The Best Things to do in Lake Tahoe in Winter

Written By: The Planet D

Lake Tahoe is California’s winter getaway. The movie stars jet up to its 5-star resorts to get away from the hustle and bustle of L.A. and it’s an outdoor wonderland offering great adventures. These are the top things to do in Lake Tahoe during the winter months.

We caught the winter wave last February to take part in everything snow during our road trip around Northern California. Tahoe surprised us with its diversity and how it changed from North to South.

Things to do in Lake Tahoe – The Winter Guide

Starting in the North we explore the quieter side of the region before heading off to the South where casinos, nightlife, and pure energy waited for our arrival.

Ski Lake Tahoe

Things to do in Lake Tahoe Skiing

Everyone knows Lake Tahoe is a great place to ski. It hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics and it has never slowed down since! Out of all the things to do in Lake Tahoe this one is a must. Lake Tahoe is home to 12 ski resorts with six main resorts offering world-class skiing and snowboarding.

Things to do in Lake Tahoe Heavenly Resort

You’ll find terrain and mountains to suit your skills and preferences.

Where to Ski in Lake Tahoe in Winter

Heavenly is the most popular and highest vertical drop in California. Located on South Lake Tahoe, it sees a lot of crowds, but because it is so massive, you can get away from it all.

Sugarbowl is the closest to San Francisco and Sacramento making it a favorite among locals. It has that old school feel with the highest amount of snowfall in the region.

North Star has some of the best views of Lake Tahoe and is a complete family resort with a village and our personal favorite the Ritz Carlton Hotel. Wherever you choose to ski in Tahoe you won’t be disappointed.

Other ski resorts to check out: 

Things to do in Lake Tahoe Ski Sugarbowl Mountain

Northstar, Alpine Meadows, and Homewood Mountain and Squaw Valley – 2nd largest in the area and home to the 1960 Winter Olympics,

Snowshoeing Emerald Bay

Things to do in Lake Tahoe Snowshoe Emerald Bay

Emerald Bay is a gorgeous scenic stop that is worth seeing from above, but getting out to hike is even better!

You can rent snowshoes from Camp Richardson Mountain Sports Center and get all the information you need. Camp Richardson is also a winter cross-country ski resort with cabins for rent, a historic hotel and vacation rentals. If you don’t want to stay in Tahoe City in the south, this is a good option.

Tahoe City Winter Sports Park

Things to do in Lake Tahoe Sports Park

If you want to go fat biking, snowshoeing, ice skating or cross-country skiing, the Winter Sports Park is the place to be. What makes it unique is that it is an all-inclusive park where you pay one price for admission and get the chance to try all the activities. There Cafe Zenon located on the golf course for parents to relax while the kids have some fun.

Olympic Museum

Things to do in Lake Tahoe Olympic Museum

Take the Arial Tram up to High Camp for panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the High Sierras. And while you are there, visit the Olympic Museum showcasing memorabilia from the 1960 Winter Olympics.


Things to do in Lake Tahoe Snowfest

Each February or March (see details at their website) hosts 10 days of winter fun in various locations. There’s parties, the polar plunge, live music and outdoor fun just waiting to be had.

Lighthouse Spa

After snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or snowboarding, your body takes a beating. Unwind and relax at the Lighthouse Spa and have a massage, get a facial or take on a full body treatment like a warm aromatherapy body wrap.

Heavenly Gondola

Things to do in Lake Tahoe Heavenly gondola

If you are not a skier, you can still go up the mountain of Heavenly. Taking the gondola is an adventure unto itself (for those who don’t ski much). The 2.5-mile gondola ride will take you to an observation deck for a panoramic view of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Lake Tahoe.

Note: Weather didn’t cooperate when we were there, so we don’t have a view from the top of the Gondola. But we have seen photos, it’s stunning!

Casinos Tahoe South

Things to do in lake Tahoe Visit Casinos

We aren’t much into gambling, but from the looks of everyone crossing the border to the casinos on the Nevada side of Tahoe South, people love it.

There’s Bally’s and the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino to name a few. Of all the things to do in Lake Tahoe South this is probably one of the most popular. South Lake Tahoe is filled with excitement and nightlife and lots of dining choices.

Scenic Views of Lake Tahoe

Things to do in Lake Tahoe Winter

Simply driving around the area of Tahoe is worth it for the views and these are some of our favorite spots that we stopped to photograph.

Donner Lake 

Things to do in Lake Tahoe Donner Lake

It has an excellent lookout on the way up to Sugar Bowl. Stop at one of the pullouts for a magnificent view of the lake.

Emerald Bay

Emerald Bay things to do in Lake Tahoe

Driving from North to South Tahoe offers many stops to take in the scene. Make sure to stop at all the cut-offs for Emerald Bay and take in the many views.

Zephyr Cove

Zephyr Cove in Lake Tahoe

This is on the Nevada Side of Lake Tahoe, but it is a lovely scenic view of islands, beaches and a famous lone tree that has become popular on Instagram.

Where to Stay Lake Tahoe 

Where to stay in South Tahoe

Lake Tahoe North

Cedar Crest Cottages – Great for large families or couples. It has its own kitchen and outdoor firepit. It’s a little far away from everything, but that is exactly what most people are looking for when coming to Lake Tahoe.

Sunnyside Resort – We only ate here, but the dinner was fabulous and the owner was super friendly. It has a more central location and you feel that you are in more of a ski village feel when in this area.

Lake Tahoe South

Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel – This is the most convenient location right next to the Heavenly Gondola. It’s a busy hotel with lots of families and I think it could definitely use an upgrade. But you can’t go wrong with the location or price. Search for Accommodation in Lake Tahoe

Where to Eat Lake Tahoe South

Eating in Lake Tahoe

There is no shortage of places to eat in Lake Tahoe South. All you have to do is go for a walk down the street and find the place you are looking for.

But a few places we sampled and can recommend are:

  • Riva Grill – is a lakefront eatery that is a local favorite. It offers contemporary American food and there’s plenty of parking.
  • Outpost Brewing Company – is a great apres ski location offering handcrafted brews.
  • Azul Latin Kitchen – located near the gondola this restaurant offers a delicious Mexican inspired menu.
  • Off the Hook Sushi Another local favorite, this hot spot is located in the middle of town and will satisfy your seafood cravings.
  • See full recommendations on where to eat at Tahoe South Food Guide
Things to do in Lake Tahoe Road Trip

Lake Tahoe is a year-round destination offering activities for families, couples and even bachelors and bachelorettes.

We enjoyed North Lake Tahoe’s laid-back pace and quiet atmosphere, but families and younger single travelers will definitely love the excitement and energy of South Tahoes nightlife and casinos.

Have you been to Lake Tahoe in the winter?

What are your favorite things to do?

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Things to do in Lake Tahoe Winter

Read More California Travel Guides:

Our trip to California was in partnership with Visit California. For more information on California travel and itineraries, visit their website. To see our full itinerary through California check out Follow ThePlanetD from Oceans to Mountains on Visit California. And see our full California Road Trip Itinerary. As usual, all opinions are our own.

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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4 thoughts on “The Best Things to do in Lake Tahoe in Winter”

  1. wow I never knew so much activities we can do here especially in winter, I can just sitting there to enjoy the scenery and that’s actually enough for me. thanks for sharing!