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 splendour. Après-ski California style is not exclusive: you are 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.
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 swimming costume, is to take a hot-tub soak surrounded by 9,000-foot mountains 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 meter 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.
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 an elevation of 9,150 feet, 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 paddle wheel boat. The 2½-hour evening cruises depart from Ski Run Marina daily from February to early April, and include music, food, drinks and knock-your-ski-socks-off sunset views.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.