Kids too young for ski school? Don’t despair! There’s plenty to do in Tahoe (even in the winter) with babies and toddlers, providing you don’t mind driving around a bit.
1. Kidzone Museum
The biggest gem for kids in the Tahoe area is the Kidzone Museum in Truckee. Opened in its current form since 2002, the former Sierra Nevada Children’s Museum has activities and toys for infants on up. Our eight month old Zachary loved the cushioned crawling area with teething toys, while two year old Dori went from the indoor jungle gym, to the train table,to the mini-grocery store, to the hands-on doctor’s office, to the water play lagoon, to the dress up area. And we didn’t even get to the stagecoach, or the craft room. This indoor museum is open most snow days – providing you can get there.
2. Sleigh Ride
Get the kids singing Jingle Bells as you ride on open sleighs pulled by horses in South Lake Tahoe or the Squaw Creek Meadow. The 30-minute rides are suitable for babies to grannies – with blankets provided to keep you warm while you take in the scenery. The rides are short enough that the kids shouldn’t get too antsy. In the South Lake area, try family-run Borges. A ride at Squaw Creek Meadow is free for kids under two (accompanied by paying adults), with daytime and sunset rides available.
3. Dog Sledding
While hearing “mush” may remind you of your grandmother’s breakfast, the cold air blowing through your hair as 10 gorgeous huskies pull you through the snow will leave you refreshed. Kids love the Alaskan and Siberian Huskies pulling the toboggan sleds, and you will love the photos. Cozy up with your family (kids need to be at least 10 months old) under blankets at Wilderness Adventures Dog Sled Tours at Sugar Bowl or at the Resort at Squaw Creek. Children should be at least two for the Husky Express Dog Sled Tours, 30 minutes south of South Lake Tahoe. The ride is not recommended for pregnant women.
4. Lake Cruise
On a clear day, the lake is a great place for unobstructed snow capped mountain views, especially since the lake does not freeze in winter. Take the kids on a 2 ¼ hour narrated cruise in Emerald Bay with Lake Tahoe Cruises. It runs daily at 1:00 p.m. with lunch and drinks sold on board. Crawling babies may find the floor a bit dirty, so bring a travel stroller or carrier.
5. Historic Downtown Truckee
When the sun is out, this is the place to be with young kids. We spent a morning walking
around the picturesque streets of downtown Truckee. Most of the local eateries are kid-friendly. Toys abound at several shops, including Tree House Children’s Clothing & Gifts, Truckee Variety Company, and the Truckee Train & Toy Co. For your sweet tooth, try Buds Old Fashioned Fountain or Sweets. When you get hungry, try one of 57 varieties of omelets at Squeeze In, or treat your kid to a fun-shaped decorated cookie at the Wagon Train Coffee Shop. Most shops and restaurants are on two long blocks which are somewhat stroller friendly if the snow is cleared.
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