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Snow Snow/ Flickr

Northstar California

Northstar California
Find perfect family playtime near Lake Tahoe

Scan the crowd around 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 comfy outdoor sofas, in shops and restaurants. They just had a great day on a great mountain—a place with some of the region’s best terrain parks for all abilities (including a massive half-pipe designed specifically for mega-star Shaun White). Experts love the snowy acres of endless trees off legendary Lookout Mountain, and access to miles of piney backcountry. Intermediate and beginner skiers cruise on wide groomers, some with Instagrammable views of nearby Lake Tahoe.

And then there’s that village. Many resorts sell s’mores kits, including sticks, to create your own sweet treats at base-village fire pits. But at über-family-friendly Northstar, the whole setup seems especially right. 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. Slip into a pillowy banquette at edgy-urban-meets-mountain-hip Petra Bistro & Wine Bar, with top wines by the glass and sophisticated small plates like braised short ribs with shaved fennel.After a day in ski boots, try the “Aching Feet Rescue” at the swanky spa at the Ritz Carlton, Lake Tahoe, then recharge at the resort’s wish-list restaurant, Manzanita.

Insider tip: Consider getting an Epic Pass for access to Northstar California, Heavenly, and Kirkwood; there are various options and pricings, so check to see which one could work for your vacation plans.

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Thomas H. Story/ Sunset Publishing

Northern California

Discover the High Sierra

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6
May
Average (°C)
Mar - May
12°
High
-5°
Low
June - Aug
22°
High
5°
Low
Sept - Nov
18°
High
-4°
Low
Dec - Feb
3°
High
-7°
Low

Snow-covered peaks in winter, gushing waterfalls in spring, wildflower meadows and glistening lakes in summer, vibrant colours in fall—this is a land of dramatic and wild beauty. World-class mountain resorts circling turquoise-blue Lake Tahoe, and at Mammoth Lakes cater to all, with scenic ski trails in winter and trails and vistas in summer.

Yosemite Valley…is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and gold and wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”  --photographer Ansel Adams

Yosemite National Park, a World Heritage Site, is here, roughly 3½ hours east of San Francisco. Whether you hike a mountain, ski the steeps, or lounge in a hot tub beneath a canopy of stars, you’ll find your perfect getaway. 

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At 14,505 ft. above sea level, Mt. Whitney is the highest point in the contiguous United States.
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Find whitewater rafting fun for all—from newbies to nerves-of-steel experts

Think of a river, and chances are you’ve got your own daydream. Maybe you want to float on inner tubes, or maybe your style is to careen through raucous rapids in an eight-person inflatable raft....

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Trip 6-7 days 10 stops

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Spotlight: Lake Tahoe

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Lone Pine

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With a pine-and-peak alpine setting and a relaxed and friendly ambiance, this appealing event in Bear Valley, roughly halfway between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite, includes performances by outstanding musical artists. Launched in 1967, the festival features a full symphony orchestra, international soloists, and legendary entertainers at pretty outdoor venues. Classical works, opera, Broadway show tunes, and opening weekend acts of contemporary and country music are offered, with past guest artists ranging from the Mamas and the Papas, to Big Bad Voodoo Daddies.

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Tour the eerie remnants of a former boomtown

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Bishop

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Look up at (and learn about) amazing giant sequoias

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