Many vacationers who come to the South Shore are unfamiliar with the area and are not sure which ski resort is the closest or which one to go to. My recommendation for South Shore vacationers would be Heavenly. As most people know, Lake Tahoe is divided between California and Nevada, so is Heavenly, and it has 2 lodges in each state making it easily accessible from anywhere on the South Shore. The main lodge is on the California side near the top of Ski Run Boulevard, which is centrally located in South Lake Tahoe, only a couple of miles from the downtown casino area. This is also the main lodge that people go to and primarily, the only lodge most of them know about, making it a bit of a mob scene during the holiday season and 3 day weekends. This is a good time to head to the Nevada side of Heavenly. There are two lodges on top of the mountain ridge east of the casinos up a road called Kingsbury Grade (formally known as State Route 207). They are the Boulder and Stagecoach lodges, and they are approximately 1 mile apart. They are almost considered “hidden gems” because most South Shore vacationers either don’t know they exist, or don’t want to make the drive up Kingsbury Grade — they seem to think it is a far drive. It actually only takes 10 minutes, the same amount of time to get to the California Base Lodge (from the casino area). The upside on skiing/snowboarding on the Nevada side (especially during holidays) is it tends to be a lot less crowded. And the 4th lodge is the Heavenly Gondola, which is located in the middle of the casino downtown area, making it very convenient to walk to if you are staying in the casinos. Parking can be a bit of a problem, and a bit expensive, so I really only recommend using the gondola if you will be walking there.
The California Base, Stagecoach and Boulder lodges each have a restaurant, and the gondola has a stop half way up to the top at Cafe Blue, which serves drinks only. All the way at the top is a full-service restaurant. In total, there are 14 food/drink locations spread all over the mountain ranging from small cafes to large “bar & grill” restaurants. The cuisine is also varied; there is everything from American to Asian to Mexican, giving a wide variety of choices for even the pickiest eater.
Although Heavenly is mostly geared towards the intermediate skier/snowboarder, 20% of the hill is for beginners. The California Base lodge and the Boulder Lodge both have ski schools for beginners and all ages levels of ability. I can speak from personal experience that the ski school instructors are very knowledgeable and very… patient. For the adventurous skiers/snowboarders, there are 4 terrain parks at Heavenly, also ranging in all experience levels. Make sure to check them out on Heavenly’s website beforehand to get a good idea of which one best fits your ability level. For skiers and snowboarders who like to go even further than adventurous, Heavenly also has 3 backcountry gates, accessing some of the most intense out-of-bounds backcountry terrain you’ll find adjacent to a resort. There are also quite a few challenging double-black-diamond runs if you prefer to stay in bounds.
Should you have anyone in your group who is not into skiing or snowboarding, at the base of the gondola is the Heavenly Village, which is loaded with shops and restaurants, and there is even an outdoor ice skating rink. There is also a great restaurant, that I personally like, called Fire and Ice. They serve food Mongolian style (cooked up on a round, large flat griddle in the middle of the restaurant) and have a large outdoor seating area with a fire pit, the perfect place to enjoy a nibble or brew with family and friends after a long day of shopping or a day on the slopes.
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