The Best Places for a Family Ski Vacation in Lake Tahoe with Kids

A family on skis enjoys a sunny day in Lake Tahoe, while on a ski vacation to Lake Tahoe with kids.

Lake Tahoe is the perfect spot for a winter ski vacation with kids! Families will find world-class skiing, alpine villages with shops and restaurants, and accommodations to fit every budget. In fact, Lake Tahoe is home to 14 ski resorts where families can enjoy sunny skies and powdery slopes! Non-skiers will also find various winter activities, such as ice skating, snowshoe tours, aerial trams, scenic lookouts, and even nighttime disco glow tubing. With a season that usually extends into spring, Lake Tahoe is one of the best places for a family ski vacation with kids. If you want to plan a family ski vacation to Lake Tahoe, here are some tips for booking your next getaway, from where to stay in Lake Tahoe to the best ski resorts. Keep reading to plan your next winter adventure!

How to Reach Lake Tahoe

A young girl skis down a slope in Lake Tahoe.

Reaching Lake Tahoe with kids is easy and convenient. The closest airport is Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO). It is serviced by 11 airlines. Within a 1hr drive, you can be unpacking and ready to hit the slopes in Lake Tahoe with kids.

Then, just 2 hours away is Sacramento International Airport (SMF), serviced by 15 carriers. Also, Bay Area airports such as San Francisco Airport (SFO), San Jose Airport (SJC), or the Oakland Airport (OAK), are each about 3.5 hours away by car. Finally, GaryAir has chartered flights directly to Lake Tahoe.

Once on the ground, North Lake Tahoe Express and South Tahoe Airporter provide shuttles from the Reno Airport to Lake Tahoe.

RELATED: Ultimate Guide To Ski Gear For Kids

Transportation within Lake Tahoe for Families

A young boy skis along a slope in Lake Tahoe, while on a ski vacation to Lake Tahoe with kids.

There are lots of ways to get around Lake Tahoe with kids. If your family plans to explore more than one area, a rental car is recommended. However, there are several public transportation options if you prefer to leave the driving to a professional.

Linking Tahoe is a great resource for all the transit options around the lake. Then, families wondering how to get around South Lake Tahoe with kids can use Lake-Link, a free on-demand ride-share service. Guests staying at Heavenly, Northstar California Resort, Diamond Peak, or in the Olympic Valley can benefit from free resort shuttles for access between hotels and the ski slopes. And, many places to stay in Lake Tahoe also offer shuttles to the large resorts making transportation around Lake Tahoe with kids easy.

Then, the TART is the Tahoe Truckee Area Regional Transit and it provides free transportation to the North Lake Tahoe area via buses. The TART Connect is similar to Uber, and you can request a FREE ride on the TART Connect via their app. They do have specific zones and operating hours, but it is a phenomenal free tool in the Tahoe area. Additionally, there is also a TART bus stop within Olympic Valley (where Palisades is located, for example).

Another free transportation option just within Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows is the Mountaineer. Mountaineer makes it easy to get around Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows in the winter without a car by providing free, on-demand rides anywhere within the two valleys. With Mountaineer you can expect door-to-door transportation with typical 15-minute wait times. Request a ride and leave the driving to Mountaineer – it’s free, convenient, and good for the environment!

Lake Tahoe Ticket Prices & Passes

A young boy snowboarding at NorthStar Resort.

Lake Tahoe ticket prices vary dramatically depending on the number of days, the size of the resort, and advance purchase. Check resort websites for current prices and availability. If purchasing a daily ticket, the sooner you purchase, the better. Ticket prices increase as inventory for each day decreases. If you plan to ski multiple days, consider purchasing either the Epic Pass (Northstar, Kirkwood & Heavenly) or the Ikon Pass (Palisades Tahoe).

