TAHOE CITY: Recreational Capital
At an elevation of 6,250 feet, Tahoe City, on the northwest shore of Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada’s lovely freshwater alpine lake, is all about the water and surrounding mountains. The Placer County community is a jumping-off point for skiing and snowboarding in winter and boating, swimming and fishing in summer. Calling itself a city is a whimsical touch, as the unincorporated town has just 2,000 residents. Situated near the headwaters of the Truckee River, Tahoe City offers popular recreational outfitters, hotels and retail, as well as craft beers and hearty food. The annual Oktoberfest features excellent beers such as Lagunitas and the aptly named Sierra Nevada. The Tahoe Art Haus and Cinema has nine beers on tap, leather rocking seats, movies, music and dance.
NEVADA CITY: Gold Rush Pedigree
In 2010, this postcard-pretty inland community in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada counted 3,068 residents—1,000 fewer than it had in 1880 in the afterglow of the 1849 California Gold Rush. These days, travelers journey to Nevada City’s woodsy setting on the western slopes to admire impeccably restored 19th-century buildings, take in scenic hillside views, ski the nearby mountains, and head to High Country attractions such as nearby Lake Tahoe. The Gold Rush is memorialized at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center and by historical mining exhibits in City Hall. Eye-pleasing and walkable, much of downtown Nevada City is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Nevada Theatre, a smartly restored heritage building, hosts a variety of live entertainment.
SANTA CRUZ: Beach, Boardwalk & More
This classic beach town is located 75 miles south of San Francisco on the northern
HISTORIC DOWNTOWN NEVADA CITY, left; entrance to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, below; Long Beach skyline, bottom.