Lake Tahoe offers winter activities in the basin of the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains that are sure to please all. We’ve got you covered with all the inspiration you need to plan your family vacation in Lake Tahoe with kids or without, whether you are an active skiier, a sledding family with children, or just want to sip hot chocolate in front of the fire and enjoy the view.
Free Sledding in Tahoe & Sledding Resorts
The great thing about Lake Tahoe is that sledding hills are everywhere! Some of our favorites have been simple and free with our young children. Older children might prefer larger hills that give you a bit more bang for your buck.
Just remember to buy a sled before you come, and have a great, thrilling day of sledding for free!
Please exercise great caution when pulling over on the side of the road to sled down a hill. It is imperative that there is enough space for you to park completely off of the road as well as be able to stop your sled ride before reaching the road. You might also consider bringing helmets for your children to give peace of mind if they catch a bit more speed than you expected.
Here are a few of our favorites:
Mt. Rose Sledding Area
The Mt. Rose Summit on Highway 431 offers many great sledding opportunities. This is another “pull over for free” spot with great sledding opportunity, but please use caution along the road. You will also need to be able to stop before reaching the road, but the hill isn’t too steep so this is very doable. This area can get especially busy on holidays and weekends and parking is limited.
There is ample space for sledding here in this great open meadow, and is popular for snowshoers as well. Snow angels, snowball fights, and snowman building are all also welcome here! There is also a designated space for snowmobiling is that’s up your alley.
This area falls into the easy and simple category and is one we have returned to over and over again. Spooner Summit is on Highway 50 and is at the junction of US-50 and Route 28.(If you wish to find the Spooner Summit trailhead, it is one mile further east on Highway 50). If coming from South Lake Tahoe, the parking lot is on the left and is free. It is the perfect spot for some small sledding hills and lots of snowman building. There are not restroom facilities here.
Note, the sledding hills can get icy, so it was necessary for us to have an adult at the bottom catching the kids as they came down. There is a large flat space to help with the slowdown, but the ice required extra help stopping before reaching the parking lot.
This are is uncrowded and peacefully beautiful. There is plenty of space to play and feel like you are out in the wilderness a bit. The last time we were here, it snowed on us and it was magical!
Adventure Mountain is a great (and popular!) spot for sledding and tubing. The entrance fee is $35 per car on weekdays (open at 9am) and $40 on weekends (open at 9am) with a $5 extra fee if it is a holiday. You will need CASH for parking. The entrance line can get VERY long so arrive early to get in line before opening to avoid that. They sometimes reach maximum capacity within a half hour of opening.
You can bring your own sleds to use or can rent them there for an additional fee ($15 for sleds and $40 for tubes for the day). You can also bring in your own coolers of food or you can buy food like chicken strips, French fries, pizza, and hot chocolate from the snack bar.
The slopes here are well varied so you will find what you are looking for whether you want a gentle ride or a speedy one. You will need to climb back up to the top each time, but the climb isn’t too steep or difficult – just tiring after a few times!
Lake Tahoe Winter Ice Skating Activities
Open air ice skating when surrounded by snow-capped mountains is just magical! You will probably find it pricier than your home skating rink, but the ambience is incredible, especially at night with twinkling lights and fire places nearby for cozying up with a hot beverage afterward.
In the center of Northstar Village lies a 9000 square foot ice rink just begging to be tried out. Open weekdays from 4-8pm and weekends from 5-9pm, it is the perfect spot to use the last of your energy before heading back to your condo or cabin. The numerous dining options in the Village will allow you to make a whole evening of it.
Family Skiing in Tahoe
For you all you adventurers out there, no trip to Tahoe is complete without a day (or three!) at one of Tahoe’s amazing lakeside ski resorts. Heavenly and Northstar are two popular family choices as they offer high quality lessons for children as well as child care for those two young to wear their own gear.
Granlibakken is an incredible family option that provides group or private lessons at a fraction of the price of many of the larger resorts. While the resort is smaller, it is just one mountain, they have made great use of the space and there are several trails available so that you can get variety in the scenery when spending a full day. It is a fantastic option for beginners and families.
Gondola Ride with Lake Tahoe Views
The Gondola at Heavenly departs from Heavenly Village and is a gorgeous ride up the mountain rewarding you with incredible views. The gondola stops twice on the way up the 2.5 mile ride allowing you to photograph the view from the observation deck as well as warm up in Tamarack Lodge with some cocoa or snacks. The gondola does not stop on the way down, so don’t pass up on your photo opportunities during the first half.
We are firm believers that the best things in life are free! This is no different when visiting beautiful Lake Tahoe each winter. While we do splurge occasionally for some extra beautiful views or adventurous activities, our favorite moments are sledding on a quiet hill as a family or getting some delicious hot chocolate after just playing in the snow.
This gondola ride is PRICEY, but worth it for the right occasion. Tickets range from $53-$61 per person depending on the date. Additional activities are available at the top of the mountain like panning for gemstones, ziplining, mountain roller coaster and tubing, for additional fees.
Horse and Sleigh Ride Along Lake Tahoe
Borges Sleigh and Carriage Ride has been helping families make winter memories with their sleigh rides for over 50 years. Your private driver will take you on a peaceful ride through the pine trees along Lake Tahoe with countless beautiful views and many moments for photo opportunities.
Sleigh rides are located at Sand Harbor Nevada State Park. Tickets run $50 for adults and $20 for children for a one hour ride between the hours of 11am-3pm. Please note that if there isn’t enough snow, or rough weather is imminent, they may need to place wheels on the sleigh and take you on a carriage ride instead or cancel completely (with a refund of course).
Free Lake Tahoe Winter Activities
We found that bringing a few toys from home make snow play even more fun! Our kids love watercolor painting in the snow and squirting bright colors with their squirt bottles (just add food coloring or kool-aid to water). We always pack our favorite sand toys too as well as some construction vehicles for hauling snow. We also try to remember to pack a carrot for some old fashioned snowman building!
No matter if you fill your days with relaxing activities or active ones, may your winter vacation to Lake Tahoe be filled with the natural beauty of this beautiful basin in the mountains. Breathe deep! The fresh air will send you home refreshed and with a new appreciation for the gorgeous creation around you.
Want to Pin for Later?