There are two places in the world that I’d love to have a vacation home if I could afford it. One is ANYWHERE in Hawaii, and the other is in South Lake Tahoe! We spent a long weekend with two of our three kids on a fun family getaway to Lake Tahoe and it was such a great time, I already want to go back! With work, school, and extra curricular activities it’s tough to get the family together at the same time now that they’re getting older. It was also hard not bringing our oldest daughter but her responsibilities of school and work come first and we look forward to that next time!
A winter weekend in Lake Tahoe with the kids is easy, there is just so much to do and see, here’s how you can have a memorable trip!
Plan a Winter Weekend in Lake Tahoe with Kids
1. Book a Condo at Lakeshore Lodge and Spa
With Safeway nearby, plenty of restaurants and shops, and just down the road from Stateline, Tahoe Lakeshore Lodge and Spa is a perfect home base for the whole family. Each room and condo has a lake view and booking a condo on the lake is like a home away from home with all the space, privacy, and ability to save money by cooking during your stay! Our two bedroom, two full bath condo had everything including a full kitchen, dining area, living area, wood burning stove, balcony, two stories, and even a bonus nook that my 11 year old loved!
We cooked breakfast a few mornings to save us money (although Heidi’s and Glazed and Confused donuts are just a short walk away), we enjoyed Christmas movies in the main living area together, and also had hours to relax in privacy during our long weekend. Teens and tweens need that break even on vacation and the condo provides more space than a traditional hotel room. But, there was also a place and time to play a game we found in the closet, happened to be one of my husband’s favorite as a child!
Mornings and evenings on the balcony overlooking the beach provided the best views and sunsets. The beach with the waves lapping at the shore was phenomenal, and with the hot tub open, you can enjoy the warmth on a cool evening or a drink by the firepit. Set back about a block from Hwy 50, there is no noise but the soft quacking and honking of the ducks and geese that gather each morning at the shore.
2. Go Bowling at Tahoe Bowl
Evenings get mighty cold in the late fall and winter in Tahoe, so activities indoors with the kids are bonus! Tahoe Bowl has to be our favorite year-round pasttime with the kids and we stop in and bowl every single trip without fail for some friendly competition. Prices are reasonable and you can find discount coupons in many of the local newspapers and magazines at the Lodge and just about anywhere. 11th Frame Diner offers snacks and pizza, plus Lane 17 Sports Bar has cocktails to enjoy as you play.
Tahoe Bowl is just a few blocks away from the condo at 1030 Fremont Ave.
3. Side trip to Carson City for the Polar Express Train Ride
If you’ve seen the movie, The Polar Express and loved it, you must take a side trip from Lake Tahoe to Carson City and experience the The Polar Express™ train ride with V & T Railroad. Just 33 miles and about a 50 minute trip via Hwy 50, it runs Thursday’s through Sunday’s, is an hour long magical family experience that will stay in your hearts forever! The train is decorated for Christmas and the comfortable seats allow you enjoy the whole experience from start to finish. The ride includes a keepsake silver bell, hot chocolate and a cookie, live entertainment, and a reading of The Polar Express book. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of Santa at the North Pole and on the train!
My kids were 11 and 16, they still had huge smiles on their faces, joined in when singing the “hot chocolate song,” and had a wonderful time! My husband and I also had a fun experience and wished we’d started a yearly tradition when the children were younger. Well who’s to say you can’t start later, maybe we can do it from now on and then with our grandchildren!?
A gift shop is available with tons of great souvenirs, find V & T Railroad at Eastgate Siding Rd, Carson City, NV 89701
4. Visit the Arcade at Harrah’s Stateline
Growing up, my parents loved to try their luck in the casinos at Stateline and I enjoyed trying mine in the arcade! The Harrah’s hotel and casino has one of the best arcades in the area. We dropped our kids off for about an hour and they had a great time bonding while they played ski-ball, air hockey, plus games you’d see at carnivals and other fun video games. The kids collect tickets and then redeem them for prizes. Typically the kids come home with more than the parents, but fun for everyone, plus it’s something to do to get out of the cold for a few hours!
The arcade/casino is located exactly at Stateline in south Lake Tahoe across the street from Harvey’s.
5. Ride the Heavenly Gondola
Already promising my son we’d be back to learn how to snowboard, we jumped on the Gondola in Heavenly Village as tourists for a 2.5 mile ride up Heavenly mountain and stopped at the observation deck for a walk around. The view of the entire lake is available from over 9000 ft. elevation and believe me, it’s stunning.
My daughter enjoyed her first snowball fight with her brother and we stopped in the gift shop to look around and warm up. Make sure you pack gloves and scarf because winds can get you pretty uncomfortable if you’re unprepared, but the shop also has some for sale if needed! Your chance for photos here only happens on the way up the mountain, so it’s worth it to get out and explore. There’s a cafe available for warm drinks and snacks to keep little ones happy.
Once you’ve looked around, get back on the Gondola and make it to the top. Skiers and snowboards will find ski school, Big Easy and Tamarack Express chair lifts here, casual observers like ourselves head to Tamarack Lodge for more snacks and drinks. There’s an area where kids are sledding and my daughter found some space to do cartwheels and leg stretches, so it’s a neat place to check out.
Get tickets for the Gondola in Heavenly Village, 4080 Lake Tahoe Blvd.
6. Make Time for Food
Like I mentioned, Safeway is just down the street, so we stocked the kitchen up with snacks and drinks to our liking. It’s one thing that we need to keep on top of at home and traveling because teens and tweens eat A LOT and OFTEN!But there are so many great restaurants in driving and walking distance that you’re never going to go hungry! Some of our favorites are:
Basecamp Pizza, Blue Dog Pizza, Coldwater Brewery, IHOP, Denny’s (open 24 hours), Heidi’s, Glazed and Confused Donuts (inside the Tahoe Beach Retreat), Lake Tahoe Aleworx, Olive Garden (Carson City), and of course Starbucks!
Tahoe will always have a special place in my heart, and I hope this love is passed onto my children as well.
Our hotel stay and tickets for the Gondola and Polar Express were hosted for this media visit, bowling, food, and arcade were on our own. All opinions are 100% ours.