The Complete Guide to Tahoe

We know that planning a trip to Tahoe takes a lot of hard work, so we made this guide to help you each step of the way.

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About Lake Tahoe


Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America, situated on the border between California and Nevada. At 22 miles long and 12 miles wide, getting from one side to the other is no small feat. So your first decision to make is whether you want to visit North Tahoe or South Lake Tahoe.

  • North Tahoe is known for its many cabins and quiet, small mountain-town feel. It is a bit more spread out, and there are eight major ski resorts to choose from.

  • South Lake Tahoe is much more centralized, and is known for its casinos, hotels, and a full suite of nightlife options for tourists. There are three major resorts on the south shore.

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Places to Stay

Step 1 - Decide where you want to ski.

Both North Tahoe & South Tahoe each have a full range of accommodations options from budget to luxury, but we'd all rather drive 10 minutes to the slopes than over an hour, and driving from one end of the lake to the other can be brutal, especially in bad weather.

Compare Resorts

Step 2 - Search Google, Airbnb, and/or a few of the other rental listing agencies below.

Step 2b) If you're staying in North Tahoe and want some more inspiration, below are our favorite places in North Tahoe that we can personally vouch for.

Our Favorite Airbnb Listings in North Tahoe

Each of these properties are great for families and owned by lovely hosts with invaluable local knowledge to help guide your stay; note that availability can be limited especially over holidays.

(Note that all estimated driving times below represent the distance from Homewood Mountain Resort.)

**Please note that Airbnb prices are subject to change. Prices last updated on 1/24/17.

Our Favorite Hotels and Inns in North Tahoe

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View All Resort Details

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Whether booking with Snow Schoolers or elsewhere, private lessons do not include lift ticket or rentals. Group lesson packages are another story, and are typically the most affordable way to book your first ski or snowboard experience. Check out our Learn to Ski Package Comparison Tool to explore your options for group lesson packages in Tahoe.

Overall, keep in mind that the best way to save money over the long term is to invest your own equipment, and to buy a season pass at your favorite resort. But since having a lift ticket and equipment are required for any ski trip, here are a few ways to save some money (and time).

Lift Tickets

  • - for the last 10 years Liftopia has been the best place to get discount lift tickets online. Almost every resort in Tahoe can be found on Liftopia, and they offer dynamic pricing, so the earlier you book, the more you save.
  • Sports Basement with 7 locations in the Bay Area, Sports Basement is a great first stop before any Tahoe Trip, offering lift ticket vouchers, rental equipment, and general winter apparel. While you can't buy lift tickets online, you can view their prices here. It is worth calling ahead, because sometimes they run out of vouchers for individual resorts.
  • Costco also offers lift vouchers, usually in packages of 2 or 4. Some tickets are now eligible for eDelivery, but even if not, we all know it doesn't hurt to have another excuse to stop by Costco!
  • Lastly, almost every resort today offers online lift tickets purchases on their own websites. This usually must be done at least 24-48 hours in advance, but will still save you ~10% off of the ticket-window price.

Rental Equipment

  • If you live in the Bay Area or Sacramento, the cheapest option for rentals is from an urban retailer. We are big fans of the Sports Basement, which offers 1-day rentals for $35 or a long weekend rental (2-4 days) for just $55.They'll also outfit you with apparel for rent, from ski jackets to pants to helmets and goggles. Particularly with little ones who grow out of things so quickly, renting is the way to go!

  • The next most affordable option is to rent from a retail shops in the Tahoe area. We recommend Tahoe Dave's, which has five locations in North Tahoe with beginner packages starting at just $32/day. Note that they get very busy on Friday evenings and Saturday morning, so also good to call ahead.

  • Our favorite option for rentals is a company called Ski Butlers. They are a concierge-style delivery service that allows you to book online and have a professional boot-fitter show up to your hotel or cabin the night before to outfit you with the right equipment. As an official Ski Butlers partner, all or our Snow Schoolers customers receive 10% off their rentals. No promo codes are necessary to redeem, click this link and you should see "Snow Schoolers" in the top right of the page, which means your 10% discount has been applied. Ski Butlers rates start at $26/day for kids 12 and under, and $37/day for adults.

  • Lastly, if you forget to plan ahead, you can always rent equipment from the ski resort's on-mountain rental shop the morning of your lesson. Pricing is typically more expensive ($50-75/day) at the mountain, but you get the convenience of not having to fit skis in your car. Particularly on busy holiday weekends, please give yourself at least an extra 60 minutes before your lesson if you are planning to rent from the mountain.

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Other Things to Do

Personally not a fan of skiing or snowboardng?
Not a problem.
Tahoe has activities for everyone!

Whether you're staying in North Tahoe or South Lake, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy Tahoe. If the weather is nice, we highly encourage getting outside and finding a bit of elevation to take in the picturesque views that have made Tahoe famous for so many years. When it's blowing snow in all directions, a spa day may be just what the doctor ordered.


Other Outdoor Activities

Warm & Cozy Things to Do

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Disclosure - while we've explored much of Tahoe's dining options over the last seven years, our expertise is on the mountain, not in the kitchen. Since you likely have your trusty smartphone nearby anyhow, know that Yelp and OpenTable work just as well in Tahoe as anywhere else. Nonetheless, here's a few favorites based on our personal experiences. (Most are North Tahoe, simply because that's where we live.)

  • Coffeebar in Truckee ($) No frills, just great coffee, sandwhiches, and snacks.
  • Fat Calf in Tahoe City ($$) Open late, an upbeat bar & grill with classic American dishes, cocktails & regular live music..
  • Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company ($$) Incredibly balanced, elegant and innovative beers. Tons of ales to try, and super chill and welcoming atmosphere to boot.
  • Fifty Fifty Brewing Company in Truckee ($$) Warm, inviting brewpub with a diverse selection of craft beer and good food. Known best for their award-winning Eclipse, a barrel-aged stout.
  • Marty's Cafe in Truckee ($$) A pioneer in serving French-California cuisine at affordable prices.
  • Cottonwood Restaurant in Truckee ($$$) Housed in a historic ski lodge, boasting eclectic meals & deck seating with views of historic downtown Truckee.
  • Gar Woods Grill & Pier in Carnelian Bay ($$$) fresh fish, contemporary American cuisine with beautiful lakeside dining.
  • MacDuff's Pub in South Lake Tahoe ($$) is by far the best Scottish Pub in Tahoe, with a friendly atmosphere and great combination of food and beer.

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Après ski, bars & nightlife

Uhh... is there Uber? (the most important question.)

Yes! Since early 2016, Uber and Lyft have both had drivers in both North and South Lake Tahoe. However, expect wait times to typicall be in the 10-15 minutes range, and fares will likely be a bit higher than in San Francisco or Sacramento, to compensate for the longer distances drivers must travel to pick you up.

Best Locations for Après Ski

  • Homewood: West Shore Cafe - enjoy free s'mores and $5 draft beer.
  • Alpine Meadows: The Chalet - Bavarian-style beer garden next to Scott chair.
  • Squaw: Le Chamois - the classic outdoor Après scene, a must-do after spring skiing.
  • Northstar: TC's Pub - classic sports bar in the village with burgers & TVs.

Late-night Shenanigans

Trip planned already, and now you're ready to book a lesson?

Book a Lesson at Homewood

Still have questions? Let us know!

Give us a call or send us an email and we will get back to you as soon as possible!


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