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Summer activities for toddlers in Tahoe

April 2008

Hello, We will be traveling to Lake Tahoe (staying just outside of Tahoe City) in July with our (then) 19 month old twins. We'll be staying a week. Can anyone recommend any fun activities, parks, or beaches for their age? Also, does anyone know of any good websites or books to use to find out about fun stuff for toddlers to do in Tahoe? I checked the archives and didn't see anything on this topic. Thank you! Daria


We went to Tahoe last summer for the first time ever in the SUMMERTIME. It's magical! Take along lots of beach toys, sunscreen, etc. The water in N. Lake Tahoe is cool, calm, perfectly clear, and sandy. In many places you can walk WAY out without any dropoffs. We (mom, dad, kids-7,5 & 2) loved the little beach on Hwy. 28 between Brassie and Beach Streets, just east of King's Beach. We found King's Beach a little wilder and it had some trash issues, and bored teens hanging out in the playground. But the smaller beach was very clean and family oriented.

Also, my kids fell in love with miniature golf--I think there are 3 courses in N. Lake Tahoe, and we really liked the one in Incline Village. We also took the rafting trip from Tahoe City on the Tahoe River. It's a family-friendly, easy 2-3 hour trip, with lunch provided (bring your own drinks, sunscreen, etc.) Our son was 2, and had no problems with it. The water there, also, is crystal clear, and the scenery is gorgeous. heidi


Hi there~ Tahoe City area is a great place to stay with toddlers. We've spent lots of summer weeks there with our kids. Tahoe City has a great beach/park (redone a year or two ago) area right downtown. They have a small but good farmers market there on Sunday morning. There is a great bike path if you have a bike trailer that goes from Fanny Bridge (take the kids and feed the fish), along the Truckee River down to River Ranch. Will take you maybe 45 minutes. At River Ranch you can have lunch on their deck and watch the rafters come out of the river. If you have lifevests and are comfortable, you could even maybe take them rafting. Up in Truckee (20 min drive?) there's a great kids museum (www.kidzonemuseum.org) that will wear them out in a couple hours. If you have access to a pier (and life vests) take them crawdad fishing. Sunnyside is more expensive but has a nice deck and you can watch the boats come in and out. There's also a nice little park watching distanc! e (south) from Sunnyside on the right side. Kid friendly restaurants include Bridgetender, Dam Cafe, (McDonalds), Blue Agave. Have fun! Shannon

Tahoe for extended family vacation in July?

March 2008

We are planning a late July trip to either Monterey or Lake Tahoe area with extended family, including children aged 10-18, parents and grandparents. We'd appreciate recommendations on where to stay in either Monterey or Lake Tahoe and/or ideas on which of these two places would be more apt to have enough to satisfy everyone for a week. Regarding where to stay -- our preference would be a house big enough for ten, 4 BR minim, or less preferably a few separate hotel rooms or cottages near each other. We saw some possiblities in the BPN Tahoe listings, but very little for Monterey other than m/hotels.


Having lived in Tahoe and vacationed on the coast, I have a few suggestions.

1) End of July is the foggy season on the coast, the weather can be hit or miss. End of July in Tahoe is fantastic, except that Tahoe is a madhouse with tourists that time of year. The two-lane highway around the lake becomes bumper to bumper, as a local I always found it to be annoying. Depending on the time of day, you could feel like you are reliving some of your worst Bay Area commutes. If you find a nice location and just don't get in your car, it could be ok.

2) Places to stay: In Mendocino, I put my parents up at a B&B that they really enjoyed, but they prefer to stay at the Sea Ranch which is down about 30 miles on the end of the Sonoma Coast. The pluses about Sea Ranch is that even if it's busy, it won't feel like it. There are rec centers, tons of beaches, Gualala River (Kayaking, etc.). You can do a day trip to Mendocino one day, which is always fun. There is a nice golf course, but no shopping, dining out is limited etc. As far as Mendocino, check out the schedule of events, one time we visited during a music festival, which was fun to check out.

