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Arnold: A Great Alternative to Lake Tahoe for Family Getaways

Dorrington Vacation Rental Cabins - Why Our Family Loves Welcome to Arnold more than Tahoe.


There’s no denying the allure of Lake Tahoe. Its crystal-clear waters, towering mountains, and bustling resorts have been a favored destination for our family for many years. However, as time passed, we discovered a simpler, more accessible mountain experience closer to home in the charming towns of Arnold and Dorrington, California.  Here are some of the reasons why Arnold and Dorrington have becaome a great alternative to Lake Tahoe as our family’s mountain getaway destination.

The Ease of Getting There 

In our early family vacationing years, the journey to Lake Tahoe was part of the adventure. But as our family grew, so did the challenges of the trip. The long drives and frequent traffic jams on Highway 80, especially during snow season, began to take a toll on our vacation spirits. Sometimes it felt like the entire Bay Area was on the highway with us, so our trips to the mountains hardly felt like getaways at all. 

Dorrington Vacation Rental Cabins - A long line of cars on a highway at night, driving towards Tahoe.
Bay Area to Tahoe Traffic

Then we discovered Arnold and Dorrington, nestled along the scenic Highway 4. The drive was shorter, the traffic lighter, and the road rarely closed even during heavy snowfall. The ease of the journey was a game-changer for us, turning travel days into an enjoyable start to our vacation rather than a hurdle to overcome. 

Plenty of Skiing, Sledding, and Snow Fun 

Bear Valley Ski Mountain is our ski spot and is where our kids learned to ski and board. No need to make the trek to Tahoe for snow fun. It is a small resort but has plenty of different runs for all skill levels. If you are looking for lots of resorts to choose from, Tahoe certainly offers that. But Bear Valley has everything we need, and you should give it a try! 

In addition to the ski resort, there is plenty of cross-country skiing, sno-parks for sledding, and snowmobile trails. The drive to the snow from the Bay Area is much easier than the Highway 80’s long mountain passes.  

A True Escape from the Hustle and Bustle 

Lake Tahoe, with its popularity, often feels crowded, especially during peak seasons. We long for a quieter, more peaceful retreat. Arnold and Dorrington offer just that. These towns, with their serene environments and fewer tourists, feel like a true escape from the hustle and bustle. We can enjoy a peaceful picnic by White Pines Lake or explore the local trails without jostling for space. 

The Charm of Small-Town Life 

One of the things we love about Arnold and Dorrington is their small-town charm. With a combined population of just over 2,000, these towns offer a sense of community that larger tourist spots often lack. We enjoy visiting and supporting the local shops, attending community events, and simply strolling through town where everyone greets each other warmly. 

The Majestic Big Trees 

A highlight of our trips to Arnold includes a visit to Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Walking among the towering giant sequoias is an awe-inspiring experience that adds a richness beyond the pine forests of Tahoe. These ancient redwoods, some dating back over 2000 years, add a unique touch to our mountain vacation. 

More Vacation for Our Money 

Lastly, vacationing in Arnold and Dorrington is more budget-friendly compared to Lake Tahoe. We enjoy all the mountains have to offer – skiing, hiking, swimming, exploring – at a fraction of the cost. This affordability allows us to travel to the mountains more often and stay longer once we’re there.  

 In conclusion, while we still appreciate the beauty and amenities of Lake Tahoe, our family has found a new favorite destination in Arnold and Dorrington. The ease of access, peaceful environment, small-town charm, unique attractions like the Calaveras Big Trees State Park, and affordability make these towns our top choice for a relaxing mountain getaway.