Squaw Valley is more than one of the best ski resorts in the US. It’s an icon. A destination that tops powder hounds’ and bunnies’ bucket lists alike. One of just three Olympic hosts in North America, the USA Today’s 10Best #1 ski resort, and National Parks TravelingMom’s favorite place to carve. But what about non-skiers? There’s a village packed full of fun for everyone on a family ski getaway, including Grandma and the baby.
Squaw Valley-Destination for Fun off the Slopes
Taking the entire family skiing requires more than a pack of lift tickets. Squaw Valley Ski Resort offers a village packed full of fun for everyone on a family getaway, not just the skiers.
When I’m planning my family’s annual winter getaway, I look for fun activities for everyone. I want shopping, dining, and outdoor activities like sledding and skating all within walking distance. I found all that at The Village at Squaw Valley on a recent visit.
What I loved about The Village at Squaw Valley
- I didn’t have to leave the resort for fun off the slopes, day or night.
- The Squaw / Alpine Express shuttle means I didn’t need a car to get around.
- It never felt crowded even in the busiest time of the year.
What I wanted from The Village at Squaw Valley
- A skating rink in the Village.
- The parking lots to be labeled better; I found a sea of cars.
Family Fun without a Lift Ticket
My kids could ski or snowboard everyday, but mom can’t. I need a break after a few days or my legs will fall off or worse. (Let’s not think about the worse.)
Sure, my kids would love to bomb the mountain on their own but I’m not comfortable letting my kids, 9, 12 and 14, run wild. So I add a rest day into our family ski getaway.
I might get an extra hour of sleep but I’ve got to keep the kids moving. And that means heading outdoors for winter fun for the family.
Winter Fun for the Family
In a corner of the Squaw Valley Ski Resort, I found the SnoVentures area packed with winter fun. Located next to Squaw Kids, the ski and snowboarding school, SnoVentures offers a day’s worth of fun.
For the kids, mini snowmobiles offer thrills and a taste of the adrenaline sport with just-the-right-size option for kids. Limited to kids 6 to 12.
For kids of all ages, snow tubing allows families a fun outlet for competition. Grab a tube and use the covered surface lift for more fun with less work.
The Village at Squaw Valley also features an indoor rock wall. Outside I found a Sky Jump Trampoline for the kids.
A free sledding area, located next to the snow tubing area, offers all-day fun for free if you bring-your-own equipment. Or pick up a sled in Tahoe City, just 10 miles away.
For the winter athlete, the Nordic Center at the Resort of Squaw Creek at Squaw Valley offers 18km of groomed trails, located close by. Winding through the meadows in Squaw Valley, witness postcard-perfect scenery.
Too much of a workout for a vacation? Strap on a pair of snow shoes and pull the kids in a toboggan for fun with the littles.
For families looking for an Arctic-inspired adventure I found it at Squaw Valley. Imagine a team of Alaskan Huskies pulling the family through the snow-covered meadow on a dog sled.
Indoor Winter Escapes
For ladies needing to decompress, the Trilogy Spa located in The Village at Squaw Valley offers just that. Don’t forget the men, massage away the mountain kinks.
The Wanderlust Yoga Studio located in The Village offers drop-in classes.
The Village offers more than winter wear shopping. I found the Squaw Valley Logo Company along with shops featuring home, kids and toy shopping.
Every Saturday evening, The Village at Squaw Valley offers live music. Then at 6 p.m., the night sky lights up with fireworks.
Squaw Valley also features a film series on selected nights throughout the winter season for free movies at the Olympic Village Lodge. For adults looking to unwind, the Auld Dubliner Irish Pub draws a crowd along with several other bars in The Village area.
Dining at The Village at Squaw Valley:
At the end of a killer day of skiing, I love to grab a bite to eat. The Village at Squaw Valley offers lots of options for families.
During my visit, we ate at Rocker, steps from the lifts. It features a patio to watch the fireworks and right outside is a fire pit for roasting up some marshmallows.
My kids dominated a plate of nachos as big as the state of California. With a little kids’ menu, big kid pleasing hamburgers, a choice of farm fresh salads, the whole table left full and happy.
