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Lake Tahoe Tantalizes

Lake Tahoe Tantalizes

All the superlatives about Lake Tahoe are true.

It is majestic and inspiring, laid-back and full-out fun, whether you relish all the outdoor activities or find delight breathing in pine-scented air from a lounge chair. Here are a few ideas to jump-start your imagination - our list of the best things to do at Lake Tahoe.

Baskets to Butts

See a premier collection of baskets woven by the local Washoe Native Americans at the Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Museum in Tahoe City. Connected to the Gatekeeper’s Museum where local history, including the 1960 Winter Olympics, provides a perfect continuation of Tahoe’s tales along the North Shore. Both are just past the Fanny Bridge, named for the multiple posterior views of those bent over looking at the Truckee River.


Continue down Route 89 south to Homewood to discover a small gem: the Tahoe Maritime Museum. Two levels present the wealth of Tahoe’s boating history with exhibits of full size boats like Gar Woods, Chris-Crafts, and other classics of a bygone era.

Privileged Life Among the Pines

In the early 20th century, Lake Tahoe was a millionaire’s playground where the elite, often from San Francisco, built summer homes. Several, still resplendent in their former glory, are open for summer touring:


The West Shore’s Baldwin and Pope Estates are within walking distance of each other. The former has a rustic genteel veneer and the latter’s refined interiors welcomed 1920s film icon Rudolph Valentino.


Vikingsholm, a castle with Scandinavian motifs inside and out, sits at the head of Emerald Bay, while further up the west shore the Hellman-Ehrman Estate’s casual ambience blends into the pine-laden scenery of the surrounding Sugar Pine State Park.


Thunderbird Lodge on Nevada’s east shore reflects its original owner’s eccentricities with an underground tunnel, opium den, and an elephant house. His wooden yacht, also named Thunderbird, once traveled back and forth to CalNeva Resort and Casino—still a favorite bet.

More Than a Gambler’s Mecca

Stateline, Nevada, welcomes gamblers of all games and lovers of live music and comedy with several large casino hotels, including MontBleu, Harveys, and Harrah’s.


Fun times continue at the Après Wine Company, on Ski Run Boulevard in South Lake Tahoe. Join locals for fantastic fare served with more than 50 wines. Across Highway 50, the Riva Grill’s famed Wet Woody drink is best enjoyed watching the neighboring marina’s action, including the sightseeing paddle wheeler, the Tahoe Queen. Another local favorite libation is the Rum Runner at Camp Richardson’s Beacon Bar.

Reaching from the Water to the Stars

Renting bikes and canoes, horses, and water sports equipment is possible at Camp Rich and other locations around the Tahoe Basin. Some choose to hit the 165 miles of the Tahoe Rim Trail on horseback, mountain biking, or just on foot for day hikes or multiple backcountry trips. Combine a twilight hike or kayaking paddle with the wonders of the night sky by joining Tahoe Star Tours, along the North Shore.


To tour the South Shore from both land and water, hop aboard the Tahoe Duck. The entire family can walk among the trees at the Granlibakken ropes course, just south of Tahoe City.


Fueling the action means a morning stop at the Tahoe House Bakery in Tahoe City, Incline Village’s Ernie’s International Pastries, or Sprout’s Natural Café in South Lake Tahoe. Burgers rule at the Getaway Café and Mott Canyon Tavern, and for a supreme dining experience consider Mirabelle in Stateline or Le Bistro’s organic fare at Incline Village.


Reno-Tahoe Helicopters takes you soaring high above the peaks, waterfalls, and the lake. Your soul will also rise at any of Toccata Performing Arts Theatre’s performances of drama, comedy, and music at Incline.


—By LJ Bottjer
LJ Bottjer is a cultural chameleon whose work has appeared with CBS News, the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group and Travel & Leisure.

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