Places to stay in Tahoe: If you want a serene mountain experience, try the West Shore, Meeks Bay has nice views, Tahoma and Homewood are better if you are on a budget. If you want to be close to town for shopping and dining, try Tahoe City, etc. Stay away from Kings Beach unless you want to be close to casinos, likewise stay away from South Shore for the same reasons (unless you have some gamblers in your crew). My preference is the West Shore, there is a bike trail that goes around the lake, lots of hiking of varying difficulties and beaches that are nice and secluded. Also nice lakefront dining.

Overall, there is more to do in Tahoe.

You should be able to find rentals in both places for your large party. For rentals in Sea Ranch try Rams Head Realty. There are several rental agencies in Tahoe, for the West Shore try West Lake Properties. www.westlakeproperties.com

Good luck and have fun! Jen


Our extended family, grandparent, kids and grandkids, 16 people in all, rented a house in Tahoe City last summer for a week. The house had 7 bedrooms, was walking distance to the lake, and it was great. Found the house on VRBO. Lots to do there - rent bikes, hike, swim, gondolas to the top of the mountains, gamble (if you're into that kind of thing), some culture - plays and the like. Rebecca

Camping in Tahoe in August

June 2007

The time i can take off for vacation has changed so I have to find new vacation plans for the 3rd week of august. I was hoping to find camping at Sugarpine State park or one of the campsites (not curry village) in Yosemite Valley during this week. of course these are all booked up. Does anyone have any experience getting last minute reservations at these places. Any other recommendations for places to go camping that would be fun for a 4 and 6 year old (long hikes are out of the question and I need to be able to cook food). Looking for suggestions, ideas and inspiration.
desperate camper


Try Fallen Leaf Campground which is right near Camp Richardson. It's a National Forest campground with all teh same stuff and they even have good ranger programs at night at a beautiful new ampitheater on the Lake Tahoe side of the street. A short path takes you right to Fallen Leaf Lake which is big and beautiful and a bit quieter than at the state park.

There are great campsites in Yosemite that don't take reservations and since you're staying for a week, as long as you don't arrive on friday or saturday (rather sunday or monday) just hang out in the campground until someone clears out and it's yours for the week. We love these because they are SO much quieter than the big ones. Downside (to some) is they don't have all the ammenities. frequent camper


June trip to North Lake Tahoe with 3 kids

May 2007

We are planning a June trip to North Lake Tahoe. We will be travelling with a 2 yr old, 5 yr old and an 8 yr old. What are some fun things to do? mm


Summer is a magical time at Lake Tahoe. There is so much to do! When you first hit town pick up the local North Lake Tahoe things to do, rag sheet at the local grocery store. This will have all things going on that week listed. Also check out Northstar Resort. They are showing free movies, under the stars, in the skating rink in the new center of the resort (bring a comfortable chair with you if you can). At Squaw resort you can take the tram up and go to the swimming pool at the top of the tram. Kings beach has a number of really nice beaches. The largest one also has rentals of different water toys for rent. There is a regional park with a very nice hikingbiking path that is very easy... just go up No. National and you will find the regional park... go all the way through the park and look for the bike path, it meanders through the trees. Great way to experience the woods with out too much exertion for the young ones. If you do not already have a place to rent, we have a house in No. Lake Tahoe which we rent out. To view pictures and availability go to: www.mikedrew.com and click on Tahoe Rental. Lake Tahoe Lover

Holiday dinner in South Lake Tahoe

October 2006

My family will be spending the holiday in South Lake Tahoe and I am looking for suggestions for dinner on the 25th. We have a wide variety of taste, steaks, seafood and vegetarian. Would a casino buffet be best? If so, which one or what other options are there?
Looken for Grub


I would consider making a reservation at one of the casino restaurants only because many local restaurants might be closed on the 25th. Depending on how much you want to spend, Harrah's has two upscale restaurants - a steak (Good and nice atmosphere) and another with a view that we have not been to; two casual - Hard Rock and Cabo Wabo (Mexican); and a seafood buffet - not cheap, and atmosphere is O.K., but above average buffet food. Evans is hands down the best restaurant is South Lake Tahoe, but they are a small, intimate restaurant and may not be open on Christmas. You might also look into Tep's Italian Village (I think that's the name) - not spetacular food, but wide menu and affordable. linda

