Northstar California Resort with kids: what you need to know for a great ski vacation

Between the expense, the equipment, and the logistics of getting everyone where they need to be (preferably with both gloves), skiing with kids can be daunting. Northstar California makes it easier by continuing to be one of the friendliest and most family-oriented mountains my family and I have ever skied. With a fun, centralized ski village, luxury accommodation options, and multiple ski school programs, Northstar offers everything your family needs to have a successful, memorable Tahoe ski vacation. Here’s how to get the most out of a trip to Northstar California Resort with kids:


Plan to stay a minimum of three days.

With 170 acres of newly skiable side-terrain, a new express quad chairlift doubling the capacity on the backside, and one of the best terrain parks (including the new 22′ Shaun White super pipe), families simply can’t full experience Northstar in only a day, especially if they plan to spend even half a day in group or private lessons. Renting equipment, buying tickets, and registering for ski and board school all take time: you only want to have to do it once per ski vacation. Staying at Northstar more than one day saves you money too: buying 3, 5, or 7 day passes is much cheaper than day-of ticket window pricing. If you plan to ski more than seven days, consider purchasing a local Epic Pass instead, which allows entry to both Northstar and Heavenly.

Immerse yourself in ‘village life’.

We loved staying in the heart of the Northstar Village at Tahoe Mountain Lodging’s Big Horn Lodge. Of course, it’s convenient to be steps away from the slopes, ice skating rink, equipment rentals, restaurants, shops, and hot tubs, but what we hadn’t counted on was how much enjoyment we’d gain from staying in the heart of such a contagious ‘ski town’ atmosphere. The Northstar-at-Tahoe Village truly is the heart of the resort; we loved the cheery bonfires lining the village streets (bring marshmallows!), the live music in the evenings, and the view from our balcony of the Northstar gondola whisking guests up and over the snow-blanketed slopes.


Take advantage of private family lessons.

Like many resorts, Northstar-at-Tahoe offers a wide variety of ski and board lessons, from group classes for kids as young as three to adventure and ‘guided’ sessions for advanced skiers and riders. At first glance, springing for a private lesson may seem like an extravagance, but because families can add up to six people to one private lesson, the cost can become equal or even less than a group lesson. Your children will get far more personalized instruction, and if you join in as well, you’ll learn how to help your kids learn! Our kids (ages 7, 10, and 12) had a great time with their private instructor, Jon, who served as not only a teacher, but a guide, familiarizing the kids with the mountain as they zipped around, enjoying twice as many runs in as most guests (by utilizing private lesson lines). Time is money, and dedicating half a day or one full day to a family private lesson can not only jump start your ski instruction, but get your group familiarized with Northstar like nothing else!


Utilize EpicMix.

A brand new social networking and tracking service offered by all Vail Resorts (of which Northstar is a part), EpicMix is touted everywhere you go at Northstar, and for good reason: you should be using this fun and free tool! In fact, if you have a ski pass, you already are: every time you enter a lift line, an EpicMix sensor scans your pass, recording your lift habits, total vertical feet, and lots of other fun stats throughout your day. After skiing, families can log into their account (kids are securely added by you to yours), select avatars, compare stats and achievement ‘buttons’, and view photos taken by the equally free EpicMix photographers (which work just like Disney’s PhotoPass photographers). And if your tween or teen is skiing without you (or your kids are in lessons while you’re in the lodge), you can log onto EpicMix from any smart phone to find out where on the mountain they’d last ‘checked in’.

Save time for all the extras.

Northstar offers so much more than skiing: in the village, families can take in a first-run movie, ice skate on the public rink (skating is free; if you need skates, rentals are $10/person), roast marshmallows over the open fire pits, and tube at mid-mountain.

Much thanks to Northstar-at-Tahoe for hosting our stay. This compensation came with no expectation of a positive review.

About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.




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