I grew up in Connecticut, so winter activities (especially skiing) should be next to walking for me, right? Far from it. Until now, I was embarrassed that I grew up in a state that had more snow throughout the year than beach days and my only talent was building a mean snowman. If I had known I would learn to ski in gorgeous Truckee, CA, I would have been ok with lack of winter activities all those years.
I immediately fell in love with Northstar California Resorts. It’s a laid-back, friendly resort that encompasses more than you can imagine. From the high end luxury to family friendly experiences, this California resort has Lake Tahoe’s only five-star slope side lodging along with every winter activity. Everyone here is kind, welcoming, and loves what they do.
We arrived on Friday morning and checked into our ski in/out condo. The perfect cozy retreat had everything we needed from an electric fireplace, two TVs, a grill, full kitchen, living room, and bedroom. We could easily walk into The Village for restaurants, ice skating, crafting activities, shops, bars, and all the winter sporting information. Tyler quickly grabbed his skis and headed to the mountain, while I grabbed a glass of Prosecco and a plate of sushi. I wasn’t having my one-on-one ski lesson until Saturday, so I was sitting tight at the sushi bar.
After Tyler joined me for some fresh fish, he walked me over to the pottery painting (I went to art school…I had to get my paint on), while he tried out the IPAs at the bar across the street. I was in heaven just painting a little gnome and then met Tyler for a drink. The cabana bars next to the ice rink make some of the best cocktails that will warm you right up. While we visited we sipped on an Old Fashioned; a Bloody Mary garnished with green beans, a cocktail onion, a jalapeño, and even an Old Bay seasoned prawn; and a Mexican Coffee with Sauza Tequila, Kahlua, a sugar rim, and whipped cream, along with plenty of wine.
Dinner that night was at Tavern 6330º which is a great spot for après ski. With a large wine list, a wide variety of micro brews, signature cocktails, two fire pits, an outdoor grill, and heat lamps, you will want to head down the mountain sooner rather than later. We snuggled up and ordered up starters including Thyme Fritters created with Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese, Pancetta, Choron Aioli, and Popcorn Shoots and Tuna Tar-Tar with citrus ponzu, sesame crisps, Shishito Fuirake, pine nut relish. Both were savory and perfect way to start the meal. The entrees were top notch. I ordered the Mary’s Organic Chicken with Gnocchi, Asparagus, Parmesan, and Picatta Sauce. It was crispy and balanced perfectly with the sauce. The gnocchi was a nice side and something you don’t see everywhere (we actually ask for it most of the time because it’s one of Tyler’s favorites). Tyler ordered the Durham Ranch Veal Osso Bucco with Gruyere whipped Potato, Carrots, and Horseradish. It was equally delicious and perfectly hearty after a day on the slopes.
The next morning we met Cass, who planned our trip, at inxpot. If I could move Cass to California to plan my trips and go on adventures with, I would. She was not only a huge help over the entire weekend, but she was fun and easy to talk to. inxpot will completely surprise you. This place packs some good eats in a quiet, simple restaurant. They open early, so before you get on the gondola, you can fill up on bowls like the Garden Bowl with a scrambled egg, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, and avocado, topped with melted jack and cheddar cheese and red or green salsa; biscuit sandwich with egg, bacon or sausage and cheddar cheese; and the el-train burrito made with eggs, potatoes, jack cheddar, topped with green chile (with a choice of honey cured bacon, ham, sausage or veggie sausage). They also had sandwiches (hot or cold), salad, and soup. Which ever you decide on, you will be full and fueled throughout your morning.
Then, it was time for my ski instruction. I have to be honest. I was terrified. I had only been skiing one other time and I fell my way down the bunny slope. The staff at Northstar quickly whisked me away and didn’t allow me to dwell on my fears. They fitted me perfectly for my equipment and I met up with Kristen, my ski instructor. She was the most patient, kind, knowledgeable instructor I could have asked for. I started out with the five year olds going up the magic carpet and after a few falls and a few mini runs, Kristen explained how we were going to slowly take it a step further. The way she instructed me allowed me to really grasp what I was doing. My fears quickly subsided into, “wow, I am having fun.” She gave me drills to explain where to place my weight and if I showed fear, she had me face it head on. By the end of my three hours with Kristen, I felt confident that I could ski down the bunny slopes. (And dare I say the blue slopes)? I can’t wait for my next ski adventure.
