With 3,170 acres of impeccable corduroy, powder bowls, trees, and stunning views, Tahoe’s Northstar is an incredible place for a winter weekend. But truly getting the most out of your time there requires some planning and thought. Luckily, we’ve done that research for you—including where to ski, where to eat, where to stay, and some of Northstar’s best under-the-radar perks, from marshmallows to bubbly. Here’s our guide for how to max your ski weekend at one of Tahoe’s best resorts.
Get the right pass: Buying a daily lift ticket at the window isn’t your cheapest bet. Read up on your options to make sure you get the pass that’s right for you before you show up. If you’re going to be spending more time in Tahoe and want to be able to ski other Tahoe resorts, like Kirkwood or Heavenly—or even other must-visit mountains like Vail or Park City—you’ll get the most bang for your buck with an Epic Pass, which allows access to more than 12 resorts across the country. There are several different options, including 4-day, 7-day, and season passes.
How to get there: If you’ve only got the weekend to spare, you’ll want to maximize your time on the slopes by making the travel as quick and easy as possible. If you’re coming from afar, fly into Reno, Nevada. Once at the airport, you’ll be able to rent a car or hop on one of the airport shuttles for the hour-long drive to Northstar or Truckee.
Where to grab a bite: After arriving at Tahoe, it’s time to take a break, enjoy some food—and get psyched for the weekend. With tasty pub food, a laid-back atmosphere, and 40 beers on tap, Mellow Fellow in Truckee is sure to hit the spot.
Where to get a good night’s rest: Staying at one of the slopeside options, like Timber Creek Lodge Lofts or Great Bear Lodge, will give you the best access to the amenities at Northstar Village (and, of course, to the mountain). But if you’re traveling on a budget, consider staying in the nearby town of Truckee, instead. Located right downtown, the historic Truckee Hotel is always a fun option that offers a glimpse of what Truckee was like as a pioneering western town.
Where to get caffeinated: We know you’re itching to get on the mountain. Get an early start with an omelet or benny (eggs Benedict) at Squeeze In. The hearty breakfast will keep you fueled for an epic day!
Meet the mountain: It’s finally time to get to what you came here for: skiing and boarding. But before you truly run wild, it can be helpful to spend some time getting to know your way around. Luckily, Northstar offers free Meet the Mountain Tours every Friday to Sunday, starting at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the bottom of the Arrow Express chairlift located mid-mountain. Over the course of 1.5-2 hours, you’ll see every side of the resort, and get the skinny on the best places to ski based on current conditions, and where to beat the crowds.
Where to stop for midday fuel: To take a lunch break, or to power on through till dinner? That’s a conundrum that has plagued many a weekend warrior. But once you bite into the fish tacos at Chilly Peppers Mexican Grille, the answer will seem like a no-brainer—and the restaurant’s mid-mountain location means that the views aren’t half-bad, either.
Wind down with a Tōst: It’s one of Northstar’s most lavish traditions: Every day at 2 p.m, enjoy a complimentary champagne (or sparkling cider) toast on the East Ridge Trail at the top of the mountain. Sink into one of the comfy beanbag chairs and raise your glass.
Where to aprés: Time to go from bubbly to brewski. You’ll find a lively après scene in Truckee, where skiers and boarders who spent the day at Northstar as well as Tahoe’s many other resorts converge for a good time. Start out with a locally brewed cold one and some great food at Tahoe Mountain Brewing Co. Then, if you’re looking to provide balance to Northstar’s somewhat-posh flavor, Truckee’s favorite dive bar—Tourist Club—should do the trick.
Where to get caffeinated: A visit to Tahoe wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Jax at the Tracks, a 1940s Americana-style diner that serves up soul-warming comfort food. The Crab Cake Eggs Benedict are a must—it’s completely made in-house, down to the English muffin.
Where to hit the slopes: Warm up by taking a ride down Logger’s Loop, a blue-square run that, at 1.4-miles, is the resort’s longest run. Then, if you’re an advanced rider, it’s time to get off the groomers and into the glades on the backside. Your best bet for finding stashes of powder is on Sawtooth Ridge, while Lookout Mountain has some great runs that will get you turning through the trees.
Where to stop for midday fuel: With floor-to-ceiling views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and amazing food to boot, Zephyr Lodge, located at the top of the gondola, is an unforgettable place to take your midday meal.
Wind down at the Village: After you’ve skied your ticket, spend some time exploring the Village before you head back to Reno to catch your flight home. Have a cocktail from Cabana Bars by one of the outdoor firepits while keeping an eye out for the Northstar s’more chefs who roam the Village every day starting at 3:30 p.m., passing out the delicious treats along the way. If somehow you’ve still got some energy left after two days on the slopes, take a spin around the free ice-skating rink. Then settle in for a mouthwatering meal at one of the Village restaurants: between family-style Italian and pizza, a sushi bar, and farm-to-fork gourmet fare, Northstar has got you covered.
Featured image provided by © Chris Bartkowski / Vail Resorts