For anyone who loves snow sports but dreads hauling equipment to the slopes, Northstar Resort on Lake Tahoe’s California side has thankfully perfected the concept of the ski-in-ski-out resort.
The Village at Northstar has just about everything a family needs on a ski vacation, from shops like North Face and Burton to family friendly restaurants like Rubicon Pizza Company, and of course Starbucks. Kids can enjoy complimentary s’mores every afternoon around 3:30 at the resort’s many fire pits around the Village, and play on a huge mound of snow in the middle of the Village, located near Ambassador Toys, seller of snowball makers and launchers. Crafty kids can make ceramic souvenirs at the Village Pottery shop, or they can fill a bag of candy at the Euro Sweet shop.
Snowboard learners at Northstar can attend the world’s only Burton Academy, branded by the famed snowboard and apparel line and featuring a Burton-certified faculty. The resort also has an XS terrain park, designed for learners, and for the more experienced riders, there’s an awesome half pipe. The Adventure, Guiding and Learning Center boasts about 200 instructors and offers a variety of lessons: private, group, kids, adult, beginner to expert, snowshoe and Nordic, and even 4Her sessions with four women learners and a female coach.
The Northstar demo shop offers a service that delivers ski and snowboard gear to your accommodations where specialists make sure you are correctly fitted. The service then has the equipment waiting at their shop at the base of the mountain, and they will even carry gear out to the edge of the slope for you. For those who rent the old-school route, Northstar provides free shuttles to the lifts from resort rental facilities.
If the kids don’t ski, the resort has other options, such as Minors’ Camp for ages 3 to 6 which will entertain little ones with crafts and activities. At 3 pm the Village offers free ice skating, with skate rentals available. There is also tubing at mid mountain for $35 per hour.
The Summit Deck and Grill at the top of Mt. Pluto and The Zephyr Lodge at mid mountain sport spectacular views of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The lodges all serve typical self-service lunch including hamburgers and chili, along with some surprises like Asian fusion noodle dishes.
The finest dining in the Village is at Manzanita at the Ritz-Carlton at mid mountain. Besides dinner and lunch, they serve a hearty brunch that includes pancakes, French toast, and stick-to-your-ribs favorites like chipped beef gravy, as well as trays of cured meats.
Stay a While
Hotels, private homes, townhomes and studio condos can be leased online, such as the residences at One Village Place at the Village at Northstar. These luxury condos offer one-, two- and three-bedroom units designed for the vacationing family. Amenities include a gourmet kitchen, washer and dryer, bunk beds for kids, walkout balconies, a gas fireplace in a large living room for lounging après ski.
Lift tickets can be purchased and reloaded online to save the hassle of waiting in line at the cashier window. Lift tickets from Northstar can also be used at Northstar’s sister resorts Heavenly and Kirkwood. Online prices are around $102 for a one-day pass for adults and $61 for kids, although there are many group deals and multi-day discounts.
Down and Out
Northstar is a well-oiled machine when it comes to keeping the masses moving with 20 ski lifts. Northstar’s season goes from mid-November to mid-April. Northstar usually has plenty of snow thanks to their snowmaking system, the largest in North Tahoe, covering 70 open trails of the resort’s 97 runs, along with seven terrain parks,. For ski conditions and more information, go to http://www.northstarcalifornia.com/