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Great Places for Après-ski

Where to relax after a day on the California slopes

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Kicking back after you kick off your ski 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 full day on the mountain. Read on to learn more about where to après near California’s top ski resorts; locations are listed north to south.

Northstar California

This popular resort on Lake Tahoe’s northwest side lets 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 p.m. Down at the base, all the family-oriented après action centers around the lively ice rink anchoring the handsome Village at Northstar, while a favorite hangout spot for grownups is romantic Petra, a short walk from the ice rink. Slip into a pillowy banquette at the edgy urban-meets-mountain-hip hangout, then sip delectable wines paired with sophisticated plates, like Moroccan tagine. (read more)

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

On the Squaw Valley side of this sprawling Lake Tahoe resort, après ski finds a perfect place to unfold on the outside deck at the 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 Squaw’s High Camp complex (if you don’t ski, just ride the 10-minute aerial tram to access High Camp). And High Camp itself has its own relaxation quarters: Grab a drink at the Terrace Bar with dramatic views of Lake Tahoe or the Granite Bistro Café, which looks out over the slopes. For alfresco après, the party is always buzzing at Le Chamois, home to one of the most popular outdoor drinking scenes in all of Lake Tahoe. (read more)

Heavenly Ski Resort

Epic Tahoe views, awesome groomers, great bumps, and plenty of nightlife make Heavenly Ski Resort hugely popular, especially with out-of-state and international skiers. After your last run, join the fun at the Après at the Base gatherings, held at two of the resort’s lodges, California and Tamarack. For an unusual off-mountain option, consider a ride on the charming leisure craft M.S. Dixie II, a paddlewheel boat that’s the largest cruising vessel in South Lake Tahoe. Climb aboard for a 2.5-hour daytime scenic cruise or an evening dinner cruise; all depart from Zephyr Cove Resort & Marina four miles south of Stateline (the border of California and Nevada). (read more)

Smaller Lake Tahoe Resorts

Three of Lake Tahoe’s smaller resorts, Sierra-at-Tahoe, Homewood, and Sugar Bowl, deliver some appealing options when it comes to après ski. Sierra-at-Tahoe invites you to relax in Solstice Plaza, a 30,000-square-foot sun deck, and tuck into a relaxed meal at Solstice Eatery. Homewood offers complimentary s’mores from 4–4:30 p.m. at West Shore Café, while local breweries Lake Tahoe Aleworx or Alibi Ale Works are a great place to lean back by a lakeside patio fire pit and talk about the day’s thrills. And last but by no means least is Sugar Bowl, where the après options include such longtime favorites as The Dining Room at Village Lodge and The Belt Room Bar. Or visit FiftyFifty Brewing Co., in nearby Truckee, to try a few of its award-winning drafts. (read more)

Mammoth Mountain

It’s no surprise that there’s no need to leave Mammoth Lakes’ Mammoth Mountain, perched smack-dab in the middle of the High Sierra’s tallest peaks, for some great après-ski spots. Across from the main lodge there’s The Yodler, where you’ll find drink specials and Bavarian fare, while Campo Mammoth is famous for rustic Italian dishes like wood-fired Neopolitan pizzas and hand-crafted salumi. You can also venture into the town’s Village at Mammoth for plenty of places to chill out while you warm up. One easy destination is the lively tasting room and eatery at Mammoth Brewing Co., offering artisan beers—and its own hard cider—on tap. For an island ambiance and oversized multi-person drinks and a dance floor, get your tiki on at Lakanuki, also in the village. (read more)

Big Bear Mountain Resort

Wind down after your snowy tromp at Big Bear Mountain Resort, in Southern California’s Inland Empire region, with some choice libations and “high-altitude Mediterranean” dining at Skyline Taphouse, or comfort food and a beer at Slopeside Speakeasy. Down in the village of Big Bear Lake, you’ll find plenty of après options within a few doors of each other along or near Pine Knot Ave. Try Himalayan food (Himalayan), a rock ‘n’ roll pizza and pasta spot (Saucy Mama’s Pizza), a craft brewery (Big Bear Lake Brewing Company), or a classic old-school tavern with curious antique furnishings (Nottingham’s Tavern). (read more)

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