Northstar, California

Ski with an element of chilled-out California luxury.

The easy-living ski capital of Lake Tahoe, Northstar knows how to treat skiers right. Daily Champagne toast? Check. Roasted S’mores in the village? Yep. Craft cocktails by the ice rink? You bet. But just because the place has sweet amenities doesn’t mean there isn’t good skiing to be had—especially for families and intermediates looking to cruise groomers in a beautiful backdrop. Leave the masses behind on East Ridge, a meandering blue off of the summit that tends to get overlooked.  

Hotel at Northstar

Skate the night away.

North Shore Tahoe skiers face a perennial question: Squaw or Northstar? While Northstar will never match Squaw’s steeps, it wins out as the destination for skiers seeking some chilled-out California luxury. Northstar’s snowmaking and corduroy are first-rate, and the resort gets high marks for Grooming and Kid Friendliness thanks to a fun base village with fire pits, gazebos, and restaurants encircling a skating rink where s’mores and cocktails are enjoyed. Long gondola lines on weekends are a drawback, though families looking to splurge can stay at the Ritz-Carlton at mid-mountain. Long black-diamond groomers on the back side are ideal for high-speed, no-stress carving, and advanced tree skiers should hit the Monument and Sugar Pine glades. Day-trippers likewise had best avoid weekends, when crowds make for a long schlep from the parking lots. And hipsters, be warned: The family vibe means quiet evenings.

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DINNER RESERVATIONS Feast on the veal shank at Tavern 6330, which offers signature cocktails, microbrews, and casual fine foods in the base village.

APRÈS SPOT Yes, 2 p.m. may be early for après, but that’s when servers pour a free glass of champagne at Töst on scenic East Ridge.

MUST DO Get priority lift access and first dibs on the best instructors with the Primo lesson, which combines top-level teaching and guiding with a five-star concierge service.