Four of the Best Free (Or Cheap) Family Winter Activities to Enjoy in North Lake Tahoe


Four of the Best Free (Or Cheap) Family Winter Activities to Enjoy in North Lake Tahoe

By: Kayla Anderson

Before we get into where some of the best places are to play in the snow in the Lake Tahoe Basin, it’s worth mentioning that California State Parks offers SNO-PARK sites that provide areas to cross-country ski, ride snowmobiles in, and hold epic snowball fights. Day passes to park at a SNO-PARK are just $5, a season pass costs $25; for more information on Tahoe SNO-PARKs and passes, click here.

Here are some other fun and affordable North Lake Tahoe winter activities:

Slide Down a Hill on a Saucer at Granlibakken

As one of Tahoe’s oldest snow parks (established in 1922), the 74-acre property that’s tucked up on the mountainside on Highway 89 outside of Tahoe City is still going strong. Granlibakken is the perfect winter family getaway as it provides everything from a hotel, restaurant, and swimming pools to rope tows and a controlled sledding hill that keeps visitors safe. Sledding costs $20 per person but slash that price in half if you stay at the resort (which means “hill shelter protected by firs” in Norwegian, btw).

Some other spots for Sledding in Lake Tahoe: Four Fantastic Free Sledding Hills in Lake Tahoe

Go Ice Skating at the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park

Tahoe City ice skating rinkIn the heart of Downtown Tahoe City located right behind the Savemart, the Tahoe City PUD runs a golf course that is converted into a sports park in the winter. The park includes a restaurant, bar, four kilometers of cross-country ski trails, sledding, a snowshoe loop, and an ice-skating rink. What’s nice about it is that it’s all within view of the lodge where parents can relax inside by the fire with a hot cocoa. An ice-skating package (rink and rental fee) costs $5-$12 and its free for kids 14 and under to access the Park’s ski trails.

Grab a S’more or Two at Northstar California

Owned by Vail Resorts, Northstar California is another decent-sized winter sports spot that caters to families by providing a village comprised of a variety of shops, restaurants, and bars as well as kid-centric activities such as tubing, an ice-skating rink, and 3,170 acres of skiable trails. Lift tickets to enjoy these activities can be pricy, but Northstar offers something that is totally free that not very many people know about- complimentary s’mores handed out daily at 4pm over by the fire pits at the ice-skating rink. S’mores are first come first serve and s’mores kits are available to buy at the rink’s cabana bar.

Take Your Dog (Or Just Get Some Exercise) at Aspen Grove/Village Green

Over in Incline Village next to the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe lies a small event center, picnic tables, a dog park, and an exercise loop trail right there on Lakeshore Boulevard. The short quarter mile or so exercise loop is open year-round and has fun weatherproof workout machines that are fun to try with your family. Across the street from Aspen Grove are the Incline Village General Improvement District beaches and additional playgrounds; they are technically only open to Incline Village residents, but they don’t staff the gates in the wintertime.

When it snows in Tahoe, it snows and pretty much any open areas can provide your family hours of free fun. However, the key is to be safe and go to established locations that offer bathrooms so that your kids keep smiles on their faces all day long.


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