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Great Places for Après-ski

Kicking back after you kick off your boots is a snow-country tradition, and there’s plenty of post-slopes fun at California’s top alpine resorts. Have a beer or warm up with an Irish coffee, dance, toast handmade marshmallows around a fire ring, go tubing, or dine in high-country splendor. Après-ski California style isn’t exclusive: you’re welcome to hang out even if you haven’t had a workout on the mountain. Here’s where to après in style; locations are listed north to south.

Après-Ski at Squaw Valley
Courtesy of Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows

Après-Ski at Squaw Valley

Après-Ski at Squaw Valley
Hot tubbing near the summit

With ski-tan smiles and serious gear propped in the racks, Squaw is clearly the place for elite skiers. But there’s an easy relaxed feel at the end of the day at Squaw’s base village, with live music, bungee-jump trampoline and countless tail-wagging dogs. Après ski finds a perfect place on the outside deck at the Village at Squaw’s KT Base Bar, with tilt-your-head-back views of legendary KT-22. Another option—if you remember to pack a bathing suit—is to take a hot-tub soak surrounded by 9,000-foot/2,743-metre at Squaw’s High Camp complex (opens in March; if you don’t ski, just ride the aerial tram to access High Camp).

Pint-size racers can keep the fun metre amped up high even after the lifts close at SnoVentures at Squaw. Ages 6 to 12 steer mini-snowmobiles on a groomed track. There’s also snowtubing on site.

Me, my brothers, we all come to Squaw Valley. We get a beer, let the kids go on the bungee tramp, hang out in the Adirondack chairs—perfect après ski.
Jonny Moseley Olympic Gold Medalist - Home Mountain: Squaw Valley
Après Ski at Northstar California
Courtesy of Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe

Après Ski at Northstar California

Après Ski at Northstar California
sip champagne and rejuvenate with a massage after a day on the slopes

This popular resort on Lake Tahoe’s northwest side let’s you start celebrating right out on the slopes. Kick off après with Northstar’s “daily tōst,” where guests are invited to raise a glass and sip bubbly on the mountain each day at 2:00pm. 

Down at the base, all the après action centers around the lively ice rink anchoring the the handsome Village at Northstar. Scan the crowd chillin’ by the ice rink in the handsome Village at Northstar and you can see this place is all about families—happy families—on the ice, sprawled on cushy sofas, in shops and restaurants. Kids bust their moves (or their buns) on the ice, then take breaks with mom and dad (sipping Irish coffees in heated rink-side cabanas) to make marshmallow-y treats with ready-made s’mores kits, complete with toasting sticks and all the sweet ingredients (for sale at a rink-side stand).

Another fun option for all is the Family Après Snow Play area, where you can build snow sculptures, have snowball-tossing competitions, dance to popular tunes, and play games.

A favorite après-ski hangout spot for grownups, including gold medalist Shaun White (Northstar is his home mountain), is romantic Petra, in the village a short walk from the ice rink. Slip into a pillowy banquette at the edgy-urban-meets-mountain-hip hangout, then sip top wines paired with sophisticated small plates, like cumin lamb meatballs.

After a day in ski boots, getting a massage can be an awesome way to après. Try the “Aching Feet Rescue” at the swanky spa at Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. Rehydrate with cucumber water then steam, soak, or swim in a heated lap pool, included with all treatments. 

Après-Ski at Heavenly
Courtesy of Heavenly Mountain

Après-Ski at Heavenly

Après-Ski at Heavenly
A mid-mountain blowout and a sunset cruise

Epic Tahoe views, awesome groomers, great bumps, and plenty of nightlife make this destination hugely popular, especially with out-of-state and international skiers. Maybe it’s the allure of nearby Stateline* (the border of California and Nevada) and its round-the-clock entertainment and casinos, but Heavenly definitely knows how to create a high-altitude party scene. At elevation 9,150 feet / 2,789 metres, Unbuckle, held daily in Tamarack Lodge, stands out as Heavenly’s end-of-day blowout, DJs, dancing, and slinky go-go girls in knee-high fur boots. On Sundays, enjoy Tailgate at Tamarack, showcasing NFL games and drink specials. On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, Heavenly’s secluded East Peak Lodge keeps the party atmosphere going with an afternoon bash, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

For an unusual off-mountain option, consider a ride on the ultimate ski boat, the historic Tahoe Queen paddlewheel boat. The 2½-hour evening cruises depart Ski Run Marina daily February through early April, and include music, food, drinks, and knock-your-ski-socks-off sunset views. 

Après-Ski at Smaller Lake Tahoe Resorts
Courtesy of Sierra-at-Tahoe

Après-Ski at Smaller Lake Tahoe Resorts

Après-Ski at Smaller Lake Tahoe Resorts
Big decks for snow bunnies and a fairytale retreat

This trio of Lake Tahoe resorts may not nab all the headlines, but they quietly deliver some appealing options when it comes to après ski. Here are highlights. 

SIERRA-AT-TAHOE

This smaller resort on Lake Tahoe’s southwest side, home mountain for a fleet of gold-medal-winning skiers and boarders, invites you to relax in Solstice Plaza, a 30,000-square-foot/2,787-square-meter deck for a relaxed après ski.

HOMEWOOD

Challenge your kids to a game of Scrabble or Monopoly in the cozy Fireplace Pub in the base lodge at this West Shore resort. While you’re waiting for your turn in the game, warm up by the massive wood-burning stove, then check out the classic images culled from Homewood’s history (it opened over half a century ago).

ALPINE MEADOWS

Save some energy on the slopes for this astounding nighttime event—a guided snowshoe trek under the stars to the ultimate mountain retreat, The Chalet at Alpine Meadows. It feels like you’ve wandered into a fairy tale at this magical mid-mountain lodge on Tahoe’s north side. You and your fellow diners, cheeks flushed from the cold and the exercise, gather at tables for hearty, Alps-inspired dishes such as Sierra Nevada Porter potato cheese soup, prime rib, chicken cordon bleu and apple strudel. The Snowshoe Dinners, offered on peak weekends and holidays, are limited to 50 guests, so reservations are essential.

Après-Ski at Mammoth Lakes
Courtesy of Mammoth Brewing Company

Après-Ski at Mammoth Lakes

Après-Ski at Mammoth Lakes
Relax in the mountains with a craft beer

Knowing how to relax seems to be a requirement at this laid-back (but A+) resort, perched smack-dab in the middle of the High Sierra’s tallest peaks. So it’s no surprise that the town’s Village at Mammoth offers plenty of places chill out while you warm up. One easy destination is the lively tasting room at Mammoth Brewing Co., offering 13 of its artisan beers—and its own root beer—on tap. For an island ambiance and drinks with paper umbrellas, get your tiki on at Lakanuki, also in the village. 

Want something a little more active than lifting a glass? Try tubing after dark (with light sticks) at Woolly’s Tube Park.

Après-Ski at Big Bear

Après-Ski at Big Bear

Après-Ski at Big Bear
Fine wines, craft brews, and snowshoes

While there are watering holes and wine bars aplenty at this Southern California alpine resort, one of the coolest ways to unwind is to kick off your skis or snowboard and step into a pair of snowshoes. After all that hammering through the terrain parks and carving it up on the trails, there’s something especially alluring about escaping into the wintry beauty of the San Bernardino Mountains. Snowshoe trails lace the area; get tips—and rent equipment at various outdoor shops, such as Goldsmith’s Boardhouse (or splurge on a guided trek with Action Snowshoe Tours.) Warm up after your snowy tromp with fine wines at Le Dolce Vita Tasting Room, pouring fine wines and craft brews paired with small bites.