Though most famous for its Olympic history and world-class winter sports, Squaw Valley has always been a destination for families looking for alpine adventures with a laid back, California vibe. From après ski smores toasting by the chairlifts to arcade games and ping pong in the village common areas, the resort offers thoughtful touches for younger visitors around every corner. Up on the mountain, the famed ski school caters to tots as young as three, teaching tomorrow’s skiers and snowboarders the basics of balance, turns, and stops. Back down at the base, kids slide, climb, and sled their way through a winter wonderland of activities.
For those days when you could use a rest from the slopes but the little ones still have plenty of energy, we’ve rounded up a handful of our favorite kid-friendly spots around the valley. Squaw Valley and the Tahoe area have you covered with an abundance of activities guaranteed to delight (and hopefully tire out) the whole family.
SnoVentures Activity Zone
Celebrate the ultimate snow day at the center of the resort, where a carnival of winter fun awaits. Ages 6 to 12 can hit the mini snowmobile course, where kid-sized engines zoom around the groomed loops.The tubing park next door caters to all ages, with high speed runs and gentle slopes. When night falls on weekends, the snow is set alight as Disco Tubing throws a party on the slopes—with music, LED lights, and lasers accompanying the sledding fun.
Tahoe Treetop Adventures
Ages five and up can soar through the treetops at this fabulous adventure course with views across Squaw Valley. Strap on helmets and harnesses to navigate a series of bridges, ziplines, towers, and treetop platforms high in the pine forest canopy. Kids love that there’s no set agenda to the course—they can just be set loose for two hours of interactive, engaging fun. Make sure to call ahead on particularly snowy or icy days: poor weather conditions can result in closings in the winter.
Borges Sleigh Rides
Bundle up and head over the river and through the woods for a horse-drawn sleigh ride along the shores of Lake Tahoe. It’s a bit of a hike (an hour’s drive from the resort) but worth it for families with little ones who love animals and adventure. Meet the team of beautiful Belgian horses, then snuggle under blankets in your own a private sleigh for a peaceful tour of the backcountry set to a soundtrack of sleigh bells.
Headwall Climbing Wall
At the foot of the lifts at Cable Car House, this vast 30 foot high climbing wall lets older kids play mountaineer in a safe (and warm) indoor setting. Helpful staff teach a crash course in climbing and equipment, and aspiring climbers learn to scramble up and rappel down the dizzying heights with the aid of harnesses, ropes, and mats. Adults can join in the fun or grab coffee and crepes next door and watch from a safe (and relaxing) distance.
Princess, scientist, or painter? Let little ones choose their own adventure at this wonderful interactive museum in nearby Truckee. Kids under seven can wander through immersive fairy tale, science lab, and art studio areas, joining organized craft and activity classes or playing make believe to their heart’s content. For days when the weather is less than inviting, it’s the perfect way to let little ones roam and explore without braving the great outdoors.
Jax at the Tracks Diner
An evergreen favorite with kids and families, this 1940’s-style diner in Truckee serves old fashioned, family friendly classics in a restored vintage train dining car. Breakfast on banana pancakes and huevos rancheros before heading to the KidZone Museum, or head here for an après slopes lunch of BLTs and chocolate milkshakes against a backdrop of shiny chrome and retro stylings. Kids love the soda fountain counter and cozy booths, and there’s something on the menu for even the most picky of eaters.
These favorite spots might be guaranteed to delight young and old, but they’re just a small sampling of all the Tahoe basin has to offer. Mountain peaks, glacial lakes, high adventure, and good old fashioned family fun: in an area devoted to winter sports and leisure, Squaw Valley has the market cornered when it comes to a memory-making winter vacation.