Dine Around Lake Tahoe

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The different cities and communities scattered around Lake Tahoe, each with its unique personality, offer fantastic restaurants to discover and enjoy.  Visitors can easily miss out on the best locations.  In this post I am going to share an overview of dining options by location and highlight a favorite offering in each!

The West Shore hosts culinary favorites that offer serene lakeside dining and picturesque alpine glow sunsets.  A popular location on the West Shore is Sunnyside Restaurant & Lodge offering year-round dining with boating access and superior al fresco dining in the summertime.  The newest addition and growing favorite amongst locals also located in Sunnyside is Spoon serving homemade “good & good for you comfort food” picture below.  Located in a quaint rustic cabin in the woods, the comfort expands even to its decor!

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Downtown Tahoe City is the epicenter of North Lake Tahoe whose streets are lined with shops and restaurants providing exquisite fine-dining options including – Wolfdale’s Cuisine Unique, Christy Hill and Jake’s on the Lake. Opened in 1978, Wolfdale’s Cuisine Unique has proven to be a leader in culinary fusion offering a unique menu with a mixture of Asian and European cuisine and a twist of California contemporary.

Traveling from Tahoe City to the East Shore, North Lake Tahoe is scattered with some of the most popular restaurants in Lake Tahoe including Garwoods Grill & Pier, Lanza’s, Soule Domaine, Lone Eagle Grill, Big Water Grille, Le Bistro and a local favorite, Bite American Tapas.  I fell in love my first week in Lake Tahoe with Bite – a must visit in Incline Village.  Entering Bite you feel as though you have stepped into a posh city restaurant and bar.  Serving up specialities in “bite” sized tapas plates perfect for sharing and trying them all! A few local favorites include the crispy risotto balls,  BLT (the L is for Lobster!) sliders, Moroccan spiced lamb meatballs accompanied by unique mixology cocktails.

Taking the drive to nearby Truckee you will find a reinvented culinary hub featuring favorites such as Moody’s Bistro Bar & Beats, Cottonwood Restaurant & Bar, Trokay Restaurant, Pineta Cucina Italiana, Bar of America, Burger Me, Stella and many more.  With so many to choose from, here I highlight the brightest new star Stella Restaurant at the Cedar House Sport Hotel created by Chef Jacob Burton.  To experience Stella the right way, you must try the monthly Chef’s Tasting Menu and take the culinary journey from start, next, continue to finish (names of each course!) all while sitting in the intimate dining room with a front and center open kitchen view!

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On the other side, South Lake famous for its lively nightlife and up all night offerings, celebrates a number of fine-dining options including Edgewood Restaurant, Ciera Steak + Chophouse and Evan’s American Gourmet Cafe.  Edgewood Restaurant located at the golf course is a favorite offering beautiful panoramic sunset views over Lake Tahoe and serving a traditional menu of fish and steak entree classics.

The best culinary Magazine in the area is by far Edible Tahoe Reno.  Their dining guide is an exceptional way to learn more about new restaurants and special offerings in Lake Tahoe. Do you have a favorite restaurant in Lake Tahoe? If so, share it below and let’s continue to discuss the best dining options in Lake Tahoe.  More Lake Tahoe restaurant reviews and insider dining tips are on the way!

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B.Y.O.Bowl & Spoon

One of the things that most impressed me when I moved to Lake Tahoe was the strong sense of community that this region shares.  Spanning two states and five counties, there is always a fun and beneficial community event  to join. From pancake breakfasts, parades, special events, trail restoration projects and community gardens there is an opportunity for everyone to participate in the community while having fun!  Throughout this blog, I want to share with you unique community events offered in Lake Tahoe that you may be interested in attending as well as volunteering.

The first I want to share is one of my favorite community events and also a bit of a local’s secret  – Stone Soup!   Stone Soup is a weekly soup night hosted in downtown Truckee where the community is invited to join and celebrate food, live music and one another’s company.   I had the privilege to begin volunteering at Stone Soup last year when my company became involved with hosting its events.  I quickly learned, this is no ordinary Soup Kitchen.  The evening is filled with friends and families gathering together to converse, laugh, listen to live music and spend time together all while enjoying a bowl of hearty soup.  The best part – it’s free for everyone!  Different local businesses and music vendors take turns providing soup and entertainment, making each week a unique festivity.  Local businesses also donate day old bread and pastries which are placed on sharing tables as pictured below which attendees enjoy and can take home. 

This winter season, Stone Soup will be prepared and served each Sunday evening from January 27th to March 24th from 5-7PM at the Community Arts Center at 10046 Church Street in downtown Truckee, CA.  Guests are invited to bring their own bowl and spoon and enjoy delicious soup with their community.  Donations are requested but not required. A list of upcoming Stone Soup Sponsors is listed below so mark your calendars!

