My friends and I have made it a tradition to go on an annual ski trip every winter. Lake Tahoe had been near the top of my bucket list for as long as I could remember which is why this past year, we decided to ski Heavenly Valley in South Lake Tahoe. We like to choose a mountain that can accommodate all different skill levels and Heavenly is the “easiest” resort on the lake. There are a few green run for the beginners in the group and plenty of more difficult runs for the experts.
Lake Tahoe exceeded every expectation of mine. From the second we drove around the mountain and the lake was in sight, I immediately fell in love. I struggle with that question “water or mountains?” On one hand I love water because of the bright blue color it brings to any landscape but on the other hand I love the cozy feeling of being overwhelmed by mountains and tall trees. So it’s no wonder I found Tahoe so beautiful, it has both water and mountains. I became so obsessed with it, I planned another trip to fly back out a month later. And that says a lot because I am not a repeat traveler. I find returning to a lot of the places I have already been to be a waste of time because there is so much else out there to explore first.
We planned this trip during Covid with the risk of it being canceled. Sure enough, two weeks before our flight out to California, our Airbnb canceled on us. California went back into lock down and was no longer allowing short term rentals. The property we rented was actually through a third party service (which I try to stay away from) called TurnKey. They were very hard to work with and being a larger service, could not bend the rules for us. I have always preferred to work directly with the owner rather than a host service for this exact reason. Host services have too many rules in place and provide horrible customer service.
Luckily, the California-Nevada border runs right through South Lake Tahoe. At the time, Nevada did not have the same mandated lockdown in place and were welcoming short term rentals. With two weeks until our trip, I was very stressed trying to find the perfect house for my group of 15 – check out my post Guide to Booking the Perfect Airbnb for You for more about how I go about finding the right Airbnb. I ended up finding a beautiful home within our price range in Kingsbury, NV on VRBO for our stay. The owner and host, Monte, was very sweet and extremely easy to work with. He contacted me immediately to talk about our situation and helped work everything out.
The house was about a 10 minute drive up into the mountains from town with a beautiful view of the lake. Complete with 7 bedrooms, 5 baths and an open layout, it was perfect for our group. If you are familiar with the typical layout of a ski Chalet, the house had lots of floors with the kitchen and living area up three flights from the front door entrance. I wouldn’t recommend this house if you are traveling with anyone who has a hard time with stairs.
Monte’s house was super cozy. The type of place that doesn’t feel like a rental or hotel room but rather someone’s family home. The kitchen was stocked with everything we needed to cook big meals and the living area seated all of us for game night. Something I loved about this house was that the views from the front looked out at the lake while the views from the back looked out at mountains and tall trees. The jacuzzi on the back deck looked out into the trees and up at the sky full of stars at night.
If you aren’t a skier, I would still recommend visiting Lake Tahoe in the winter. It was absolutely stunning to see the sun glistening on the lake with the snow covered mountaintops as a backdrop. With that being said, I adore ski towns in the winter. I find them full of happy energy and cozy vibes. Downtown Heavenly Village has tons of cute restaurants, breweries, shopping and of course, the casinos. If you’re looking for total luxury, Edgewood is a 5-star resort on the lake with a golf course, spa, restaurants and plenty of activities.
Outside of Heavenly Village, you can visit other towns on the lake or simply drive around the lake taking in the beautiful scenery. The drive around the lake in its entirety is about 72 miles and will take a minimum of 2.5 hours, more with stops alongs the way. Stopping at Emerald Bay and Sand Harbor Beach were two of my favorite spots.