Both programs offer passes starting with 2 days up to season passes with no restrictions. They also give discounts on food, lodging, lessons and rentals. The Epic Pass is highly recommended for skiing Tahoe with kids because it can be used at three of the largest resorts. Skiing in Lake Tahoe with a family can be an expensive vacation, but the memories your family will make are priceless!

Where to Ski & Stay in North Lake Tahoe with Kids

When planning a family vacation to North Lake Tahoe, parents may wonder where the best place to stay is when considering skiing in Lake Tahoe with kids. Here are some options for the best Lake Tahoe ski resorts.

READ NEXT: Tahoe Ski Resorts and Hotels for Families

Northstar California Resort, Truckee

Northstar California Resort has everything you need for an epic ski vacation in Lake Tahoe with kids. Known as one of the most family-friendly resorts, it’s also one of the largest ski resorts in Lake Tahoe, with 100 trails of varying terrain. Kids will love the s’mores handed out in the village daily at 3 pm, while parents will appreciate the world-class ski and snowboard school. The resort is full of amenities, from free carts in the village to help families tote gear to hand dryers in the bathroom and Kleenex in the liftlines. Northstar has everything you need for a great visit.

Non-skiers in the family can spend the day ice skating, shopping, and dining in one of the many village restaurants. 

Where to Stay near Northstar California Resort with Kids

If you’re wondering where to stay in Lake Tahoe with kids, there are plenty of options at Northstar California Resort. The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe is located mid-mountain and features villas, suites, and guestrooms to suit any family size. Both the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe and the Hyatt Vacation Club at Northstar Lodge offer ski-in ski-out privileges, which makes getting to the slopes easier for families skiing with kids in Lake Tahoe. Other family-friendly places to stay in Lake Tahoe are the Timber Creek Lodge and Northstar Village Condos, where you’ll be just steps away from the ice skating rink and all the action in the village.

For discounted rates on Lake Tahoe Hotels, sign up and check out the prices on our Families Love Travel booking site here! No membership fees required!

Palisades Tahoe (formerly Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows), Olympic Valley, CA 

Two teen girls stand with sweatshirts, helmets, and snow goggles on at Squaw Valley.
Photo Courtesy: Wendy Anderson Schulz

The 1960 Winter Olympics put Palisades Tahoe on the map, and it continues to be one of the best places to visit in Lake Tahoe with kids. In fact, it is the largest ski resort in California with 6,000 skiable acres, and the 4th largest ski resort in North America. With 170+ trails spread over two mountains, families will never run out of new territory to explore. Then, a lively village atmosphere will keep the whole family entertained. Next, Palisades Tahoe operates the longest season, sometimes through the 4th of July! And, finally, Palisades Tahoe also has a lot of different terrain suitable for all skier and snowboarder types. This includes, lessons for ages 3+, even beginners will have a blast at Palisades Tahoe! 

Plus, they often host large-scale events throughout the season (for example, DJ Diesel AKA Shaquille O’Neall and REZZ are performing at the EDM festival called Tahoe Live in December, and they are hosting the Men’s World Cup in February 2024, as well as the Winter WonderGrass music festival in March).

Where to Stay near Palisades Tahoe with Kids

Palisades Tahoe, in the Olympic Valley, has lots of family-friendly accommodations for your Lake Tahoe vacation with kids. The Village at Palisades Tahoe Lodging conveniently puts guests in the heart of the village with ski-in ski-out access. Also, Everline Resort & Spa features an ice rink, heated pool, and direct access to the ski slopes. Additionally, there are plenty of homes and condos for rent, and they can be a great option for where to stay in Lake Tahoe with kids.

SugarBowl, Norden, CA

SugarBowl is family-owned and feels less commercial. However, it still provides families on a winter vacation in Lake Tahoe with excellent powder, a terrific ski school, and over 100 runs. Located at the top of Donner Summit, SugarBowl is famous for its powder. Also, the proximity to Sacramento and Reno makes SugarBowl a favorite with the locals who like to avoid the traffic around Lake Tahoe.

