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Locals also have a few “insider’s tips” for visitors: For scenic views at Heavenly, visit Ridge Run, a blue-square run with spectacular lakeviews. Guests are often found transfixed in the middle of the run because the view is jaw-dropping – locals good naturedly nickname them as “gapers,” but catch themselves occasionally doing the same. In fact, Good Morning America host, Ron Claiborne, called Ridge Run his favorite place to explore on the mountain.
For long runs, here’s the skinny from Gregory Holman, senior sales executive at Marriott Timber Lodge and seven-year resident: “I’ll hit Olympic Run first thing in the morning. It’s one of my favorite places to start the day, get my carve on, and be one of the first to charge the groomed corduroy. It’s five miles long, groomed to perfection, easy to pull 30-mph super G-force turns before dipping into the trees or heading to Mott and Killebrew Canyon for more extreme terrain.”
Kirkwood is 40 minutes from South Shore, but locals will tell you that the drive is worth it. Kirkwood has terrain for all levels of skiers/riders with The Wall – famous extreme terrain, steeps on the backside, cruiser runs down Buckboard off Chair 11, and beginner/intermediate runs near Timber Creek off Chair 7.
“There’s our group of five skiers in our 50s and 60s who ski Kirkwood most Saturday mornings ever since our 30s,” said Carl Fair, a 35-year resident and owner/broker of Century 21 at Tahoe Paradise. “We park close to Chair 7, take our Advil, get our boots on, wrap our knee braces and put on our helmets. We take Chair 7 up, ski down to Chair 6 for a run or two, then off to our favorite finger chutes off Chair 10. At this age, having 90 to 100 mm under our feet makes us feel like we are in our 30s again. The Notch, All the Way, and The Sisters with the surrounding trees are a blast.”
Grab some grub at the General Store inside Red Cliffs; may we suggest a tall-boy of local beer and a gourmet slice of pizza that are friendly on the wallet? Proceed to the couch upstairs at Red Cliffs to refuel, recharge, and soak in the scenic views.
Info: 209-258-6000 or kirkwood.com.
Sierra-at-Tahoe boasts spectacular terrain park features along with fantastic tree runs and a family-friendly atmosphere. Locals look forward to accessing the 320 acres of natural and expert terrain features throughout Huckleberry Canyon.
“Very few things in life compare with the energy you can feel at the bottom of Grandview chair at Sierra,” said Debbie Brown, director of operations at Camp Richardson Resort and a 15-year local. “The clattering of ski poles, sheer adrenaline of that first powder run, the sense of freedom and the cluster of trees to test my skills is what I eagerly await each season. The incredible camaraderie when you arrive at the bottom and skiers/riders smiling from ear to ear is what keeps me coming back.”
Sierra-at-Tahoe Insider’s Tip: If tree skiing calls, make your way over to West Bowl for phenomenal tree lines full of powder stashes. When you need a break entirely, visit Baja Grill located at the base of West Bowl.
Info: 530-659-7453 or sierraattahoe.com.
Lake Tahoe Adventures has popular unguided snowmobile rentals for seasoned riders and guided off-the-trail tours for less-experienced adventure seekers into the heart of Tahoe’s forest lands to the top of mountain ridge. Tours operate daily every hour from mid-November to May.
Zephyr Cove Snowmobile Center offers tours until mid-April, featuring lake views at 9,000 feet on the Nevada side, four miles from the casino corridor. Both locations feature moonlight snowmobile tours along with ride and dine options.
A popular date night is touring Tahoe’s winter scenery in a horse-drawn sleigh with Borges Sleigh Rides. The Borges family’s antique European sleigh is drawn by Belgian Blondes and Baskir Curleys from Russia, and takes riders for a one-hour tour over the meadow and through the woods, past Friday’s Station – the only existing Pony Express station in Nevada.
Join 30-year veteran musher, Dotty Dennis, and her huskies for a memorable winter adventure on Husky Express. One hour sled rides go through the wilderness of Hope Valley, 30 minutes from South Lake Tahoe.
