Lake Tahoe, on the Nevada California border is a winner of FTF’s Top 10 (Cheap) Getaways For Family Travelers 2008 award.
Ski vacations can be expensive and difficult to plan if you don’t know where to look and ways to save. A snowsports vacation is not usually considered budget-friendly because of all the components: lift tickets, equipment rental, lessons and accommodations — not to mention airfares, rental car and hot chocolate. Determined to scope out which popular mountains give families the best value for their dollar, FTF did extensive research to find the 2008 pick for FTF’s Top (Cheap) Ski Getaway and found two: Lake Tahoe in the West and the Western White Mountains in the East. Here’s a look at what Lake Tahoe offers for a cheap family vacation a la ski.
Lake Tahoe, Nevada & California
As one of the premier snowsports regions in North America for its powder and blue skies, Lake Tahoe has seven main resorts situated on its North Shore; Alpine Meadows, Homewood, Diamond Peak, Mount Rose, Northstar, Squaw Valley and Sugar Bowl. Believe it or not, skiing these resorts, renting equipment and staying nearby can be affordable; you just have to do your research (don’t worry, we did it for you).
Your family can have the vacation of a lifetime by skiing all seven resorts. Lake Tahoe offers an Interchangeable Lift Ticket that’s accepted at all seven resorts every single day of the season for just $62 a day. Multi-day tickets are available for three to seven days of skiing. Generally, tickets get more expensive around the holiday season, so if you plan to ski at this time, this is a sure way to save money.
Another tip to keep in mind is that you probably don’t have to rent a car. Every resort offers a shuttle service; most are free and cover a large part of the North Shore. There’s also a cheap trolley system that travels throughout the whole area. Mountainside lodges are convenient but expensive; instead try budget lodging options close by. There are chain motels like Best Western, as well as smaller ski lodges. Rental cabins and condos, most with kitchens (a big money saver), are widely available, even if you only plan to stay for a weekend, and are great options for larger groups. Rustic Cottages in Tahoe Vista, for example, has four person cabins with kitchens for $140-$170 per night.
If your family already has a favorite resort at Lake Tahoe, or if you’re only looking to ski one this season, most lift tickets are still affordable. Diamond Peak, one of the more family-friendly resorts, has lower rates than the others. An adult can ski for a full day for $49 and 13 to 17-year-olds pay only $39. Kids 6 and under ski for free. The resort also offers a Family Price so that one adult and one child (7 to 12 years) can ski for $67, or one adult and one youth (13 to 17 years) for only $83. Additional adult and youth tickets are greatly reduced, too.
Homewood Mountain offers breath-taking views as you glide down their trails, many of which have hidden pathways leading to other trails. The resort offers a significantly lower lift ticket price as well; adults are $39 weekdays or $53 weekends, and teens are always just $35. Or, you can try out Alpine Meadows, which has a special terrain park just for kids and charges $64 per adult or $49 per teen. Both of these resorts are closest to Tahoe City, and a shuttle bus or trolley can take you to other areas of North Shore.
While all the resorts offer equipment rentals, it’s usually more expensive than renting from a non-affiliated shop. Tahoe Dave’s Skis & Boards has five locations in the North Shore area and has ski rental packages for only $27 a day. Lake Tahoe Tourism has all you need need to find the perfect slopes and a cozy hideaway this winter — without breaking the bank.
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