Cross-country skiers will love SugarBowl’s access to The Royal Gorge, the largest cross-country ski area in North America. With 8 trail systems across 6,000 acres, families in Lake Tahoe can ski for miles! 

Where to Stay near SugarBowl with Kids

The SugarBowl Lodge is the best hotel for families in Lake Tahoe planning a vacation at SugarBowl. Apart from this, families can stay 30 minutes away in Truckee at the Best Western Plus Truckee-Tahoe Hotel, SpringHill Suites Truckee, or Hampton Inn & Suites Tahoe-Truckee. Renting a cabin is a great option while skiing with kids in Lake Tahoe. Sometimes, it helps to have a place to dry out those wet clothes! Fortunately, plenty of rentals are available in nearby Soda Springs, Donner Lake, and the Tahoe Donner neighborhood.

Additional North Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts for Kids

Three young kids stand together with their snowboards at Boreal in Lake Tahoe.

There are a few additional resorts that also offer terrific experiences for families skiing with kids in North Lake Tahoe.

  • Boreal is at the top of Donner Summit and home to the Take 3 Ride Free Progam. Pay for 3 lessons (rentals included) and earn a free pass to use all season long. This is one of the best deals for families skiing in Lake Tahoe with kids, especially those with beginners! Also, don’t miss their Woodward Bunker, which features a cafe and indoor trampoline park!
  • Homewood Mountain Resort is on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe and is a classic, family-friendly ski resort.
  • Mt. Rose and Diamond Peak are located on the northeast shore of Lake Tahoe. These two resorts are ideal for families wanting to visit Lake Tahoe with kids but on a budget, as less expensive accommodations can be found only 30 minutes away in Reno, NV.

Where to Ski & Stay in South Lake Tahoe with Kids

South Lake Tahoe has fewer ski options than North Lake Tahoe, but there are still some good choices for families. Here are a few of my favorite Lake Tahoe ski resorts!

READ NEXT: 12 Ways To Plan A Family Ski Trip On A Budget

Heavenly, South Lake Tahoe, CA

Heavenly Resort dominates the mountain scene in South Lake Tahoe. With 4,800 acres of terrain reaching into both California and Nevada, it’s one of the region’s premier ski and snowboard destinations. Undoubtedly, Heavenly is one of the best places to ski with kids in Lake Tahoe. Its summit sits at 10,067 ft, and visitors will be treated to stunning views. From one vantage point, you can peer past the mountains and see endless desert while also gazing upon stunning Lake Tahoe, a truly unique experience. For families on a winter vacation with kids in Lake Tahoe, Heavenly is an ideal location as it offers excellent accommodations, a ski school, restaurants, and an alpine village, all in one spot.

Where to Stay near Heavenly Resort with Kids

Heavenly has some of the best places to stay in South Lake Tahoe with kids. Zalanta has luxury vacation rentals just steps from the gondola. With 24/7 concierge service, ski valet, and on-site tickets, getting to the slopes is easy. You can also consider the award-winning Edgewood Tahoe Resort, which provides a premier luxury lodging experience to families visiting Lake Tahoe with kids. Less than 1 mile from Heavenly is Lakeland Village Resort at Heavenly, a townhome community for families wanting more space than village accommodations.

Alternatively, families visiting Lake Tahoe with kids can call Marriott Grand Residence Club, Lake Tahoe, or Hilton Vacation Club Lake Tahoe Resort home, as these vacation clubs have great amenities for families.

Finally, for those wanting nightlight, check out these nearby casinos: Bally’s Lake Tahoe (formerly MontBleu), Harveys, Harrah’s, and Golden Nugget Lake Tahoe There is no shortage of places to stay in South Lake Tahoe with kids.

Compare prices in South Lake Tahoe through our Families Love Travel booking site here!

