The time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day means celebrating and spending time with loved ones. Spending time during Christmas in Lake Tahoe is an amazing and memorable experience. If you will be spending the holidays here with the family, or live here and have friends and relatives visiting, you may be looking for some activities to do with your guests. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re looking for adventure or just to relax and soak in the scenery.
Experience the Old West in Virginia City, Nevada
Virginia City is a great place to spend time with family and there’s a little something for everyone. This history-laden, 1800s Western mining town has everything from museums and walking tours, to shopping and train rides. Many of the original buildings, mines and churches are still there and function as shops, restaurants, hotels, saloons and museums. Get a family photo at one of the old time photo shops, visit the Silver Queen or watch the candy makers at Grandma’s Fudge create their delicious confections in traditional copper pots. Christmas on the Comstock has holiday events, like the Parade of Lights, a Grinch saloon crawl and several arts and crafts fairs.There’s so much to see and do in Virginia City, but if you have children (or children at heart) visiting, I highly recommend the V&T Candy Cane Express. This train ride is about an hour and follows the historic route while passengers enjoy hot cocoa, cider, candy canes, cookies, and Christmas carols. A tunnel along the route is festively decorated with lights and Santa also makes a visit at the train station. More About Virginia City
Old Town Truckee in Truckee, California
Historic Downtown Truckee is a great place to take relatives for a day of shopping and enjoying the gorgeous alpine setting. Grab a coffee and stroll through unique shops, galleries, and eateries along this stretch of Donner Pass Road and be sure to check out W River St. for more local Truckee businesses. Find one-of-a-kind gifts and beautiful work from local artists just in time for Christmas. Festive Fridays will be held for the first three Fridays in December. The shops are open later with free parking after 4:00 pm, and there are special promotions and sales during the event. For the history buffs in your family, visit the Truckee Railroad Museum, The Old Truckee Jail, or make the short drive to Donner State Memorial Park and Emigrant Trail Museum. More About Old Town Truckee
Gondola Rides at Squaw & Heavenly, CA
Do you want to share the very best views of Lake Tahoe and the High Sierra? Consider a ride on one of the gondolas (or aerial trams) around the lake for a fun afternoon with the whole family and the most breathtaking views you can find. Squaw Valley and Heavenly ski resorts offer rides to the top where you can get out, explore and take in even more great scenery. Have a snack, cocktail or hot chocolate before making your way back down the hill. You might even catch some live music. This is a remarkable activity to do with family and friends. And don’t forget your camera!
Snowshoe & XC Skiing around Lake Tahoe
With the largest concentration of cross country ski trails in North America, Lake Tahoe is home to hundreds of miles of the most beautiful XC ski and snowshoe terrain. XC skiing and snowshoeing are great ways to enjoy the outdoors with your visitors while getting a heart-pumping workout. Popular areas include Royal Gorge, Tahoe Donner, Tahoe XC and Spooner Lake XC. These Tahoe trails meander through gorgeous meadows, along creeks and through lush alpine forest. They offer multiple levels of difficulty and most offer gear rentals and lessons for beginners.
Hit the Slopes in Lake Tahoe
Spending time on the mountain will be sure to make a memorable holiday. The Lake Tahoe area boasts over 30,000 acres of ski and snowboard terrain and over 15 world-class resorts…one of the largest concentrations of ski resorts in the world. Every level of difficulty and every type of terrain can be found around the lake. And there is something for everyone from the majestic peaks of the massive Squaw Valley (home of the 1960 Winter Olympics) to the unpretentious, super kid-friendly Soda Springs (the west’s oldest ski resort) and everything in between. There are great dining and apres options to be had all around the lake while you’re not on the slopes. Rentals and lessons are offered at all the locations. Find a list of Lake Tahoe ski resorts here.
Tubing & Sledding in Lake Tahoe
If you want to experience some wintery fun in the mountains without strapping on a board or stepping into skis, try snow tubing. This is fun for all ages, but especially those little guests of yours. Many Tahoe ski resorts offer snow tubing including Boreal, Soda Springs, Squaw Valley, Heavenly, and Donner Ski Ranch. But if you want the ultimate in tubing and sledding, you have to head to Adventure Mountain Sledding. With over 40 acres, 15 groomed sledding runs and lots of room to just play in the snow, this winter playland is a must. The rates are affordable and sled, tube, and helmets are available to rent.
Relaxing Spa Day at Lake Tahoe
During the hectic holiday season it’s nice to unwind at one of the luxurious spas in the Lake Tahoe area. And what a great way to spend some quality time with your guests. Find serenity with massages, facial and body treatments, and salon services. Some area spas offer saunas, whirlpools, hot and cold plunge pools, beach access, and fireplaces. Some favorites are The Stillwater Spa at the Hyatt Regency in Incline, The Spa at Edgewood in South Lake Tahoe, Spa Toscana at the Peppermill Resort in Reno, and the Balance Holistic Health Spa in Truckee.
A Day of Art in Reno
Reno is just a short drive from Lake Tahoe and has blossomed into an art destination over the years. In addition to the many art events held throughout the year, Reno has some great museums, galleries and public art installations in the Midtown and Downtown areas. My favorite is the Nevada Museum of Art, the only accredited art museum in Nevada. The exhibits are always fascinating and beautiful and the staff is knowledgeable and eager to make your experience unforgettable. Another great way to spend an afternoon is to grab a coffee (Hub Coffee Roasters is my favorite) and walk along the Reno Riverwalk District. The sculptures along the way vary from unique metal and tile sculptures to the larger-than-life art pieces straight off the Playa. Murals can be seen all over town, but most notably in the Midtown district. Reno Art Works is dedicated to local artists and provides them with a work space and gallery. It’s quite an experience watch these artists in action. More Reno Art
Ice Skating around Lake Tahoe
Pairing the beautiful mountain scenery with the thrill of ice skating makes for a fun family outing. South Shore’s Heavenly Village rink mixes open-air skating with music, lights and winter decor for a festive holiday activity. Kids are $15 and adults are $20 for all day passes (includes skate rental) North Tahoe visitors can ice skate on the 9,000 square foot, open-air rink at Northstar. Cozy up to the surrounding fire pits and enjoy a cocktail or hot chocolate and watch the kids make some treats with the s’mores kits available. This rink is free to everyone… bring your own skates or rent some for a small fee.
Snowmobiling in Lake Tahoe
For the adrenalin junkie in your family, consider a snowmobiling tour or rental. There are miles of trails in the Lake Tahoe region that wind around the pines and through the meadows. Snowmobiling provides easy access to the backcountry, offers stunning views, and tours are a good way to go if you’re new to the activity. If you’re not with a tour be sure to pick up a Topo map to make sure you’re riding in legal areas. Zephyr Cove and Lake Tahoe Snowmobiling Tours both offer services for every level and all ages, and have professional, knowledgable staff. They even have winter clothing rentals to keep you warm on your adventure.