Upcoming Sponsors of Stone Soup 
2/24 – Mountain High BNI
3/4 – Ward & Young
3/10 – For Goodness Sake

3/17 – Squaw Valley Retail Department
3/24 – Tahoe Truckee for Futures Without Drug Dependence

Stone Soup is hosted by Project MANA whose mission is “to reduce the incidence of hunger and its detrimental effects upon individuals, families, the community and the region.  In addition to providing hunger relief, we have developed programs designed to alleviate the causes of hunger and promote nutrition through education and awareness.”  In the community, Project MANA’s provides support to the low income community through weekly food distributions, home visits, Nutrition Education programs offered to schools, creation of a community garden at the Truckee Regional Park, food rescue from local food vendors and hosting special community events such as Stone Soup!

If you or your organization is interested in preparing soup or volunteering at Stone Soup, contact Project MANA at  volunteer@projectmana.org, visit their website or call 775-298-0008.  If you have a different favorite community event in the Lake Tahoe region that you would like to share, please tell us about it in the comments below.  I hope to see you with your bowl and spoon at Stone Soup this season!

Pick Your Peak

Did you know that there is more skiable terrain in the Lake Tahoe Basin than in the entire state of Colorado?  In fact, Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Northern California Sierra Nevada region celebrates a total of 23 downhill ski and cross-country resorts for your winter adventure. Now, let’s take a closer look at the top ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe Basin and what makes each unique!

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Top Ski Resorts in Lake Tahoe

Alpine Meadows – With seven open bowls, 13 chair lifts and 100+ trails this resort is a favorite amongst locals and tourists alike for its diverse and extreme access terrain, great snow conditions and views of Lake Tahoe.  Recently joined with Squaw Valley, visitors now share access to both mountains with any lift ticket or the Tahoe Super Pass.

Heavenly – Views, views and more views!  Enjoy spectacular views of Lake Tahoe from all over this enormous ski resort spreading across both California and Nevada with three access gates, 29 chair lifts and 97 trails.  Begin your day with a ride up the mountain on its signature aerial tram and then enjoy its varied terrain throughout.  Part of Vail Resorts, visitors can enjoy all of the fun and accessiblity of their Epic Pass here!

Kirkwood – Regarded for its remote beauty and breathtaking skyline this resort boasts the highest base elevation and the deepest annual snowfall in Lake Tahoe.  Kirkwood is a favorite amongst locals for its unique terrain, backcountry access, signature lifts such as “The Wall” and remote location.  Kirkwood is also the newest edition to Vail Resort’s Lake Tahoe Epic Pass portfolio.

Mt. Rose – A North Lake Tahoe favorite and the only ski resort offering views of both Lake Tahoe and Reno.  Mt. Rose is the closest ski resort to Reno, a 30-minute drive, making it a favorite of Reno residents and visitors.  Its legendary Chutes offer some of the steepest and longest slopes in North America.

Northstar California – This resort has it all!  With 97 trails, 20 lifts, 3 lodges, tubing, ice-skating, 7 terrain parks, tree-skiing, half-pipe, super pipe, cross-country, telemark and snowshoe center and a vibrant village this resort will make every family member smile.   Look for Olympian Shawn White and visit the only Burton Academy training facility in North America.  And, your Vail Resort’s Epic Pass works here too!

Squaw Valley – A skier’s and rider’s paradise.  Famed host of the 1960 Winter Olympics, Squaw Valley includes 6 peaks, 3600 acres of terrain, 30 lifts, aerial tram, views of Lake Tahoe and a lively village.  It offers some of the most famous terrain in Lake Tahoe including steeps, bowls and cliffs along with the most extensive offerings of racing events and night skiing terrain.  Squaw Valley celebrates the longest ski season lasting until late spring and even sometimes 4th of July!

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Can’t choose just one ski resort to visit for the season or on your next trip?  Great news, you don’t have to!  There are fantastic interchangeable lift ticket passes which give you access to the top alpine ski resorts every day of the season such as Ski Tahoe North’s Interchangeable Lift Ticket as well as the Ski Lake Tahoe Six-Pack.  Also, websites like Liftopia are a one-stop shopping for the best daily lift ticket deals at all of the ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe Basin!

Do you have a favorite resort that you like to ski or ride at in Lake Tahoe?  Please share in the comments below which resort is your favorite and why?

Surviving Ski Week

For most of the country, this 3-day weekend is celebrated in honor of Monday’s President’s Day Holiday, but not surprisingly, this holiday is celebrated EVEN better in Lake Tahoe.  Here President’s Holiday Weekend kicks off what is known throughout California as “Ski Week” where schools throughout the state take the entire week off, pack their cars with skis and snowboards and head up to the mountains to hit the slopes.  Here are tips on how to enjoy the BEST ski week vacation in Lake Tahoe this week:

Tips for Your Ski Week Vacation in Lake Tahoe:
Travel Times DO Make A Difference:
 Don’t leave the Bay Area on Friday evening!  Instead, take the day off work, pull the kids out of school early and drive up on Thursday evening or early Friday morning.  Likewise, head out of town a day early to avoid the traffic jam leaving on Sunday.

