Is Heavenly Gondola area a village that you can walk to most bar restaurants or is it more of a town? Where you would need to get in a taxi or a bus to get from place to place.
You can walk right to the casinos / bars / buffets
it is right where all the action is
And there are places in the gondola village too
For more adventure you can take a bus / taxi
Heavenly also has shuttles running to all base lodges
Most hotels offer free shuttles too.
Tahoe City is pretty good.
Plenty of places to eat/drink withing walking distance of lodging if you stay in Tahoe City
You will need a car to get back and forth to Squaw/Alpine/Homewood
There is a transit option too
Another option is The Village at Squaw, no car needed and there are shuttles from reno airport
Heavenly imo is one of the best and biggest for beginners: eg took an amputee newbie around most of it when he got lost on the Nevada side and he refused a skidoo ride
Think about a www.skilaketahoe.com 6 day sample pack for up to 8 resorts, some nth shore, some sth shore.
If price is a factor, search engines were giving prices like $422-699/week over Xmas-NY in Reno for a room with 2 queen beds, and the season passes at Mt Rose (30 min away on a free shuttle) were about $250.
If you go to Heavenly, check out the mountain top apres with the Heavenly Angels, and there's plenty of quaint bars and great dining near the casino/gondola incl $25 all you can eat sushi. But it's a 'beach side town' with tourists so it'll have that 'feel' to the place.
In Heavenly you can indeed walk to many restaurants, either in the village or down the road/across the street/across the parking lot, etc.. The village is not a dump, but a collection of shops and restaurants and a movie theatre. So. Lake Tahoe has the casino buildings that people either like or hate. The good news is that the lodging in the casinos can be very inexpensive if there is not much demand on the days you are there. The casinos also have entertainment. They are also smoky. The North Shore is fine, too, but you will need a car to get around unless you go to N* or Squaw and spend the whole time in their village. If you are beginners, check out the lift/lesson/rental packages at the resorts where you are considering (this includes packages from the casinos). You can then decide if it is worthwhile staying at one location without a car (like Heavenly or Squaw), or renting a car and traveling a bit every day to your ski area of choice. You will have a great time in either side of Lake Tahoe.
The Gondola base is in the middle of town with many shops, restaurants and a hotel all catering to skier needs. You can find nice seating by a fire-pit or find a place to eat ranging from take-out to fancy sit-down dinners. It is not like most ski area bases in that it is more urban, but it might suit you. Another choice is Northstar where the village includes shopping, dining and accomodation in more of a traditional ski resort setting.
Could you describe more what you're looking for?
Gmurr, you're in Sth Florida and about 40 years old. I assume you're flying to Reno Tahoe. At the airport you can rent a one way drop off car for drop off at Heavenly (with Avis Hertz and Enterprise iirc), there if you don't need the car for the whole trip. At Squaw's Village, Enterprise in Truckee will come pick you up and hand over a car at their lot in Truckee. There's also great shuttles at the airport, I think its $45 pp one way for the airport to Squaw and there's a shuttle every 45 minutes or so to Squaw. At the car rental counter there's a Sth Shore shuttle counter if you want to go to the casino area at Heavenly (but if you're staying further away than the casinos, you'll need a cab).
Heavenly I think has more that 'just a village wwith bars'. There's horse drawn sleighs (subject to snow), ski doo rentals, the paddleboat tour to Vikingsholm, possibly a water taxi to Sunnyside/Homewood, Chart House Steak House, $12 steaks at Lakeview Casino (a tiny casino), the Heavenly Angels 'disco' apres parties at Tamarack Lodge at the top of the gondola, a cinema, ice creamery and choclate shops, Irish Pubs or $2 shots at the Montbleu Casino. There's probaly a mile of quaint shops with all manner of souvenirs including wood carved bears and 'mountain style' decor. There's places with signs saying ski rental from $19 a day. On the hill itself there's a bbq deck, an austrian place, a snow beach and bar, and day lodges so once you're on the hill, you don't have to go anywhere else.
The light blue runs like Dipper and Comet are wide and gently pitched for beginners, and the faster ones can really rip (if you give people a really wide berth).
The ski school has max 4 to a class too, and the class prices are imo great value for money and not exxy. (Tipping the instructor also helps).
There's a mix of lodging from 1950s lodges just 2 blocks from the California day lodge on Ski Rub Blvd, to the casinos, eg see ski.com.
For north Tahoe, have you considered Northstar? I enjoyed it as an intermediate quite a while ago. Friends who were intermediates enjoyed it a few years ago as well. Has the advantage that less likely to have issues with lift closures due to wind when/if a big storm blows in.
Really much easier to have a car when flying to Reno and skiing anywhere around Tahoe. The distances in north Tahoe are relatively short. Also opens up many more possibilities for lodging in terms of VRBO condos in places like Tahoe City.
Definitely worth a day at Homewood, especially on a weekend.
This. Not really a dump... just... disjointed and inconsistent. You would think there's better nightlife in SLT than over in Truckee or Tahoe City, and on some nights (especially Monday - Thursday) that's certainly the case, but I've had much better nightlife experiences on the north / west side. I didn't even go to south lake once last season despite having both the epic and squawlpine passes (except for Kirkwood, but that doesn't count).
There's lots of stuff to do in SLT IMO. It's maybe a little less high end then other ski villages but with that comes some decent value (away from the immediate gondola area). If you like to drink you're in a good place. It overall has less of a ski town feel then most other destinations and that one of the reasons I sort of like it, then again I would rather hang in Salt Lake City vs Park City...that's just me though.