Sacramento is a great place to live, due in part to the close proximity of everything from sunny beaches and lush vineyards to ancient caverns and snowy mountaintops. If your kids love the latter, then finding the best place for snow sports is probably a priority at this time of year. While the capital city rarely sees a snowflake, lucky residents are just a short drive away from peaks that are perfect to ski down with the family.
Sierra At Tahoe Resort
1111 Sierra at Tahoe Rd.
Twin Bridges, CA 95735
(530) 659-7453
www.sierraattahoe.com

The 2,000-acre resort Sierra at Tahoe is only around an hour and a half from Sacramento proper, but the change of scenery is enough to astonish the senses. A quarter of the resort’s 46 ski trails are appropriate for beginners, and there are lessons available for adults and kids of all ages. There are mountain-themed adventure zones and terrain parks created specifically for children at Wild Mountain, staffed by cheerful, patient ski instructors who know just how to teach and inspire the young ones. Wild Mountain is also the spot for more adventurous youngsters to experience the thrills of mini-jumps, banked turns, rollers and other terrain elements and interactive activities.

If the kids are interested in other snowy fun as well, there are a number of options to keep them entertained. Blizzard Mountain has a great area for unstructured snow play, as well as snowshoe trails and lift-accessible hills for tubing. There is even the Burton Star Wars Experience, so your mini Jedi can use the force to get into snowboarding. If any of the kids aged 18 months to 5 years are too young to be interested, the resort has a fun, licensed day care facility for them to enjoy while the rest of the family hits the slopes.

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Sugar Bowl Ski Resort
629 Sugar Bowl Rd.
Truckee, CA 96161
(530) 426-9000
www.sugarbowl.com

Outdoor enthusiasts have been skiing the four peaks of this Donner Summit resort for 75 years, enjoying 1,650 acres of skiable territory. It takes an estimated 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach this snowy oasis from Sacramento. The Den Children’s Learning Center has professional instructors to help ensure the kids have an exciting and safe experience, and packages can include lift tickets, instruction, equipment and lunch. The Cub Tracks program offers full- and part-day lesson packages for children ages 4 to 5; with only a few kids per class, there is plenty of individual attention to help the little ones develop their ski and ride skills. Older children up to age 12 can enjoy the Bear Tracks program, regardless of their prior experience. Special targeted two-hour skiing lessons are available for kids at the “Never-Ever” level, as well as for novice, intermediate and advanced skiers.

Northstar California Resort
100 Northstar Dr.
Truckee, CA 96161
(530) 562-1010
www.northstarcalifornia.com

Also located in Truckee, Northstar’s 3,170 skiable acres are less than two hours from Sacramento. A new progression park specifically for kids and families was just introduced for the 2014-2015 season. In addition to other features, the park offers the chance for parents, siblings and children to ski together all day regardless of their level of experience. Licensed childcare – both indoors and out – is available for younger tots, but potty-trained kids as young as 3 can have ski lessons and snow-filled fun in the Lucky Stars program. Children aged 4 to 6 can learn to ski and snowboard in Super Stars, and the All Stars program is geared towards 7- to 12-year-olds of all experience levels.

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Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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