Tahoe: Northstar Ski School for Kids - 510 Families
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Tahoe: Northstar Ski School for Kids

Although I have gone back and forth in my head about whether it is worthwhile to invest in teaching one’s four-year old to ski, my husband and I have taken our children to Tahoe a handful of times now. The highs and lows of our experience at the Northstar resort have been driven completely by our kids’ personalities, because I don’t think there could be a more lovely ski mountain. (No offense to Palisades Tahoe, Kirkwood, or others. They are all amazing.)

Child snowboarding at Northstar
Learn to ski or snowboard | Photo: Northstar California Resort Facebook Page

Bigger kids — who are willing — can be enrolled in ski school where they will engage in age-appropriate instruction. Willingness is the key here. My daughter’s first experience there was a non-starter and I was called to pick her up within an hour. The staff is willing and able to deal with a lot of whining and, “I’m cold,” and, “I want my mommy,” but apparently we tested the limits with total refusal to put ski boots on.

But, one year later, here she is.

northstar ski school

Ski and snowboarding lessons at Northstar are available for kids 3 or older, in full day or partial day lessons. You can choose from group or private lessons. Downhill winter sports can be really draining on the body for children (and adults). Make sure to keep your child’s temperament, energy level, and hardiness in mind. Book in advance to ensure a space as lessons can sell out quickly on peak weekends. Online reservations also tend to be less expensive. Lessons range from about $220 to $1031, and do not include lift tickets or rentals. Thankfully, if your child isn’t enjoying their time on the mountain, parents cancel a lesson prior to 48 hours of the lesson start time for a full refund. Check the website for full details.

This year, I kept my children in the same class, despite their age difference, by holding my older child back, and it served my younger one well. At the end of the day, however, I felt some regret that I had spent so much money on instruction for my son that was less than challenging.

The following day, we put the kids in ski school at Tahoe Donner, a tiny mountain, for about half the time and less than half the price.

Pro-tip: If you’re considering ski school for two kids, check the various resorts for their age groupings. Siblings may be together in some locations, but apart at others.

Plan your visit to Northstar with little kids

Northstar Tahoe Ski school for kids
Northstar Tahoe Ski school for kids | Photo: Northstar California instagram

Website >

Lessons for kids of all ages >

Traditionally, Northstar had offered Minor’s Camp, a daycare facility at the mountain for kids 2-6, so parents can enjoy a full day of adult snow sports. However, the service has closed since the pandemic. Stay tuned for announcements to see if this convenient offering will return. Fingers crossed!

Pro-tip: For children too young to participate at all, hiring a Tahoe-based babysitter may be the best way to allow for parents to ski. UrbanSitter.com has sitters in Truckee/Incline Village.

Northstar Village ice skating rink
Northstar Village ice skating rink with smores roasting fire pits | Photo: Northstar California, Vail Resorts Management Company

Family-friendly alternatives to Northstar

For East Bay families looking for snowy fun without diving into formal ski instruction, consider a day trip to Soda Springs for tubing. Should you decide to click your child’s feet into a pair of skis, a coach will help you provide your child with experience on a magic carpet and a taste of actual skiing. Soda Springs is about 30 minutes closer to the Bay Area than the other major Tahoe resorts.


Dodge Ridge: Kid-friendly skiing
Weekend getaway: Tahoe’s North Shore



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1 thought on “Tahoe: Northstar Ski School for Kids”

  1. TIP:

    Get your kids snowboarding as soon as possible. If they are young and good, they’ll often end up with 1-on-1 lessons as there are less snowboarding kids in the 4-6 age group.

    My 7 year old daughter was a level 6/7 snowboarder and last year, had one-on-one private lessons each time we signed her up for group lessons because there were no other kids her age/level.

    This year, our 4 year old son, level 3 just did his first lesson and was also the only kid in his age/level and got a one-on-one for the price of a group lesson at Northstar..

    It makes the prospect of paying $150+ for lesson much more bearable…

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