Where to Go This Weekend: Olympic Valley, CA
A North Lake Tahoe resort community gets a lift with wine bars, a luxe spa, and enough ski runs to keep you busy all winter long. Christopher Hall walks us through the winter wonderland.
Double down on your skiingWhen sleepy little Squaw Valley hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics here, ski-jump competitors glided to a halt just short of the parking lot, a frozen meadow. The resort has grown to include 3,600 skiable acres, with more than 170 trails, 4 terrain parks, and the bustling Village at Squaw Valley, where stone paths wind past outdoor firepits, shops, and restaurants. The trails aren’t all black diamonds, either—70 percent are beginner or intermediate. More mountain for your dollar? In 2011, Squaw merged with neighboring Alpine Meadows and its 2,400 skiable acres. Lift tickets get you access to both resorts, giving skiers and boarders more room to follow the sun when the corn snow could use a little warming.
Get rubbed the right wayLocals know the Resort at Squaw Creek as the quiet back door to the downhill bustle of Squaw Valley, just five minutes away. It’s also home to the only nordic center in the Olympic Valley, with 10 miles of groomed ski and snowshoe trails, plus an outdoor ice rink and rides on dogsleds and horse-drawn sleighs. If you’re feeling bushed at the end of an active day, the 90-minute High-Altitude Massage at North Lake Tahoe’s largest spa may be just the ticket.
City-slicker diningThe après-ski crowd in PlumpJack Cafe looks straight out of an REI photo shoot, but the decor—custom metal sconces, cushy upholstered banquettes—exudes a swanky urban vibe. So does the menu, which may include pork saltimbocca or crispy marinated tofu with mung-bean sprouts, and a wine list full of surprises. Nearby, new bottle shop Uncorked morphs into a cozy wine bar at night, serving small-lot vintages from around the globe; the dough for the chewy-crusted pies at neighboring Fireside Pizza Company arrives fresh daily from the Truckee Sourdough Company. In one of Squaw’s original 1960 buildings, Wildflour Baking Company has been selling its warm chocolate-chip cookies and other treats to a generation of carb-hungry skiers, including longtime regulars like Olympians Julia Mancuso and Jonny Moseley.
Bean-to-bath indulgenceLife really has been a bowl of cherries for Dorinda Vance. “I started making chocolate-covered cherries when I was 12,” says the owner of Dorinda’s Chocolates, a pristine boutique filled with hand-dipped caramels, espresso truffles, those cherries, and other sweets. A block away, Lather & Fizz Bath Boutique explodes with colorful soaps, lotions, and softball-size bath bombs made with natural botanicals in nearby Tahoe City. They also carry custom BedHead Pajamas, the printed cotton pj’s favored by Oprah.
Reach Olympian heightsThe glass-walled cabins of Squaw Valley’s Aerial Tram offer a bird’s-eye view of snowy peaks and cobalt Lake Tahoe while climbing 2,000 vertical feet in eight minutes. Up top, at High Camp, check out the small museum of 1960 Winter Olympics artifacts, which include some of the last wooden skis ever used in Olympic downhill competition. “The French were the only team with metal-composite skis,” says local historian David C. Antonucci, “and they took gold and bronze in the men’s event.”