Sugar Bowl Ski Resort is Awesome for Little Skiers - 510 Families
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Sugar Bowl Ski Resort is Awesome for Little Skiers

Looking for the perfect place to ski for families? Sugar Bowl Ski Resort in Tahoe offers a great experience for skiing for kids, and I road-tested it for you.

Though I recommended Northstar after my kids made significant progress there on the road to skiing, we discovered that Tahoe’s Sugar Bowl has a couple of advantages that won us over, even when compared to the beautiful Northstar resort.

Sugar Bowl in Lake Tahoe is great for young skiers
Sugar Bowl in Lake Tahoe is great for little skiers | Photo: Sugar Bowl via Instagram

5 Reasons Why Sugar Bowl is the Perfect Skiing for Kids

1. It’s closer to home. Sugar Bowl is about 15 miles closer to the Bay Area, which may not matter to you depending on your vacation plans, but if you are doing one of those crack-of-dawn drives, it’s helpful. The location worked out very nicely for us for the following reason…

2. They offer half-day lessons. It took a lot of searching to identify a resort that would allow us to put our kids in a lesson that didn’t last the entire day. Sugar Bowl offers 2-hr lessons at 10:00 am and 1:00 pm. Since my husband and I didn’t want to spend money on lift tickets for ourselves to get started at 1:00 pm, we were glad to give our kids a 2-hour lesson while we hung out in the lodge. (I watched a movie on Netflix on my Kindle Fire!) Being able to drive up and have a lesson on the same day felt so productive!

Child and skiing instructor at Sugar Bowl Resort skiing lessons
Introduce the little ones to skiing with the kids lessons at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort in Tahoe | Photo: Nik N. on Yelp

3. Great teachers. My children had very good experiences in all of their Sugar Bowl lessons, with attentive, enthusiastic, and supportive instructors. But, having recruited a friend to join us one day, I must disclose that they had to divide up the children into smaller groups and my friend’s son got arbitrarily leveled down and was a little bored. Stick around while the kids get put in groups if you are particular about your child being challenged.

4. Way cheaper. Skiing is so flipping expensive! Sugar Bowl lift tickets for adults are about 70% of what we’ve paid at Northstar. Kids ski for as low as $58 when purchased online at least two days before. Purchasing tickets in advance will save you money, but comparing at-the-window sales for my family of four, that’s a big difference, and we haven’t even paid for cocoa. It all adds up. Kids 5 and under are just $10.

5. The kid rentals are near the kid lessons. There’s no debate in my mind: far more exhausting than skiing or boarding is navigating two kids through gear rental and guiding them to ski school. At Northstar, I expended more calories returning the gear to the rental shop (maybe easier than schlepping it back to the car?) than I did on the mountain. At Sugar Bowl, the bottom of the beginner hill is just a few steps away from the kids rental shop. Thank goodness.

Kids on snowboards at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort in Tahoe
Sugar Bowl also has snowboarding lessons for kids | Photo: Tracy L. on Yelp

Some extra tips: Kids group lessons are grouped by ages 4-5 and 6-12, with a guaranteed class size of 3. Private lessons have the option of being full-day (6-hour), with 1-hour and 3-hour options available as well. No childcare is available for kids too young for ski school. Additionally, all lessons must be booked at least two days in advance, otherwise you have to call and check for last-minute openings. 

We have had a similarly convenient experience for the kiddos at the Tahoe Donner resort, but that mountain offers much less terrain for intermediate and advanced riders. So, after staying in a Tahoe Donner rental home for a couple of nights, we timed our drive home to hit a morning lesson at Sugar Bowl before heading back down to the Bay Area.

What’s your go-to ski resort and why? Tell us in the comments!

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