Just going to the snow can be a great thrill for kids (particularly City kids). While snow vacations can be really expensive, a quick day trip or an overnighter doesn't need to break the bank. We have included some money saving tips, ideas about where to get gear and where to stay, safety tips, and ideas about other things you can do in the snow besides just skiing or boarding.
If you haven't been up to Tahoe a lot, one of the most stressful decisions about your trip can be where to stay. There are a lot of options, some more kid-friendly than others.
Hotels & Motels: While possibly the cheapest option, they can be the least kid-friendly. Hotel rooms are often really small, you don't have the ability to make your own food, and the huge TV with full cable can be either a blessing or a curse. While you can find some hotel and motel options with small kitchens and a little more space, you need to do a little research. Check
, which lists hotels and resorts that have kitchens in the rooms.
When booking a room or renting a house, ask about safety features and potential dangers. A house that's great for 5- to 8-year-olds could be a nightmare for a crawling baby. You might need to bring some of your own childproofing equipment (outlet guards, a gate, etc.). It's also always smart to keep local hospital and emergency numbers in a handy place.
Websites for Finding Houses and Other Accommodations
lists over 350 properties you can rent. Search by area, price, smoking/non-smoking.
Vacation Rentals By Owner
Vacation Timeshare and Rentals
is also a great option if you are open to renting a house or a portion of a house directly from the owner. Or check out the
Clair Tappaan Lodge, which provides lodging, meals, and the opportunity to meet other families.
Skiing and Boarding Tips for Youth
– Reserve kids' lessons or child care in advance to ensure a spot, save time, and be more prepared for your visit!
– Arrive early. If you are enrolling your kids in morning or all-day lessons, it is recommended that you arrive early to be sure you have enough time to prepare.
– Have your children's shoe sizes, heights, weights, and birthdays readily available prior to making advance reservations.
– Dress your child appropriately for the weather — layers are best.
– Be sure your child has eye protection (goggles for snowy days and sunglasses for sunny days).
– Helmets are a must and usually available for rent.
– Be sure your child eats breakfast. Full-day lessons and lesson packages usually include lunch, but half-days might not.
– For parents with children too young for ski school, some resorts offer a special interchangeable lift ticket for parents to share. Take turns hitting the slopes and watching the kids. It is often the same price as a regular adult lift ticket.
– Observe your child's progress from a distance; do not distract by hovering about.
Your knees (or your increased common sense) may not allow you to keep up with the kids so here are a few options.
on an inflatable sled
Dog sled tours
Planet Kids, Tubing & Mini Snowmobiles
Kids Zone Museum
for some indoor fun in Truckee. SFkids Tip: Don't forget to bring your
Bay Area museum membership card
to get in free.
– Gondola Rides:
Other Lake Tahoe Kid Fun
Kids' Intro to Nordic Skiing
for sledding fun.
Safety Information and Links
Our City kids may not have a lot of experience with the snow, so teaching your kids about skiing and winter safety is important. Whether sledding, skating, building snowmen, or making snow angels, children love to play outdoors in the winter weather. For those who have hit the snow before, it's good to review the rules of the mountain each time you visit. Here are some links to sites with great information on snow and winter safety.
On the Mountain Safety
Winter Safety/Driving Info
National Ski Patrol
has good overall safety tips for winter.
for your child's body.
Information about kids and the importance of wearing helmets
. Not a bad idea for adults, too! Read more from
Lids on Kids
*Always pack your auto snow chains, extra clothes, blankets, a flashlight, some snacks, water, and a fully charged cell phone just in case you get caught in the snow.
If you want to save your vacation time for, well, vacation, consider renting your gear ahead of time in the City. Here are some local shops that rent:
in the Presidio and Potrero offer rentals for skiing and snowboarding. Youth sizes are available.
usually has ski and board equipment clearance at the San Francisco store. They only sell new equipment.
, affordable weekend rates for either snow sport (pick-up Thursday or Friday, drop off Monday). Lombardi Sports also offers whole season rentals.
in Potrero is a nice alternative to the big stores.
– Be sure to check local thrift stores for used clothing, boots, and gear to purchase for the season.
, usually in October, are also a great way to get used gear at bargain prices.
If you go skiing often enough, you may want to rent for the season. For around $200, you can rent skis/boots/poles for the entire season.
has a list of Lake Tahoe Ski/Snowboard Shops.
California Ski Company
in Berkeley also offers a rental package for the whole season.
has multiple locations in the Bay Area that offer rentals.
Marmot Mountain Works
in Berkeley is another good place in the East Bay.
in Lake Tahoe has multiple outlets in the north shore. Reserve your skis online before you head up to the mountains.
– Tahoe Vacation Guide
offers child care options both at the ski areas and around the Tahoe area.
Most ski resorts offer Parent Shared Tickets, which allow adults to share a single pass. So get in some runs and time with the kids.
Money Saving Tips
– Northstar resort offers FREE ice skating. Skate rental is $10 or bring your own.
is a great site for families.
– The best Tahoe Deals can be found at Sliding on the Cheap.com. Their weekly newsletter gives up-to-the-minute bargains and deals in Tahoe. Or check out SnowBomb.com
for other great community deals. Discounted tickets can often be found at Costco, Safeway, and REI. We also like Tahoe Perks Card. Always be sure to check for restrictions.
– Night skiing can be a blast for teens. Try Squaw Valley or Boreal resorts.
– Affordable tickets for kids can be found at Homewood Resort – $23! Several resorts offer skiing for kids 4 and under for FREE.
– Ski buses are available if you don't want drive to Tahoe or your teen and a couple of friends want to hit the slopes. See Snowpals for discounts on the bus.
– Avoid the lines and get a few bucks off when you buy your lift tickets before you go up to the snow. Tickets are available at Costco, REI, Sports Basement, and Lombardi Sports.