With this month's wet weather, snow enthusiasts will surely be headed to Tahoe. But if extreme snow sports aren't really your thing, there's still lots of reason to make the drive. Here are eight rad alternatives to hitting the slopes this weekend.
(Photo courtesy of South Lake Tahoe)
Take a Hike
While there are tons of hikes to help you earn that apres-mountain beer, we recommend taking advantage of the Tahoe Rim Trail. Start at the lookout just north of Sand Harbor and wind south— you'll gain access to hidden sandy (and snowy) beaches for a glimpse of Tahoe that's usually reserved for locals. Alternatively, the easy half-mile hike behind the Biltmore in Crystal Bay affords panoramic views of the lake for minimal effort and the opportunity to hit up craft-beer mecca Mellow Fellow (10192 Donner Pass Rd, Truckee) before or after. Those looking to get snowy can rent snowshoes, toboggans and saucers at Village Ski Loft (800 Tahoe Blvd, Incline Village) and take the easy Flume Trail above Incline, for a birds' eye views less than half a mile in.
(Photo courtesy of The Hyatt Regency)
Hit the Spa
Even if you haven't worn out your quads, your body still deserves pampering and many hotels in the area offer world-class spa experiences whether or not you're a guest. The Hyatt's Stillwater Spa (111 Country Club Dr, Incline Village) is a favorite among locals for its beautiful setting and seasonal treatments. Plus, the purchase of any treatment also gets you all-day access to the sauna, steam room, and lounge. The seasonal Sea Salt Honey Pumpkin Rub manicure or pedicure includes a fine grain sea salt scrub scented with notes of honey, cinnamon and nutmeg and blended with a thick, rich pumpkin mud puree to provide a thorough, even exfoliation as it helps to invigorate and detox skin. Even if you're not into splurging on a treatment, you can still spend the whole day detoxing in the sauna and steam room for a reasonable $40.
Non-skiing thrill-seekers can still hit the powder thanks to wild snowmobile rides. Self-guided or group tours from Lake Tahoe Snowmobiling (Hwy 267 Brockway Summit, Tahoe Vista) are available through more than 100 miles of pristine national forest, affording breathtaking views and adrenaline rushes—no standing required.
(Courtesy of Squaw)
Ride the Aerial Tram
If your favorite part of skiing is the lift, you'll love Squaw's aerial tram (1990 Squaw Peak Road, Olympic Valley) that climbs 2,000 vertical feet and ends at High Camp where there's an ice skating rink, restaurant, and year-round heated pool and hot tub waiting for you. Set 8,200 feet up, you'll get the dizzying view that skiers and snowboarders enjoy of the Olympic mountain, only with less risk of tearing ACLs.
Let the Dogs Out
For an experience straight out of Call of the Wild, arrange for eight adorable dogs to pull you through Tahoe's scenic terrain. Wilderness Adventures tours operate out of Northstar and Squaw, and while it's pricey at $150 minimum per sled, it certainly won't put you out more than a lift pass, rentals, and ski lessons.
(Photo courtesy of Tahoe Getaways)
Relax in Hot Tubs
While many hotels boast ski-in-ski-out features, The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe (111 Country Club Dr, Incline Village) in sleepy Incline Village has an equally clutch swim-in-swim-out feature that allows comfortable swimming—even if the surrounding mountains are still covered in snow. Follow the winding heated pool before taking a dip in the massive hot tub. The scene is especially cool at night, offering an approximation of Iceland's Blue Lagoon thanks to the blue lighting and chilly mountain air.
Hit the Casinos
Why spend hundreds on passes and ski lessons when you could potentially win (or more likely lose) hundreds at the casinos? The Crystal Bay Club (14 NV-28, Crystal Bay) on the Nevada border is a classic—and delightfully seedy—spot with live music, while the Grand Lodge Casino (111 Country Club Dr, Incline Village), renovated in 2012, gets imbued with a bit of the Hyatt's mountain lodge glamour and is often home to spirited wedding receptions. Not having any luck at the 250 slots, 22 table games, poker room, or full-service sports book? The connected 24-hour saloon-style bar Cutthroat's (111 Country Club Dr, Incline Village) offers a safe bet on a good time thanks to its extensive local beer selection, poppin' bar, and walls lined with TVs. Those who want to do a different kind of gambling should ask the bartender about the “mystery shot."
(Photo courtesy of Bethany Deines)
Lodge Like It's a Verb
If you're doing it right, relaxing in the lodge is a kind of winter sport. Apres ski happy hours abound: Squaw's Le Chamois (1960 Squaw Valley Rd, Olympic Valley) is a classic among skiers and snowboarders for its crackin' outdoor patio that butts up directly to the slopes, while Alibi Ale Works (204 E Enterprise St, Incline Village) is an emerging local favorite for its excellent beer and regular live music (bring your own food or order in). But for over-the-top luxury, it doesn't get better than taking in the lake views and killer sunsets at the Lone Eagle Grill's (111 Country Club Dr, Incline Village) massive outdoor fire pits. Staying at the affiliated Hyatt Regency? Definitely ask for a s'mores kit.