5- to 8-year-olds could be a nightmare for a crawling baby. You might need to bring some of your own childproofing equipment (outlet guards, a gate, etc.). It's also always smart to keep local hospital and emergency numbers in a handy place.
Websites for Finding Houses and Other Accommodations:
– TahoeAccommodations.com lists over 350 properties you can rent. Search by area, price, smoking/non-smoking.
– Vacation Rentals By Owner
– Vacation Timeshare and Rentals
Another option is the
Clair Tappaan Lodge
, which provides lodging, meals, and the opportunity to meet other families.
Skiing and Boarding Tips for Youth
– Reserve kids' lessons or child care in advance to ensure a spot, save time, and be more prepared for your visit!
– Arrive early. If you are enrolling your kids in morning or all-day lessons, it's recommended that you arrive early to be sure you have enough time to get everyone there.
– Have your children's shoe sizes, heights, weights, and birthdays readily available prior to making advanced reservations.
– Dress your child appropriately for the weather — layers are best.
– Be sure your child has eye protection (goggles for snowy days and sunglasses for sunny days).
– Helmets are a must and usually available for rent.
– Be sure your child eats breakfast. Full-day lessons and lesson packages usually include lunch, but half-days might not.
– For parents with children too young for ski school, some resorts offer the special interchangeable lift ticket for parents to share. Take turns hitting the slopes and watching the kids. Same price as a regular adult lift ticket.
– Observe your child's progress from a distance; do not attract their attention.
Your knees (or your increased common sense) may not allow you to keep up with the kids so here are a few options.
– Airboarding on an inflatable sled
– Dog sled tours
– Planet Kids, Tubing & Mini Snowmobiles
– Ice Skating
– Sleigh rides
– Kids Zone Museum for some indoor fun in Truckee. SFkids Tip: Don't forget to bring your Bay Area museum membership card to get in free.
– Gondola Rides: Northstar, Sugarbowl, Squaw Valley and Heavenly
– Other Lake Tahoe Kid Fun
– Kids' Intro to Nordic Skiing
– Local SNO-parks for sledding fun
Safety Information and Links
Our City kids may not have a lot of experience with the snow, so teaching your kids about skiing and winter safety is important. Whether sledding, skating, building snowmen, or making snow angels, children love to play outdoors in the winter weather. For those who have hit the snow before, it's good to review the rules of the mountain each time you visit. Here are some links to sites with great information on snow and winter safety.
– On the Mountain Safety
– Winter Safety/Driving Info
– National Ski Patrol
– Sledding Safety from www.GORP.com
– Safekids.org has good overall safety tips for winter.
– Winter safety for your child's body.
– Information about kids and the importance of wearing helmets: not a bad idea for adults, too! Read more from Lids on Kids.
*Always pack your auto snow chains, extra clothes, blankets, a flashlight, some snacks, water, and a fully charged cell phone just in case you get caught in the snow.
If you want to save your vacation time for, well, vacation, consider renting your gear ahead of time in the City. Here are some local shops that rent:
– Sports Basement in the Presidio and Potrero offer rentals for skiing and snowboarding. Youth sizes are available.
– Sports Authority usually has ski and board equipment clearance at the San Francisco store. They only sell new equipment.
– Lombardi Sports, $35 per weekend for either snow sport (pick-up Thursday or Friday, drop off Monday). Lombardi Sports also offers whole season rentals.
– Mountain West in Potrero is a nice alternative to the big stores.
– Be sure to check local thrift stores for used clothing, boots, and gear to purchase for the season. Ski swaps, usually in October, are also a great way to get used gear at bargain prices.
If you go skiing often enough, you may want to rent for the season. For under $200, you can rent skis/boots/poles for the entire season. SkiTahoe.com has a list of Lake Tahoe Ski/Snowboard Shops.
California Ski Company in Berkeley also offers a rental package for the whole season. Any Mountain has multiple locations in the Bay Area that offer rentals. Marmot Mountain Works in Berkeley is another good place to rent from.
Family-friendly Tahoe Dave's in Lake Tahoe has multiple outlets in the north shore. Reserve your skis online before you head up to the mountains.
– Tahoe Vacation Guide offers child care options both at the ski areas and around the Tahoe area.
Most ski resorts offer Parent Shared Tickets, which allow adults to share a single pass. So get in some runs and time with the kids.
Money Saving Tips
– Northstar resort offers FREE ice skating. Skate rental is $10 or bring your own.
– KidznSnow.com is a great site for families.
– The best Tahoe Deals can be found at Sliding on the Cheap.com. Their weekly newsletter gives up-to-the-minute bargains and deals in Tahoe. Or check out SnowBomb.com for other great community deals. Discounted tickets can often be found at Costco, Safeway, and REI. We also like Tahoe Perks CardAlways be sure to check for restrictions.
– Night skiing can be a blast for teens. Try Squaw Valley or Boreal resorts.
– The cheapest kids ticket is Homewood Resort – $20! Several resorts offer skiing for kids 4 and under for FREE.
– Ski buses are available if you don't want drive to Tahoe or your teen and a couple of friends want to hit the slopes. See Snowpals for discounts on the bus.
– Avoid the lines and get a few bucks off when you buy your lift tickets before you go up to the snow. Tickets are available at Costco, REI, Sports Basement, and Lombardi Sports.