Lake Tahoe friends’ getaway: What to do off the slopes

While Lake Tahoe is no doubt one of America’s top ski destinations, what I’ve come to love about Lake Tahoe in winter is how much there is to do off the slopes. The combination of North America’s largest alpine lake, unique mountain towns dotting the shoreline and the Sierra Nevada mountain range make Lake Tahoe an adult playground.

And as I recently discovered on a Lake Tahoe friends’ getaway, the range of things to do in Lake Tahoe is important when traveling with others. After all, if you’re on a winter getaway, everyone in your group isn’t likely to ski or snowboard during every hour of daylight. So below I share a few of my favorite things to do off the slopes on a Lake Tahoe friends’ getaway. 

Attend a pop-up dinner

If there’s one thing I like taking friends to around Lake Tahoe more than any other, this is it. Unbeknownst to many, Lake Tahoe has some amazing chefs and unique culinary experiences, such as Northstar’s pop-up, the Mountain Table Dinner Series. Happening several times per winter, the Mountain Table Dinner Series pairs a one-of-a-kind five-course menu with five wines from a regional winery (see my photos here), all atop the mountain after hours to the sound of live music.

Elsewhere, Truckee’s Cedar House Sport Hotel hosts a pop-up dinner, called Stella, on select evenings. Most dinners, which you can view on their website, are themed around specific holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, the Chinese New Year, and St. Patrick’s Day.

Go beer or wine tasting

Wine and beer lovers rejoice! While people may not associate Lake Tahoe with wine country, Truckee has its own winery, Truckee River Winery, which is self-described as the “highest, coldest, and snowiest” winery. The tasting room is open daily, while during the warmer months, Truckee River Winery's bocce ball court is a popular activity. 

Visitors could actually do their own self-guided wine tour of Truckee, with other tasting rooms and wine bars that include Uncorked and The Pour House in downtown Truckee, and Petra at the Village at Northstar, all of which offer wine flights.

Meanwhile, North Lake Tahoe is growing with breweries. Tahoe Mountain Brewing has been making beer for several years, with their brewpub in Tahoe City and brewery in Truckee. One of the newest Lake Tahoe breweries, Alibi Ale Works, started in Incline Village, but recently opened a brewpub in downtown Truckee. Finally, FiftyFifty Brewing’s brewery and pub is also located in Truckee.

Tahoe Mountain Brewing.jpg

Take a cocktail class

The craft drink theme continues with cocktail classes. At The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, Manzanita offers a cocktail class every Sunday afternoon, dubbed the Art of Mixology. The hour-long class ($60 per person), from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., teaches guests how to make three cocktails, pairing each with appetizers.

Just down from The Ritz-Carlton, in the Village at Northstar California, Tavern 6330’ does custom cocktail classes for larger groups (10-14 people). Northstar's top bartenders provide hands-on instruction, sharing some of the history of craft cocktails, while making one of the classics. Then guests get to try their hand at making multiple cocktails themselves.

IMG_4731.jpg

Go snowshoeing

Snowshoeing is the outdoor adventure I recommend more than anything else around Lake Tahoe. While there are some great views atop many of Lake Tahoe’s ski resorts, snowshoeing affords the opportunity to enjoy some of those iconic Lake Tahoe views, but which you can typically have all to yourself.  A couple of my favorite snowshoeing spots include Tahoe Meadows up to Chickadee Ridge and Donner Lake. For an all-in-one snowshoeing experience, Northstar has trails and rentals available mid-mountain at the Cross Country, Telemark and Snowshoe Center.

Snowshoeing in a winter wonderland 🎶 #donnerlake #truckee

A post shared by Justin Walter (@atwjustin) on

Additionally, there are a number of Lake Tahoe snowshoeing tours that are great for a friends’ getaway. Among my favorites is Tony Berendsen’s stargazing snowshoe trek, a two-hour stargazing trek during select evenings during the winter. Tahoe Adventure Company also offers a variety of snowshoe tours, including a sunset trek and full moon tour. 

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.