Kirkwood Mountain Resort, Kirkwood, CA

Kirkwood Mountain Resort is a favorite with the locals. Tucked off Highway 88, Kirkwood receives some of the best snow in the region. Families traveling with kids in Lake Tahoe will appreciate the lack of traffic. However, it is a quiet community with minimal shopping and only a few small restaurants. So, plan for fantastic days on the slopes but quiet nights. Kirkwood has group and private lessons available for adults and children.

There is also a cross-country ski and snowshoe center for those wanting to explore beyond the resort. If staying over New Year’s, be sure to catch the famous torchlight parade and watch the magical experience of skiers and boarders descending the mountain carrying glowing flares.

Where to Stay near Kirkwood Mountain Resort with Kids

Kirkwood makes finding a place to stay in Lake Tahoe easy. Since the resort is 45 minutes from South Lake Tahoe, all of the options for accommodation are right in the Kirkwood Valley. Guests can book directly through Kirkwood Lodging and stay at The Sentinels, Timber Ridge, Snowcrest Lodge, The Mountain Club, or The Meadows Region. There is a free shuttle that loops around the valley and offers transportation to guests staying in private residences or cabin rentals. Since everything is close, staying and skiing at Kirkwood is convenient, especially when visiting Lake Tahoe with kids!

Reserve your home near Kirkwood Mountain here with Vrbo!

Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort, Twin Bridges, CA

A woman and two mascots walk by the sign for Sierra-at-Tahoe Mountain Resort.
Photo Courtesy: First Track Productions / National Hockey League

Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort is a medium-sized ski resort that is a great option for a place to ski with kids in Lake Tahoe. It is located 30 minutes from South Lake Tahoe and 1-1/2hr from El Dorado Hills, a bedroom community of Sacramento, where families can find affordable lodging. Ticket prices are less than the bigger resorts of Kirkwood and Heavenly. This benefits families with beginners who don’t need 100+ trails but still want to enjoy some great skiing.

The Best Ski School in Lake Tahoe for Kids

A family of skiers stands together on a snowy ski day in Lake Tahoe.

The easiest way to arrange ski lessons for kids in Lake Tahoe is to make reservations directly through a resort. They all offer top-notch programs, and lessons can be tailored to meet the needs of each child. For example, parents can reserve group or private lessons that last a half day or full day. Most kids ski and snowboard programs run ages 3-14 and adult lessons are 14+. Epic and Ikon pass holders will receive a discount for lessons, a nice perk!

There are some fantastic adaptive ski programs in Lake Tahoe for children and adults with physical, sensory, and intellectual disabilities. Achieve Tahoe has been assisting people with disabilities for over 50 years. They have a Program Center located at Alpine Meadows at Palisades Tahoe and at Northstar California, in the North Lake Tahoe area. Lessons are offered at Alpine, Palisades, and Northstar. In South Lake Tahoe, Heavenly also offers adaptive skiing lessons with specially trained instructions.

The best value for ski lessons in Lake Tahoe is at Boreal, a smaller resort near Truckee. Families love the Take 3 Ride Free program. Simply pay upfront for 3 lessons, rentals included, and once completed, you receive a free season pass to use for the rest of the year. Boreal is 30 minutes from North Lake Tahoe and 1-1/2hr away from Sacramento. After a few days of skiing Lake Tahoe’s slopes, your child just may beat you down the hill!

READ NEXT: 12 Of The Best Ski Resorts In America For Families Of All Ages

Where to Rent Ski Equipment in Lake Tahoe with Kids

A teen snowboards down a slope in Lake Tahoe, while on a ski vacation to Lake Tahoe with kids.

Dealing with rental gear is probably each parent’s least favorite part of a ski vacation! The process of outfitting kids is time-consuming and can be frustrating. It’s best to plan ahead! Each resort has a rental shop, but these locations can be extremely busy in the mornings. To avoid the crowds, consider utilizing a delivery service.

