Tahoe Destination Guide
Let's start by getting the name "Tahoe" straight: when people say "Lake Tahoe", they're usually referring to one of two equally extraordinary places. Firstly, there's the lake. Shimmering in an average of 300 days of sunshine a year, it's the largest of its kind in North America and was formed around two million years ago. Secondly, there is the snow-capped surrounding area, also often known just as "Lake Tahoe". Famous for hosting the Winter Olympics in 1960, snow sports remain the area's star attraction, but people from all over the world also converge at Lake Tahoe to enjoy the outdoors in the summer sun as well as indoors at the large casinos.
With between 300 and 500 inches of snowfall in alpine areas, it's little wonder that Lake Tahoe is such a well-loved winter sports location. More relaxed and affordable than resorts such as Aspen or Jackson Hole, you can take your pick from numerous ski resorts including the world-renowned Squaw Valley, powder-filled Sugar Bowl, and the recently reinvented Northstar. Come summer, Lake Tahoe makes full use of the average three out of four sunny days it gets. With activities centred around the bright blue lake, if you love the outdoors you'll relish the opportunity to hike, fish and kayak at the largest alpine lake in North America.
Eat and Drink
No doubt you'll work up an appetite after all the outdoorsy action, but you'll never worry about going hungry here in Tahoe. Spread across areas including Tahoe City, South Lake Tahoe and Truckee are about 300 different places to eat and drink. Follow a food trail around the lake by having one of the best breakfasts in Tahoe at Squeeze In in Truckee then, come lunchtime, pull up a seat by the lake for some seriously scrumptious food at Sunnyside Restaurant, Tahoe City. Work up an appetite again before finishing the day off with a unique and tasty meal at Evan's American Gourmet Cafe in South Lake Tahoe.
Where to Stay
When booking your Lake Tahoe accommodation, keep in mind the area is home to a handful of different towns. Each town has different charms and, importantly, different transport links to the ski resorts. Tahoe City and South Lake Tahoe are the two mains towns, with Tahoe City being the more relaxed of the two and offering the best access to Squaw Valley Ski Resort. South Lake Tahoe, on the other hand, has a wider range of accommodation options and is the best place to stay if you want to be at Heavenly Ski Resort in the least amount of time. For something more quaint though a little pricier, Truckee is where you can experience some classic country hospitality. If seclusion is what you are seeking, consider Tahoe Vista, offering the best access to Northstar Ski Resort, or Incline Village, located closest to Diamond Peak Resort.
While not a shopper's paradise, Lake Tahoe is a particularly good place to stock up on outdoor goods. Towards the end of seasons, products are often drastically marked down. For year-round bargains, head to the "Y" Shopping Centre at South Lake Tahoe and trawl through a number of outlet shops. Many shops have an abundance of ski gear, especially in Tahoe City and South Lake Tahoe. One of the most esteemed is Porters Sports, a family-run shop with three locations throughout the Tahoe region. If you're worried about your baggage allowance, you can also rent gear from shops or directly at the mountain, though prices tend to be a little more expensive on the slopes.
Tahoe like a Local
A juicy burger washed down with a cool Anchor Steam or Sierra Nevada beer is one of the most popular ways to nourish yourself after a long day in the outdoors and there's stiff competition when it comes to deciding who has the best burgers in Lake Tahoe. It would be far too controversial to award a winner here, but some of the tastiest options include the BBQ Cheeseburger at Bridgetender Tavern and Grill in Tahoe City, and the Bison Burger at Burge Me in Truckee. In South Lake Tahoe, it's even harder to award the standout sandwich. Stateline Brewery and Izzy's Burger and Spa are both good options for carnivores, while Sprouts Cafe will satiate those with a fixation for tofu and tempeh.