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It’s winter in California, which means it’s time for skiers and snowboarders to flock to the state’s top ski resorts and enjoy good times with family and friends.

While the region is home to an array of resorts, the Sacramento Business Journal recently named the top three resorts as: 1) Squaw Valley, 2) Sierra-at-Tahoe and Alpine Meadows (a tie) and 3) Sugar Bowl Resort.  We take a closer look at these well-known resorts, as well as give you our picks for lodging (regardless of whether you plan to stay for a weekend…or forever).

1. Squaw Valley

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Located just 3.5 hours from the Bay Area, Squaw Valley in Lake Tahoe enjoys a well-earned reputation as offering one of the greatest adrenaline rushes in the area. Offering 30 lifts and 4,800 skiable acres, Squaw Valley is one of the largest ski areas in the country and the second-largest ski area within the Lake Tahoe resort. A tramway carries visitors 2,000 feet to High Camp, where they can indulge in Squaw Valley’s pool, shopping, dining, and other exciting adventures.

2. Sierra-at-Tahoe

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Sierra-at-Tahoe attracts thousands of visitors year in and year out. Offering 14 lifts and 2,400 acres of skiable terrain, Sierra-at-Tahoe remains a favorite among Sacramento locals. As one of the closest resorts to the Bay Area, Sierra-at-Tahoe attracts skiers of all levels of ability. And best of all, no matter your level of expertise, everyone has an opportunity to appreciate Lake Tahoe and Sierra views from the top of the mountain.

Alpine Meadows

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In a tie with Sierra-at-Tahoe is Alpine Meadows, located in North Lake Tahoe. Alpine Meadows offers 13 lifts and 3,170 acres of skiable terrain with trails ideal for everyone from beginners to pros. Skiers and snowboarders can access open bowls, chutes, steeps, groomed runs and six terrain parks. Typically, Alpine Meadows has the longest snow season among the Lake Tahoe’s seven world-class ski resorts.

3. Sugar Bowl Resort

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The Sugar Bowl Resort is the third top resort, according to the Sacramento Business Journal. With 13 lifts and 2,300 acres, Sugar Bowl, located in the middle of Donner Pass near Donner Summit, gets about 500 inches of annual snowfall and four distinct, scenic peaks as well as 102 trails.

Sugar Bowl Ski Resort enjoys a long, storied history. Walt Disney was among the first who helped pick and fund this resort in 1938. It was home to the first chairlift in California and the first gondola in the country. During the 1940s and ‘50s it became a popular getaway for Hollywood celebrities.

Where To Stay: The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe  

Lodging at any one of the top resorts can be as rustic, cozy, or luxurious as you want it to be, with cozy cabins, B&Bs and elegant hotels.

The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers hotel guests an opportunity to indulge in legendary service as well as unparalleled ski-in, ski-out access on Northstar California – another Lake Tahoe hot spot. This sophisticated Northern California mountain retreat is ideal for family vacations and snowy adventures…and even offers fully furnished residences for sale.

Where to Live: South Lake Tahoe and Soda Springs   

In and around the Lake Tahoe area, there are spectacular residences with mountain- and lake-front views for sale.

One lakefront residence in the Tahoe Keys, listed by Kathleen Fagan of Coldwell Banker McKinney & Associates, boasts four bedrooms in 4,807-square feet and lake views from nearly every room. Floor-to-ceiling windows invite abundant natural light and the rooftop deck’s 360-degree views are nothing short of breathtaking.

In Soda Springs, this artful log masterpiece listed by Bret Churchman of Coldwell Banker Truckee – Tahoe Donner offers three bedrooms, a huge loft, 7-seat theater, game room, ski-tuning shop and an exquisite great room offering full views of Lake Serena and Castle Peak—no wonder the locals call it “Serene Hideout.” The 4,875-square-foot ski retreat is also located just five minutes from Sugar Bowl and Royal Gorge.

To learn more about the luxury ski vacation homes available this snow season, which typically starts in November and lasts through June, connect with a Coldwell Banker broker via www.CaliforniaMoves.com.

Which California ski resort is foremost on your list to try this winter?