The Sierra Nevada, a spectacular mountain range running 400 miles up California's eastern border, is home to Lake Tahoe, North America's largest alpine lake. Surrounded by high peaks, the Lake Tahoe area boasts more than a dozen downhill and cross-country ski resorts with slopes for all ages and levels, along with snow-play activities, lodging and, for those who want to try their luck on the slots, casinos!
For a one-stop winter ski vacation head to Northstar California, which spans 3,000 acres of terrain with 92 ski trails, a snowboard park and academy, a skating rink, shops, restaurants and on-site lodging. What more could you ask for? With more than half the ski trials geared toward beginners or intermediates, there's something for everyone here. If snowboarding is your game, beginning snowboarders can learn from the best at Burton Snowboard Academy, while advanced snowboarders can show off in the park's 22-foot superpipe, designed by Olympic gold medalist Shaun White. Those looking for a little less adventure (but all the beauty) can snowshoe the scenic trails complete with warming huts and hot cocoa along the way. After hitting the slopes, head to the Village at Northstar for a well-deserved latte and take in a bustling winter wonderland full of boutiques, bars, cafes and more, all surrounding a 9,000 square foot outdoor skating rink. Stay in the Village and you'll be home in no time. With lodging options that include hotel rooms and luxury suites, family-friendly condos and even mountain homes, there are accommodations for any size group.
If you're traveling with kids, visiting Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area is a must. Although it is a small resort with 120 acres and 14 ski runs, Tahoe Donner strives to be the best wintertime destination for family fun and learning in the region, with a ski program for little ones as young as 3-years-old. No matter your level, there are learning opportunities for the whole family and slopes for novice and intermediate skiers. For those who just want to play in the snow, there's sledding, tubing and snowshoeing. Best of all, when the kids get hungry, you'll find pizza nearby. Pizza on the Hill is a perfect place to warm up, unwind and let the kids loose in the interactive playroom.
For skiers who want a to do a little gambling in their downtime, South Lake Tahoe's Heavenly Mountain is the ski resort for you. With more than 4,800 acres of terrain and 29 chair lifts, this mountain is able to handle the large crowds that visit at peak times. And at 10,067 feet, Heavenly's summit is the highest in Lake Tahoe, providing thrill-seeking experts with plunging slopes. If Black Diamond trails aren't your thing, there are plenty of other activities to choose from. Adventurous kids will love Tubing Hill, where they can fly down the 500-foot long tubing lanes with a 65-foot vertical drop. Avid cyclists take note — you can even ride in the snow! Ski bikes are the new way to make it down the mountain. After shredding the slopes, grab a cocktail at Tamarack Lodge, then make your way down the mountain to the casino strip where you can gamble the night away at half a dozen hotel casinos before stumbling to your room. Check out the swanky MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa, where you'll get all the amenities of Las Vegas at a fraction of the cost.
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