It looks like we're in for another winter of big snow. But not everyone who visits Lake Tahoe's South Shore in winter wants to ski or gamble. Fortunately, there are so many other enticing options you can easily spend two or three winter days having snowy fun outside but off the slopes.
Of course, there is certainly something to be said for just staying inside and sipping hot cocoa by the fireplace. But if you're feeling adventurous, here are some ideas:
Snowmobiling: With a fleet of more than 100 Yamaha and Ski-Doo snowmobiles, the Zephyr Cove Snowmobile Center is the largest snowmobile tour center in the United States. Rates include helmet, transportation to the mountain, snowmobile
Details: 760 Highway 50, Zephyr Cove, Nev., 866-761-6240; www.zephyrcove.com. Two-hour trips costs $119-$129/single, $159-$169/double; clothing rental $5-$15; packages available. Must be 5 or older. Reservations advised.
Ride a gondola: The Heavenly Gondola's eight-passenger gondolas take 12 minutes to climb 2.4 miles up Monument Peak to an observation deck (it is 3,000 feet above lake level and more than
Details: Highway 50 at Park Avenue, South Lake Tahoe, 800-432-8365; www.skiheavenly.com. Schedule varies. $30 general, $26 ages 13-18 and 65 and older, $20 ages 5-12.
Take to the rink: At the gondola's base, Heavenly Village has this area's only lighted outdoor ice-skating rink -- permitting skating under the stars. Snacks of hot chocolate and s'mores can be enjoyed around an outdoor fire pit. The village itself is filled with shops, restaurants and a movie complex.
Details: 530-542-4230; www.theshopsatheavenly.com. Noon-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, noon-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 8 p.m. Sundays, mid-November
sleigh RIDE: Take a ride around a snow-covered meadow in an old-fashioned, one-horse open sleigh. Borges Carriage and Sleigh Rides operates five handmade sleighs -- ranging from a cozy two-seater to a 20-passenger super model. They're pulled by rescued horses, either a 2,000-pound Blonde Belgian or a rare American-Russian Baskhir Curly. Dinner and pony rides are also available. In warm weather, you can take a carriage ride instead. While here, get your photo taken in front of a painted snowman with a gorgeous Tahoe skyline in the background. You might also want to pick up an autographed copy of the self-published "Sleigh Rides in Lake Tahoe: Memoirs of Sam Borges."
Details: Highway 50 next to MontBleu casino, Stateline, 800-726-7433; www.sleighride.com. 10 a.m.-sunset daily, weather permitting. $20 general, $10 ages 2-10.
Snowshoeing: Spread over 125 lakeside acres leased from the U.S. Forest Service, the Camp Richardson Historic Resort complex exudes a nostalgic 1930s Old Tahoe charm. In winter it becomes a cross-country skiing and snowshoeing wonderland. After an exhilarating workout, the lakeside Beacon Bar & Grill is the place to go for refreshment and one of its famous frozen Rum Runner cocktails. Lodging is also available in a historic hotel, a beach motel, and rustic cabins spread amid tall pines.
Details: 900 Jameson Beach Road, 800-544-1801; www.camprichardson.com. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, December-mid-March. $15/half day, $19/full day; $9 and $12 for children.
Toboggans and saucers: Families have been coming to play in the snow at low-key Hansen's Resort since 1950. The toboggan-tube-sled run, with its groomed runs and banked turns, opened in 1958. All equipment is furnished, and lodging in secluded cabins is available.
Details: 1360 Ski Run Blvd., 530-544-3361; www.hansensresort.com. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, December to mid-March. $10 general, $5 ages 5-9.
Dog-sledding: As the sled swooshes over scenic trails and through the trees and woods on a Husky Express dog sled tour, the frisky, well-tempered huskies seem to be having as much fun as their passengers. The "musher," who never utters the word "mush" but instead hollers "hike!" or "let's go!" has a pretty good time, too. The sled holds two adults and one or two small children, with a maximum weight of 375 pounds.
Details: In Hope Valley, 775-782-3047; www.highsierra.com/sst. $240/sled. Reservations required.
If You Go
Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority: 800-288-2463 (lodging reservations referral service).
Online: For deals on activities, dining and lodging, visit www.TahoeSouth.com.