5 unique winter date ideas at Northstar California

One of my favorite things about North Lake Tahoe, and specifically, Northstar California, is the unique experiences it affords, particularly during winter. All in a day you could après-ski on top of the mountain while overlooking North America’s largest alpine lake, attend a mixology class followed by dinner mid-mountain, and go on a stargazing snowshoe tour through the forest. Those aren’t experiences you can have just anywhere.

So with such unique experiences, Northstar also affords unique date ideas. Yes, you could most certainly do dinner and a movie in the Village at Northstar, but there are so many other unique things you can do during winter. Plus, your partner will thank you for it! Below, find a few of my favorite date ideas at Northstar.  

Romantic date: Dinner & stargazing tour

This is your next-level dinner and a movie date idea in Truckee. Except instead of watching a movie, you’ll be in a natural outdoor theater, stargazing beneath the beautiful starlit sky above Lake Tahoe with local star guide, Tony Berendsen. Begin in the Village at Northstar at Tavern 6330', specializing in seasonal farm-to-fork dishes. Among my personal faves: The chilled beet salad with goat cheese and any of their fresh seafood and steaks. From there, bundle up to join one of Berendsen’s winter star tours, which include a few different types of tours around the mountain. For a real winter adventure, join one of Berendsen’s snowshoe stargazing tours, which take place select weekend evenings during the winter.

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Creative date: Art of Mixology and dinner at Manzanita

For a more hands-on, creative date, we go up to The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. Happening every Sunday at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, the Art of Mixology is an hour-long cocktail class in which guests create three cocktails that are paired with appetizers. Afterward, kick back at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe as the sun goes down over the mountain before enjoying dinner at Manzanita, The Ritz-Carlton’s rustic fine dining restaurant. Reservations (24-hour advance reservations required for Art of Mixology) can be made at (530) 562-3051.


Outdoors date: Cross-country tour and a picnic

However, if you really want to have worked for that date, then strap on a pair of skis or snowshoes for a cross-country adventure and picnic. But before taking the gondola mid-mountain to the Cross Country, Telemark and Snowshoe Center, stop in the Village at Northstar for picnic supplies at Copper Lane Cafe & Provisions. At Copper Lane you can pick up made-to-order sandwiches from the café, or pick up your own provisions, such as charcuterie, snacks, beer, and wine, much of which is sourced locally or regionally. From the Village, take the gondola up to mid-mountain to the Cross Country, Telemark and Snowshoe Center. Rent cross-country skis or snowshoes mid-mountain before hitting more than 30 kilometers of trails, some of which, like Meadow Loop (Green) and Tahoe (Green), have picnic areas.

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Adventure: Private guided tour of Northstar with a Champagne and charcuterie après

For those couples who want to up the ante even more, a private guided tour of Northstar on skis (or snowboard) is the ultimate mountain adventure date in Truckee. Unbeknownst to many is that while Northstar offers a plethora of different types of ski and snowboard lessons, it’s also home to the only Burton Snowboard Academy in the world, plus adventure guiding through the Adventure, Guiding & Learning Center. Begin in the Village at Northstar, where you’ll meet your guide, who’ll take you up the mountain for experiences like off-piste skiing at Sawtooth Ridge or White Rabbit, or to simply find the best sun, grooming or powder during the best parts of the day. End your adventure date atop the mountain for Platinum tōst, featuring your own VIP fireside après-ski area, charcuterie board, and bottle of Veuve Clicquot.


Relaxing: Village R&R Day

Last, but certainly not least, is a date of the more rest and relaxation variety. Start in the Village with a yoga class at Tahoe Spa and Wellness before enjoying a Swedish or deep tissue massage. Alternatively, at mid-mountain, The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe has a state-of-the-art spa with 17 treatment rooms and a lap pool overlooking the ski slopes. Afterward, enjoy lunch or dinner at Northstar’s newest restaurant, Yamakai Fish & Sushi Co., featuring sushi and Hawaiian fusion cuisine. I recommend any, and all, of the salmon dishes.

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Southern born and bred, Spencer was bitten by the travel bug at a young age, flying on a plane for the first time at age five and by himself for the first time at seven. While he continues to travel around the world in search for the best whiskey, Spencer now calls Reno home, where his search is for the best cocktail (and first tracks, naturally). He has written about travel, food, and drinks for a number of publications that have included the Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, Outside Magazine, and Travel + Leisure, just to name a few. See a more candid version of Spencer on his website, whiskeytangoglobetrot.com, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.