When families head to South Lake Tahoe in the winter time, they expect to be engulfed in the hustle and bustle of the ski resort scene. Some barely even make it to the shores of beautiful Lake Tahoe itself. While Camp Richardson is hopping in the summer, in the winter, it's quite the opposite. Here, you'll feel like you're staying in the woods. Quiet, serene, one with nature. It is just a 15-20 min drive from Heavenly Ski Resort, and completely removed from the traffic and bright lights of "downtown" South Lake Tahoe.
During the winter the campground is closed for camping. Instead, it is transformed into a series of tranquil well-groomed cross-country skiing and snow shoeing trails. Pick up rentals at the Camp Richardson Mountain Sports Center right off Hwy 89. They even had rentals that fit our very petite 4-year old. The trails on the beginner loops were pretty flat. If the snow isn't too deep, you can simply take a walk through the campground, listen to the wind dancing through the trees and sunlight glimmering off the snow. The setting is magical.
During the winter season, the hotel, a few lakeside cabins that sleep 2-8 people, and the Beach Inn are available for booking. From the outside the buildings look rustic, but on the inside, they have been recently updated. Sparking clean bathrooms and comfortable beds and a pleasing decor fit well with this historic property. The staff was very friendly. The hotel rooms are on the smaller side, but the Beach Inn has bigger rooms that sleep 2 to 4 comfortably with room to spare for a crib. What we loved about the Beach Inn is it's location right on the shores of Lake Tahoe. The beach was covered in snow during our visit and instantly became a winter playground at our doorstep. If you have older kids, you can let them run freely for hours. At the end of the driveway, a big pile of snow had been made into a sledding hill by many children. It wasn't big, but the free fun and smiles were priceless. This is what sledding used to be. The Beach Inn rooms and the hotel rooms do not have kitchen facilities, but do have mini refrigerators. Fortunately, there is a restaurant right next door called the Beacon Bar and Grill. Dinner was a little expensive, but it was nice to have the option of not getting back into the car after a long day on the slopes. The General Store serves a really wonderful breakfast that is remarkably inexpensive. You must try the buttermilk pancakes. They were fluffy with a slight crunch - just the way I love my pancakes. (Hint: bring your own maple syrup if you don't like breakfast syrup.)
The lakeside cabins are more on the rustic side, but nice and clean on the inside. The cabins have a living room and small kitchenette so you can prepare your own simple meals and have a place to hang out when the kids go to bed. These cabins are nestled amidst beautiful pine trees with easy access to the lake as well.
For larger groups, the Richardson House is available year round accommodating up to 20 people in 5 bedrooms with 3.5 bathrooms. The Richardson house also has a nice big living room and dining room. It's not quite as close to the beach, but at the back of the house is a large meadow covered with snow that the kids can explore to their hearts delight or have an epic snowball fight in.
If you are coming up to Tahoe with a large group of families, Camp Richardson is a pretty perfect location to stay. There are a variety of accommodations all within an affordable budget. We LOVED the big open spaces the kids could run around in freely and the options for those not going downhill skiing.
Thanks to Camp Richardson for hosting me at the Beach Inn. As always, these opinions are entirely my own.
We won a 3-night winter vacation at Camp Richardson through Trekaroo and had a wonderful stay. Everyone at the resort was friendly and helpful throughout our stay.
We stayed in the T-Bird cabin, as close to the lake as you can get, and perfect for our family of 4. The cabin has a fully equipped kitchen with a stove, full size refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, and toaster. There were plenty of plates, utensils and pots and pans. The living room had a coffee table, couch, chair and rocking chair next to a charming gas fireplace. There was one bedroom with one queen bed and another bedroom with two queen beds. I was impressed with how much closet and storage space there was in both bedrooms, as well as in the hallway and living room. One bedroom had a heating vent, and the other had no heating, but we found a space heater in the closet that kept the room warm. The kids spent one night in the bedroom with the two queen beds and two nights in the living room on the roomy pull out couch.
The shower was tiny but we always had hot water. The bathroom was really well stocked with towels, which I appreciated since there's no maid service with short stays.
Overall the cabin was perfect for our needs, cozy and warm, and in a beautiful setting.
We visited the General Store for breakfast and had a delicious made-to-order breakfast of pancakes, french toast, sausage and bacon. The dining room is small, and I can see how it might get busy, but you can always just pick up some cereal, bagels or yogurt and some coffee and bring it back to your cabin. You can also buy groceries and sundries, and souvenirs in the gift shop.
Unfortunately, there hasn't been much snow at lake level recently and the trails at the Mountain Sports Center were closed. The manager was nice enough to open up the center and let us use our certificate for snowshoe rentals, which we took up to nearby Adventure Mountain.
It would have been nice if the ice cream parlor and coffee shop were open, but both are closed during the winter. I can understand the ice cream shop being closed, but I was hoping for some coffee, hot chocolate and pastries as an afternoon snack.
With everything closed and no snow on the ground, there really wasn't anything to do at the resort itself. We did enjoy walking along the frozen shores of the lake and visiting the onsite restaurant, the Beacon. The Rum Runner drink was yummy! Visiting again in the summer is definitely on my list.
