Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe California Has Many Layers


Snow Capped Mountains – North Lake Tahoe

To soak up the feel of this very special place is to view it in layers of human history, all of which reveal themselves in varying degrees of subtlety or swagger.

In quieter moments, it’s possible to see Lake Tahoe through the eyes of the Washo Indians, who lived peacefully on its shores for centuries and considered Lake Tahoe a sacred place.

Attend a pioneer-themed celebration, and you see Lake Tahoe California as it was in 1859, when the discovery of the Comstock Lode in nearby Virginia City, Nevada, attracted fortune seekers, entrepreneurs, and timber barons.

Gradually, people began to appreciate Lake Tahoe for its beauty alone, and by the turn of the century, wealthy Bay Area vacationers were flocking to posh, gabled shore-side Lake Tahoe resorts. They erected mansions intended as summer homes (many of which are now available for touring) that spoke volumes about Victorian excess and the kooky tastes of the very rich.

Superimposed on these images is the Lake Tahoe California of the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, where neon ruled, one-armed bandits one-upped the mountain vistas, and lovebirds married on impulse in tacky chapels. Despite Lake Tahoe California’s recent massive transformation, you can still find pockets of roadside kitsch, only now we believe the correct term is “retro chic.”

The Lake Tahoe of today – the ruggedly handsome, hip, tony, eco-friendly, publicity-hogging one — embraces its history, yet takes pride in its new identity as a world-class destination for outdoor adventure, fine wines and dining, upscale shopping, and the arts.

Count the Ways to Play at Lake Tahoe California


Lake Tahoe smooth as glass

Across its surface, along its 72-mile perimeter, and atop the snow-capped peaks that form its rim, there’s no limit to the ways Lake Tahoe California can be enjoyed, whether from a pair of skis or snowshoes, a helicopter, a kayak, a mountain bike, a stern-wheeler paddleboat, a sturdy pair of hiking boots, a beach chair, a sunny deck at a favorite local watering hole, or a luxury waterfront suite at a casino-resort. Don’t forget to try your luck at stand-up paddle boarding, which is all the rage among Tahoe beachgoers during the summer. It may be the closest we mere mortals will ever come to walking on water.

However you decide to do it, experiencing the majesty of Lake Tahoe is like your first sip of Tahoe’s signature cocktail, the Rum Runner: Once it has you in its grip, you’d better not even try to resist.

Ready to take on a Lake Tahoe California winter or summer?

Here’s a list of the Top 6 Things You Must Do in Lake Tahoe California.


Carve it Up at Lake Tahoe California
With snowfalls of 200-plus inches a year (300-500 inches in the higher elevations) and more sunshiny days than even an optimist could hope for, Lake Tahoe resorts are a skier’s paradise. The region earned its stripes as the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics (Squaw Valley, where the competition took place, celebrated the 50th anniversary in 2010), and has been hailed as a world-class ski destination ever since.

Alpine Meadows, Homewood, Heavenly Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood, Boreal, Sierra-at-Tahoe, Northstar, Mt. Rose, and the aforementioned Squaw Valley – these are just a few of Lake Tahoe’s well-known ski resorts offering long, challenging runs and excitement for the beginner and black-diamond daredevil alike.

Many Lake Tahoe resorts have also recently been upgraded with improvements and added guest amenities. So if you’ve ever thought about a winter vacation in Lake Tahoe California, go ahead and book it. You’ll never find a better time than right now.


Be Inspired by the 4 V’s of Lake Tahoe California
That’s views, Vikings, vessels, and velocity! What are we talking about? Let’s start with Lake Tahoe California views.

We can’t state it any more clearly than this: Cue the camera and brush up on your photography skills. It’d be a crime to leave Lake Tahoe without taking tons of pictures of the many Lake Tahoe attractions. One of the best vantage points is Emerald Bay State Park, but we dare you to find a spot that isn’t picturesque.

Just as inspiring, in a different way, are the man-made Lake Tahoe attractions. If you think Donald Trump is outlandish, wait ‘til you see Vikingsholm, a living monument to the medieval Scandinavian fetishes of one very wealthy Bay Area woman from the Roaring 20s.

To get a different historical take on the lake, pop into the Maritime Museum in Homewood – they’ve got everything from antique vessels to homemade water skis made of ropes and barn doors.

Or maybe you prefer to soar above it all – at a very fast clip. Here’s where the last of the Lake Tahoe California four V’s, velocity, comes in. We’re talking about the Heavenly Flyer ZipRider, which is the best way we know of to ensure nonstop squeals and a rapid heartbeat.


Shake it Up with Shakespeare – and a Whole Lot More
Seeking a reason to party? (As if you need one in Lake Tahoe California!) Lake Tahoe events could fill your calendar year-round. Not surprisingly, many are geared toward seasonal sports, with America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride, the Tour de Tahoe, and the Lake Tahoe Marathon in the warmer months, and the Snowfest and Spring Loaded celebrations in winter and early spring.


Dine like an Olympian (or a Local) at Lake Tahoe California Restaurants
When it’s time to seek sustenance, Lake Tahoe dining options are virtually endless. Price points range from the high-end PlumpJack Café in Olympic Valley, which Fodor’s names as the finest in the entire Lake Tahoe California Basin (two great bets: tuna-tartare cones and Sonoma rabbit three ways) to the Log Cabin Café in Kings Beach, where locals flock for breakfast on weekends.

A word about Lake Tahoe restaurants in general: Bring your patience and pad your pocketbook with some extra cash. During weekends and in high season, lines can be long at the more popular restaurants, and more often than not you can expect to pay “resort” prices. That said, the deals are there for the persistent bargain hunter. Check out the local papers; they often advertise discounts and two-for-one meals. When tourism drops off in the spring and fall, some places may close or shorten their hours, so be sure to call ahead.

One thing you can leave at home, generally speaking: your fancy clothes. Even the most expensive restaurants in Lake Tahoe probably won’t frown on your goofy Hawaiian shirt.


Wake Up and Smell the Pine Paneling
Because you can’t possibly soak in all of the Lake Tahoe charms in one day, you’ll need a place to hang your hat (and ski boots and bathing suit …). Rest assured Lake Tahoe lodging choices abound for every purpose and budget.

What’ll it be? A cozy ski chalet? A condo with a kitchen and a hot tub? An eco-friendly hotel that mixes state-of-the-art “green” technology with classic Lake Tahoe California style? An intimate bed and breakfast? A clean, modest motel? A guest room at the brand-new five star-caliber Ritz-Carlton Highlands at Northstar-at-Tahoe?

Or perhaps you’re looking for a real, honest-to-goodness mountain home, complete with an oversized stone fireplace and knotty pine paneling, to call your family’s temporary abode. Lake Tahoe vacation rentals are plentiful here, whether you need to accommodate a small family or a large group – even, in some cases, pets.

Golf Courses

Try to Hit a Golf Ball Without Being Distracted by the View
If you’re a golfer, you already know Lake Tahoe golf courses are among the top-rated golfing destinations in the world, with several professional 18-hole courses and an annual celebrity tournament that airs on network TV.

During the spring months, it’s possible to play golf and ski – all in one day. Where but Lake Tahoe California can you boast about that?

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