Tahoe area Backpacking trip for six-year-old

August 2006

My husband and I plan to take a backpacking trip with our six year old daughter and are looking for ideas. We want to go somewhere within driving distance of Lake Tahoe. The challenge is finding a hike that isn't too hard and discouraging for her. She can hike 3-4 miles. The ideal hike would also have somewhere interesting to go on a layover day. She has been on two previous backpacks, one in the Gold Lakes Basin and one out of Echo Lake near Tahoe. Any suggestions welcome.
lisa


We just returned from the Kirkwood area (45 min. south of Lake Tahoe). Did a day hike to Shealor Lakes (trailhead off 88, across from Silver Lake) and saw some lovely campsites around the first lake. It was only 1.3 miles but with a big elevation gain and drop. There are 2 more smaller lakes to day-hike to from the main/first lake. I would imagine the sites might fill faster on the weekends. Our 6 year old did the hike in one-day (r.t. 3 miles). The trail-book classified it as ''easy'' but the elevation gain made it more on the ''moderate'' to ''difficult'' side for our youngest. Other hikers w/children that we ran into recommended Lake Margaret (2.5 miles in)... Have fun! Tracy

North Lake Tahoe ski trip with teen and toddler

March 2005

Weíre going to Tahoe (North Lake) for a few days over spring break. It will be me, my husband, my14-year old step-daughter and her best friend, and our 2 year old. None of us are skiers: the 14-year old has skied once, her friend and my husband never and I havenít been on skis in 21 years. The archives recommend Tahoe at Donner for kids lessons but would this be appropriate for the 14 year-olds? They want to learn to ski but they also want to socialize (read: check out the boys). Do we need to make reservation for lessons in advance? Will Northstar be overwhelming for all of us beginners?

My husband and I also want to try snow shoeing. Can you recommend a good place for beginners?

Also, since the 2-year old wonít be skiing, what kinds of things can I do with her? Iíd like to take her sledding? Is there a mellow place where I can do that? What is there to do in Truckee for a mom and a 2-year old?

Finally, I havenít been in Tahoe in 15 years and remember little about it. The house is in Truckee, which I hear is a great town. Can you recommend good places to eat that donít mind toddlers (sheís really good at restaurants) and whose menu will please picky 14-year olds and vegetarian parents? Also, where can we get a good espresso or mocha? Should we bring groceries/wine from home? Will our cell phones work (Iíll be working during nap time)? Where can we rent videos (VHS not DVDs)? Anything and everything you can tell us will most appreciated! Thanks! Tahoe Neophyte


If you are planning on bringing supplies up with you, you have to try and stop at Ikeda's in Auburn, just of the I-80. http://www.ikedas.com. It's a fruit and veggie market with their own salsa, dried fruits, nuts, baked goods, etc. Great stuff. We always make a supply stop there when we head over that way. anon
Northstar won't be overwhelming for beginners and is a very family friendly place. Not sure exactly how old (or how tall) your preschooler is but at Northstar they have tubing for anyone 36'' and up - very very fun; you sit in these cushy innertubes and get pulled up a small hill by a tow rope and you basically sled down (my three yr. old did not like traditional sledding but LOVED this eventhough it went 10 times faster than the old saucer/hill gig - I think it is because she felt more secure in the innertube. Another good thing to do with your preschooler would be to go on a sleigh ride or a dogsled ride.

At Squaw they have a bungee/trampoline jump; very fun for the preschooler (but again you have to be 30 pounds to do it).

Have fun, and remember, a two year old does not need a bunch of activities to have fun - SNOW IS FUN, just throw on some mittens and jump in! anon


I know of a great Chalet in North Lake Tahoe, near Tahoe City. It is in a Quiet spot, which means the kids can ride their bikes outside, and it is close to some great hiking or mountain biking. The url for this place is http://home.earthlink.net/~toddwo/ Tom

Tahoe resort for Child ski lessons

Dec 2004

We want to take our 3 1/2 year son old skiing for the 1st time this winter. Can anyone recommend a ski resort in Tahoe that has a good program for children who are going to get on skis for the 1st time? My husband is a decent skier but is unfamiliar with the different children's programs out there. Please email me directly for a timely response. Thanks so much. anjul


Tahoe Donner is excellent for children. It is very family oriented, low key and friendly. The ski instructors take very good care of the kids. As the area is small you can see your children all the time if you want to.There is also a 1/2 price deal for the adult chair if your child is in ski school. Downside is the field is not very challenging for experienced skiers. Upside - no hot doggers!!! We had a very bad exerience at Soda Springs (my child's life was put in great potential danger by a teenage aide) and would not recommend this field to anyone with young children. This is not a field for the young and or inexperienced. good luck
Places with great children's instruction: Northstar

Places that are great for children. Northstar
Tahoe at Donner.

