The Overnight: The Coachman Hotel in South Lake Tahoe
Photography by Photograph courtesy of The Coachman Hotel
For the West Coasters among us, there are probably only a few weeks left to head to the hills in search of snow. The white stuff is still coming down in the high Sierras, and South Lake Tahoe is an easy choice for a wintery overnight or a short weekend away with the family. Something about the clean mountain air, the crystal blue water of Lake Tahoe, and the endless family friendly activities makes this close destination feel like you’ve been whisked far away to a winter wonderland. And while the big resorts have their appeal, we recently checked out the town’s intimate little design gem: The Coachman Hotel. We spent a weekend playing in the snow and discovering some of South Lake Tahoe’s hidden gems and coolest spots to hang with kids. And we’ve brought back all the goods for you!
South Lake Tahoe is about 3 hours East of San Francisco and the closest airport is Reno-Tahoe International, about 1 hour away. On the weekends, traffic to and from can get heavy, so plan ahead. Always check the weather reports before making the drive, as chains may be required during heavy snowfall.
Where to Stay
We stayed at The Coachman Hotel, our home base for a two-night stay. One of our favorite things about this hotel is that they warmly welcome families and pets, so we felt right at home our entire stay. Check in at the communal lobby and reception area, which also serves as a kitchen, lounge, game room, cafe, and bar. It’s where everyone gathers in the morning to eat breakfast and sip coffee, and where they come to hang out at the end of the day, aprés ski, to sip on local wines and beers. Every night, s’mores kits are set out on the back bar, complete with roasting sticks and warm blankets to take outside around the fire. Bring your yummy treats inside and play board games with the kids around the low coffee tables and couches while listening to the hotel’s on-point playlist. The morning breakfast bar is stocked with bagels, cereal, yogurt, fruit and a “make your own” waffle station. The kids will love the variety of toppings provided, but our favorite was the fresh raspberry jam and whipped cream! We also enjoyed the all-you-can-drink Stumptown coffee in the mornings and afternoons. Every dreamy detail of The Coachman is warm and cozy, making it a great place to wake up before a long day of snow play. Each guest room is beautifully designed for maximum function. We especially liked the rubber flooring at each entryway to store wet snow boots or snow toys. The small rack with four hooks, a built-in closet, and generous set of drawers kept the room tidy and organized. In the bathroom, Malin+Goetz toiletries are provided, so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own. If you are traveling with your pup, be sure to let the hotel know when you make your reservation so your pet can get their picture taken at check-in and put up on the “in-house pets” board right next to a tub of doggy treats.
What To Do
No matter the age or interests of your children, there is always something for them to do in South Lake Tahoe. Heavenly Ski Resort is just up the road from The Coachman, about a 5 minute walk. Here the kids can learn to ski or snowboard at ski school. For younger kids who aren’t ready for ski school or are just begging for some good old fashioned sledding, Heavenly also offers a tubing hill with an easy magic carpet that transports you and your child up the hill, eliminating the slog that always comes before each hill bomb. Other fun things to do here? Take a gondola ride, scream on the mountain alpine coaster, or take a spin around the skating rink.
For a no-frills sledding and tubing experience, check out Adventure Mountain Lake Tahoe. It’s about a 20-minute drive from the hotel, just up the mountain on Highway 50. This snow park offers up to 15 machine-groomed sledding hills for kids and parents to enjoy. Rent sleds or snow tubes at the day lodge or bring your own from home. Unlike other snow playgrounds, the price of admission is by the car full, so the whole family pays one price to get in. Rental equipment is extra, but it’s still an affordable option if you’ve got a bigger family. Be ready to hike up those hills each time you want to go down, as there’s no magic carpet here. We found that the lines were short and the sledding hill were safe and fun.
Another fun activity walking distance to the hotel is the outdoor playground right on the sand at Lakeside Beach. During the summer there is a fee to get into the park, but during winter months it is open to the public and you’re not required to purchase a beach pass. The kids will love hanging around the monkey bars and zooming down the slides with a view of the lake right next to them.
When you’re ready to warm up indoors, head to the arcade at Harvey’s Hotel and Casino. They’ve got all the classics like pinball and Pacman, and tons of other popular arcade games. Gamers win tickets and then redeem for prizes. There’s also a toddler play area with a ball pit for the little ones.
Where to Eat
In addition to the stellar breakfasts at the hotel, if you are looking for a solid eggs and pancakes kind of spot go to Heidi’s Pancake House, a 5-minute drive from the hotel and local favorite since the ’60s. Here you can get eggs and potatoes in all sorts of ways and, of course, fluffy stacks of pancakes, too. For a locally roasted coffee experience, Black Cabin Coffee serves handcrafted and high quality drinks in the cutest little cabin. Go for the coffee, but stay for the good ‘gramable opportunities. For lunch or dinner, we recommend two places walking distance from the hotel. Ten Crows BBQ was simply delicious! We enjoyed their slow smoked meats and amazing sides, like the brisket and tri tip with mac and cheese and chili beans. They also have a kids menu with things like chicken tenders and cheeseburgers. Another great family friendly spot is Base Camp Pizza located at Heavenly village. The wait for a table can be long but the pizza is worth it! Hang out in the village or watch the live music right outside while you wait.
So don’t let the white stuff pass you by this season. Scrounge around for that snow gear and head towards the mountains for a trip the kids will undoubtably remember.
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