Recapping our incredible visit to Northstar in Tahoe and sharing tips to make your next ski vacay one for the books.
Even before we officially moved to SF, MM and I discussed how once we were west coasters we’d take frequent trips to Tahoe. Ya know, skiing every weekend in the winter, hanging lakeside in the summer. Yet, somehow we’ve been here nine months and just took our first trip to Tahoe. Criminal, I know. And now that we’ve experienced how incredible it is, I’m trying to get us back for another weekend as soon as possible.
After researching a couple of the mountains, we decided on Northstar California, which I learned was moderate terrain (good for all levels) and is one of the more luxurious mountains, sign me up! We planned our trip with two other couples and rented a super cute Airbnb 20 minutes from the mountain.
Prior to our trip I chatted with the lovely PR people at Northstar to get the lowdown on the mountain and the can’t-miss special activities. After a long weekend at Northstar, I can confidently recommend this mountain for a first class experience.
I’d been snowboarding for the last 15 years and decided that it was maybe time to switch back to skiing. I took this weekend at Northstar to give it a try. This mountain was the perfect place; by the second day I could take on some of the black diamonds but for my more advanced skier friends, there were extra challenging slopes as well.
We skied on Friday, which is awesome if you can get away from the office. Prior to the weekend, you’re likely to avoid long lines, but it was a pleasant surprise that even on Saturday, we didn’t come across any crazy lift lines. Also, the views of Lake Tahoe from parts of the mountain were incredible, probably the prettiest ski mountain views I’ve ever seen. The staff was incredibly friendly and everyone in our group had a great time.
Oh, and let’s take a moment to talk about the weather and ski conditions. As a former east coast snowboarder, I’ve come to expect icy trails and sub-zero temperatures. Imagine my delight as I skied through soft snow and 55 degree sunshine. Amazing! Tahoe has had a ton of snow this year (literally never in my life have I seen such high snowbanks along the road) and even though it didn’t snow the week prior to our visit, the conditions were still excellent. Spring skiing with minimal layers needed is my jam. West Coast skiing really kicks the East Coast’s butt.
If you’re planning a trip to Northstar, here’s some insider info to plan the best trip.
Ski Rentals: If you don’t have your own skis, you can rent at the village at the base of the mountain via RentSkis.com. I highly recommend upgrading to demo skis. It’s slightly more expensive than the performance or sport skis and the quality is worth it. Even more important, the line for demos was super quick whereas the line for the other skis took much longer. Reserve your skis online ahead of time and on the day you pick up, get there early to avoid the long lines.
Download Epic Mix App: When you buy your lift ticket it will be connected to an Epic Pass. Download the Epic Mix app prior to the start of your ski day and you’ll get wait time estimates for each lift, your stats, a mountain guide and photos. Be on the lookout for Epic photographers throughout the mountain. They’ll take your picture, scan your lift ticket and the photos will be uploaded to the app within a couple of hours. I highly recommend stopping for those photos opps, they turn out great! Don’t ya think?
Mountain Top Champagne Tost: This was a first! Northstar offers a free champagne toast for skiers at 2pm every day. The “tost” takes place at this cute little mountaintop set up complete with fire pits, bean bag chairs and a bar. Throughout the day you can purchase champagne if you don’t feel like waiting in line. If you want to partake in the free champs (which you totally should), arrive by 1:45pm and line up, they can only dole out a limited amount of champagne each day and you don’t want to miss out. Read more about this experience HERE.
Upgrade to the Platinum Tost: Celebrating a special occasion on the mountain? Then upgrade to the Platinum Tost, an unforgettable experience. For $85 a person, you’ll get VIP seating with a private fire pit, a bottle of Veuve, an enormous and delicious charcuterie platter and a personal s’mores kit. Deeeeelish! Seriously, if you want to feel like a baller on the mountain, check out this VIP opp. A huge thank you to Northstar for this treat! Those mid-day s’mores really hit the spot 😉
S’mores: Need a sweet treat at the end of an intense day of skiing? Gather around the skating rink at 3:45pm each afternoon for complimentary s’mores.
Apres Ski Relaxation: Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, skiing takes its toll on your body. I can’t think of a better way to wrap up the day or the weekend than with a massage. Fortunately, Northstar has a little spa right in the village–The Tahoe Spa and Wellness Center. My friend and I opted for hot stone massages after our first day of skiing and it breathed new life into our legs before returning to the mountain in the morning. Another way to get that body feeling flexed and ready? Post-ski yoga, also located in the village. I had hoped to fit in a class but couldn’t get my act together this time. Next time I’m going to check it out.
Village Dining: Whether you’re stopping by for apres or having dinner, the village at the bottom of the mountain has some great options. We went for sushi at Mikuni and on our last night dined at Tavern 6330′. For sushi lovers, Mikuni has a ton of inventive rolls that are enormous, so if you like going off the beaten path with your sushi, this is the place to do it. At Tavern I highly recommend the kale caesar (pictured below), the filet mignon and a delish glass of pinot noir. The service and the food get an A+ at both spots.
Take the Scenic Route: Tahoe is gorgeous, so don’t rush out of there on your way home. I know, avoid the traffic and get an early start, but don’t skimp on the scenic drive. On our way home we drove through Truckee which is a super cute ski town. We grabbed beers at Mellow Fellow then drove around Donner Lake which was a can’t-miss. The views were incredible.
Even though winter is officially over, there’s still skiing to be done! There’s plenty of time to get to the mountain and enjoy warm spring skiing. Northstar is slated to be open through mid-April. And if you can’t get there before April, we can start chatting about Spring and Summer activities in Tahoe next!
Or maybe you’re already thinking about next winter? There’s a crazy good deal currently offered for the Epic Season Pass. It’s only $859 and gets you access to Northstar, Whistler, Vail, Heavenly, Park City, just to name a few (there are 14 US mountains and 30 European mountains included). Considering a day pass to any mountain is over $100, if you’re going to ski a bunch next year it’s worth it. I’m toying with the idea but not ready to pull the trigger.
Have you been to Tahoe? Any favorite spots I missed out on? Share below please so I can prep for my next visit!
A big thank you to Northstar for showing me and my friends an amazing time!