It's no secret that visiting North Lake Tahoe in winter is fun for the whole family. But while adults look forward to hitting the slopes (followed by après-ski champagne, naturally), this winter wonderland has something for everyone, even for the little ones. Find out how to make the most of your time with these five family-friendly activities in North Lake Tahoe.
Located in the historic town of Truckee, the KidZone Museum is a place of adventure where your kids can have fun just being kids. The center’s mission is to inspire learning through creative play and discovery. Kids, therefore, can make those creative discoveries in places like the Medieval Kingdom, science lab, and outdoor nature area. With activity areas for babies and art stations for older kids, children of all ages will find ways to use their imaginations and have fun. The museum is open Tuesday to Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Beginning in January, the museum will be open every Monday from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. Admission is $8 per person.
Donner Memorial State Park
Donner Lake, a small lake located just outside the town of Truckee, is a local favorite (albeit much smaller and lesser known than its famous neighbor, Lake Tahoe). Bonus points that it also features a state park, Donner Memorial State Park, making for a fun half-day visit with kids. Donner Memorial State Park get its name from the infamous Donner Party, who lived here during that fateful winter of 1846-1847, which you can learn about at the park's visitor center. Here you'll find exhibits depicting the history of that time period, from the dwellings of the Native Americans to the Donner Party and construction of the transcontinental railroad.
The park also provides miles of groomed trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, with equipment available for rent at multiple places in nearby Truckee. The park requires a $9 parking fee and is open daily at sunrise with the Visitor Center opening at 10:00 a.m.
Fun In The Village At Northstar
Whether you’re hitting the slopes of Northstar California ski resort or exploring North Lake Tahoe off the slopes, head to the Village at Northstar for an afternoon of family fun. At the center of the Village is the ice rink, surrounded by cozy fire pits, restaurants, and bars. In addition to ice skating, there’s also live music on the weekends and S’more Time every afternoon, when "s’mores chefs” serve up hot s’mores for everyone to enjoy. Ice skate rentals cost $15, with helmets an additional $5.
Family Fun Mid-Mountain
Located just off the gondola at mid-mountain, a 200-yard tubing hill welcomes adults and kids alike for some fun in the snow. Tubing costs $40 for the first hour and $30 per hour for every hour after that. Whether you ski or not, this is a great half-day activity for all ages.
Also mid-mountain, next to the Vista Express Quad chairlift, is the Cross Country, Telemark and Snowshoe Center, providing the perfect launching point for a family adventure. You can rent equipment here before heading off with your family on the scenic groomed trails, or, join knowledgeable guides for guided tours.
Truckee River Legacy Trail
The Truckee River Legacy Trail is a new trail running along the Truckee River, providing miles of walking and biking paths where kids can burn off some energy and explore the outdoors beyond the ski mountain. For easy access to the trail, park at the Truckee River Regional Park and walk downhill toward the river. Additionally, a disc golf course occupies the hill overlooking the trail and river. If your kids keep their eyes peeled, they may find signs of local wildlife, such as a felled tree with the telltale tooth marks from a crafty beaver.
Afterward, head to downtown Truckee's Jax At The Tracks, a beautifully restored diner, for a kid-friendly meal. Jax is a great example of a greasy spoon for the entire family, and has even been featured on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Downtown Truckee also has some other great spots for kids, such as Truckee Variety Co., which has a wacky selection of toys for both kids and adults.