In South Lake Tahoe, the lakeside's largest community, ranks of restaurants, modest motels, and pine-bound cottages stand cheek by jowl with the high-rise gambling dens of Stateline, just across the border in Nevada. If you happen to lose your money at the tables and slot machines, you can always explore the beautiful hiking trails, parks, and beaches in the surrounding area.
The Heavenly Gondola, in the heart of town, rises to an elevation of 9136ft (summer daily 10am–5pm; $30). From there, enjoy breathtaking views from East Peak Lake, East Peak Lookout, or Sky Meadows. Hikes are graded from easy to strenuous. Closer to the water, the prettiest part of the lake is along the southwest shore, at Emerald Bay State Park, ten miles from South Lake Tahoe, which has a number of good shoreline campgrounds. A mile from the parking lot, Vikingsholm is a reproduction of a Viking castle, built as a summer home in 1929 and open for hourly tours (summer daily 10am–4pm; $6). In Sugar Pine Point State Park, two miles north, the huge Ehrman Mansion (daily 11am–4pm; $6) is decorated in Thirties-era furnishings; the extensive lakefront grounds were used as a location in The Godfather II.
Another way to see the lake is to take a paddlewheel boat cruise on the MS Dixie II or Tahoe Queen, from Zephyr Cove (timetable varies; $39–69; Tel:775/589-4906, Web: www.zephyrcove.com ), reached on a free shuttle from South Lake Tahoe. You can sign up for other boat tours through one of the casinos.
Take a trip to Tahoe and get a preview of heaven. The pine-shrouded alpine lake truly earns the title of 'Jewel of the Sierras'. Crystal water shines brightly winter and summer inviting visitors to relax and enjoy the beauty. Come join us on a tour around the lake following the 72-miles of shoreline. We shall start at the north end and travel on the west and California side of the lake. Then, into Nevada and the eastern side.
California-Cool Approaching on Highway 267 off Interstate 80, you will catch your first view of the magnificent lake at Brockway Summit then proceed to Kings Beach on the north shore. From here, one can travel completely around the lake in either direction. For our tour we shall take Highway 28 west on the California side and travel to the junction of Highways 28 and 89. You will pass beautiful Carnelian Bay and perhaps stop at Gar Woods Grill and Pier , a great dining spot and home of gorgeous wooden boats of the past. Going north on 89 will take you to Granlibakken Resort and Conference Center , the premier spot to combine business with great alpine and cross-country skiing and a multitude of summer activities. Alpine Meadows is another popular ski area in this neck of the woods. Continue north to the marvelous recreational areas of the beautiful Squaw Valley Resort . Host of the 1960 Winter Olympics, the place remains the most popular area for both summer and winter sports. South on 89 takes us by many small communities and campground areas. One lovely little town to visit is Tahoe City with many recreational and dining choices. You can play a few rounds at Tahoe City Golf Course , shop at Boatworks Mall or float down the Truckee River at Fanny Bridge Rafting . Still going in a southerly direction from here you will pass Homewood Mountain Resort , another popular ski area, and Sugar Pine Point State Recreation Area . You might stop here to see the historic Ehrman Mansion . Still on Highway 89, we pass D. L. Bliss State Park and continue until we reach exquisite Emerald Bay State Park at the south end of the lake. In the opinion of many, this is one of the most beautiful areas of Lake Tahoe. Continuing along the shoreline, you will join Highway 50 and go to the Nevada side of Tahoe. Before entering Nevada, you'll pass Hornblower's Cruises where one can tour the lake on the Tahoe Queen. Heavenly Ski Resort is also in this area on the California side of the lake. You will take Highway 50 to continue your trip along the shore into Nevada.
Nonstop Nevada When one crosses into Nevada, the beauty remains constant. Pines rim the highway and the water is the same deep blue. Gaming is allowed and rather noticeable once you enter the state. The large hotels are mainly concentrated at the stateline areas on the north and south ends of the lake. At this point, you'll find Harrah's , MontBleu , and Harvey's resorts. Next, Zephyr Cove Resort boasts many amenities including water sports, lodging, eateries and the M.S. Dixie II Paddlewheeler . Enjoy cruising the lake and seeing all points of interest from this vessel, including Emerald Bay and Vikingsholm Castle . Approximately half way up the east shore at Spooner Junction, Highway 50 departs the area and proceeds to Carson City, our state capitol. At Spooner, take Highway 28 along the shoreline to the casino area at Incline Village. On the way you will pass Secret Harbor , a clothing-optional beach for sun-lovers. Next stop is Sand Harbor , the beautiful home of the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival . Then we come to the Ponderosa Ranch, a great place for the entire family to spend the day and see where the television series, Bonanza, was filmed. At this point, we are almost where we started our trip around Tahoe. One will find some major casinos located at Crystal Bay and Incline Village. The Cal-Neva is a nostalgic favorite along the lake. Frank Sinatra and his 'Rat Pack' hung out here, as well as Marylin Monroe and John F. Kennedy. The Sinatra and Monroe chalets are still on the shore. The Hyatt Regency is exquisite and has all the amenities of a small city. Another popular favorite is the Tahoe Biltmore , the friendliest place at the lake. Diamond Peak Ski Resort is near Incline Village for great snow activities. From the casino area, one can take the Mt. Rose Highway for a scenic trip to Reno. Staying on Highway 28 will take you to Stateline and then join Highway 267 leading back to Interstate 80. However, you may never want to leave once you've been to paradise!