Guests staying in North Lake Tahoe can use Ski Butlers and Black Tie Ski Rental Delivery to have all their equipment dropped off ahead of time. If your kids have grown, be sure to size them at a hometown ski shop so you can order the appropriate sizes. Another option is to pick up your gear from a shop like Tahoe Dave’s. They have five locations around North Lake Tahoe for families planning to ski: SugarBowl, Northstar, Palisades, or Homewood.

In South Lake Tahoe, Rainbow Mountain Ski & Board will pick you up from your hotel in a free shuttle and outfit your family for a day at Heavenly. Powder House Ski & Board has seven locations around South Lake Tahoe, and Powder House Ski Delivery can also be used to drop off equipment directly to your door. With a little research and advanced planning, the rental process can be smooth, and you’ll be ready for the slopes in no time!

How to Choose the Best Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe for Kids?

A young girl stands on a magic carpet lift while skiing in Lake Tahoe.

With 14 resorts, it can be hard to decide which one is the best Tahoe ski resort for kids. Here are some things to consider. Northstar, Palisades, and Heavenly all have villages that include hotels, shopping, restaurants, ice skating rinks, and other amenities. They are the largest resorts with the most terrain but can also be the busiest and have the highest ticket prices. While medium-sized resorts such as Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood, and Mt. Rose don’t have the same energy, they are less crowded and provide a more local experience.

If you’re looking for the best ski resorts in Lake Tahoe for beginners, check out Boreal, Diamond Peak, or Sierra-at-Tahoe. They are smaller, but if kids are limited to beginner runs, you don’t need a large resort. Instead, you can save money on tickets and still enjoy a great day skiing. With so many great options, you can’t go wrong!

Fun Things to Do in Lake Tahoe with Kids Besides Skiing

If you’re wondering what to do with kids in Lake Tahoe besides skiing, below is a list of fun things to keep your whole family entertained!

RELATED: The Ultimate Ski Trip Packing List For Families This Winter

Take an Aerial Tram Ride

Two parents and their young child ride the aerial tram at Heavenly Resort.
Photo Courtesy: Rachid Dahnoun / Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority

Take the tram to the top of Palisades or Heavenly for stunning views and high-camp restaurants. Pass holders are free, and discounts are available for children. No ski equipment is needed – just comfortable shoes and a winter jacket! For a free ride, take the gondola to the Ritz Carlton mid-mountain at Northstar. It’s a great spot for lunch or appetizers while watching the action on the slopes.

Shop and Play in the Village

A family of four goes shopping in the village for Heavenly Resort.
Rachid Dahnoun / Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority

There are three large villages in the Lake Tahoe area. Located at Northstar, Palisades Lake Tahoe, and Heavenly, each village has a European feel. They are full of shops, restaurants, and a great place to walk around and enjoy the magic of winter. While adults shop, kids will find toy and candy stores, places to do crafts, and miniature golf to stay busy. Families can even catch a movie in Heavenly Village to finish off the day.

Book a Snowshoe Tour + Chalet Dinner

Parents visiting Lake Tahoe also have their fair share of things to do off the slopes. If you’re looking for a kid-free night, book a Snowshoe Tour + Chalet Dinner at Alpine. Prepare to snowshoe through the woods to a remote chalet for a four-course Bavarian-inspired meal! This is a unique experience for adults 21+.

Go Snowshoeing or Cross-Country Skiing

Set out on a snowshoe or cross-country ski adventure with kids! Even the littlest kids will enjoy trekking across the fresh powder. Snowshoes can be rented from a shop like Tahoe Dave’s. Plus, SugarBowl’s Cross Country Center also rents equipment and links to the Royal Gorge, which has over 6,000 acres of trails to explore.

Research Ski & Snow Tours in Lake Tahoe through Tripadvisor here!

Try Tubing or Sledding

A young boy sleds down a hill on a green sled near Lake Tahoe, with mountains in the distance, one of the best things to do while on a ski vacation to Lake Tahoe with kids.

