Home (Away) for the Holidays: Five things to do from our front door

Taking in the view from our backyard

As you know, we loved our HomeAway vacation rental in South Tahoe. Not only is this house idyllic, comfortable, and convenient, but it sits right in the midst of Eldorado National Forest, providing acres of wilderness to explore right from the front door.

It’s not in a neighborhood of multi-million dollar mansions lining Lake Tahoe, for which we couldn’t have been happier. Instead, it’s located just minutes from Echo Summit, fifteen mountain road miles from the city. Most of the neighboring homes consist of summer cabins closed up for the season, the snowy roads free of traffic and completely peaceful. In all directions, we could find pristine snow and beautiful pine woods. We certainly weren’t lacking for entertainment, however!

Five things to do five minutes or less from our vacation home’s front door:

1. Build a snow fort! Kids become quite industrious when faced with 3-4 feet of Sierra powder to play in! This one took over an hour to build, but not once did anyone complain of boredom, cold, hunger, or any of the other usual maladies parents dread. Best of all, it stayed up for days!

Toby sets out from our back door!

2. Go snowshoeing! When you stay in a house abutting the wilderness, there’s no long drive, no hassle, and no extra planning: we literally put on our snowshoes at the bottom of our porch and set off into the backyard. Right down the road, we found a mountain meadow of pristine snow, which the kids immediately filled with snow angels. Visitors can rent snowshoes from a local outfitter, or from nearby Sierra-at-Tahoe (for use on their three miles of groomed snowshoe trails).

3. Ski for the day! We timed it: Sierra at Tahoe ski resort is four minutes away by car (probably one minute as the crow flies!). We have so much to say about this truly family-friendly ski resort that it deserves its own article; with the perfect combination of easy to difficult terrain, the affordable prices, and the added touches for kids, this is the perfect ski resort to have in your ‘backyard’.

4. Sled or tube! Sierra at Tahoe features a great tubing hill for young children (and it’s located on the other side of the resort from the busy ski center), and three miles from our vacation home is Adventure Mountain, a groomed sledding and snow playground right on Hwy 50. We also grabbed our sleds and played just feet from the house on the powdery slopes above the meadow!

5. Warm up by the fireside! Grab some hot cocoa, curl up by the beautiful fireplace, and play a board game together as a family (bring your own or borrow one from the selection already here). Or let everyone relax by watching a movie. With TVs and high speed internet (I was glad to be able to work seamlessly while on vacation), ‘down time’ is easy. If you want a treat, try what we call a ‘Mountain Snow Cone’: grab a cup of fresh snow, add maple syrup and a dash of milk, stir, and enjoy!

A note on dining: One of our favorite things about renting a vacation home from HomeAway is the ability to cook and dine at home instead of eat out. We just find it more restful (and affordable) with three kids who are always tired out by the day’s activities. During our stay, we only visited one restaurant (besides the dining venues at Sierra at Tahoe ski resort), and it was excellent. It’s called Freshies, and it’s a local Hawaiian fusion favorite. Don’t let the tucked away strip mall location deter you! (3330 Lake Tahoe Blvd.) If you do decide to eat out regularly, South Tahoe has just about any cuisine you could ask for (approximately 15-20 minutes from the house).

For summer vacationers, note that the trailhead for the Desolation Wilderness area is steps from our vacation home’s door, as well!

If you’re interested in the experience we had, the home we rented can be found here at HomeAway. As stated previously, HomeAway generously hosted us during this portion of our Tahoe Holiday. This compensation came with no expectation of a positive review. Read all our articles in our Home (Away) for the Holidays series!

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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