Paying at the Pump:  Fill-up before coming into town.  It’s no secret gas stations in the basin raise rates especially on the holiday weekends in the wintertime.  When leaving town, fill-up your car just enough to get you to Auburn or Sacramento where gas rates will significantly reduce.  Or, if you run an errand to Reno during the holiday week, fill up there!

Plan Ahead:
 Make reservations ahead of time!  Most ski resorts allow you to arrange ski and snowboard lessons, rentals and even lift ticket purchases directly online.  This will help you to avoid long lines in the morning, save you a buck or two and get you and your family out on the slopes faster.

Splurge, You’re Worth It!:  Holiday weeks in Lake Tahoe are not cheap and you are already paying holiday lift ticket rates so spend the extra money if your ski resort’s offers a “Fast Pass Priority Lane Access” like the popular one at Northstar California which will give you access to quicker lift lines so you can get more runs out of your day!

Take Advantage! Avoid the crowds:
 You’re here to play all week so why not schedule your activities so you can enjoy them best?  I recommend saving your days on the slopes, especially at the big ski resorts like Northstar California, Heavenly, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows for midweek dates when crowds and lines will be shorter.  Instead, enjoy other outdoor activities like snow shoeing, ice-skating and sledding on the weekends where lines and crowds won’t have as big of an impact on your fun!  (I will let you in on another secret – many of us locals’ season passes are blacked out this week so take advantage of the mountain during the mid-week which is what we usually do!)

Diehard?:   Ok, some of you diehards are reading the tip above and thinking, not ski everyday? Yeah right!  If you’re planning on hitting the slopes each day you are here, busy holiday weekends are a great time to enjoy the smaller ski resorts in the basin that can be easier to maneuver with your family and friends amongst the crowds.  Visit ski resorts like Diamond Peak, Homewood Mountain and Mt. Rose whose lines, lodges, parking lots and prices can be a bit easier to manage.

Make a Costco Run:  
Planning to stop by the grocery store after a day on the slopes to pick-up dinner?  Guess what? So is everyone else on the mountain!  Avoid the grocery stores between 3pm-7pm, bring up groceries for a few days, visit smaller local grocery stores and shop during off hours in the middle of the day and late at night with less crowds.

I hope that these local tips will help you enjoy your holiday ski week and get the most out of your visit to Lake Tahoe.   Do you have a different Lake Tahoe holiday vacation tip that you have learned and would like to share?  I invite you to leave your comments and share it with us!

Take a Local View

It is no surprise that Lake Tahoe is a destination loved and enjoyed by many, has been for years and will continue to be adorned for many more.  From when Mark Twain once called Lake Tahoe “the fairest picture the whole earth affords” until recently when awarded “Best Lake” by USA Today Travel in August 2012, Lake Tahoe’s popularity has been unwavering.  It has proven to be a timeless, all seasons playground to all generations.

The year I was born, my family purchased a cabin in North Lake Tahoe as a family vacation home and surprisingly, this is where I have returned to live today.  I was lucky to have fallen in love early with Lake Tahoe as I visited it frequently with my family and friends over the years. To me, Lake Tahoe it is full of childhood memories where I learned how to ski, swim at the beach, hike, backpack and later snowboard.  Then, in 2009 after getting married on the shores of Lake Tahoe, I decided to live here permanently and make Lake Tahoe my home.

Prior to living in Lake Tahoe, I spent almost a decade in Maui, Hawaii (my other favorite destination) where I learned the privilege and distinction of being named a “local”.  In the Hawaiian language they even have their own name for it, “kama’aina” meaning “child of the land” for those people local to the Hawaiian Islands.  This experience taught me that there is something extremely special about what goes into being named a “local” to a destination.  Having worked in tourism hospitality over the past decade, I have found joy in planning the vacations of many guests, friends and family to ensure that they experienced the very best of the locations that they visited which I was lucky enough to call home.

When visiting a new place, I think “local advice” is the best advice as these persons hold the key to what makes their destinations truly special. Thus, the purpose of my blog is to explore Lake Tahoe and share my experiences with you from the viewpoint of a local living here everyday, throughout all of the seasons of the year.  Along my journey, I hope to share with you my favorite places, activities, restaurants, events, businesses, local insider-tips and of course meet some of the remarkable locals that live here.  I welcome any feedback, sharing of your own recommendations, questions about the destination (need an answer? I will find out for you!) as we discover together what makes Lake Tahoe the “Best Lake” in America.