Where to Stay in Tahoe

Tahoe’s plethora of accommodations can fit any family’s budget or style, from luxury resorts to classic campgrounds.

As one of the world’s premier family-friendly destinations, Lake Tahoe is hard to beat—at any time of year. Ski, snowboard or snowshoe in winter; fly-fish, kayak, hike or rock climb in the spring or summer. But after a full day of playing, where is your tuckered-out family going to sleep? Of the endless lodging options around Lake Tahoe, here is a sampling of family options to fit any budget.

Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort

This is the crème de la crème of ski resorts. Northstar-at-Tahoe not only provides beautiful scenery with its snowy-white mountains, but also relaxation. After a day on the slopes, the Northstar Village is great fun for even a picky family like mine; there is something for everyone here. You can enjoy roasted marshmallows or a hot toddy around the Village fire pits, go skating with your kids, or shop at boutiques and art galleries. You’ll also find great food here, whether it’s sushi, steak or pizza.

There are 120 acres of terrain for you to ski, snowboard and snowshoe. Northstar’s accommodations, while on the pricey end, have a variety of options, from hotel rooms to studio condos to six-bedroom mountain homes. Prices start at $239 for standard hotel rooms and $555 for home rentals. Extra amenities such as DVD rentals and baby highchairs are also available. A shuttle service stops at Northstar’s recreation center where both you and the kids can have a ball; our teenage daughter played ping-pong and foosball while my husband and I drank cocktails.

On the slopes, Northstar offers several adventure parks for the kids, including Jumpland and Fun Forest. Daycare is available at the Minor’s Camp, whose staff plays snow games with non-skiing kiddies, ages 2 to 6, while the older family members ski or board. With its first-class hospitality, a lively après-ski scene, and endless indoor and outdoor activities, Northstar is a treat for the whole family. Tel. 800-GO-NORTH or www.northstarattahoe.com.

Resort at Squaw Creek

Better than before, the Resort at Squaw Creek completed a $53 million renovation in 2006. It’s all about luxury. Affordable luxury. Rates start at $249. Every one of the 405 guest rooms, suites and penthouses have been remodeled to match the resort’s new, relaxed image. Our family liked the softer colors of the décor, and the extraordinary service. My kid’s favorite? The ice-skating rink, initially built for the 1960 Winter Olympics; they said it’s “rad.” I like the heated swimming pools best.

The spectacular shopping promenade also includes four restaurants. This was one of my favorite places to purchase necklaces, bathrobes and exercise wear and an outfit for dinner. And the full-service spa is wonderful. Indulge in a magnificent, healing Swedish massage, and then spend time getting a pedicure—a real treat after skiing all day.

The resort also has a kids program called “Mountain Buddies,” so while you’re out skiing or golfing at the 18-hole championship golf course, you won’t have to worry about the little ones because they are having a blast, too! In the summer, there’s a lot to look forward to as well including tennis courts, guided hiking, horseback riding, fly fishing and rafting on the Truckee River. Tel. 800-327-3353. www.squawcreek.com.

Jenkinson Lake, Sly Park Recreation Area

Any time of year is the right time of year at Jenkinson Lake. About 45 minutes west of South Lake Tahoe, the Sly Park Recreation Area has none of the traffic—just fun, affordable family camping and spectacular views. There are two boating launch ramps and seven family campgrounds with 159 sites, each with a table, fire ring and barbecue. There’s a fabulous nine-mile Sierra Foothill run around the reservoir, and even a dog park, which our Sheltie adored, even though we did have to check her for ticks afterwards.

Boating is great out on the lake, and fishing is actually very good. My husband James proudly caught the biggest trout ever that we cooked up over the fire. The lake’s smooth waters also make this a great place to kayak. There are many nice areas for meeting up with other campers, yet when you’re here you can also get some privacy and climb on a boulder to meditate. The best part is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to have good old-fashioned fun. The season runs from May 1st through September. Take Hwy 50 West to Pollock Pines, exit at Sly Park Road. Go left, and about 4.5 miles to Jenkinson Lake Recreation Area. Tel. 530-644-2545 or 530-644-2792. 

Destinations: California, Lake Tahoe

Themes: Family Travel

Activities: Hiking, Camping, Rafting, Skiing, Sleep, Snowboarding, Swimming