If you are capable of teaching your 3 y.o., this is the place. It is is super small (not a plus if you are an expert skier, but great if the kids are small) and easy to manage. I have taught my nieces and nephew here, and this year will attempt my own 3 y.o. We haven't tried their lessons, though they look good too, it is just that the terrain seemed manageable for me to teach them.

Northstar is by far my favorite, but it seems to be everyone's favorite, making it a bit of a zoo, and sometimes large and impersonal. The staff there is great (in my experience). Tahoe at Donner is too small to be challenging for older kids or expert skiers, but it is cheaper as a result, and you don't feel guilty for skiing less than a whole day. So it also works for a good place to learn how to snowboard as an older person! Shahana


Northstar at Tahoe hands down has the best children's program.It's overall a nice resort for families too. Happy Skiing

Tahoe Beaches (Northside)

Sept 2003

Does anyone have recommendations on ''beaches'' in North Lake Tahoe for young families (kids 2 and 4)? We're looking to rent a house for a week or two in late August '04 and before we go there, we're trying to target the area that makes the most sense, ideally in walking distance to the beach. Finally, any recommendatons on house rentals/agencies would also be appreciated. Thanks! Nancy


The beaches in Incline Village, NV, are really lovely, and one (Burnt Cedar) has a marvelous pool area, with a toddler pool and large pool. The catch is that you need to rent or own a place in Incline Village to get access to the beaches. The public beach at Sand Harbor, just south of IV, is also spectacular, with fun little walks and rocks to climb on. Have fun! Chris
Kings Beach area has many wonderful beaches. Many of them stay very shallow for a long way out into the lake making them great for children ( also warmer in the summer than the areas of the lake which get deep quickly). The sand is great for sandcastles and there are many water activities, kayaks and boards available for rent. The Kings Beach area is very close to the Northshore casinos and there are good restaurants close. Northstar is only about 10 minutes away and they often have outdoor music concerts on the weekends. Have a great time. North Lake Tahoe lover
Our family - including a 1 year old and 3 year old -just returned from a two week vacation in North Lake Tahoe. We stayed in Kings Beach at a house that we rented through vrbo.com. I would be happy to refer you to the specific property owner we rented from (about 5 blocks walk from Kings Beach) if you email me directly. Further south down the road (just past Incline Village) is Sand Harbor, by far the best beach we found. It's split into two beach areas, one is refered to as ''Diver's Cove'' and has lots of big rocks for the young ones to climb on or fish for crawfish from. Much to our surprise, the lake water temperature was comfortable and very shallow going out at least 100 yards. There are two miniature golf courses nearby, one in Kings Beach and one flashier one in Carnelian Bay. We tried both and found the older one in Kings Beach was more fun for our three year old. Also, in Tahoe City there was heavy construction going on at Commons Beach (I believe that's the name...) which should be completed by next summer. Also in Tahoe City you can rent rafts to go down the Truckee River and there is an incredible bike path that runs for miles. There is a fantastic playground with two play structures and lots of grass just south of Kings Beach on the way to Incline Village. Squaw Valley has pony rides (real rides around a coral), a climbing wall, and a tram that goes to the top of the mountain - where you will also find a swimming pool. We did a drive to Virginia City to ride the old steam train, we were also in the area for the Nevada State Fair (I believe its always held in late August) where they set aside a special day for kids which included a clown parade, clowns making balloon animals, a bear show (the bears were treated with love and affection), an aligator show, etc. Oh, and, not to forget the adults....there are Glider Rides at a field in Truckee. Hope this is of some help to you. maureen
There's a great beach in Tahoe Vista. It's right off the main road so I'm sure you would see it but I can't remember the name of it. We stopped there late July and it was shallow enough that it was actually warm! Very comfortable for swimming, nice beach and a playground to boot! Have fun! Jackie
We spent a week this summer in Incline Village (NV) with our tiny baby and practically LIVED at one of the community beaches there -- I think it's called Burnt Cedar or something like that. Anyway, there was a big pool and kiddie pool full of toddlers, a big grassy lawn, play structure & swingset, snack bar and a lifeguard at the sandy beach. It was very family friendly and all the kids seemed to be having a great time. I think the beaches in Incline are only open to residents and guests, so if you do end up looking in that area, you might want to ask the realtor/property manager how it works for short-term renters. tahoe lover
Incline village is wonderful - you get access to the beaches, swimming pool, and rec center with cards showing you are a resident. I highly recommend the area, my kids have had a blast. Lisa
I want to agree with all the other recommendations for Incline Beach - it's clean, the water is warm, and it has a great playstructure.

