Winter fun for babies & toddlers

Beatrix Fox Pivirotto at the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park. | Leah Pivirotto


I’m drinking my kid’s hot chocolate, wondering if I subconsciously packed it for myself. I hold out a steaming, sugary cup when he walks to the top of the sled hill. He brushes it aside and collapses into his sled, drifting down the hill, pretending to sleep.

It’s never too early to introduce your kids to classic cold-weather activities.

I think that’s “thee-teen” for “leave me alone, I’m playing.” So instead, I drink the four servings of hot chocolate and huddle with the rest of the parents. My baby girl catnaps in her sled; I have nothing left to do but enjoy watching young kids play at full tilt.

It’s never too early to introduce your kids to classic cold-weather activities. The noble arts of gracefully falling downhill and twinkle-toeing on ice, swears them into the alliance of winter lovers.

Find details in our Winter Family Fun chart in this edition

A word on planning: In the adventure world, it is good style to identify all your participants’ ability levels and plan accordingly. I’m sharing my list of activities for my whole family. Find details on these local activities in the Winter Family Fun chart in this edition or at

Sledding & tubing

Some sled hills have height requirements that might preclude little ones. All the areas listed here do not. Plus, these slopes are established, often-groomed runs with safe parking areas and some include a lift to the top of the hill.


Heavenly Lake Tahoe | On weekends, a mini-tubing area is open at the top of the gondola.

Tube Tahoe | Ages 3 to 5 must ride in a tube with a paying adult.

Hansen’s Resort | Age 4 and younger tube free when accompanied by paying adult.

Adventure Mountain | The highest elevation tubing area in the region at 7,400’ includes a snow play area.

Sawmill Pond | Free with a gentle slope.

Sierra-at-Tahoe | Blizzard Mountain offers two lift-accessible tubing lanes (with tow ropes) and snow play area.


Check off #21, 68 & 69 on our Ultimate Tahoe Winter Bucket List.



North Tahoe Regional Park | Small kid sled hill located at entrance, across from the kiosk. Bring your sled.

Tahoe City Winter Sports Park | Reserve spots online; sled provided.

Granlibakken Tahoe | Snow play area and saucer sled included in price, age 3 and younger sled for free.


Donner Ski Ranch | Tubes provided and moving carpet.

Kingvale Resort | Bring your own sled (no tubes).

Northstar California | Kids sled. You watch from beside the fire.

Tahoe Donner Snowplay | Kids under 36 inches tall must be accompanied by an adult.

Ice skating

Stepping onto the ice with blades under your feet for the first time can feel as wobbly as re-learning how to walk. But mastering the glide gets addictive and boosts a kid’s confidence. Ice skating is accessible to everyone, even if your participation maxes out at sitting on the sidelines and heckling.


Northstar California | Access is free if you have your skates. Skate rentals are available. Open daily from 12 to 9 p.m. and there’s fire pits.

Truckee River Regional Park | Offering public skating and rentals.


Tahoe City Winter Sports Park | Reserve spots online. Rentals and learning equipment are available. Enjoy the hot chocolate from Café Zenon.


Heavenly Village Ice Rink | Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. $20 for adults, $15 for children (ages 4 to 12) and $5 off if you bring your skates.

Tahoe Ice Arena | Full-service indoor skating rink, NHL-sized sheet of ice, locker rooms, snack bar, retail store, arcade and party rooms. 


Sno-Parks give children a rugged winter experience. So, I use them as an act of reciprocity between my kids and me. Our adventures look like this: I cross-country ski with a pulk sled packed with them, a picnic and toys (Read: get exercise.). Then, we hang out in a private area where my kids get unstructured outdoor playtime (Read: freedom), all with the security of a plowed parking lot and restrooms at some locations.

Permits are required to park and can be purchased online for $15 per day or $40 for season passes. Visit for details and a list of local vendors.

Sno-Parks are located at Blackwood Canyon, Donner Summit, Yuba Pass, Echo Lake, Taylor Creek, Carson Pass, Hope Valley, Iron Mountain, Meiss Meadow.