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Lake Tahoe: Where to Stay, Where to Eat, What to Do
Lake Tahoe is one of the most popular vacation spots in the United States. It boasts the world's highest alpine lake (a lake, near or above timberline, that is fed by the melting snow of nearby mountains). Lake Tahoe features 72 miles of shoreline, one-third in Nevada with the remainder in California.
San Francisco families have been going to Tahoe for years to summer vacation on the scenic lake that offers power boating, sailing, water skiing, fishing and beaches. Hiking, biking and hunting are other popular sports. Since the 1960 Winter Olympics at nearby Squaw Valley, skiing in Lake Tahoe-- both downhill and cross-country -- has also been quite popular. With an elevation of 6200 feet, what could be better? Other favorite skiing venues include Alpine Meadows, Heavenly Valley, Mount Rose and Kirkwood, to name a few of the 31 ski areas offering 150 ski lifts. Snowboarding -- with its roots in surfing and skateboarding -- is another popular sport in these climes.
The Resort at Squaw Creek is a luxury conference complex featuring 405 guest rooms offering convenient ski-in/ski-out amenities. And when it is time to eat, there are five restaurants on site. Chuckwagon buffet style lunch on the Sun Plaza Deck, ice carving by hotel chefs and live entertainment greet skiers during their breaks. The Resort's other restaurants offer a plethora of choices from Sweet Potatoes Deli to Glissandi, their flagship restaurant that serves American cuisine with a French accent. Another choice is Cascades, offering a daily elaborate buffet in a family setting. Look for a special buffet line for "the little people" in your group. Ristorante Montagna features California Italian cuisine on a first come, first served basis. And for a casual meal try Bullwhackers Pub, a rugged old-west sports bar and game room.
Another popular, and much smaller, lodge is located on the West Shore of the lake near Tahoe City. Sunnyside features 23 country style rooms and suites with complimentary continental breakfast. The full service restaurant, bar and seafood bar offer spectacular views of the lake. Sunnyside guests have been enjoying mountain and lake activities for more than 40 years.
After ski season is over, golf is king. There are a number of superior courses around the lake: Edgewood, on the south shore; Incline Village, along the northeast shore; and the relatively new Resort at Squaw Creek on the northwest side of the lake. Tahoe's golf season generally runs from May through October.
Gambling is another big attraction to the Lake Tahoe area. The state of Nevada has allowed gambling since 1931. Prominent names in the business are Caesars, Hilton and Hyatt. A few miles beyond the northern part of the lake is Reno, called "The Biggest Little City in the World." Major casinos are popular there as well as in South Lake Tahoe where there are four major casinos: Harrah's, Harveys, Horizon and Caesars in Stateline.
One of the fun parts of going on a vacation is discovering new things to eat, maybe even taking some back home with you. Two food products sold locally will be of special interest to those with a sweet tooth. One is a Nevada-made chocolate candy named "Ethel M" which can be found at two Reno locations: the Reno Airport and at Fourth and Virginia Streets. A 24-page catalog is available free by calling 1-800-4-ETHEL-M (1-800-438-4356). Ethel M offers a full range of boxed chocolates, novelty chocolates and a full range of holiday treats throughout the year.
Another brand of chocolate, which have been handmade for over 100 years and are directly imported from Belgium, is sold in Tahoe City and Olympic Valley. Prestige Belgium Chocolates use no preservatives or artificial flavorings. Look for delicious "mini-luxuries" in dark, milk or white chocolate such as raspberry liqueur truffle; marzipan, praline and toffee crunch; orange strips and chocolate with hazelnuts.
Restaurants are another fun part of travel. From the McDonalds in Tahoe City that has a glassed-in wood burning fireplace (no large golden arches here) to the small restaurants located in "beautiful downtown Truckee," this area has it all. Truckee, gateway to the Sierra, retains much of its old west flavor and historic charm. Truckee is north of Lake Tahoe and has a scenic turn-of-the-century downtown area. Casual hang-outs such as O.B.'s Pub and Restaurant have been around for over 20 years and Cottonwood, high up Highway 267, serves California cuisine. Cottonwood is adjacent to Hilltop Lodge and exudes a friendly atmosphere. The warm fireplace, cozy bar and eclectic menu make dining comfortable. Starters include roasted yellow corn polenta with wild mushrooms, garlic and parsley; baby back ribs fried crispy, grilled with jerk spice; and grilled marinated quail salad with a lemon and rosemary infused olive oil. For dinner try fusilli pasta with roasted duck, proscuitto, goat cheese and cracked pepper; grilled golden trout with a fresh pico de gallo or seared peppered top sirloin steak with a whole grain mustard cream.
In direct contrast to historic Truckee, and at the southeast end of the lake, is a new Planet Hollywood. Opened in the fall of 1994 in the Caesars Tahoe Hotel Stateline, Planet Hollywood offers loud music, continuous movie shots and casual food. If you like the Hard Rock Cafes, you'll appreciate the Planet Hollywood concept.
So whether your visit is in December to snow ski or July to water ski, relax and enjoy the natural wonders of the Lake Tahoe region.