Bridgeworthy: Get Off the Island and Head to Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows

Need an escape from the "island"? Coronado has amazing beaches, activities and beauty, but no snow. We spent 4 days and 3 nights at Squaw Valley and we can't stop talking about it. Here is our recommended itinerary to help you plan your next snow getaway.

Taking a break from a ski run at Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows. Lake Tahoe is visible in the background.
Taking a break from a ski run at Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows. Lake Tahoe is visible in the background.

Yes, even people living on an “island” need to escape and refuel like everyone else.  The sunshine, the ocean and the Mayberry quaintness of Coronado just aren’t enough to keep Coronadans from getting burnt out over work, family responsibilities and just the daily life going on around them.  They need an escape.  What better escape than to head up to the snow-covered mountains of Squaw Valley in Lake Tahoe?

The timing couldn’t be better for taking a ‘winter break’ as El Niño continues to deliver much-needed rainfall to drought-ridden California.  Of course, El Niño also delivers spectacular snowfall at higher elevations.  Here is our review of a “snow getaway” up to Squaw Valley.

Transportation:  Getting to Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows

  • Flying:  90 minute flight from San Diego (SAN) to Reno (RNO).  We recommend Southwest Airlines to keep costs down.  Once you arrive in Reno, you will need to travel about 40 miles to get to Squaw.  You can rent a car, but most people take this shuttle to the village.  Once you get there, you don’t need a car (much like Coronado, it’s incredibly walkable).  Shuttle will cost about $50 per person (one way).
  • Driving:  9-10 hours and you will need to have either chains, four wheel drive or snow tires in order to make it up to the mountain – yes, they will stop you and make you turn around.  If you can, avoid the drive and spring for the short flight to enjoy more time on vacation.
We chose to fly and take the shuttle. The scenery was beautiful, but some of us decided to catch up on sleep during the ride.
We chose to fly and take the shuttle from Reno to Tahoe. The scenery was beautiful, although it’s also a great time to start vacation early with a power nap.

Where to Stay:  Bye Coronado Village and Hello Village at Squaw Valley 

The absolute best option is to stay at the Village at Squaw Valley.  Nothing is closer and nothing else gives you the option to “ski in and ski out” each day.  Plus, all the dining, shopping and massages are located right in the village (similar to Coronado).  Not only are the rooms spacious, keenly decorated and well laid out, but each of the lodge buildings have spas to soak in after a rough day on the mountain.  Click here for pricing.

This is how close you are to the mountain (image courtesy of the Village at Squaw Valley)
This is how close you are to the mountain. (Photo courtesy of the Village at Squaw Valley)
This was the view outside our room. We had a 1 bedroom that also included a pull-out couch, so the room we could have had 4 people stay there comfortably. Our room had a fireplace and full kitchen as well.
This was the view outside our room. Yes, those are lifts and mountain just steps away from our room.
We had a single bedroom that also included a separate living room with pull-out couch (to sleep two more). Our room had a balcony, fireplace, dining table and full kitchen.
Nothing is more relaxing that reading a brainless magazine and enjoying the snow falling slowly outside.
We had a single bedroom that also included a separate living room with pull-out couch (to sleep two more). Our room had a balcony, fireplace, dining table and full kitchen. (Photo courtesy of the Village at Squaw Valley )
We had a single bedroom that also included a separate living room with pull-out couch (to sleep two more). Our room had a balcony, fireplace, dining table and full kitchen. (Photo courtesy of the Village at Squaw Valley)
This is one of the many spas that you can use as a guest of the Village at Squaw Valley. Soothing hot water after an exhilarating day on the slopes.
This is one of the many spas that you can use as a guest of the Village at Squaw Valley. Soothing hot water after an exhilarating day on the slopes.

Skiing and Snowboarding:  One Price for Two Epic Mountains

We had not been to Squaw Valley before and didn’t know that there are actually two mountains included with your lift ticket:  Squaw Valley AND Alpine Meadows.  A complimentary shuttle can take you between mountains in about 10 minutes.

Alpine Meadows is a bit more mellow and local, while Squaw Valley offers more vertical runs a bit more action. Both mountains are spectacular.
Alpine Meadows is a bit more mellow and local, while Squaw Valley offers more vertical runs a bit more action – it’s where the 1960 Winter Olympic Games took place. Both mountains are spectacular.  42 lifts, 16 bowls, 6,000+ acres, 270 trails and over 450 inches of annual snowfall.  For perspective, Mammoth Mountain has 3500 acres and 150 trails.

