5 Top Things to do in Lake Tahoe During Winter
There are endless places to soak in nature’s beauty in the summer. The winter though? It seems a lot easier to simply chase the sun, exchanging snow for sand and soups for barbecues. Right?
Not really! Braving the cold can be totally worth it when you see how snowy mountains magnify the beauty of a golden sunset. Or how a walk through town, bundled up with a hot chocolate in hand can seem so much more magical.
Not too far from it’s sandy beaches and crystal clear water that can be so refreshing in the summer, Lake Tahoe offers a huge variety of winter activities and sights to indulge in. Plus, the snowcapped mountains, misty horizons and forests that look like they’re straight out of a fairytale means that you’re constantly surrounded by the most magnificent frosty beauty at every turn.
So, ready to pack your winter gear and get going? Here are some ways to get the most of you winter trip at Lake Tahoe:
Take a snowmobile tour.
Snowmobile tours are great because they allow you to get a thorough look at your surroundings and cover a lot of ground quickly, all whilst feeling incredibly cool manoeuvring your vehicle on skis! I booked a 2 hour snowmobile tour through Lake Tahoe Adventures. It included a bus ride to the beautiful Hope Valley and a tour guide who, after a quick lesson on how to control the vehicle, took us through some magnificent backcountry wilderness. Also if you have children or reluctant snowmobilers, they can pair up with a more confident driver and enjoy the scenery from the backseat!
Walk, SnowShoe or drive around Emerald Bay
Emerald Bay is one of those places that transforms in the winter. It trades its lush greenery for a winter wonderland forest, and the deep blue water contrasts elegantly against the snow. You can explore the area by foot, snowshoe or car and discover graceful waterfalls tucked away, explore the forest and find different vantage points to view the lake.
You can also learn a little about Tahoe’s history by hiking down to the old Vikingsholm Castle or by taking a paddleboat out to Fannette Island, the only island in Lake Tahoe that also happens to have a teahouse that’s been around since 1928. If you’re planning to hike around the area, make sure to bring good hiking shoes as you’ll be trudging through water and snow.
Or snowboarding, tobogganing or just ride the gondola up and down! You’ll have a wide variety of mountains to choose from including the resorts at Heavenly, Mt Rose, Squaw Valley and more.
During my trip, I went with Mt Rose just because they had more trails open at the time. Mt Rose is on the northern side of Lake Tahoe and you’ll see some stunning views of the white valley and forest behind you as you ride the ski lift up.
Explore the villages
Watch the villages become cozy havens as the sun sets, and stroll around the many restaurants and shops. Heavenly Village is a quaint town on the border of California and Nevada that was right by where we were staying at Zephyr Cove. It’s home to the Heavenly Mountain Gondola as well as the most mouthwatering hot donuts I may or may not have devoured in the dozens during my trip! For coffee enthusiasts, Black Cabin Coffee offers delicious beverages that you can sip by their cosy fireplace. Northstar Village is another charming village, complete with a large iceskating rink (Heavenly has one too but it’s smaller) and crackling fire pits to gather around at every corner.
Snowfest is an event that specifically celebrates the wintery beauty and fun of Lake Tahoe. I didn’t get to experience it as it’s on only for a limited time (this year, it’s from February 28 - March 10), but it would be a great stop if your travel plans do overlap! There’s something for everyone including a wagon pulling race, a Snow Queen parade, snow sculpture contests, swim races in icy water and pancake breakfasts. Yes please!