For snacking during the day, I stopped by the Euro Snack trailer for savory and sweet crepes. Of course, I ran into Starbucks for coffee and hot chocolate. I also found pizza, sushi and grill options.
Squaw Valley’s Aerial Tram
The aerial tram offers spectacular views of Squaw Valley and Lake Tahoe beyond. A scenic ride aboard a large tram car offers a fun outing to High Camp, the terminus for the tram.
Weather permitting, the Olympic Ice Skating Pavilion offers rentals and outdoor skating. Several options for meals or snacks are available at High Camp. Tickets are required.
Squaw Valley’s Olympic History
Squaw Valley’s skiing is not the only thing that’s legendary. Their successful Olympic bid is as legendary as the games themselves.
In 1954 Alex Cushing, the chairman of Squaw Valley, saw a newspaper article announcing Reno as the possible site for the 1960 Olympic games. He threw his resort in the mix, boasting only a single chairlift and a couple of rope tows at the time.
The place to beat—Innsbruck, Austria, an international favorite.
Against all odds, Cushing secured the vote in France. With the help of the State of California and Walt Disney, the infrastructure grew out of the valley virtually overnight.
Days before the opening, Squaw Valley lacked the snow it needed. Then a fierce snowstorm blew in from the West and dumped the much-needed snow.
As if orchestrated by Walt Disney himself, the head of pageantry, the clouds cleared moments before the official the start of the Olympic Games. Moments later Walt Disney’s 2,000 doves rose into the air signaling the start of the 10-day long games.
Be sure to walk through the Olympic Museum at High Camp. My kids loved the Olympic podium.
For the Skiers and Snowboarders
Squaw Valley Ski Resort is more than a ski resort, it’s a bucket list destination and an international favorite for over 50 years. And it was recently voted USA Today’s 10Best #1 ski resort.
Any day on the mountain can’t be beat, and a day at Squaw is epic. It’s more than the world-class runs, it’s a feeling that seeps in and takes hold. It’s the kind a day that you remember for decades.
The Mountain Statistics:
|Base Elevation: 6,200 ft.||Summit Elevation: 9,050 ft.|
|Vertical Drop: 2,850 ft.||Skiable Acres: 3,600|
|Type of Terrain||Percentage of Runs|
|Total Named Runs:||170|
1 aerial tram, 1 funitel, 1 high speed 6-pack, 3 high-speed quads, 1 quad, 9 triples, 3 doubles and 5 surface lifts
Lift Tickets at Squaw Valley Ski Resort
|Ages||Advance Purchase||At the Resort|
|19 to 64||$114||$149|
|13 to 18||$99||$124|
|5 to 12||$69||$89|
Squaw Kids Ski School:
Squaw Valley offers ski school programs divided by age. For the youngest skiers, ages 3 to 4 (potty-trained kids only), the Pioneers program focuses on fun with first time, full-day and half-day programs.
For the 5 to 7-year-olds, kids can choose from skiing or snowboarding. The Explorers Ski and Grommets Snowboard Program is broken down by ability–green, blue or black-level runs.
Kids 8 to 13 explore the mountain trying lots of runs alongside similarly-skilled kids. The Mountaineers Ski and Jibbers Snowboard program will be on the snow the majority of the day.
All kids’ programs (ages 3 to 13) feature an afternoon first-time package. Teen group lessons are available though they meet in the adult lesson area.
How to Get to Squaw Valley Ski Resort:
Squaw Valley Ski Resort is located at 1960 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley, California. Squaw Valley is 12 miles south of Truckee, California, along California Highway 89. Tahoe City, California, a quaint mountain town on the western shores of Lake Tahoe is 10 miles away.
If flying into Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) to visit Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley is 48 miles from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport via Interstate 80.
|Valet Garage Parking||$30 or $40 holiday|
Tips from a TravelingMom:
- Pack a bag of marshmallows and a couple of roasting sticks, I found several fire pits, perfect for an après-ski treat.
- Squaw Valley Ski Resort’s partner resort, Alpine Meadows is a short complimentary shuttle ride away.
- Before heading out check out road conditions at NVroads.com for tire chain requirements. I use Nevada’s website for the Lake Tahoe region since it’s easier to use on a mobile device than California’s website.