Arrive early at your accommodations, settle in and practice an important skill for all visitors to Lake Tahoe: studying tomorrow’s weather report. Whichever resort or area of town you’re staying in, there is sure to be an alpine charm to enjoy when acquainting yourself with your environs. If your plans include skiing and you haven’t made advance plans, now would be the time to do it, and most hotels and resorts will be able to help you on-site.
Saturday morning, enjoy breakfast at your hotel or nearby, and then it’s time to take to the slopes. Now, Lake Tahoe is surrounded by numerous ski sites and slopes and its best to do research well in advance both on slopes at your skill level and those in the best condition during your stay. Options include Northstar and Heavenly, which is popular with beginners and families; Alpine Meadows, which features lower rates and opportunities for skiers of all levels; Homewood, which is a more relaxed environment; and Squaw Valley, arguably the most popular ski resort in California. Others abound and, again, advance research is key. Depending on your ski schedule, grab lunch where convenient or enjoy hearty pies at Base Camp Pizza or excellent street tacos at Jalisco Grill in South Lake Tahoe, or more upscale, California-inspired fare at Stella in Truckee. That should carry you through afternoon skiing and help build an appetite for dinner. Enjoy a stroll through any of the quaint towns in the evening, and step in any lively pub for a drink before enjoying the area’s fine dining. For dinner, consider the clever creations at Evan’s American Gourmet Café or Café Fiore in South Lake Tahoe.
Sunday morning, delay the start of your skiing and have breakfast at Fire Sign Café in Tahoe City or Driftwood Café in South Lake Tahoe, for the region’s best breakfasts and plenty of energy for the slopes. Cut your afternoon skiing short enough to enjoy a few other options in the area to round out your trip. Weather permitting, there are myriad possibilities, including horseback riding, gaming on the Nevada side and the popular Gondola at Heavenly sojourn with its spectacular views of Lake Tahoe. Alternately, consider a visit to the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society and Gatekeepers Museum for a look into the region’s past. A little shopping at the Tahoe/Truckee Factory Stores can be fun and then finish your final evening with dinner at Pianeta Ristorante in Truckee or the romantic River Grill in Tahoe City. Either way, it will be a tasteful conclusion to your Lake Tahoe adventure.
Northstar Lodge – Hyatt Residence Club is a quintessential Tahoe area resort lodge on the north side of the lake in Truckee. The lodge-like environment extends to comfortable rooms, a mountain village environment and ski-in, ski-out access. Accommodations range in size and configuration, with rooms facing Northstar Village often cited as having better views. www.northstarattahoe.com
Resort at Squaw Creek is a luxury mountain resort five miles from the shores of the lake and with ski-in, ski-out access and a host of amenities in its 400-plus rooms and common areas. These range from fireplace suites to hot tubs, swimming pool and all the tech amenities one would expect in a luxury resort. www.squawcreek.com
Basecamp Hotel is a smaller, refurbished boutique hotel that pairs a friendly lodge environment with an expedition base camp feel, particularly enjoyable to the adventurous and to family travelers. Located in the heart of South Lake Tahoe, it is just steps from the mountain and minutes from the lake, Basecamp Hotel expands visitors’ sporting opportunities, particularly in the summer, while taking nothing away from potential on the slopes. www.basecamphotel.com
Access: Lake Tahoe is most easily accessible via Reno/Lake Tahoe International Airport.
Population: Approximately 21,000 (South Lake Tahoe); approx. 1,500 (Tahoe City)
Climate: Snowy highland climate featuring frequent heavy snow in the winters and warm days and cool nights in the dryer summer months. Extreme weather possible virtually year-round.
Main Attractions: Skiing and other winter sports make Tahoe a cool-weather destination with few rivals. Summer offers numerous other sporting and outdoor adventure itineraries.
Go north!: Although most travelers stay in area resorts and in South Lake Tahoe, the town of Tahoe City on the northwest shore of the lake is worth a visit with a more relaxed, slight hippie feel to it.
Chains: If accessing the Lake Tahoe region by vehicle, it is essential to bring snow chains with you. Sudden, dramatic snow has fallen as late in the year as June and authorities will absolutely mandate all non-4WD vehicles to deploy chains.
Summer: Don’t overlook the possibility of a summer visit to Lake Tahoe, when the region has a whole different beauty and a host of diverse outdoor recreation options.