Another suggestion for the west side of the lake is Meeks Bay. There's a campground where you only have to pay for day-use parking (either $4 or 5), and the beach is great for kids - shallow and not crowded. There's no amenities, though - just bathrooms and changing rooms. julie


Tahoe for Toddlers

Feb 2003

Has anyone had experience vacationing in Tahoe with 2-year-olds? My husband and I have rented a house with four other families with young children for Presidents Weekend (Feb.13-17) in Meeks Bay, near Squaw & Alpine. There will be four two-year-olds among us as well as a couple older kids. The toddlers are too young to ski, skate or snowboard; so what else is there for them to do? Are there hayrides? Dog-sledding? Sledding on bunny slopes? Any suggestions for outdoor activities to do with the 2-year-olds would be much appreciated! (We also plan to do lots of indoor activities, like baking cookies, artwork, play-dough.) I looked up the archives on this topic and found recommendations for places to stay, but not for specific activities for toddlers.


We went to Tahoe last winter with another family and our respective 1.5 y-os. We tried, variously: cross-country skiing, pulling the children in special x-country sleds we rented -- fun for them, but soon very cold and not so fun; downhill skiing, trading off runs -- very expensive for very little skiing; and snowshoing, with the children in backpacks -- by far the best. My general advice, though, if you want to ski or do anything fairly active, is to find some kind of child care, rather than try to do everything as a family, perhaps trading off care days with your companions. (I know some people downhill ski with their children in backpacks, but the risks from a fall or collision, no matter your skill level, seem to me very high.) Christopher
Actually, you may be surprised at what the ski resorts can offer for children of all ages. They may even have a toddler ski class. My mother was skiing from the moment she learned to walk, I'm told! The ski resorts may also have child programs for while the adults go skiing. Also, I think toddlers could try ice skating. Have fun! Jennifer

Tahoe for Toddlers

July 2003

We will be staying in a friend's cabin in Lake Tahoe for a week at the end of the month. We have twin 15 month olds and am trying to find out what fun things there are to do there with them. Do any of you know beaches, picnic areas, playgrounds, etc that whould be good for them? Also any other suggestions or day trips which would be fun with them from Tahoe. Thanks, Nina


Here are some suggestions for South Lake Tahoe:

(1) swim in the lake (we tried Kiva Beach but Regan Beach had shallower (and hence warmer) water and a small playground);

(2) visit the Stream Chamber something, which is a bit of underground streambed replaced by a glass wall, so you can watch the fish swim by -- there's also a truly beautiful 1-mile flat paved loop trail (I think it's called the Rainbow Trail) from the visitor's center to the Stream Chamber and back;

(3) go to the playground at Bijou Park, where there's a nice play structure;

(4) rent a bicycle with an attached Burley trailer (there is at least one rental place about a mile north of the ''Y'' on 89) and ride along the bike trail that parallels 89;

(5) go swimming at the South Lake Tahoe Recreation Center (free- swim hours are 1:00 or 1:30 to 4:30, nice water temperature, but the pool is 3+ feet deep so you need to carry the kids). robin


