How did a Mountain Lake in Sierra Nevada get to be so damn popular? Is it the stunning scenery, prettier than any picture could ever be photoshopped…? The year round “Squallywood” adventures on and off the slopes…? The Olympic history and all its glory..? You’re just gonna have to read to find out. 😉
I can’t wait to share my adventures in North Lake Tahoe with you! Maybe you’ll decide to see it for yourself. And, if you already have, maybe my stories will inspire you to discover something new.
A California Roadtrip
No road trip to Northern California is complete without a visit to Lake Tahoe. Straddling California & Nevada in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, it’s a big lake with an even bigger personality.
I’ve been coming out here ever since I was a little girl. It’s formed such a positive, lasting impression on me to this day that coming back even now as an adult, I still get giddy.
Most things you read or hear about Lake Tahoe are based on the South Shore, specifically the Nevada side, which houses many casinos. While that certainly has its appeal, (I’m a Blackjack fan), I tend to favor the North Shore for its stunning scenery which has an amazing, calming effect on me.
I’ll write a blog about my time on the South Shore of Tahoe another time. Now, let’s dive right into it’s sister to the North!
In 1863, a lil ole reporter named Samuel Clemens, (a.k.a. Mark Twain) wrote about how he despised Tahoe, writing in Virginia City’s Territorial Enterprise, “Tahoe — it sounds as weak as soup for a sick infant. Tahoe, be forgotten!”
Then later in 1871 called it, “surely the fairest picture the whole world affords..” in his book, “Roughing It”.
The North Shore
North Lake Tahoe is a destination all it’s own. I come to be one with nature and relax, while also be adventurous and have fun.
With world class facilities for skiing and snowboarding during the Winter and hiking, biking, and river rafting in the Truckee River during the Summer, there is something for everyone to choose from all year round. My most recent visit was during the Summer which, has some incredible offerings of its own.
“To breathe the same air as the angels, you must go to Tahoe…”
Where I Stayed: Squaw Valley Alpine Village
A world famous ski destination, Squaw Valley hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics. I stayed at Squaw Valley Alpine Village which gives you a glimpse into Olympic History.
Adventures in Lake Tahoe
During my visit, there was a Summer concert series going on in The Village. My room was located right at the heart of Base Camp. I could have some wine & charcuterie and listen to the live music from the comforts of my balcony.
If the mood struck me, I would wander downstairs to the many outdoor restaurants and shops. There was even a cozy fireplace and a giant game of chess which, I of course, had to play. It added to the overall fun vibe of The Village for me.
Up to High Camp
If adventure is more your thing, you can hop on the aerial tram and ride to High Camp which, I had a blast doing! You’ll ascend from Base Camp at 6,200’ to High Camp at 8,200 ft.
But, what I loved the most… roller skating in the actual Olympic Ice Skating rink! On previous trips in the Winter, I’ve ice skated here too! Unfortunately, as of 2020, there’s no longer ice skating, just roller skating in the Summer.
Pool & Hot Tub
It was cool to be swimming when there was snow still on the ground.. I don’t know how it didn’t completely melt, it was so sunny, I had to carry my parasol.
They have showers and locker rooms. You can shower after your day of adventure and enjoy more time on the mountain.
The tomfoolery that goes on in Squaw Valley is referred to as, “Squallywood”, because of the lively après-ski party that happens on and off the slopes.
FACT: Real Girls Fall on Their Butts Sometimes...
Olympic Ice Pavillion
Have you ever went all day doing an activity only to be injured at the very last minute? Yep, that’s what happened to me when I was roller skating.
I skated a little too hard getting out of the rink, slipped and landed right on my butt, screaming in the loudest voice possible, “F#$%!!!”.
A dad next to me looked horrified. He couldn’t have been more horrified than I was. 😂 It hurt like a mother! My butt had a heartbeat..
But, what a beautiful view. Not of my butt, of the Mountains from the rink… Gorgeous!
Grab lunch or a drink at one of the many restaurants and bars at High Camp and Base Camp while soothing your newly sore butt and bruised ego after a hard fall… as I did. Lol
If you’re interested in a little Olympic history while you’re up at High Camp, check out the Olympic Museum. Some say the international sportsmanship shown at the 1960’s games was the last true bond between athletes. They all lived under the same roof in the Olympic Village.
Don’t forget to snap a selfie from the rink or observation deck with the Olympic Rings behind you before going back down to Base Camp!
Back Down to Base Camp
When you’re ready to wind down for the day, head back to your hotel. Just a tram ride down to Base Camp and I was back in my cozy room. It was more than a hotel. Completely furnished in full Tahoe fashion with a kitchen, fireplace, patio & that something extra cozy feeling, my stay at The Village at Squaw Valley was incredible.
Tahoe’s tap water has received past awards for tasting better than any other water in the country. So good in fact that the drinking water has a very rare filtration exemption status from the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency). Tahoe’s campaign is, “Keep Tahoe Blue“.
Snorkeling in Lake Tahoe
The next day I had some fun on the lake! As we were taking a drive, I was feeling spontaneous. So, not to my best judgement, I threw on a bathing suit I had in the trunk and decided to jump in the water to go snorkeling.