For those seeking an adrenaline rush without skiing, tubing is an excellent choice! Families who want to go tubing with Kids in Lake Tahoe can check out SugarBowl’s Sugar Rush tubing area. Or, for something unique, try nighttime Disco Tubing at Palisades. This special activity combines tubing with LED lights, lasers, and live DJs!

Then, Lake Tahoe is full of fun designated sledding hills and snow tubing areas. These are great spaces to have fun with your kids outdoors, especially if you need a day off the slopes! Finally, many cabins have saucers included in rentals, or they can be easily purchased at local grocery and drugstores.

Visit a Museum

A young child plays at an exhibit in KidZone Museum.
Photo Courtesy: KidZone Museum

If you’re searching for indoor activities to try on a family ski vacation in Lake Tahoe, visiting a museum with your kids is an excellent option. It’s educational, fun, and a good way to escape the cold outside.

KidZone Museum: Kids can get the wiggles out at KidZone Museum! Located in nearby Truckee, this is a small, hands-on play space and museum for Tahoe’s littlest visitors. It encourages kids to follow their imagination through play, from an indoor play structure with a slide to an art studio and even an infant area for visitors under 18 months of age.

A dinosaur skeleton on display in an exhibit at a The Discovery museum, one of the best things to do while on a ski vacation to Lake Tahoe with kids.
Photo Courtesy: The Discovery

The Discovery Museum: Families can also visit The Discovery, an interactive museum for curious folks of all ages in Reno. With a giant climbing structure, kids can spend hours playing and exploring in this amazing museum. Then, everyone will adore the large-scale, working model of the Truckee River! There are rooms with exhibits but also places to paint, build, and create. Finally, they have a room where families can have a packed lunch.

Zoom Around on a Snowmobile

Three snowmobiles carry people across the snow in South Tahoe.
Photo Courtesy: Rachid Dahnoun / Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority

Skiing in Lake Tahoe with kids is undoubtedly popular, but why not add a little excitement by exploring the snowy landscapes on a snowmobile? Numerous rental companies offer family-friendly guided tours that children will love. Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours has several trips around North Lake Tahoe, for example. And, Lake Tahoe Adventures will guide you through the backwoods around South Lake Tahoe.

Go Ice Skating

A dad and his young son ice skate on a rink in Lake Tahoe, one of the best things to do while on a ski vacation to Lake Tahoe with kids.

The Villages of Northstar, Palisades, and Heavenly have ice skating rinks. Gliding around the rink and listening to popular tunes is a favorite thing to do for families in Lake Tahoe! If your legs get tired, you can take a break and relax next to one of the many fire pits while having a drink or snack.

A family of five enjoys special cookies served in the NorthStar Resort village.

If at Northstar, keep an eye out for the special treats that arrive at 3 pm – your kids won’t want to miss the s’more delivered on silver platters! Undoubtedly, this will be a hit during your ski vacation to Lake Tahoe with kids!

Happy Travels!

Lake Tahoe is one of the best winter destinations to plan a ski vacation with kids! With great resorts, activities for all ages, and lots of sunshine and snow, it provides the perfect playground for family fun. The ski slopes make for screen-free entertainment, which is so good for kids! And, the memories you’ll make exploring new trails and being together as a family will last a lifetime!

*Unless otherwise noted, all images within this article belong to and are courtesy of Emily Kapic.

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are those of the attributed writer, Emily Kapic.


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Emily Kapic

Emily's globe-trotting adventures began in 2003 when she left her job with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and bought an around-the-world plane ticket. 40 countries and 18 years later, she’s still planning trips! Emily, her husband and 13-year-old triplets are based in Sacramento, California. When they aren't out of town on an adventure, she's researching trips and sharing tips. Emily loves making it easy for families to explore the world, get off the beaten path and make memories. Some of her favorite family activities include snowboarding in the mountains, relaxing on a beach, floating down the river and, ideally, boarding a plane headed to a place where you can zip line and drink something fruity.