Winter and spring on the south shore of Lake Tahoe offer snow play, ice skating, shopping, paddle boat rides, horse drawn sleighs and much more for families. Fall and summer are just as spectacular, combining the best of nature with unique activities that will create the perfect getaway. Glitzy casinos and nightclubs are simply a backdrop for the amazing family experiences available to kids of all ages in natures wonderland.
Best Family Accommodations
Zephyr Cove Resort
Regardless of if you are travelling as a small or a large family, Zephyr Cove Resort has accommodations to fit your entire group-including your beloved pet! A short drive from the hustle and bustle of South Shore, the resort is nestled among the trees on the lake. Zephyr Cove Resort opened in the early 1900’s, and now features an RV park as well as restored cabins with modern conveniences. Choose from cabins with kitchenettes and fireplaces that range in size from studios to three bedrooms. Most of the cabins have a lake view and all of them are just a couple steps away from the private beach that is known to host fun events and is the home of the newly restored MS Dixie II paddlewheeler.
The lodge offers an extensive gift shop and general store, however, if you don’t find everything you need, you are just a three minute drive to the grocery store. The restaurant has been voted one of the best on the lake and is popular with locals and guests alike, offering delicious food and a cozy atmosphere with a large central fireplace and lots of windows.
Best Kids Programming
Heavenly Kids Ski and Ride Program (Winter/Spring)
Heavenly Discovery Day Camp (Summer)
Children will be excited to spend the day at Heavenly Mountain Resort any time of the year. During the winter, try the Heavenly Half & Half Ski Program for a sporting adventure. Children begin their day at 9 am when parents bring them to a fun and welcoming children’s area. Parents will feel safe knowing that everyone that works in the center has been through background checks and is highly qualified to work with children. Kids are checked in to a secure area filled with games and toys that is clean and safe. They get settled in and are suited up with ski gear before they head out to catch a snowmobile to the Enchanted Forest where they will have a ski lesson customized to their skill level.
After their lesson, children return to the play room for a healthy lunch, storytime and very importantly, play time with their new friends. The ski/play program, childcare and nanny-for-a-day are available for children starting at 6 weeks old. Parents will receive a registration confirmation email that includes detailed instructions, including a list of what to bring for your child.
The adventure continues during the summer at the new Heavenly Discovery Day Camp for children ages 5-12. Kids will take the gondola to the top of Heavenly Mountain Resort for a day of tubing, rock wall climbing, chair rides to the summit, hiking, challenge courses and more. “Discovery Day Camp was developed to create an unforgettable mountain experience for children visiting South Lake Tahoe. Exclusive to Heavenly Mountain Resort, the program encompasses much of what Tahoe is known for: nature, adventure, and exploration. We are incredibly proud to offer such a unique educational outdoor adventure to enhance the summer guest experience” explains Michelle Peterlin, program developer of the Heavenly Discovery Day Camp.
Best Ice Skating
Heavenly Village Ice Rink
In the winter and early spring a charming ice skating rink appears in Heavenly Village. Surrounded by restaurants and shops with the Heavenly Gondola floating by above you and twinkling lights all around you, you can’t help but be transported to a magical experience. The Heavenly Village Ice Rink is opened each year by a former professional ice skater Don Yontz. Don still has a passion for skating that transcends to the guest of his ice rinks through the staff at the rink. The skate guards not only twirl around the ice offering inspiration to those less graceful, but they also are known to offer helpful technique hints to participants. The fun continues as the weather heats up and this area transforms into a miniature golf course in the late spring and throughout summer.
Best Tubing Hill
Heavenly Ski Resort
Enjoy the ride during the winter or the summer on the Heavenly Resort Tubing Hill. The adventure starts as you climb on aboard a gondola for a scenic 2.4 mile ride that stops at an observation deck with panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the beautiful surrounding mountains. Once you reach Adventure Peak, pick up a tube and ride an escalator to the top of the 500 foot long run that features a 65 foot drop. Fully staffed at the top and the bottom, the run offers mats to slow you down and a steep hill at the end creating a ride that is both safe and exhilarating. After working up an appetite, head over to Tamarack Lodge for delicious food. They offer a variety fresh and healthy options including a full salad bar and comfort food too-try the dirty potatoes!
Best horse-drawn rides
Borges Sleigh & Carriage Rides
Take a relaxing tour of South Shore on a horse-drawn carriage from Borges Sleigh & Carriage Rides. Sleigh rides are offered in the winter when there is enough snow in the meadow across from Mont Bleu, and carriage rides are offered year round leaving from the front of the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel. The charming carriage can carry up to 8 people through town and to the lake for a beautiful view. Above the soft “clip-clop” of horse hooves, the guides offer a unique history of Lake Tahoe including the latest happenings in town. These rides are offered by a family owned business with deep roots in the community. The personalized tour is a fun way to discover the locals favorite spots from beaches to restaurants with plenty of opportunities for photos to capture your memories.
Best Tour Of The Lake By Water
Emerald Bay Cruises
Relax on board the Tahoe Queen as you tour pristine Lake Tahoe and learn an extensive amount of history presented in an entertaining format. This newly renovated boat is an authentic Mississippi Paddlewheeler that departs from the central area of South Shore at Ski Run Marina. Every seat is a great seat on this ride. You can sit outside and enjoy the fresh air and 360 degree views, or sit inside to have access to full service tables offering hot meals. There is also a full bar on board and plenty of hot chocolate and snacks as well as a small gift shop.
While Tahoe is just a short drive for many Californians, getting there from other parts of the country including the East Coast just got easier. The new addition of the first direct flight into the Reno-Tahoe airport from JFK by JetBlue begins May 28, 2015. “Landing non-stop daily service on an incredible airline like JetBlue is an example of what this region can do when it works together for a common goal,” Marily Mora, President/CEO of the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, said. “We are bringing the Biggest Little City and the Big Apple together. We are bringing JetBlue to the blue waters of Lake Tahoe. It’s a great day for the