Crisp alpine air combined with numerous recreational activities at the lake can work up a healthy appetite. Culinary delights can be found just about anywhere along the beautiful shoreline and mountain ski areas. Whether gourmet dining suits your fancy or you're strictly the 'meat and potatoes' type, you'll find it at Tahoe.
California Cuisine Traveling on the California side of the lake from north to south takes us past many unique eateries. Sunsets at the Lake , in the hamlet of Tahoe Vista, offers an unusual seafood menu and great wines to complement your meal. Le Petit Pier has provided fine dining with a view since 1972 and received numerous awards from Travel Magazine and Wine Spectator. At Carnelian Bay, you might check out Gar Woods Grill and Pier for excellent seafood and prime rib. Dine with an excellent view of exquisite mahogany wooden boats floating on the waterfront. Tahoe City gives us many fine dining establishments from which to choose. Christy Hill offers eclectic California cuisine that changes with the seasons. Intimate dining with a view and rave reviews from Bon Appetit and the Los Angeles Times are some of the reasons this place is so popular. Wolfdale's and chef, Douglas Dale, present excellent seafood dishes uniquely prepared. At Jake's on the Lake , a mainstay for more than 20-years, offers seafood with a Cajun flair in the main dining area. The Lakeside Bar inside Jake's has an innovative menu and a fabulous view. Pfeifer House has been providing Old World charm and a marvelous menu since 1939. For wild game exquisitely prepared, the cozy River Ranch Restaurant is sure to please. Valet boat parking is available if you travel by water to the Sunnyside Resort . Housed in a 100-year old building, this quaint and rustic eatery offers an extensive menu and a popular Sunday Jazz Buffet.
The Squaw Creek, or Olympic Valley, area has lovely restaurants with great views of the ski slopes. Cascades at Squaw Creek is renowned for a delicious gourmet breakfast buffet every morning and a superb seafood spread on Friday and Saturday evenings. Dine with a view at Glissandi and enjoy making your selection from a great menu. It has received the 'Best Award of Excellence' from Wine Spectator Magazine on more than one occasion and the 'Four Diamond Award' many years running. Dine by a cozy fireplace at Graham's at Squaw Valley , a great place for a romantic dinner. If you need to unwind after a hard day of hiking or skiing, Bullwhackers Pub is the place. Play a game of pool, watch sporting events and enjoy microbrews in a trendy, upscale mountain atmosphere.
On the south end of the lake, an excellent dining choice is Evan's , the proud recipient of awards from Bon Appetit and Robb Report. The place is noted for outstanding cuisine, fine wines and decadent desserts. Dory's Oar features the taste of England and outstanding service. The Tudor English Pub inside Dory's is the perfect place to tip a pint of brew.
Nevada-Style Dining Many excellent restaurants are located in the major hotels which are mainly situated at the north and south ends of Tahoe. Harvey's Resort features Llewellyn's , a favorite place for exotic game exquisitely prepared. You can enjoy an unsurpassed view of the lake while dining on Ostrich, Guinea Hen or Roasted Lobster. Austin's at Incline Village provides a rustic atmosphere and food to match. Voted the “Best Family Restaurant”, the place serves large portions for the “meat and potatoes” crowd. Cafe 333 Restaurant and Espresso Bar caters to those who want delicious fat-free dining. Almost any menu item can be prepared to suit your diet. Enjoy a five-course dinner at Le Bistro Francais delectably prepared by Chef Jean-Pierre Doignon, who learned his art at “Lameloise” in Burgundy, France. At Ciera Steak & Chophouse , in Montbleu Casino Resort & Spa , you can have an elegant fine dining experience by tasting a variety of steaks and fresh seafood with a vast selection of international wines.
