You might think your day ends when the lifts stop running on the mountain.
In fact, your time off the mountain is just as much part of your vacation experience as your fun on the slopes—and that’s what draws so many families to Northstar California.
In fact, the Village at Northstar at the base of the resort livens up just as the sun dips below the Sierras—and it won’t be just the adults who want to stick around the village for a plate of nachos and après ski indulgences: Trust me, the kids will drag their heels all the way to the parking lot if you ask them to skip the complimentary s’mores, ice skating, and fire pit fun.
The easy solution: Book lodging on-site and make the most of Northstar’s family-friendly vibe.
The hard part: deciding which lodging option best fits your crew.
Shuttle to the slopes: Northstar Mountain Home Rental or Condo
During most of our Northstar vacations, we rent a vacation home.
Shared with family or friends, the extra space and conveniences of a vacation home are simply too good to pass up.
Booked through Northstar Lodging, these rental homes are located in the wooded residential neighborhoods below the village.
Reserving through Northstar guarantees perks that our family considers essential: housekeeping, use of the free Northstar shuttle system, and use of the Northstar Property Owners Association recreational center, which includes heated pools, hot tubs, a fitness center, and rec games.
Many vacation rentals also offer hot tubs onsite, and all are less than a five-minute drive from the village if someone needs a quick pickup or drop-off.
Pros: There’s room to spread out and cook your own meals, space for kids to play outside, and close proximity to additional Northstar amenities, such as the childcare center, the stables, and the golf course (in warmer weather).
With the shuttle, you’ll skip the hassle and expense of daily parking, too.
Cons: You’ll need to budget an additional 10 minutes each morning to ride the (very efficient) shuttle system to the slopes, and use of the rec center does come with an entry fee ($2 per person on our last visit).
If you don’t need to rent a full-size house, consider a Northstar mountain condo in the Aspen Grove area.
These smaller units are more affordable, but still offer full kitchens, a washer and dryer, and up to three bedrooms.
Walk to the slopes: Northstar Village lodging
One of our most memorable Northstar vacations centered around our stay in the Big Horn building in the Village at Northstar.
The luxury condos in Big Horn (as well as Catamount, One Village Place, Great Bear, and Iron Horse) are managed by Tahoe Mountain Lodging, and include up to three bedrooms per unit.
We loved the underground, heated parking, the first floor ski lockers, and the convenience of stepping out our door into the heart of the village.
We were steps from Big Springs Gondola, the ice skating rink, and restaurants.
We could make meals in our unit (there’s a full kitchen), or fully immerse ourselves in village life and check out the eateries there.
When we were done skiing each day, we could ski nearly to our door, and we’d be at the village bungee trampoline as fast as the kids could kick off their ski boots.
Pros: Location, location, location! You can walk to everything you need, from the chairlift to dinner to entertainment.
Plus, all guests have use of hot tubs and fitness centers, which are located in select buildings (ask when booking to reserve a unit in one of the fitness center buildings, for convenience).
Cons: The Northstar Village condos are pricier than off-site lodging.
Ski-in, ski-out: Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe or Constellation Residences
For a true ski-in, ski-out experience, head to the Highlands, located at mid-mountain just above the Lodge at Big Springs.
Among the options here are rooms or suites at the ultra-lux Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe, where you’ll soak up the ambiance of the famed Ritz Carlton “Living Room”—think multi-story fireplace and killer après-ski treats.
For more space without sacrificing luxury, book the Constellation Residences.
These one- to four-bedroom units are attached to the Ritz via an interior skyway, and guests have full access to Ritz amenities, such as the outdoor heated pool, hot tubs, and fitness center.
Everything is simply easy at Constellation, from direct access to the slopes (you’re located just off the Big Easy chair) to an easy path to the Village via the Highlands gondola.
Want to make dinner at home a couple of nights?
Clean up the kids’ snowy ski clothes?
No problem: The Constellation’s full kitchen and washer/dryer make your life easy, and many are set up with bunk beds for kids and extended family.
Pros: You’ll want for nothing and reap the benefits of a full-scale ski butler service and ski storage.
Cons: You’ll pay top dollar—but you truly won’t find closer proximity to the snow or better service.
Wherever you land on your Northstar ski vacation, get your fill of the mountains and snow, and make sure to linger in the village for those free s’mores (bonus points from the kids: Check).