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Thursday, February 21 , 2019, 6:51 am | Mostly Cloudy 43º


Judy Crowell: North Lake Tahoe a Perfect Christmas Getaway

Area offers a veritable winter wonderland for adults and children during holiday season

Borges Sleigh offers a cozy sleigh ride.
Borges Sleigh offers a cozy sleigh ride. (Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority photo)

[Click here for a related photo gallery]

From mid-November to mid-April, the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe is a veritable winter wonderland offering all the fun and excitement of ski-in/ski-out slopes, snowboarding, tubing, ice-skating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and, for the less ambitious, heated pools, slope-side outdoor hot tubs, eucalyptus steam rooms, a spa lap pool and a lively après-ski scene.

Kids will love being part of the Ritz Kids ‘Club’ with activities such as forest exploring, storytelling, scavenger hunts and building a snowman with a snowman kit from the concierge.

S’mores from the Marshmologist at the fire pit aren’t just for kids and will have you craving seconds and thirds.

Snowplows keep the mountain roads pretty passable (i.e, tire chains!), but why fight it when you can enjoy the winter experience at the Ritz?

Check into a cozy guestroom, all with gas fireplaces and floor to ceiling windows offering breathtaking mountain views.

No need to leave the hotel, with breakfasts at Café Blue, barbecue favorites for lunch or dinner at the Backyard Bar & BBQ and upscale, yet casual, dinners at the stunning Manzanita. Start with their gigantic shrimp cocktails and end with in-house-made ice cream. You’ll burn it off on the slopes.

If you just must venture out, hop on the complimentary gondola down to the neighboring Village at Northstar.

Fireplace column in the livingr room. Click to view larger
Fireplace column in the livingr room. (Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe)

This sophisticated alpine village boasts a 9,000-square-foot ice-skating rink with cozy fire pits, shopping, movies at the Village Cinema, local live performances, the Mikuni Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar and Rubicon Pizza Company.

Other dining options, a short drive away, include Soule Domain, for innovative cuisine in a romantic log cabin; Big Water Grille, nestled in the mountains with arguably the best panoramic views of the lake; the Pfeifer House, for hearty, rib-sticking German fare; Steamers Beach Side Bar, a local favorite for burgers and pizza by the beach; Jake’s on the Lake, for superb lakeside dining and Squeez-In, a MUST for breakfast in nearby Truckee.

We went for the advertised “Best Omelettes on the Planet” and came out believers.

I had the Nebraska Rae, “bacon and cream cheese? Can’t go wrong, tomatoes and avocado topped. ”

Next time I’ll brave it and go for the Zweifel:” the famous peanut butter concoction! Apples and bananas sautéed in butter and honey and folded into an omelet with peanut butter. Best to add bacon (trust me on this one!).

It took 10 minutes to choose from the 100+ choices and I left inquiring about franchise possibilities.

Marshmology at the Fire Pit. Click to view larger
Marshmology at the Fire Pit. (Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe)

We departed for Truckee intending to be back at the hotel by noon and ended up spending the entire afternoon in this authentic, charming mountain town, browsing through the one-of-a-kind gift shops, art galleries and learning of the town’s gritty past.

When venturing out, be sure to save time for a Borges Sleigh & Carriage Ride around the lake and through the snow covered mountain forests. Belgium draft horses pulling handmade sleighs will take you, all tucked in with colorful woolen blankets, along the Pony Express Trail. Photo ops will be around every turn, so don’t forget your camera.

Just as South Lake Tahoe with its Nevada gambling, nightclubs, headliner entertainment, new lodge-style resorts, The Heavenly Gondola, upscale shops and eateries differs from North Lake Tahoe, so too does the winter experience of the lake differ from the summer experience.

No matter, whether South or North, winter or summer, the lake is the second-deepest lake in the U.S. at 1,645 feet, with 75 miles of shoreline surrounded by the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains.

Cobalt waters are crystal clear and one can see a white dinner plate 78 feet below the surface.

More about the summer experience this spring, too much beauty for one article.

— Judy Crowell is a Noozhawk contributing writer, author, freelance travel writer and Santa Barbara resident. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The opinions expressed are her own.

The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers a winter wonderland. Click to view larger
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers a winter wonderland. (Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe)

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