Feb 2003

Has anyone had experience vacationing in Tahoe with 2-year-olds? My husband and I have rented a house with four other families with young children for Presidents Weekend (Feb.13-17) in Meeks Bay, near Squaw & Alpine. There will be four two-year-olds among us as well as a couple older kids. The toddlers are too young to ski, skate or snowboard; so what else is there for them to do? Are there hayrides? Dog-sledding? Sledding on bunny slopes? Any suggestions for outdoor activities to do with the 2-year-olds would be much appreciated! (We also plan to do lots of indoor activities, like baking cookies, artwork, play-dough.) I looked up the archives on this topic and found recommendations for places to stay, but not for specific activities for toddlers.


We went to Tahoe last winter with another family and our respective 1.5 y-os. We tried, variously: cross-country skiing, pulling the children in special x-country sleds we rented -- fun for them, but soon very cold and not so fun; downhill skiing, trading off runs -- very expensive for very little skiing; and snowshoing, with the children in backpacks -- by far the best. My general advice, though, if you want to ski or do anything fairly active, is to find some kind of child care, rather than try to do everything as a family, perhaps trading off care days with your companions. (I know some people downhill ski with their children in backpacks, but the risks from a fall or collision, no matter your skill level, seem to me very high.) Christopher
Actually, you may be surprised at what the ski resorts can offer for children of all ages. They may even have a toddler ski class. My mother was skiing from the moment she learned to walk, I'm told! The ski resorts may also have child programs for while the adults go skiing. Also, I think toddlers could try ice skating. Have fun! Jennifer

Skiing at Lake Tahoe for children

We are planning a family holiday skiing near Lake Tahoe around New Year, and are new to the area from England. a I am starting to do some research on resorts, accommodations, ski-school etc. Any recommendations on where to go, where to stay, and how best to ensure our kids are well taught would be great. Our own children are 4 and 7 and skiied for the first time last year in Europe - they are able to navigate their way down a blue run. We would also have a child with us who is 5 who has never skiied before. We had a bad experience with ski-school last year so are very keen not to repeat the experience. We also will have 2 non-skiing children with us - views on childcare for 2/3 year olds would be great too. Thanks very much. Catherine
I grew up in a skiing family and spent many years attending and hearing critiques of ski schools all over the US - from Aspen to Alta to Squaw Valley etc. As an adult now, with 2 children, I ended up sending my boys to the Diamond Peak/Incline Village ski school and have had an excellent experience. Both kids have learned great technique, have a positive attitude toward skiiing in all kinds of conditions. My youngest started there at 4, and is a fully parallel skiier now at 7. The "preschool" is well staffed, and the little ones are offered hot chocolate and preniful breaks so that they don't feel pressured. Several of my Berkeley friends have had similar results and their kids ski vey well. While some might not find Incline Village as "groovey' as some ski areas, I was pleasantly surprised with the family ticket prices, the variety of accomodations, and the community recreation center. It is a short drive over to Northstar and other areas, if you want some more diverse runs. This may sound like a commercial - but as far as the ski school goes - it was better in my view than several others we have tried. ( I often have insisted that our kids take a half or full day lesson on the first day at a new place to learn the mountain with an instructor - so we have tried alot of schools) my second favorite school is Sugar Bowl - but we don't often go there because the snow isn't as reliable and the runs less interesting) Good Luck Renee
We have been going to Lake Tahoe every year for the last 8 years and have had great experiences with children. In the beginning we went to Northstar and my friends enrolled their child in the toddler camp there for half-days and spent the other half of the day teaching their child to ski. They really liked it. For the last few years we have been going to Squaw Valley. I enrolled my daughter in the ski school there last year (at 3) and she LOVED IT! More importantly, I loved it. She went half-day ski school and half-day toddler care. I went and observed the class and was very impressed with the teaching and patience. My daughter went in crying and came back saying that she was a skier. They even gave her a report card so we knew what she had mastered what she still had to work on.

I would call both of these places ASAP and find out what their costs, requirements and availability are. I had to schedule her MONTHS in advance because they book up really fast. Also, some daycare outfits won't take children unless they're potty trained, or at least two years old. Others require a doctor's slip certifying they have had all their shots. bijou


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