LAKE TAHOE SOUTH SHORE
Indoor and outdoor mountain playground
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.