Sunny skies, plenty of snow and gorgeous mountain scenery make Lake Tahoe one of the most desirable ski destinations on the West Coast. But what if you don’t want to ski (or can’t)? That was the predicament I faced this past weekend when Kevin’s old boss invited us up to his snowed-in cabin. I destroyed my knee (tearing my ACL) when I was just 15 years old. Flash forward four knee surgeries later, and I’m staying far away from the slopes! But even if you don’t ski, there is plenty to do. Here are our picks!
5. Breakfast at Rosie’s Cafe
Walking into Rosie’s Café in the heart of Tahoe City is like taking a step back in time. Each of the antique and vintage pieces, as well as the building, tells a story about Tahoe’s past. Originally opened in 1964, this grocery store turned restaurant is full of 19th century ski paraphernalia, deer and elk antler chandeliers, wood carvings and old-timey bikes (that have recently become all the rage in San Francisco among the hipster set).
Arrive early on Sunday for brunch since the place gets packed around 9 AM. You’ll find the usual breakfast fare (like eggs, pancakes and oatmeal). But I’d recommend their All Mexican Breakfast with refried beans, eggs, tortilla and a pulled pork tamale. Our group got seated quickly and they kept the hot coffee flowing!
4. Lounging at the Tahoe House Bakery & Cafe
Kevin and I loved the Tahoe House Bakery & Gourmet, located on the outskirts of the main commercial strip of Tahoe City. Family owned and operated since 1977, the tiny store sells fresh-baked cookies (with some gluten-free options), breads and bagels and a wide selection of teas and coffee. The part we loved the most though was the big, comfy couch where Kevin planted himself in front of the crackling fireplace. It almost made us totally forget about the snow!
Beside being a coffee shop, there is a small store attached that sells a variety of pastas, chocolate and other food items. They even had a basket of enormous pine cones. I first visited Lake Tahoe when I was just 6 years old and I still remember how impressed I was at seeing how large these cones could grow.
3. Snowshoeing the Tahoe Trails
You’ll get your workout in while hiking in snowshoes over the mounds of snow in Lake Tahoe. It has been a record-shattering snowfall season for Tahoe. One tour company that gets high ratings is Tahoe Adventure Company. They offer a variety of tours, including a guided snowshoe hike that runs from 10 AM – 2 PM. The cost is $85 per person and includes all gear, lunch, hot drinks and a guide. If you’re comfortable with doing it on your own, you could rent gear in Tahoe City at Tahoe Dave’s Ski and Boards. One day rental, including the snowshoes and poles starts at just $15. If you need to add some boots to the package, it just costs $8 more.
2. Shopping and Pizza at The Village of Squaw Valley
Our biggest piece of advice if going to Squaw Village is to wake up early — leaving no later than 7:30 AM — to get ahead of the hoards of ski bums heading to Squaw Valley. Our group left around 8:30 AM (way too late!). The drive should have just taken 20 minutes, but in reality lasted more than 2 hours. OMG! As Kevin got in a great nap (lucky for him), I not-so-patiently drove and sat in traffic… and maybe TMI, but really had to pee! We eventually made it through. Though, our friends driving separately gave up. Our first stop in Squaw Village was lunch – since it was already going on 11 AM and I was getting hungry (and not at all cranky, right Kevin?). For a quick and delicious lunch, we’d recommend Fireside Pizza Company. It was toasty inside and the service was very friendly. But best of all, I was no longer in that crazy traffic!
The village is very compact, but you’ll find wine bars, clothing and home good stores and even a Starbucks. Enjoy a day hanging out here, but again, you’ll want to leave before the masses head out. You don’t want to get caught in the return traffic. Our advice: leave by 3 PM to avoid the headaches.
1. Snow Tubing at The Village at Squaw Valley
By far, the highlight of our trip to Tahoe was our 1-hour snow tubing adventure. Kevin and I were nervous it would just be us and a bunch of 9-year-olds. But snow tubing is perfect for anyone with joint problems or those who want to mix up their weekend of skiing. We went with SnoVentures located at the base area of Squaw Valley adjacent to the parking lot. An important thing to note is that snow tubing sessions are 55 minutes long and begin on the top of the hour. So time your trip so you don’t end up waiting around. Just show up and buy your pass, which is $34 per person for the hour. The first step is boarding the fun ramp that takes you halfway up the mountain.
Once you’ve reached the top, there is usually just a few minutes wait. They typically have 3 hills open with a worker who will give you the option of going down the hill straight, backwards or spin you in circles. One thing is certain, they will give you a big push if you ask!
If this all sounds like a kiddie sport, you can check out the crazy video I captured on my iPhone. I’m still dizzy just thinking about it!
Enjoy your time in Tahoe. Now I’m ready to get out of all this snow and get back to LA!