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Tahoe For Kids (or Fraidy Cats)

The typical Tahoe weekend plan goes like this: Scramble to get as much work done by noon on Friday as is humanly possible, then load up the car, cross the Bay Bridge, and pray you'll make it to Truckee in less than six hours. If there's snow, chains, or an accident anywhere along the route, settle in for the long haul. Spend Saturday skiing and drinking, wake up Sunday with an altitude-hangover headache, and reverse the trek on Sunday.

But what if you've got kids in tow—and not the kind of superhuman toddlers who can whiz down a blue slope in their baby skis at 30 mph, but regular, old-school carpet crawlers who just want some snow angels and sleds? Then it's time for the tubes. Lots of resorts have snow tubing runs, but the nice thing about Sierra-at-Tahoe is that it's located near Tahoe's South Shore on Highway 50, which is practically deserted compared to Highway 80 (it's also a narrower, windier road). Sierra's Blizzard Mountain, located a few hundred yards from its slopes and Base Lodge, offers tubing, sledding, and snow-shoeing, with a tow rope that pulls riders to the top of the long, gently sloping hill. Kids have to be 42 inches tall to ride in a tube alone—otherwise they can sit in your lap—and once they get the hang of it, expect them to be blissfully entranced for two full hours, which costs $30. You'll return to Base Lodge for refreshment (though the highway may not be crowded, the restaurants will be jammed). And should you want to turn your tykes into shredders, Sierra's Wild Mountain Ski & Snowboard School is kid-friendly, with "adventure zones" built into the terrain to keep them entertained and focused. Sierra's even got a licensed daycare center for children 18 months to 5 years old—just in case Mommy needs a cocktail break.