The largest alpine lake in North America, Lake Tahoe is as famous for its clear, blue water as its leisure activities. In winter, visitors enjoy the region’s many ski resorts, and in summer, the lake turns into a haven for boaters and other water-sport enthusiasts. Year round, Lake Tahoe is perfect for short, three-day jaunts, with plenty to occupy your visit.
If you are vacationing there during the winter, there’s a good chance you plan on hitting the slopes. Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe has good runs for both skiing and snowboarding, and staying in South Lake Tahoe offers a wide range of tourist activities, including casino gambling in the adjacent town of Stateline, Nevada.
In the summer, Lake Tahoe becomes more than chairlifts and craps tables (though the casinos across the state line are certainly worth visiting). On a three-day trip, start it off with a helicopter tour of the lake. There are a number of these, varying in duration (and cost, of course) and flight time, from ten-minute tours of Emerald Bay to sunset tours of the entire lake. For the time it takes to pay and prep, you might be better served by paying for a longer tour; the lake’s different areas all hold their own charms, and an hour-long flight makes for a truly memorable experience. Helicopter tours are available year round, weather permitting.
As the Lake Tahoe basin is famous for its natural beauty and awe-inspiring scenery, you’d better pack your camera, and if you want to catch the best spots, you might want to book a photography tour. These are private, guided tours that occur year round; whatever the season, Tahoe always has prime spots for postcard-perfect pictures. These half-day tours are a great way to learn about the lake, especially following one of the aforementioned helicopter tours. Following your guided photography tour, spend some time in South Lake Tahoe, where shopping and dining opportunities abound, as well as Stateline’s casinos.
If your trip is in the summer, spend your second day on the lake. Boating is a popular pastime, and the shores of the lake are populated with a host of restaurants and bars, many of which have docks and slips built in to accommodate boats. You can rent just about any kind of lake-leisure watercraft from Tahoe Sports, from paddle boats and hydro bikes to jet skis to pontoon boats. During the summer, a lively party scene develops around boaters on Emerald Bay, particularly around July 4th. Should you visit in the summer, a day spent on a boat or the beach is a must.
After you’ve had your fill of cutting wakes and building sandcastles, clean up and take a sunset cruise on the MS Dixie II. You’ll be treated to a breathtaking view of the setting sun as it sinks over the west, turning the surrounding mountains into a riot of stunning color. The cruise includes a gourmet dinner of sustainable foods, as well as entertainment provided by the MS Dixie II’s house band.