Running Creek Sled Dog Rides offer a 40 minute ride of pure bliss, circling Kirkwood Meadows daily with monthly full moon tours. Among residents, another popular date or family night includes a stop at the Heavenly Village outdoor lighted ice-skating rink to enjoy the crisp Tahoe evening and soaking in the mountain village ambience. The City of South Lake Tahoe ice rink, located in the Recreation Complex 1.5 miles from the Village, is an indoor NHL standard-size rink with skate rentals and the occasional pick-up hockey game.
Insider’s Tip: Have your camera ready. Snowmobiling, sleigh riding and dog sledding provide once in a lifetime scenic shots along the turns, and you’ll want to have that snapshot for your photo albums.
Tahoans know how to party while still making it to the slopes for fresh powder the next morning. Here’s some of their favorite watering holes, entertainment venues and dining establishments:
The main attraction is the casino corridor with its combination of comedy, headliner entertainment, restaurants and allure of becoming an instant millionaire at any of the six area casinos, Bill’s, Harrah’s, Harveys, Horizon, Lakeside and MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa.
For a different type of nightlife experience off the main drag, there’s live music, local DJs, artists, entertainers and inspiring karaoke singers at other popular venues such as, Divided Sky, Murphy’s Irish Pub & Rockwater Restaurant, Cantina Bar & Grill, Rojo’s Tavern, Whiskey Dicks, Tudor Pub, Tahoe Underground and Valhalla Boathouse Theater. The Tahoe lifestyle combines outdoor activities with indoor entertainment, delicious food and irresistible drinks, along with great company and conversations.
You might see locals on snow shoes with their beloved dogs exploring around Hope Valley, Angora Lake, Fallen Leaf Lake, Rubicon Trail, Camp Richardson, or even Mt. Tallac.
For dinner, try the mouth watering $2 tacos at Steamer’s restaurant . It’s Monday Night Football, so locals gather for food and drink specials at various places to root for their team, such as The Zone inside MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa, Turn3, Fresh Ketch, or Bar 24 inside Bill’s Casino. Then locals get their game face on for $3 games and $2 beer at Tahoe Bowl.
Locals love to gather for breakfast at the Red Hut, Ernie’s, Driftwood, Getaway Café or Downtown Café in Meyers before carpooling to either Sierra-at-Tahoe or Kirkwood Mountain Resort to spend the day on the slopes.
To refuel after a long day check out some of the Ski Run Blvd. favorites like Nepheles, Cafe Fiore, Scusa or Blue Angle Café. In the evening locals migrate to the Tudor Pub, where live DJs and local bands play. Ladies drink free until 11 p.m.
Most locals love being outdoors, but some days one just needs to relax indoors with a book near the fireplace, sip a cup of coffee at Alpen Sierra or Wide Awake Conscious Café, catch a movie at home or at the Cinema, shop for the memento or splurge on a massage/spa treatment.
For a bite to eat on the lake, the Beacon Bar & Grill, open year-round, boasts spectacular lake views and stunning sunsets. It’s known as the “Home of the Rum Runner.” At the casino corridor, ladies can drink free inside the hip Opal Ultra-Lounge at MontBleu Casino Resort & Spa.
Grab those skis/snowboards, and hit the slopes again and explore stunning lake views from the slopes of Heavenly Mountain Resort.
For an early evening meal check out Off the Hook and Naked Fish for happy hour specials on sushi rolls and sake. Cross the border to Nevada and become a member of “Group Therapy” night, inside Vex nightclub at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe for $2 drinks and dancing.
The Riva Grill, located at Ski Run Marina, offers Fish Taco Fridays with live music, giveaways, drink specials and 50 percent off appetizers. Or for a more intimate lakefront and golf course setting, visit Edgewood Tahoe Restaurant with winter Prix Fixe Menus along with 2-for-1 entrees coupons.