Attention snow bunnies—it’s dumping in Lake Tahoe right now. And just in time, because North Lake Tahoe SnowFest is happening from February 27 to March 8. If you’ve never been to this crazy, snowy good time, you’re going to want to hop in your SUV or put some chains on your tires and partake in this legendary celebration.

Some of the quirky events going on throughout the week range from “Whacky Human Bowling” to “The Naughty Dawg Pull,” plus you’ll find parades, a Snow Queen coronation that raises oodles of money for the town, ski challenges for all skill levels, and for those who don’t mind a touch of hypothermia, a polar bear swim. Not to mention the clam bake, luau, ice-cream eating contest, kids’ snowboard races…. basically, if you can imagine it, it’s probably happening during SnowFest.

With events going on all over North Tahoe, you definitely need a little guidance to get you through at least the basics. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your SnowFest week:

Take Advantage of Lodging Deals

SnowFest is a big deal in town, so some of the best hotels are offering some great discounts and packages.

Full price, but definitely worthwhile hotel options include The Ritz Carlton in Truckee and the charming Cedar Glen Lodge.

Can’t Miss SnowFest Events

The On-Mountain Torchlight Parade & Fireworks: This is an amazing way to kick off the Snowfest with a gorgeous setting under the stars. Friday, Feb. 27.

North Tahoe Firefighters Pancake Breakfast: Kids love this food-fest cooked by the firefighters in town. If you have some little ones, treat them to breakfast with some local heroes. Saturday, Feb. 28.

Snowfest Parade: Filled with incredible floats, creative displays, clowns, kids and more, this mountain town parade is always a major winner when it comes to family fun. TIP: Head to Rosie’s Café early so you can get a good seat for the action. Saturday, Feb. 28.

Gar Woods Polar Bear Swim: This is always a huge draw because really, who doesn’t like to see a friend dive into 40-degree, chilled-to-the-bone water? Complimentary appetizers will be served and participants have access to a nice, warm hot tub after they submerge themselves. Saturday, Feb. 28.

The SnowFest Dawg Pull: Friendly Pooches compete at the Tahoe City Golf Course by pulling a weighted sleigh across the snow (or grass if Springtime has its way) to victory! Price is $10 per entry. Sunday, March 1.

Granlibakken Gone “Bonkers” Kids Ski & Snowboard Race: In its second year, this obstacle course competition is loads of fun for kids ages 5–12. If by some nutty, off-the-wall chance that all the snow melts, a slew of alternative kid-friendly activities will still be happening on-site. Price for the race is $20 (or just $5 if you’re staying at the Granlibakken Resort). Sunday, March 1.

The Luau: Tahoe redefines the Luau with a hula pie eating contest, a hula-hoop contest and lots of food. This is one of the most popular events every year. Sunday, March 1.

Diamond Peak Uphill Downhill Dash: Test your athleticism by racing up the mountain in whatever “human-powered method” you can, then snowboard, ski or snowshoe down! Awards and prizes are handed out at the Snowflake Lodge at the Diamond Peak Ski Resort after the race. Saturday, March 7.

Lunafest Film, Food and Wine: Slow down the pace at this mellow, culture-rich event where you sample local food, indulge in wine tasting and watch award-winning short films. All proceeds benefit the Girls on the Run Sierras and Breast Cancer Fund. Price is $35 in advance/$45 day of event. Saturday, March 7.

Kings Beach “After 8” SnowFest Mardis Gras Masquerade: This Masquerade Ball should be a great time with costumes, a full bar and food available for purchase, and Grammy-nominate Andre Thierry entertaining the crowd with his soulful world/Zydeco music. The price is $20 per person. Saturday, March 7.

River Ranch Snow or Sand Sculpting Contest: Aside from the very cool sculpting displays, visitors will also enjoy a “Redneck Beach Party” on the patio of the River Ranch Lodge, complete with BBQ and DJ. Sunday, March 8.

Restaurants to Try

Gar Woods Grill and Pier

With a truly breathtaking setting, this is undoubtedly one of Tahoe North’s finest restaurants. A few menu highlights to keep in mind: Deviled Eggs, Crab Chili Relleno and the Filet & Scampi combination. Save room though because the dessert menu is ridiculously decadent (Deep Fried Oreos or White Chocolate Snickers Cheesecake? Yes, please).

Dockside 700 Lakefront Grill

A favorite spot with another gorgeous setting (is there such a thing as an unattractive setting in this town?) is Dockside 700. Their “Lamb Lollipops” won 1st place in the Tahoe City Grill Fest, so before you do anything, put that on your dinner to-eat list. Other must-try dishes include the Braised Pot Roast and Thai Curry Fish Stew. There are also several vegetarian items on the menu, ranging from vegetarian pastas to curried veggies over rice.

Jason’s Beachside Grille

Jason’s is a fantastic casual, but delicious dining spot with lots of outdoor seating and live music entertainment. Menu items are all-American and super indulgent, with beer-battered onion wings, fish and chips, steak sandwich and the 11 different ½-pound burgers filling the extensive menu. 

WolfDale’s Cuisine Unique

If you’re in the mood for a gourmet dinner splurge, then the beautiful WolfDale’s Cusine Unique is a must. Since the chef only uses seasonal, sustainable ingredients, the menu changes often, but here are some sample menu items to wet your appetite: Tempura Oyster Lettuce Wraps, Thai Marinated Petite Filet, Seared Corvina Bass and Chocolate Pot de Cream. Bonus: There’s also a lovely Zen Vegetable Plate for vegetarians. Hungry yet?

Austin’s

After a day of parades, polar swims and snow sculpting, sometimes all you want to do is dive into some rich, delicious comfort food — and Austin’s is the place for that. Buttermilk Fries, Chicken Fried Steak, Meatloaf… it’s all here. If you’re not into the downhome menu, never fear, they also have salads, vegetarian dishes and a sustainable seafood section on their menu.

Are you making the Tahoe trek for SnowFest? Let us know your favorite events at this week-long party!