Lake Tahoe is pristine in its beauty. The air is clear. The granite cliffs, reaching from 9,000 to 10,900 feet above sea level, are sheer with sharp angles and edges. The Lake, itself, is a deep navy blue except for sections close to shore where the water is a bright turquoise or in Emerald Bay where it’s a rich emerald green. It is the third largest lake in the United States and the eighth largest lake in the world. Its clarity allows objects to be seen at depths of up to 75 feet.
And one of the great things about living in the San Francisco Bay Area is that Lake Tahoe is only about three hours away by car.
The Lake rests in the northern portion of the Sierra Nevada mountains on the border of California and Nevada with approximately 2/3 located in California and 1/3 in Nevada. Like the Lake, the area is divided into two main regions having very distinct atmospheres: North Shore which is mostly within California and South Shore situated mostly in Nevada.
The North Shore is all about relaxation and enjoying the solitude the Lake has to offer. The peaceful nature of North Shore allows visitors a place to recharge and recompose. The Ritz-Carlton Highlands, the 5-diamond Resort at Squaw Valley and the two Marriot resorts are gleaming examples of the North Shore preference for pampering and tranquility. All provide room service and have top rate spas and dining onsite.
This does not mean that there is not a wide array of different activities to explore and enjoy. North Shore offers shuttle access to first class ski resorts –Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows and Northstar—and to the popular towns of Tahoe City, Truckee, Kings Beach and Carnelian Bay where visitors can shop at outlet stores or quaint boutiques, meander in historical museums or take leisurely walks around the Lake. In the winter, skiing or snow boarding are the primary outdoor activities. But in summer, horseback riding, mountain climbing, bicycling, or afternoon sailboat racing are available for those seeking more challenging activities on the North Shore.
South Shore, on the other hand, invites those who want non-stop excitement. The casinos— Harrah’s, Harvey’s and the Mont Bleu—make South Shore a 24-hour vacation destination. The instant you cross the state line into Nevada gaming is king. You will find slot machines almost everywhere including grocery stores. For the real thing, take in the big gambling rooms and the live entertainment at the casinos.
But, South Shore has a lot more to offer than gambling. More young families make their way to South Shore for both the wider range of activities and the availability of more economical lodging. While North Shore has only two RV campgrounds, South Shore boasts 10. Many of the casinos and ski resorts along South Shore provide licensed child care facilities. And for those bringing along the family dog, South Shore has more lodging that accepts pets.
In addition to skiing at Heavenly, Kirkwood or Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resorts, for winter sports South Shore provides more activities for families including dog sledding, snowmobiling, snowboarding, sleigh rides and ice skating. In summertime, those wanting to enjoy or explore the Lake can take paddle boat day tours or rent power boats, water skis, wet suits, ski jets, kayaks or canoes from the South Shore marinas. In the evening, a three-hour paddle boat dinner–dance cruise allows adults a pleasant romantic break from the dizzying pace of South Shore.
U.S. Weather Service records show that the mountain peaks surrounding Lake Tahoe can be snow capped all year round. But temperatures during the summer at the Lake level run around 70 to 74 degrees Fahrenheit, so a vacation in Lake Tahoe presents visitors with a uniquely California experience of fun in the sun-and-snow at the same time!