If you have spent time skiing in California, you have probably been to Snow Summit, Mountain High, Bear Mountain, June Mountain and of course, Mammoth Mountain.  Many times, those mountains are crowded, have long lift lines and a bit of a vibe (and not in a good way).  At Squaw, the vibe was as chill as the snow.  Mellow, casual and people having a great time hitting their lines.  Plus, we never waited in ONE LIFT LINE.  Ok, so we did ski on a Monday and Wednesday in early February, but the mountain was CRAZY empty. So empty, that our legs were burning due to the lack of lift lines – never had a chance to rest!  Just look at some of these photos we snapped:

Plenty of space and no crowds.
Plenty of space and no crowds. 6,000 acres!
Lake Tahoe in the distance.
Lake Tahoe in the distance…and very few people on the runs.
Not only is there no line at this Starbucks, but this is a ski in, ski out coffee shop in the middle of the mountain!
Not only is there no line at this Starbucks, but this is a ski in, ski out coffee shop in the middle of the mountain!

The Village:  Where to Eat and Rewarding Your Body

Power Breakfast:  Be sure to hit up Mountain Nectar for a bagel breakfast and don’t forget to leave them something extra in the tip jar.  JT was working the register and when he sees you tip, he blesses you with ‘mountain karma’ of clean lines and empty runs.  Seriously, JT was the best way to start the day:

JT handing over the breakfast goods from Mountain Nectar.
JT handing over the breakfast goods and “positive ski karma” from Mountain Nectar.
You can almost taste the bagel breakfast, can't you?
You can almost taste the bagel breakfast, can’t you?

Casual Lunch and Dinner:  We absolutely loved Rocker@Squaw.  Picture a combination of Coronado’s Leroy’s Kitchen and The Tavern and that’s Rocker.  Industrial, casual, craft drinks and very tasty food.

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Interior photo courtesy of Rocker@Squaw.
James Dent, General Manager, delivers dinner to our table.
James Dent, General Manager, delivers dinner to our table.

The Rocker burger was outstanding and on the opposite side, the kale salad was a hit (especially with the egg on top).  The drinks were plentiful and helped us to enjoy the presidential debates on the TVs near the bar.  This establishment is located just steps from the slopes and should definitely be added to your itinerary.  View the entire flavorful Rocker@Squaw menu.

Finer Dining:  It’s always nice to get cleaned up and head out to a more “fancy” meal.  In this case, leave the ski boots and beanie caps at home and head over to PlumpJack Cafe & Bar.  PlumpJack (part of the PlumpJack Group) is just adjacent to the village and has its own inn, bar, spa and meeting spaces.  It’s also a great place to host your destination wedding.

A few steps from the village is PlumpJack.
A few steps from the village is PlumpJack.

Fine food and superior service – that was our experience at PlumpJack.  We highly recommend the Seafood Poke Cones and Sweet Potato Soup as starters.  After that we enjoyed the the Diver Scallops and the Salmon Creek Pork Chop.  For dessert, you can view our order of the S’more Candy Bar and the Apple Pistachio Tart below:

Dessert at PlumpJack Cafe and Bar.
Dessert at PlumpJack Cafe and Bar.
We plan on trying the Pan Roasted Mary’s Chicken Breast next time.
We plan on trying the Pan Roasted Mary’s Chicken Breast next time.  Photo courtesy of PlumpJack.

SPA TIME:  After feeding the inside of your body, it’s critically important to care for the outside of your body (especially after skiing all day long).  Book a reservation at Trilogy Spa located in the Village at Squaw Valley.  They offer many different types of massages including stone, deep tissue, prenatal and even a couple’s massage.  They also have body scrubs, waxing and nail services.  It’s peaceful, healing and will absolutely get you ready for another day on the slopes.

A calming experience for your mind and body.
A calming experience for your mind and body.

Off the Beaten Path:  A few other places not to miss when you hit Squaw:

The Olympic Museum at mid-mountain. Take a gondola or a few lifts to get there. The museum is fantastic and the view is unbelievable.
The Olympic Museum at High Camp and it’s free as long as you have a lift ticket. Take a gondola or a few lifts to get there. The museum is fantastic and the view is unbelievable.

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Terrace Restaurant & Bar located at High Camp (8200 elevation). Just upstairs from the Olympic Museum.
Terrace Restaurant & Bar located at High Camp (8200 elevation). Just upstairs from the Olympic Museum.
Plenty of activities for kids and adults. See them all here.
Plenty of activities for kids and adults. See them all here.
The "Ice Bar" at Alpine Meadows. It's cozy and a great place to get fueled up for a few more runs.
The “Ice Bar” at Alpine Meadows. It’s cozy and a great place to get fueled up for a few more runs.

Residents of Coronado appreciate the finer things, activities and views in life, that’s why we live here on the “island”.  However, if you need to escape to the snow, look no further than Squaw Valley.  El Niño is dumping snow and now is the time to plan your trip.

See special offers here for more details.

One more view of the wide open runs.
One more view of the wide open runs.

Thanks to the Village at Squaw Valley, Rocker@Squaw, PlumpJack Cafe and Bar, Trilogy Spa and Cinch PR for hosting and planning the media events.

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