Little did I know, the water would be fuh-fuh-fuhreezing!!! Was definitely no snorkel like in Hawaii, Bahamas, or Florida like I’m used to.. My whole body was numb and my ears were hurting.. even after I got out of the water.. but it was so worth it! The water was crystal clear, I saw some tiny fish, nothing major.. it was just the idea that we were snorkeling in the lake that was pretty cool.
Driving Around Tahoe City
Travelling around the North Shore to Tahoe City, you see more of the amazing views along the way. There are lots of spots to stop and take in the gorgeous views of Emerald Bay, Eagle Falls, and of course Vikingsholm, the Castle.
Views from on top are a great way to see the Tea House sitting on top of Fannette Island (Tahoe’s only island) in the clear blue waters of Emerald Bay. If you want a closer look, tours are available for Vikingsholm Castle but you’ll need to take a boat or a kayak out to see the Tea House.
This trip, I didn’t stop. Although I’ve done tours here in the past. Tahoe is one of my favorite places to visit during any season.
Sailing in Lake Tahoe
Moving on to my next stop which would be my final activity in Tahoe… an afternoon sailboat trip with Tahoe Sail.
I always like to take afternoon trips when I travel. With Lupus, the sun and I have a very tumultuous relationship. Taking an afternoon/sunset trip allows me to enjoy the fresh air and get a healthy dose of Vitamin D, all without the constant fear of too many rays.
We left right on schedule, there weren’t too many guests, and the crew was great. They served cocktails & crudité.. perfect nibbles. It was a 2 hour sailboat trip across the lake just before sunset.
Opened, full sails, and we flew across the water with the feeling of being in a racing regatta! I loved taking off my shoes, rolling up my jeans and getting my feet wet as the sailboat dipped low into the water, teetering ..
It was one of the best boat trips I’ve ever taken.
Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America.
What is an “alpine lake”? Basically a lake at high altitudes, (usually at least 5,000 ft. above sea level or above the tree line).
Dinner & Live Music
What better way to end a wonderful day on the water than with some live music and dinner alfresco by the lake!
We headed over to Beacon Bar & Grill located on Jameson Beach. This area is heading back into South Lake Tahoe on the California side.
It’s a little tricky to get there because you think you are heading into a campsite, (which you actually are- Camp Richardson). But once you are there you will find it filled with locals and tourists alike, enjoying their specialty cocktail & local favorite, Rum Runner. Count me among one of the people sipping on it, cheersing to a successful trip!
And now, for my favorite part…
Real Girl Reviews
The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly
I got a 1 Bedroom Suite which was very clean, cozy, decorated in the theme of Tahoe, yet functional & conveniently located near aerial tram, restaurants, & activities.
You can book a room w/ a washer & dryer. There's also a laundry facility in hotel.
After a day at High Camp, was nice to come back & whip up snacks in the kitchen, relax on the patio & have an up-close view of the action in The Village.
Would definitely stay here again! You can book your stay here.
- Purchase an Inclusive pass here.
If you're staying at a hotel in The Village, ask for a hotel discount..
Takes you up 2,000' from Base Camp. The views were phenomenal! Adds to the experience. It's definitely convenient if you're not up for hiking.
If you want to avoid the cost of the tram, you can hike up to High Camp with your dog & the tram will give you both a ride down for free.
There's so much to do up at High Camp. Not to mention, the views were breathtaking up that high. There's a lot to explore.
I would definitely get an inclusive pass again next time. It gave me access to the pool & hot tub, showers, activities & unlimited rides on the tram.
- Note: Showers for Pool & Hot Tub
Only body soap provided, bring mini bottles of shampoo & conditioner from hotel & a lock for lockers.
You can't go to Squaw Valley, High Camp without checking out the museum in my opinion. Especially if you lodge @ The Village or skate in the Olympic Ice Pavillion. It makes it that more special. I always appreciate the history of the places I go. Museum really gave me an idea of what the 1960 Winter Olympics was like at Squaw. I appreciated it even more having skated there multiple times before and having stayed at The Village.
This was so much fun!! Despite falling on my booty... LOL
The views are great and there's plenty of food options nearby. They give you socks. You can keep them for $6.
Only roller skating in the Summer.
We ordered Wings, Fish & Chips, Cobb Salad, & Fish Tacos. The restaurant has a very laid back vibe. It was very loud and the food was okay.. nothing special. But it was a relaxed, casual spot, right on the lake with live music which was nice. Rum Runner, their classic drink was tasty.
Would go back for the laid back vibes alone.
On Emerald Bay lies the remnants of what was once an extraordinary Tea House on Fannette Island, Lake Tahoe's only island.
Back in the day, the property owners would host guests for high tea. The maids of the Tea House would set up a beautiful, glamorous tea party. Sounds like something I'd love honestly.
Sadly now, it's abandoned. It's on the National Historic Registry but due to a lack of funds just sits there. Vandalization has left it in a sad state. Since being damaged, only a part of it remains now.
Overall, it's still an interesting sight worth seeing. You can walk up and take pictures on the island. The views of the lake all around are stunning.
The only way to get there is by doing a boat trip, (which I've done), paddle boarding or taking a kayak (either your own or a rental). Swimming is prohibited.
To get down to the island, you must take a trail. I found this guide to be most helpful.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my adventures in North Lake Tahoe and get inspiration for your own trip!
So, you read my story about falling on my booty… Your turn! When was the last time you injured yourself while on a trip or doing an activity? Comment below! I’d love to hear it.
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