My family, two kids (ages 2 and 4), recently enjoyed a much needed vacation at Camp Richardson Historic Resort and Marina located on beautiful Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is magnificent and offers plenty of family friendly activities. There are few better places to visit with your family should you want to explore the outdoors. Camp Richardson offers summer boat rentals, cruises, jet skiing, kayaking, horseback riding, bicycling, and hiking.
Families at Camp Richardson have several lodging options to choose from including tents, RVs, or cabins. My family stayed in “Duplex A” which is considered a cabin but looks and feels like a mini-apartment. Duplex A is a two-story, two bedroom (one main bedroom and another located in the loft), and single bath cabin located on the beach right next to the marina!
Our "apartment” was clean and comfortable. Dishes, silverware, cookware, basic cleaning supplies, towels, and toiletries were provided. For those interested, maid-service is offered for an additional $7/day. Our cabin featured a thermostat which we used to automatically control the wood stove and heater to turn on when it got chilly outside. The only thing we would have preferred was a tub instead of a shower stall within the bathroom so that it would have been easier to bathe our children.
Our duplex had an adjoining door--perfect for two or three families who wish to be together. On occasion I could hear our neighbors through the walls, but it was no bother to us. However, I am positive they must have heard my two-year-old crying at times, which may have bothered them.
From the servers at The Beacon Bar & Grill and the Ice Cream Parlor to the staff at the Marina and the General Store & Deli, Camp Richardson employees were helpful and attentive. I appreciated the convenience of having such places on site and within walking distance. Prices were slightly steep, but not unexpected. If you want to go into town, it is only a few miles away.
The rental prices of Camp Richardson’s various cabins are surprisingly affordable. My husband and I have spoken to several of our friends and have convinced them to go back with us to Camp Richardson next year for a much longer stay!
*This review is based on a complimentary stay at Camp Richardson. I received no other compensation and the business owner did not state any requirements that I express a particular point of view. The opinions I express are entirely my own.
Camp Richardson Historic Resort & Marina is the jewel of South Lake Tahoe. Its lake front, kid friendly, budget friendly, and activity rich. If Camp Richardson is on your bucket list, move it up to the first position.
The resort’s cabins are named after late model cars. My family spent a glorious December weekend in a year round cabin named Thunderbird which comfortably sleeps eight. It offered a gas fireplace, full kitchen (including microwave, coffeemaker and toaster), with utensils, linens and towels.
We did not have phone, Internet, or television but thanks to my cell phone, our portable DVD players, and my laptop’s built in wireless card, I never felt “off the grid.” If you don’t own these things, have no fear; the front office has a few TV/DVD players available upon request. If you anticipate needing one, call in advance to reserve it. Free Wi-Fi is offered in the common room and general store and deli.
My daughter’s reaction to our cabin was unforgettable. While walking through it, she was jumping up and down chanting “This is the best trip ever!” My beau’s reaction was also rib tickling, after just one hour in our cabin he was already planning our annual return visit for the next 10 years!
Though it was cold outside, we were cozy inside thanks to forced-air heating from vents throughout the cabin. Camp Richardson’s cabins have 12-15 gallon water heaters, much smaller than the water heaters of most homes. The main limitation is the inability to take lengthy consecutive showers. I’m guessing a family could take three short showers, 5 to 7 minutes, back to back with no problems.
There is a restaurant right on the water’s edge, The Beacon Bar and Grill, home of the famous Rum Runner. We had a delicious and affordable dinner here. Please see my review of The Beacon Bar and Grill for more details. http://tinyurl.com/cdrhc8f
Camp Richardson is bursting with family friendly activities. This year-round destination resort offers camping, boating, biking, beach-going, cross-country skiing, sleigh rides, and is just minutes from world-class ski and snowboard resorts and casinos. The full-service marina rents boats, seadoos, kayaks, paddleboats, and offers a rum runner cruise.
Regardless of your itinerary, don’t forget to squeeze in some nature walks. I took stunning family photographs on the lake’s pier. For me, a great photograph validates the cost of my vacation.
1. Only two cabins have bathtubs.
2. Cabins rent only by the week in summer and fill up quickly. Campsites go early in the summer so it is recommended families book a couple months in advance.
3. Pack thick PJ’s for the kids if you visit in the winter.
4. Bears do frequent the area so it is important to make sure to store food properly and keep food out of cars so the bears don't break in.
This review is based on a complimentary stay at Camp Richardson Historic Resort & Marina in South Lake Tahoe, CA. I received no other compensation besides the hotel stay and was not asked to express any particular point of view.
A favorite family summer vacation resort for decades, with small, simple rooms in a cavernous main lodge and cottages to rent. Summer and winter activity camps are offered for kids 5 to 13. There is a marina, a sandy beach, riding stables, restaurants, a 300-unit campground, a “trading post,” and general store. The camp makes a convenient headquarters from which to set off on horseback or on foot into Desolation Wilderness. Paddle \boats, Jet Skis, and other water toys are rented at the marina. Cross-country ski and snowshoe trails are open in the winter, with rentals, lessons, and tours.
Morning or afternoon guided horseback rides from Camp Richardson to Fallen Leaf Lake are a thrill for youngsters and the whole family. They take about three hours, include either breakfast or dinner, and are very popular, so reserve ahead. Children must be 6 years old; guided rides for children only are also available.
Fallen Leaf Lake is accessible by road off Highway 89 and makes a wonderful day trip from Camp Richardson. You can hike around the lake, swim, picnic or barbecue, and launch a boat.