While fresh mountain air and enticing slopes are appealing to most intrepid adventurers, ski resorts aren’t always the easiest places to get to without a car. If you’re looking for a ski destination you can do sans vehicle, Tahoe South makes it easy to hit the slopes and get in some turns. If the mountains are calling, here’s how to answer the cry.
Summertime Fun in Tahoe: Cruise Around, Hike or Kayak
The M.S. Dixie is a retro paddle wheeler that cruises around the lake from Zephyr Cove Resort & Marina. While there are both daytime and nighttime sojourns, we’d argue the dinner cruise is the ultimate way to capture that perfect Tahoe sunset. Included in your ticket are a three-course dinner and live music. There’s a cash bar and people do hit the dance floor so you’ll want some liquid courage before busting a move.
For more active adventure, try Emerald Bay State Park which boasts some of the best views in all of Tahoe and is an absolute must for outdoor lovers. Hike to a replica Viking castle or you rent kayaks and SUP boards to paddle out to Fannette Island Tea House, a secret spot on the island. The observation decks are open year-round and offer incredible views of the snowy winter scene too. Throughout the summer, the Emerald Bay Trolley offers a fun, retro way to get to and from the park and costs just $2.
Winter Adventures: Hit the Slopes
Heavenly Village is right on the main drag, which makes it ultra-accessible, albeit a little weird for a ski town as it’s right on the highway and not a remote alpine pass. As California’s largest resort, there are 4,630 skiable acres with 3,500 vertical feet to cover. That means plenty of terrain for beginners and experts alike along with breathtaking lake views. If you’re not into skiing, you can take the gondola up for expansive views, opt for a 4×4 tour or slide down their 500 foot tubing hill. Snow-permitting, there’s also snowshoeing and ice skating in the village.
How to Get There: You can walk there from many of the hotels (Hard Rock is just .4 miles away), take the free local bus that runs hourly, or call an Uber ski (a 4-wheel drive vehicle specifically outfitted with ski racks. These have a flat $8 surcharge).
Or head to Sierra-at-Tahoe, a smaller and more intimate resort. While there are fewer runs at Sierra, a day there is no less fun. A family-friendly spot, Sierra is a great place to learn and practice your turns. Plus, there are discounted three-packs if you plan on going more than one day. If you’re itching to hit the slopes as soon as you arrive, Sierra-at-Tahoe is also one of two resorts in Tahoe where you can score a complimentary lift ticket just for showing your same-day boarding pass (valid Sunday-Friday).
How to Get There: Sierra-at-Tahoe has a free ski shuttle that picks up from the South Tahoe hotels in the a.m. and departs at 2:00, 3:00, 4:00 or 5:00 p.m from the mountain. The ride is about an hour.
For a mountain town, Tahoe has some of the best cuisine around. Whether you’re in the mood for a refined fine dining experience or a quick grab-and-go option to get back to the powder, there are plenty of choices around Heavenly Village to satisfy your stomach. The Oyster Bar in the Hard Rock Hotel offers quick Big Easy bites, while Driftwood Café has homey brunch staples to fill you up before hitting the lifts. And I dare you to walk by Base Camp Pizza without craving a slice.
Après All Day or Party All Night
Work hard, play hard right? You don’t want to miss Riva’s epic Fish Taco Friday’s with live music, raffles, and trivia. Azul Latin Kitchen is another rowdy spot with 100 different tequilas and tequila flights on offer. For the beer lovers, Tahoe South has a number of breweries to sample like Desolation at the Basecamp Hotel, which has a hopping courtyard full of lawn games and fire pits.
If you’re not too tired from your day of adventure, there’s unlimited fun to be had when the sun goes down. If you’re a culture vulture and looking to see a show, there’s everything from magic to burlesque and live music on offer. Casino junkies can try your luck at the tables and hope to hit it big.
Getting There: Nine airlines operate more than 130 direct flights to Reno a day, with the biggest fly markets being Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle. Frontier offers bargain basement prices if you can get away with just a personal item (ie. you’re not flying with skis).
The South Tahoe Airporter runs from the Reno Airport to a number of hotels along the Heavenly Village corridor. The ride is an easy hour and a half and there’s rarely traffic. Buses depart nine times throughout the day and will set you back less than $30 each way. They have a huge fleet of vehicles in varying sizes and can accommodate any size crowd, but advanced reservations are required.