Allow me to let you in on one of my best kept travel secrets: ski resorts in autumn are 1. empty, 2. affordable, and 3. beautiful. My favorite mountain of Northstar California Resort is no exception. Lake Tahoe in the fall enjoys blue skies, dry weather, and plenty of outdoor activities.
Why visit Northstar before the snow falls? Read on for what to do at Northstar and the North Shore of Lake Tahoe in the autumn, plus where to stay to snag those enticing fall deals.
Autumn Food and Wine Festival: Scheduled for September 8th-9th, this gourmet food festival will feature top chefs and mixologists (some from nearby Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe), California wineries, and demonstrations on ways to eat locally and healthfully. And if you’re bringing the whole family, don’t worry: even the Northstar festivals not designed for kids are still kid-friendly. When we attended Northstar’s summer Beer and Bluegrass festival (also recommended), the resort dedicated the entire ice-skating rink floor to kid-friendly games and activities.If food and wine isn’t your thing, the Tara Llanes Classic at the end of September consists of a mountain bike race and kids’ events to benefit spinal cord injury research.
Hiking and mountain biking in the Sierras: Fall hiking in Lake Tahoe is fabulous. The heat has died down to be replaced by cool breezes and empty trails. Families can hike Northstar resort with a gondola hiking pass ($10 for adults and free for kids) or can venture off-property by just a few miles to access the Five Lakes or Martis Creek areas. Downhill mountain biking on the Northstar slopes is offered through October 7th, but can be enjoyed longer on nearby lakeside trails.
Golf: Golf courses are plentiful in the Tahoe area, but The Course at Northstar is Tahoe’s best resort value. The course is open through October, weather permitting, and winds through ponderosa pines and around creeks, always with fabulous mountain views. If you’re lodging at Northstar, the course is on the free shuttle route, or just five minutes from the Village by car.
Lake cruises: Catch a ride on the Tahoe Gal, Lake Tahoe’s historic paddlewheel boat for a family excursion right from Tahoe City (on the North Shore side by Northstar). Primarily a summer activity, Tahoe Gal has an extended fall schedule to include scenic lunch tours. It’s a great way to spend a few hours on the water after the busy summer tourist season (when the lake it too cool for swimming).
Where to stay: Stay in the Northstar Village during your autumn visit: it won’t be crowded at this time of year, and you’ll have the quaint streets and roller skating rink nearly to yourselves. The condo units at Catamount or Big Horn allow you to take advantage of restaurants and retail shops (many of which will be featuring pre-season sales) and enjoy the included outdoor hot tubs and exercise facility. And no matter where you stay in the North Tahoe area, rest assured that driving to the Northstar Village and parking won’t be an issue in the fall. The place will be all yours!