Destinations usually fall into one of two categories: places you head to for some winter fun or for some sun, sand and surf. But what might be construed as just a winter wonderland destination can actually offer bountiful activities come summer (or vice versa). One such location is Lake Tahoe. The California/Nevada resort town offers four seasons of excitement: from skiing, curling and snow shoeing in the winter to paddle boarding, hiking and biking in the spring, fall and summer.
Tahoe is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. With so many activities at your disposal, it’s hard to narrow down your choices if you only have a long weekend in town. In addition to ski resorts such as Heavenly, Squaw Valley and Northstar, a winter trek can involve curling, snow shoeing and dog sledding. Lake Tahoe Epic Curling sponsors lessons and leagues at the South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena. For just $20, you can learn basic curling techniques for two hours. Brendan Madigan of Alpenglow Sports takes guests snow shoeing and cross country skiing across beautiful Page Meadows. It’s a time to reflect as you get your heart racing.
During shoulder season and summer, visitors can paddle board on the lake. Companies such as South Tahoe Stand Up Paddle are leading the way for beginners and experts alike. Hikers can head up the Tahoe Rim Trail, a 172-mile loop around the entire lake that is great for all abilities. Flum Trail on the east side of Lake Tahoe goes up to Marlette Lake and is a great fall hike, whether on foot or bike. Beginners love the Rubicon Trail for it’s six-mile flat hike from Emerald Bay to Sugar Pine State Park as well as its numerous swimming holes. Bay View Trail Head is a challenging hike that climbs 2,000 feet. Visitors often camp near its high elevation lakes. Then there’s Granlibakken Treetop Adventure Course. Think Battle of the Network Stars. The adrenaline-pumping, challenging obstacle course takes you high above the ground, jumping over logs, swinging from ropes, passing through rings and zipping down lines. Each obstacle will make your body ache in places it never has. After all that activity, a massage is in order. The Spa at the Resort at Squaw Creek will kneed the aches and pains out of your body.
Eat & Drink
Tahoe has long been a popular destination for Californians looking to escape the hustle and bustle of San Francisco and Los Angeles. And those same city dwellers expect good food to follow them. Tahoe doesn’t disappoint. For lunch, head to The Terrace Restaurant and Bar in High Camp. The view over Squaw Valley can take your breath away. The Boathouse is a Tahoe institution, serving fresh fish and meat in a tranquil setting overlooking the lake. Jimmy’s at The Landing Resort & Spa, a new 88-room boutique hotel on the water’s edge in South Lake Tahoe, serves inspired Greek cuisine. Ask for the lamb belly entree with braised carrots. It’s not on the menu but is a must for any gourmand. The iconic Jake’s on the Lake is a place to see and be seen by locals and Tahoe regulars. Dine on standard American fare such as burgers, steaks and fish. For your last night, head to North Lake Tahoe and Manzanita at the Ritz Carlton. The wine list is extensive and well thought out. Try the black cod with fennel and almonds. It melts in your mouth with every bite. For drinks, locals prefer the Chocolate Bar in the Village at Northstar for its innovative cocktails and outdoor fire pit. Uncorked, a group of wine bars around Tahoe, offer flights and single glasses sure to impress your date.
Unlike more snooty resort towns, Tahoe offers accommodations for every budget, from motels and backpacker lodgings to five-star resorts. If budget is no issue, try the Ritz Carlton near Northstar. The 153 rooms and suites embrace a hearty alpine decor with a modern twist. Think dark wood and clean, white linens. A gas fireplace warms up the room as your feet sink into a plush carpet. Bathtubs and showers are expansive as are the views from the floor-to-ceiling windows. If your room is not ready when you check in—as was the case with mine—the front desk will upgrade you to a deluxe room—if available—with a spectacular view of alpine meadows.
As you gaze down the mountain, you breathe in a sigh and thank the gods for another spectacular day.