GRANLIBAKKEN: Our Ski Weekend in Tahoe

A Family-Friendly Resort That You'll Want To Visit Again And Again

By Chanin Victor, Publisher Santa Monica Macaroni Kid February 22, 2019

Are you ready to teach your kids to ski or snowboard, but not sure of the how or the where?  It’s a daunting task at first glance, but you’re in luck because I’ve found the perfect place to spend a week or weekend and get the kids out onto the slopes.  All of them will become little snow-bunnies and amazingly,... parents, you can enjoy yourself too! 

Granlibakken Resort in the Tahoe National Forest is a family-friendly resort that’s been around for nearly a century. The Norwegian name means “hill surrounded by trees” and that’s exactly what it is; a sheltered, intimate hill on 74-wooded acres, surrounded by the Sierra Nevada Pines.  

The resort kindly hosted my family as well as ten other Macaroni Kid Publisher moms from the West Coast.  It was such an incredible place that we decided to stay two extra nights.  It was a good thing we did, as the amount of snow that fell on our first day would’ve made it nearly impossible to get out of town (as a few of the other Publisher moms found out!).  Everyone finally made it home safe, but that’s what happens when you get three feet of powder overnight!  


So, let’s say you’ve got one, two, or three kids (any ages under 12 years old).  Let’s say you or your significant other skis or snowboards really well (or vice-versa).  Maybe the kids all want to try different snow sports, one wants to sled, one wants to ski or snowboard, and one kid is just not sure.  You’re thinking, “How will this ever work that we ALL enjoy the trip”?

I really couldn’t imagine a better place to have all your ski dreams come true. In fact, after spending the weekend at Granlibakken, I called up my good friend who has this exact same problem, and has every single year hesitated to go to the snow because frankly, she’s scared that it will be a disaster of a vacation and they’ll never survive. 


We stayed in a room with two queen size beds, but there are many other options with 2 or 3 bedrooms, living rooms, and even kitchenettes if you want to feel like you’re in a cozy cabin.  All options are very affordable; even our small room came with a fridge which we filled up with snacks and drinks.  The rooms were typical cabin accommodations, but everything was super clean and in excellent condition.  Rooms have WiFi, cable TV, and all the amenities including the biggest, most gigantic closets… because if you’re like us, …there were lots of ski clothes, coats, and boots! The rooms were great and all within walking distance of the main lobby, restaurant areas, and of course, the outside entertainment.  We LOVED how the buffet breakfast area looked out onto a play area where the kids could run around in the snow while we enjoyed our coffees and breakfast. The staff was amazing too.

A huge breakfast buffet that offered a ton of food options is included with your stay and we ate there every morning to fuel up for the day.  For more grub, Rusty’s Kitchen is located down in the Ski Hut and has Mexican-American fare along with drinks, candy, snack options, and the best hot chocolate ever.  You can even purchase S’more kits to use outside at the little campfire they have set up. This is one of the most reasonably priced and delicious restaurants I’ve eaten at in all my years' skiing.  My daughter and I purchased a GIANT burrito, a GIANT quesadilla, a side of guacamole, 2 drinks, and 2 candy bars and it was about $24.  Typically, ski resorts are super expensive.  My husband purchased a hamburger at a resort nearby for $18, then a drink for $8, and so on.  Ski food usually is quite expensive, but not here.  It’s family-friendly and affordable.  

For dinner, the resort has a great little pub called Cedar House, that offers live music on weeknights, and also a 2-for-1 dinner special every Thursday and Sunday in the ski season.  The chef has won multiple Autumn Food & Wine awards for pairings. I tried one of the award-winning appetizers, Seared Scallops Veronique paired with Daisy Pinot Grigio… delicious.  

Tahoe also has many delicious little hidden gems as well.  We tried one place nearby for dinner called Spoon and I was in “foodie heaven”.  I highly recommend both places.  

Any equipment you’d need for skiing, snowboarding, or sledding is provided at a reasonable rate as well, but I’ll get into more detail about that in a minute.  


As you drive up into the resort, you go right past the intimate sledding area and ski hill.  It’s small enough that you can see your kids anywhere you are on the hill and they’re within shouting distance, but it’s big enough that it offers some great opportunities to learn to ski or just brush up on technique.  I grew up skiing, but after a bad dune buggy accident, I tend to be a bit cautious.  The bigger hill was an intermediate slope that allowed me to ski at my level while keeping an eye on my daughter down at the bunny slope.  Everything is enclosed and I felt safe about leaving her on her own.  Both sides of the hill offer a tow rope that takes you up midway for the bunny slope or all the way for the intermediate slope.  If anything happened that she needed me, I could ski right down to her in 2 seconds flat.  I love the tow ropes too, as I am so fearful my kid will fall off the chairlift when I’m not there.  Tow ropes are super easy, just hold on and go!  

