Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada
The lake is a gorgeous draw year-round and certainly makes for spectacular waterskiing during warmer months. But the sight in winter, when your skis or snowboard are pointing downhill toward the sapphire water―as the second deepest alpine lake in the country, it never freezes―is majestic. Set in the Sierra Nevadas and straddling the California-Nevada border, Tahoe is home to a full dozen resorts including four major ones, plus nine small breweries that are mostly pubs.
As one of the most family-oriented resort towns, Tahoe offers plenty of non-skiing activities that are fun for kids and perhaps a parent who never learned to ski. Try sledding, snow tubing, snow shoeing and ice-skating―there are two rinks, including one at Squaw’s High Camp, scene of the 1960 Olympic Winter Games.
Darren Kramer is the general manager of the Tahoe Yacht Club, as well as Obexer’s Country Market (5300 W Lake Blvd., Homewood, CA), which possibly boasts the largest bottle selection in Tahoe. He contends that Tahoe in general and Squaw Valley Resort in particular offer the “greatest conditions in the lower 48.”
It’s important to know the different areas, beginning with North Shore and South Shore, but also keeping in mind what lies on the western shore in California and on the eastern half in Nevada, which has far less skiing but way more gambling, with about an equal number of breweries in each.
In South Lake Tahoe, Heavenly is the largest of all area resorts and the tallest, with a peak elevation of over 10,000 feet compared to just over 9,000 for the other larger mountains. It’s also right near the Tahoe airport if you’re flying in. Neighboring resorts include Kirkwood, where discount tickets can often be found, and Sierra-at-Tahoe.
After a day on these slopes, or three days visiting all three mountains, pop into Mt. Tallac Brewing (2060 Eloise Ave.), but note that this draft-only brewery is only open to the public Fridays from 5 to 7 p.m. Keep your layers on since they don’t heat the space, but that never stops locals from piling in. There’s also the Brewery at Lake Tahoe (3542 Lake Tahoe Blvd.), with Bad Ass Ale, a local favorite, boasting copious amounts of malts, hops and alcohol. Then, spitting distance from Nevada is Stateline Brewery (4118 Lake Tahoe Blvd.). Both brewpubs offer pizzas, sandwiches and an array of grilled entrees.