I met Tyler for lunch at the Zephyr lodge. It was the perfect ending to my euphoria of being able to ski. It was a “hidden spot” only skiers could get to (kinda) and they served up everything you could imagine. I dove head first into the veggie chili, side salad and washed it all down with a cider. Tyler had an incredible Thai bowl that I had bites of. My goal (because I love Champagne), was to make it to the 2 pm tōst at the East Ridge trail. Sadly, I wasn’t that skilled yet, but Northstar offers a sense of community with events like the tōst every day at 2 (get there at 1:45 pm).
While Tyler skied a few more runs, I explored The Village. I quickly became friends with the woman who ran Dorinda’s Chocolates and bought some of the most delicious treats for Tyler and I. I also shopped the many ski and snowboard stores like The North face, Burton, and Patagonia. Tyler and I met up at Petra Wine Bar where I tried a Rosé flight and relaxed from the exhilarating day. If a sports bar is more your speed, head to TC’s Pub, where (again) we made friends.
That night we headed up the gondola by our condo and had a luxurious dinner at Manzanita at the Ritz Carlton. The warm restaurant was full of different textures and natural materials, with a view of the slopes. We indulged in some crispy Brussels sprouts with a rich cheese sauce, Torchon of La Belle Farms Foie Gras and the Rabbit Papardelle with Blue Foot Mushroom, Fiddlehead Fern, Black Garlic, Nettle Froth, Spring Garlic, Shaved Parmesan. The dinner oozed decadence, which was perfect after a day of skiing. As for entrees, we ordered up the gorgeous Durham Ranch Bone Marrow Crusted Filet Mignon with Crispy Sweetbread, Black Trumpet Mushroom, Béarnaise, Port Braised Cipollini Onion, Fondant Potato, Spring Pea and the Seared Alaskan Scallops with Smoked Corn and Fava Bean Succotash, Morel Mushroom, Sausalito Springs Watercress, Purple Ninja Radish, Huitlacoche Froth. Both dishes were some of the best dishes we have ever had. Beyond stuffed, we heard about the dessert that hit all of Tyler’s notes: bananas, peanuts, chocolate. Done deal!
The next morning we headed up the mountain for snow shoeing. I was super excited because we are big hikers and snow shoeing is hiking, just in the snow. There was something very peaceful about being out in the woods and the only sound is you crunching in the snow. It was quiet, early morning, and unlike anything we experience in Los Angeles. I absolutely loved it (and needed it). The guys who fitted us for the snow shoeing were amazing and we actually hung out a bit and chatted after our adventure in the snow.
Now, it was time for me to relax! I headed back to the Ritz Carlton to their stunning spa, North Lake Tahoe spa resort, and had a signature massage. It was a relaxing ending to such an active weekend. I usually go for the maximum pressure, but this time I opted for middle pressure and it was firm on my knots, but relaxing as well. The spa has numerous relaxation areas including a sauna, a steam room, an indoor Jacuzzi, a relaxation room, and luxurious showers. With every amenity available, you won’t need to bring anything except yourself. Completely at ease, I met Tyler for a glass of wine and some snacks in The Living Room, which has a sophisticated ski lodge feel right inside the Ritz Carlton.
Sadly, it was time for us to go, but Northstar by far exceeded all of our expectations. From the staff members who went above and beyond, to the shop keepers who take pride in their stores, to the incredible dining experiences, to the gorgeous mountain (of course) that we got to call home for three days, Northstar is a must go to on your travel list. Whether you are looking for family activities, a couples retreat, or a group trip, Northstar has something for everyone and you can cater it to all of your likes. But, trust me, you’re going to love it all.