In­door and out­door moun­tain play­ground

2017 Travel Guide to California - - LAKE TAHOE SOUTH SHORE - BY BILL FINK

FROM SERENE VIEWS over mir­ror-flat morn­ing wa­ters of Lake Ta­hoe and the gen­tle foot­fall of hik­ers on pine nee­dle-cov­ered for­est paths, to the jan­gle of slot ma­chines and the pump­ing bass of a casino dance club, Lake Ta­hoe South Shore (what the mar­keters call Ta­hoe South) is a des­ti­na­tion host­ing a unique mix of wilder­ness and wild-ness, an in­door and out­door play­ground with equal mea­sures of al­ti­tude and at­ti­tude. Vis­i­tors can fol­low their de­sires to find peace and soli­tude on back coun­try hikes or ski runs, or dive into a swirling so­cial scene at a packed sum­mer beach, holler at a crowded craps ta­ble or slurp mi­cro­brews at an après ski bar com­plete with go-go dancers. It’s dealer’s choice on the South Shore. And South Lake is con­tin­u­ing its re­nais­sance with on­go­ing open­ings and ren­o­va­tions of ho­tels, restau­rants and re­tail spa­ces across the area.


Sum­mer ac­tiv­ity around the South Shore is un­der­stand­ably fo­cused on the beau­ti­ful wa­ters of spec­tac­u­lar Lake Ta­hoe. Beaches are packed with sum­mer rev­el­ers, while the wa­ters are filled with ev­ery type of float­ing ves­sel imag­in­able—from kayaks and standup pad­dle boards to small sail­boats, fish­ing cruis­ers, wa­ter-ski boats, lux­ury cruis­ing ves­sels and even the 500-pas­sen­ger pad­dle­wheel ship M.S. Dixie II that runs daily Emer­ald Bay sight­see­ing trips and sun­set din­ner cruises.

For fun out of the wa­ter, the South Shore is a hiker’s par­adise with jour­neys rang­ing from multi-day treks into the Deso­la­tion Wilder­ness and a steep day’s climb up to the awe-in­spir­ing views of Mount Tal­lac, to re­laxed fam­ily strolls in flat mead­ows at Camp Richard­son and around the Tal­lac

His­toric Site or just laz­ing at the beach. Cy­clists can take ad­van­tage of a net­work of road rides and moun­tain paths with ev­ery­thing from a scenic roll in the woods to treach­er­ous, teeth-rat­tling moun­tain de­scents. The am­bi­tious can even bike the en­tire 72-mile cir­cum­fer­ence of Lake Ta­hoe, while the cau­tious can pedal bike paths close to town and teens can stun­tride at the Bi­jou Bike Park. Golfers can check out sev­eral area cour­ses, in­clud­ing the lake­side Edge­wood Ta­hoe Golf Course (home of the pop­u­lar Amer­i­can Cen­tury celebrity golf tour­na­ment in July) and stay in their new 154-room Lodge at Edge­wood open­ing the sum­mer of 2017.

Heav­enly Moun­tain Re­sort’s on-moun­tain Epic Discovery adventure cen­ter fea­tures a grav­ity-pow­ered Moun­tain Coaster, long zip lines, an ed­u­ca­tional for­est canopy tour and a kids ropes course, as well as a net­work of hik­ing trails branch­ing off from their gon­dola (which is worth a sight­see­ing ride even if you never step off it) and new guided 4x4 tours to fur­ther ex­plore the moun­tain.


Lake Ta­hoe South Shore boasts three world­class ski re­sorts: Heav­enly, Kirk­wood and Sierra-at-ta­hoe. Heav­enly is an ex­pan­sive and pop­u­lar moun­tain span­ning two states, with con­trast­ing views of the blue Ta­hoe wa­ters and the high-prairie Ne­vada coun­try­side. The Heav­enly Gon­dola drops vis­i­tors right into the ac­tion in the cen­ter of the city. Heav­enly’s Ta­ma­rack Lodge has an après ski scene with pump­ing music, mul­ti­ple bars and go-go dancers gy­rat­ing to keep them­selves (and the view­ers) warm. Kirk­wood, about a 45-minute drive from town, is known for its off-piste ter­rain, deep snow and re­laxed vibe. Sierra-at­ta­hoe is a medium-sized fam­ily-ori­ented ski re­sort (lo­cated on High­way 50 be­tween South Lake Ta­hoe and Sacra­mento) of­fer­ing a newly ex­panded begin­ner area for 2017.


When the day of out­door ac­tiv­ity is done, the sec­ond shift of fun is just be­gin­ning around South Lake Ta­hoe. On the Ne­vada side of the bor­der, high-rise casinos rock with the sounds and en­ergy of non-stop gam­bling. Gamers get recharged in an ar­ray of restau­rants and buf­fets, as well as at comedy shows and live music events at Har­veys Sum­mer Concert Se­ries and the Hard Rock Ho­tel, among oth­ers. Packed bars and clubs give this in­door play­ground a Ve­gas feel, al­beit at 6200 feet above sea level.

Out­side the casinos, the main strip of town boasts shop­ping op­por­tu­ni­ties with con­tin­ued new open­ings in the Chateau at the Vil­lage, with name-brand bou­tiques as well as quirky lo­cal ski shops and crafts stores along the shores. Din­ing can be any­thing from sushi to pizza and gourmet cui­sine—of­fered at ca­sual lo­cal din­ers (like the re­cently opened Ace High Sa­loon and Smoke­house)—to lux­ury lake­side restau­rants. To quench your thirst, the South Lake Brew­ing Com­pany will open in early 2017 to add to the lo­cal beer op­tions pro­vided by re­cent ad­di­tions Sidel­lis Brew­ery, Cold Wa­ter Brew­ery and Deso­la­tion Brew­ery at Base­camp Ho­tel. When you fi­nally de­cide to take a rest, South Lake Ta­hoe of­fers a vast ar­ray of lodg­ing op­tions, with new ho­tels for 2017 in­clud­ing the pet-friendly bou­tique Ho­tel Becket, condo-rentals at Za­lanta Re­sort at the Vil­lage and the newly ren­o­vated Inn by The Lake.

Re­gard­less of your choice of food, ac­tiv­ity or sea­son, Lake Ta­hoe South Shore is a spot to sat­isfy any sort of ap­petite— you’ll only be hun­gry for an­other trip.

PAD­DLE BOARD­ING ON LAKE TA­HOE, op­po­site; kayak­ing on the lake, right; din­ing in Har­veys Lake Ta­hoe Ho­tel and Casino, be­low.

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