Lake Tahoe is a gem in the Sierra Nevada mountain range straddling both states of California and Nevada. Here are 10 things to do in Lake Tahoe.
1-Most beautiful drive in America
As the California-Nevada state line cuts through the centre of Lake Tahoe, the 116-kilometre drive around North America’s largest alpine lake passes through two states. The lake is massive. At 35 kilometres long by 19 kilometres wide, it contains enough water to flood California to a depth of 35 centimetres.
At 1897 metres above sea level, “The Most Beautiful Drive in America” is a marketing label that doesn’t oversell the area’s natural beauty. There are plenty of lookouts from which to admire breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains along with sparkling bays. Rumour has it the water is so pure that a white dinner plate can be seen as far down as 24 metres.
During the winter months, hire a four-wheel drive sports utility vehicle with all-weather tires equipped to handle wintry conditions.
Board the gondola at the base of Heavenly Mountain for a trip with a view of Lake Tahoe that would make the angels sing.
The most unusual aspect about Heavenly Mountain is that it’s located partly in California and partly in Nevada. Aside from views of the glistening lake, from The Deck, which is a viewing platform 2780 metres above sea level, you’ll be able to see the Desolation Wilderness with its alpine forest, granite peaks, glacial valleys on the California side and views of Carson Valley on the Nevada side.
Peek through high-powered viewing telescopes available to the public for a closer look at landmarks like Emerald Bay, Mount Tallac and Cascade Falls. Stay at South Lake Tahoe’s newest boutique hotel, Deerfield Lodge (tel: +1 530 544 333). It’s a luxurious rustic hideaway located a short distance from the Heavenly gondola base.
Soak in the fairytale atmosphere of a charming ski village framed by picture-perfect snow-covered slopes as you meander around the Squaw Valley village. The village’s après-ski buzz is alluring.
There are activities for children, a good range of shops, lots of dining choices as well as live music events almost every night of the week. Another village that has a delightful winter wonderland ambience is the village at the base of Northstar at Tahoe.
Watch the ice-skaters whiz by as you warm your toes by a fire pit while sipping on a hot chocolate. Wander along cobblestone walkways to its up-market boutiques, restaurants and cafes
Join an exciting snowmobile expedition through pristine wilderness filled with snow-covered pine forests. The two – hour guided convoy stops at viewpoints on Mount Watson that provide unsurpassed spots from which to photograph the lake. Speed hounds will get the chance to push the pedal to the metal and tear across a frozen lake.
Ski the awe-inspiring terrain that was tackled by the Olympic competitors during the 1960 Winter Olympics held at Squaw Valley. For expert skiers, Squaw Valley is one of the top places to ski in the USA. If you’re not an expert skier, you can still enjoy Squaw Valley by riding the cable car to High Camp where there are views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains.
High Camp has an ice-skating pavilion, a heated open-air swimming lagoon and an Olympic Museum which has displays with information, photographs and paraphernalia from the 1960 Winter Olympic Games. One of the best places to stay at is the Resort at Squaw Creek, a picturesque ski-in and ski-out resort located at the base of the slopes.
Keen skiers will appreciate the night skiing facilities and the resort’s chairlift that provides direct access to the winter Olympic slopes while gently undulating slopes at the top of the mountain are a perfect learning playground for beginners. For non-skiers, the resort’s Nordic Centre runs dog sled tours, snow shoe tours through a magical forest of pine trees, ice skating and cross-country skiing.
6-Snowshoe by moonlight
For something out of the ordinary, join a full moon snow shoe tour. Northstar at Tahoe has one of the most comprehensive cross-country and snowshoe trails. Northstar’s terrain is perfect for beginning skiers but avoid weekends and public holidays as the slopes can get overcrowded with California day trippers.
Drive across the border to Nevada and try your luck at one of South Lake Tahoe’s twenty four-hour casinos. Cash in your chips and enjoy a cabaret show or live music performance by household names like Tony Bennett, Bonnie Raitt and Robin Williams. The casinos are only a few minutes’ drive from the South Lake Tahoe ski resorts such as Heavenly Valley, Kirkwood and Sierra at Tahoe.
Soar above the mountains in a two-person non-motorised glider for a birds-eye view of Emerald Bay and Carson Ridge. You can even sign up for lessons to learn how to fly. For more information call Soar Minden on +1 775 782 7627.
9-Check into a day spa
In winter, there’s nothing more comforting than to luxuriate in a warm spa as you submit your body to the ministering of an expert masseur. For a hot stone massage, try The Spa at the Resort at Squaw Creek. Trilogy Spa at Squaw Valley village is tucked along a cobblestone walkway and specialises in Hawaiian treatments. The Stillwater Spa at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort offers a barefoot massage where the therapist walks along your back with the aid of two bars mounted on the ceiling.
For a city fix, head to Reno. Known as the “Biggest Little City”, Reno’s casino strip is a mini Las Vegas with well-known casino brands like Circus Circus, Harrah’s and The Sands. Its lively Riverwalk arts district has galleries, boutiques, eateries and a bustling nightlife.