Right next to the bunny slope is the sledding hill with saucers provided.  Kids walk up the hill, sit on the saucer and slide down where one of the staff makes sure people don’t slide into each other; they are amazing and so on top of this too.  You can also see the sledding hill from all areas.  

On our first day there, we went sledding, made snowballs (using the coolest snowball maker ever, sold in the ski hut), and of course, we made some s’mores by the campfire area.  


The next day, the huge overnight snowfall rendered the larger tow rope inoperable, so I decided to teach my daughter to snowboard since the bunny hill was working just fine.  It was the perfect hill to teach her on and she totally loved snowboarding by the end of the day.  We could see some of the other moms and kids right next to us on the sledding hill and I could’ve easily watched another kid sledding if I had one, it was that close.  

Our 3rd day there, we wanted to ski.  I was so bummed that my daughter forgot all her ski skills after a year and a half, but she was content to spend the day practicing on the bunny slope.  I spent the day on the larger hill and could see her the whole time.  It was so nice that the mountain was able to accommodate both of us.  I rarely get to ski when I’m with her, so it was such a special treat.  

In the winter, Granlibakken also offers snowshoe and cross-country equipment.  There are hot tubs and a heated pool, a sauna, a gym, and a day spa.  In the summer, you can play tennis, rent a bike or hike on the nature trails, or enjoy the relaxing meditation garden. There is also a really cool ropes course called Treetop Adventure Park operated by Tahoe Treetop that is located right behind the last cabin area in the resort.  You don’t have to leave the resort for anything; it has everything you’ll need and it’s small enough to walk around easily.  

If you are a guest at the resort, you’ll only pay 1/2 price for equipment rental and lift tickets, which is unbeatable, especially when a lift ticket is $35 for adult and $25 for kids. Sledding is $17 for a full day.  Rental equipment is also affordable.  The resort offers one, two, and three-hour lessons for kids and adults, individual or group, and you are allowed to leave your child at the resort during these lessons.  I thought this would be great if I wanted to go ski with my husband at Squaw for a half day.  Granlibakken’s hill is open from 9:00AM to 4:30PM.


SO my husband is an expert skier and while this ski hill was not his cup of tea (skiing-wise), he loved the resort and thought it was awesome that I could ski at my level while our daughter could learn. He grew up in Canada, so skiing is second nature to him.  He took off every day to Squaw, Homewood, and Alpine Meadows to ski black diamond runs, the likes of which I sadly can’t do anymore. We’d eat the buffet breakfast together, part ways, and then meet up for dinner.  The resort is about 10 minutes from all the nearby ski areas as well as restaurants and shops, so it’s in a super convenient location for everything.  

Did we need chains?  We took them, but our 4-wheel drive with all-weather tires didn’t need them and same with any of the other 4-wheel drives.  They pretty much clear the roads right away in Tahoe because everyone wants to get to the slopes.  Everything was close by so chains weren’t needed.  I do recommend taking them though, just in case.  The resort provided ice scrapers to use on our windows and, if needed, shovels to dig your car out.  After getting snowed in, we saw a lot of people using the shovels.  It was pure and undeniable fun though being snowed in; the fresh powder was everywhere and the skiing was unbelievable!  

Granlibakken’s secluded valley and cozy accommodations make it the perfect place to go with your family, but they also book conferences, weddings, and family reunions.  They offer special rates and packages for all events.  I’d love to get my whole family up there for Christmas/New Years and enjoy everything they have to offer.  The best part is that even with a wedding while we were there, it never seemed crowded.  I never once felt like there were too many people and I never had to wait in a line.  The resort was full, but you’d never know it.  Do you know how great it is to not wait for the ski lift and to ski down a mountain with no one in your way?  It’s one of the best family ski experiences we’ve had because everyone left happy and feeling like it was a great vacation!

Granlibakken is located at 725 Granlibakken Road
Tahoe City, CA 96145
Click here for a Google Map
Reservations: 800.543.3221
Front Desk: 530.583.4242

*Granlibakken hosted all of the Macaroni Kid families at the resort, but all opinions expressed are my own.