As a Reno native, I never fully grasped how Lake Tahoe was an absolute hidden gem. I’ll admit that I took it’s beauty for granted. It took me moving away and coming back to visit to fully realize how vast and incredible it is. Lake Tahoe has so much to offer throughout all four seasons but in this post I’ll narrow down all the many things to see, eat and do in the beautiful Tahoe area during winter time. Winter Tahoe ski season is from September to even sometimes snowing until June. If you dare, you’ll swim in the freezing lake during summer time. Even through August, the water is ice cold. Come warm and ready to see the most mesmerizing views you’ve ever seen.


As a little girl I remember driving over the Donner pass and was reminded of the history I heard regarding the Donner Party. The Donner Party was a group of pioneers who migrated to California. The winters got so harsh that they could barely survive and ended up killing Native Americans and people of their own group in order to eat them for food. As you’re driving through the steep mountains, it is wild to think about how these people literally had to lower their wagons down the mountains with rope. Now the overpass is paved with roads and I can’t even begin to fathom how difficult that must have been but anyhoo…

If you’re from out of town, the best way to get to Lake Tahoe would be to fly into San Francisco, Sacramento or Reno. You can take the Amtrak or Greyhound or rent a car and drive. For the best deals on rental cars, rent a car from Make sure you rent a 4WD because chains are frequently required over the pass and you may even get stuck in Tahoe if you don’t have them! Also you’re not allowed to put chains on a rental car. There is an airport in Tahoe but it is not for commercial flights. Lake Tahoe is a quick 45 minute drive away from Reno. Lake Tahoe is about an hour and a half away from Sacramento and three and a half hours away from San Francisco.

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First you have to decide if you want to visit North or South Lake Tahoe. It takes about 3 hours to drive completely around the lake and about an hour to drive from the north to south shore. The south shore includes South Lake Tahoe, Meyers, Stateline, Zephyr Cove, Glenbrook, Emerald Bay, and the Markleeville and Kirkwood areas. Tahoe is split into the Nevada and California side. The Nevada side has some casino resorts such as Harrah’s, MontBleu, Harveys and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The California side is home to Heavenly Village which has tons of shops, restaurants, ice skating, and you can even ride the gondola. The south shore also has more sandy beaches and nightlife/entertainment.

North Lake Tahoe is also made up of Truckee, Incline Village, Sunnyside/Tahoe City, Kings Beach, Carnelian Bay, Crystal Bay and Tahoe Vista. The North shore is more laidback but if you’re looking to enjoy a ton of winter sports then there are great ski resorts in this area. The Hyatt Regency and Squaw Valley Lodge are great places to stay. If you’re looking to visit Tahoe on a budget, I recommend staying at The Inn at Truckee . If you’re looking to splurge, stay at the Welk Resort up at North Star. The lodge is right at the edge of the ski resort and the gondola entrance is right down in the lobby. Here are some of the many activities that they offer at the Welk Resort:

•Guided nature hike 12 pm $5

•Back country cabin in the woods escape room $18 4:00-7:00

•Rent a sled for $5 a day

•Heated pool with a jacuzzi & gym

•Rent the theater for a private movie

•Ice skating

•Ride the gondola

•S’mores kit at front desk

For all the best deals on accommodations, purchase with my discount on

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There are 15 Tahoe ski resorts in the area – Heavenly, Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, North Star, Mt. Rose, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood, Sierra at Tahoe, Donner Ski Ranch, Diamond Peak, Homewood, Boreal, Tahoe Donner, Soda Springs and Granlibakken. Ok so how do you choose Lake Tahoe skiing or snowboarding?! If you want high end shops and a luxurious resort feel, go with North Star Resort. Ski or snowboard at North Star Tahoe – $137 a day. If you want to night ski, Boreal is the one for you. Mt. Rose is my personal favorite and has the highest elevation out of all the resorts. It is also home to Chutes a steep slope for advanced skiers. Ski or snowboard at Mount rose for $80 full day for adult, $40 for kids. Squaw Valley once held the winter Olympic Games in the 1960s. Ski & snowboard lessons at Squaw valley resort are $130 for private group lessons. Heavenly Mountain Resort is just that “heavenly” with their gorgeous lake views. For deals on Tahoe lift tickets, check out my code on Undercover Tourist for all the best savings. Grab your rentals and gear at Tahoe Dave’s!


Ok so skiing and snowboarding is not your thing, no worries at all! There are tons of other fun activities to take advantage of. Check these out:

  • Ice skating at Truckee Rink $8 adults $1 for kids or Heavenly Village

  • Snow tubing at Squaw valley $42

  • Sledding at Granlibakken $20

  • Snowshoeing at Tahoe Meadows Trail or Spooner Lake

  • Zipline & snowmobiling at North Tahoe park

  • Lake Tahoe snowmobile tours- $210 for single riders or $240 for double riders for 2 hours

  • If you’re brave enough, skydive at Lake Tahoe Skydive

  • Catch a sleighride at Borges Sleigh Rides

  • Dog sledding at Sierra Adventures


If you’re planning to visit Tahoe during Christmas time, I included some restaurants that are also open on Christmas. There are so many amazing places to eat in the Tahoe area but here are some favorites:

  • Lodge restaurant & pub

  • Gar Woods

  • Moodys bistro Bar & Beats

  • Village Pizzeria

  • West Shore Cafe (lake front)

  • Jason’s Beachside Grille

  • Naked fish (sushi & seafood)

  • Hyatt Resort has amazing restaurants

  • Soupa – light lunch

  • Rocker in Squaw Village

  • Fireside pizza

  • Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company

  • Gordon Ramsey Hell Kitchen – open on Christmas

  • Hard rock hotel & casino – open on Christmas (Alpine Union – casual)

  • Le bistro – open on Christmas

  • Chart house – open on Christmas

  • Sunnyside

  • Jakes on the lake – variety food

  • Tunnel creek Cafe – breakfast

  • Fire Sign – brunch

  • Blue Agave Mexican food

  • Red hut – breakfast

  • Lanza – Italian

Pack all of your winter essentials and head to Lake Tahoe! It often warms up during the day so make sure you bring layers. Now you’re ready to hit the slopes! Was this guide helpful? Let me know and comment below!


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