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Dueling Mid-Mountain Tahoe Day Lounges

Homewood and the Ritz offer plenty of ways to kick back during ski season, at opposite ends of the spectrum.

S'more time at the Ritz.

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The Backyard Bar & BBQ slopeside restaurant.

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 The Big Blue View Bar at Homewood.

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The entrance to the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe.

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Current as of December 2015

Any faithful Tahoe skier knows a successful trip goes beyond the weather forecast or what brand of skis or board you're cruising. One of the eternal questions is how are you going to spend your mid-day break. Options are often slim, leaving you to sulk over a tepid slice of pizza and flat beer. But lately a couple of places in Tahoe have upped the ante with lively new options:  

Go swank: The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe
While The Ritz carries connotations of fancy everything, the outdoor lounge areas easily accessed by way of North Star's slopes, has taken on a refined approach that still manages to jibe with Tahoe's relaxed mountain culture. The Ritz’s alfresco barbecue joint, the Backyard Bar & BBQ, is conveniently adjacent to the ski valet, so you can swoop in to fuel up on St. Louis smoked ribs with house-made BBQ sauce before hitting the slopes again. Or get a jolt of Sightglass Coffee at Café Blue. At 4 p.m. guests gather around the main fire pit for complimentary hifalutin s'mores with homemade seasonal flavored marshmallows (most recently: bacon). Staying on the slopes late? Fear not. The fire pit is flaming 24 hours a day, and at any time guests can just say the words “s'more kit” to the front desk and they'll hand over a pre-made box with all the fixings. Inside, the cocktail menu features whistle wetters like the Brandy Crusta, whose Osocalis Alambic brandy pairs nicely with Manzanita’s twists on comfort food, like veal cheek pappardelle and short ribs with horseradish crème fraîche. Don't forget to request a table by the double-sided glass fireplace. Nightly rates vary; best to call.

Go casual: Homewood Mountain Ski Resort
The Big Blue View Bar arguably has one of Lake Tahoe's most epic views. But it's more than just a good photo op. It has a lively outdoor social scene—a snowy kin to a spring break dance party, but more family friendly. Set at 7,100 feet, bright blue Adirondack chairs are splayed casually around the crest of a steep slope, creating the optical illusion that you're hovering just above the turquoise lake. Families gather around picnic tables, noshing on grilled bratwurst while groups of boarders kick back in the chairs sipping on Jack and Cokes and PBRs. The vibe is super casual, with not much more structure than a mess of chairs, picnic tables, and a food tent for a pop-up resting point during a long day of shredding the slopes. On weekends DJs spin hip-hop, funk, and Top 40s while a mashup of all ages get down on the makeshift dancefloor (i.e., packed snow). When you're ready for something a little warmer, the West Shore Cafe & Inn at the bottom of the slope has a lakeside après-ski menu featuring $5 house wine and beer and apps. Nightly rates start at $199.   

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