At the southern Stateline area of the lake on the Kingsbury Grade toward Carson City, you'll find some eateries with marvelous views of the valley below. The Eagles' Nest is appropriately named and serves great seafood and some wild game dishes. A nautical atmosphere is found at the Chart House serving excellent seafood and prime rib. The Edgewood Restaurant has and excellent menu featuring seafood and some wild game. This attractive eatery offers marvelous views of the lake and Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course .
Driving the 72-miles of shoreline around the lake is the best way to enjoy the beauty and see the sights. However, that is not the only way to view everything Lake Tahoe has to offer. Come along with us on a tour of paradise.
Driving Delights Beginning at the north end of the lake, visitors can travel by automobile completely around the lake. From Brockway Summit on Highway 267 from Interstate 80, you will see your first spectacular view of the lake and the Tahoe Basin. At Kings Beach, you can proceed either to the California or Nevada side of the pond. There is no gaming in California and the atmosphere is charming and relaxing. Take the time to stop in Tahoe City and enjoy the waterfront and the many shopping and dining choices. The Sunnyside Resort and Pfeifer House provide not only excellent cuisine, but are historic buildings, as well. If you drive north on Highway 89 from here, you will go to Squaw Valley Resort , the beautiful home of the 1960 Winter Olympics. The Olympic rings still remain, as well as many of the original buildings, which now serve as lodging and dining spots. Back at the lakeshore, you should proceed on Highway 89 south to Sugar Pine Point State Park and then on to magnificent Emerald Bay . Camp Richardson is at the very southernmost portion of the lake and is a delightful place to take a break. As you cross the border into Nevada, you will pass Edgewood-Tahoe Golf Course with the most beautiful and difficult greens in the state. One of the first major casinos you see will be Harvey's . Stop in for great gaming or dine at Llewellyn's . For a tour within a tour, take Borges Carriage Rides to see the sights such as Caesars , Harrah's Tahoe , Embassy Suites and gorgeous scenery. Next, visitors come to Zephyr Cove Resort , home of the M. S. Dixie II , a marvelous vessel for lake tours. You are now on the east side of Tahoe heading north to Sand Harbor , the site of the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival , which takes place annually during the five weeks before Labor Day. At the north end of the lake on the Nevada side, you come to Incline Village and Crystal Bay, another main casino area. Major hotels here include the Cal-Neva Resort , Hyatt Regency and the Tahoe Biltmore . The Ponderosa Ranch is close by for family fun.
Hike, Ski or Bike around the Lake The Tahoe Rim Trail is perhaps the most beautiful in the world. Hike more than 150-miles along mountain peaks as high as 9,400 feet. The trail goes completely around the lake, following the route of Basque sheepherders in the 1800s. You will pass the hunting grounds and game trails once used by the Washoe Indian tribe many moons ago. If you come to Lake Tahoe to commune with nature, this trail is a must. The D. L. Bliss State Park allows hikers access to the gorgeous Rubicon Trail that follows the shoreline of the lake. The rocky path in dense trees takes the hiker to Vikingsholm Castle and Emerald Bay . The Eagle Falls Hike takes hikers on a short trip to Eagle Lake in the Desolation Wilderness area. It would literally take months to travel this portion of the country covering 100-square miles and filled with more than 100 lakes.
No matter where you travel around the Tahoe area, you will find excellent skiing. Squaw Valley Resort provides not only world-class slopes but excellent hiking and bike trails, as well. The Mt. Rose Ski Resort offers the highest base elevation in the area at 8,260 feet. Alpine Meadows has great areas for extreme snow sports and programs for the physically-challenged skier. Heavenly Resort provides the longest downhill slopes and the Heavenly Aerial Tram offers spectacular views. For the cross-country enthusiast, the Royal Gorge and Spooner Lake Cross-Country areas are the best anywhere.
To see the lake up close and personal, take a ride on the M. S. Dixie II or Hornblower's Tahoe Queen . You may also sail on the lake at Sail Woodwind and view the water through the glass bottom of the vessel. Tahoe Sailing Charters offers romantic sunset cruises or all-day trips to various points of interest. Truckee River Rafting lets you tour miles of the beautiful river flowing out of the lake. Aerial tours are provided by Para-Sail Tahoe for the adventurous and Balloons Over Tahoe for a more relaxed trip. Biking around the lake is easy with the many paths in the area. Bike Rentals at Lake Tahoe and Mountain Bike at Squaw Valley have all the equipment you need, plus maps and expert advice.
No matter how you choose to tour the area, you will find it one of the most beautiful places in the world.