SUP Adventure on Lake Tahoe

IMG_4378My favorite thing to do in the summer in Lake Tahoe is anything a the Lake! When I moved back to the ‘mainland’ from Hawaii being near water was of utmost priority and this is a main reason that my husband and I chose to restart our lives in Lake Tahoe.  Right before I moved to Lake Tahoe the stand up paddle boarding (SUP) craze was taking flight and I jumped on the board… literally.  I first learned to SUP in Maui and was thrilled that it was an activity I could take with me when I moved to Lake Tahoe.  I have been enjoying SUP’ing in Lake Tahoe every summer since and here I want to share with you my favorite SUP adventure.

My favorite is to take a trip from Sand Harbor State Beach to Thunderbird Lodge along the East Shore in Lake Tahoe.   Start by traveling to Sand Harbor State Beach, park in the parking lot and bring your equipment to the sandy shore.  Hop on your board and begin heading south along the East Shore.  As you glide on top of the waters enjoying views of the sandy beach bottom below you will quickly travel past the buoys reaching deeper blue waters.  As you hug the coast you will enjoy various shades of blue as the depths of the Lake change below you. One of my favorite spots is just outside Sand Harbor where the waters are crystal clear blue where sand lies below surrounded by dark blue IMG_4448waters of the giant rocks below.   Half way to the Thunderbird Lodge there is a popular rocky beach and swimming area before you enter the deep blue waters of the cove approaching the historic mansion.  As you sail close to the famous Thunderbird Lodge you will get a insider view of the famous compound including the boat house, lighthouse, private beach, main house and its gardens.  The day I visited I was spectating alongside two other famous boats – the Sierra Cloud Catamaran and the Grand-Craft Wild Goose II, obviously the place to be for the day!  From here I turn around and head back to Sand Harbor and return up the East Shore.   The entire trip takes about 45-mins to an hour each way for a total of 2 hrs.  Once you are back at the beach, ditch your board and enjoy swimming, sunbathing or various games at this spectacular beach for a perfect day at Lake Tahoe.

No description will do it justice so watch my video below and see the beauty of this SUP adventure from Sand Harbor State Beach to the Thunderbird Lodge along the East Shore of Lake Tahoe:

I see a lot of people trying to SUP or wanting to try it but afraid to and really it’s quite easy!  Here are a few tips that I learned that may help you!

  • A body in motion….. will stay in motion! – This is the most common mistake I see – don’t try to start standing on the board from a still position.  Often you will teeter back and forth until you loose your balance and fall, instead sit on your knees and paddle until the board is sailing across the water smoothly and then try to stand up!
  • Don’t look down! – This is the #2 mistake and is very easy to do.  Looking down makes it easier to loose your balance and distracts you.  Instead, look ahead at 12 o’clock and scan the horizon back and forth.
  • Calm waters – This is a no brainer!  Don’t try to learn in choppy, windy waters.  Instead start in calm, smooth waters making it a lot easier to learn and giving you confidence.
  • Boards matters – I often see people new to the sport buying expensive boards that they don’t need.  Guess what?  These expensive boards are often harder to learn with because they are thinner.  Instead, get a thicker, sturdy board and a soft-top if you can.  They have better grip and more durable to transport.
  • Take a lesson – My first SUP experience was with a friend who was an instructor and it made all the difference to know where to stand on the board and how to grip the paddle.  This 1-2 hour lesson is money well spent and will save you hours of falling in the water!

IMG_4571There are great local outfitters in the North Lake Tahoe region where you can rent SUP boards and take lessons as well as sign up for private and group excursions.  A few in particular I recommend are: Adrift Tahoe in Kings Beach, Tahoe Adventure Company in Tahoe City and Action Water Sports of Incline Village.

Have you ever enjoyed a stand up paddle boarding adventure on Lake Tahoe? If so, share in the comments below your favorite adventures to enjoy!

If you enjoying learning about Lake Tahoe follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

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The BEST Place to Squeeze In

Best Place to Squeeze InYears ago when I moved to Lake Tahoe I quickly learned from locals around town about this place called the Squeeze In.  Known for serving the best breakfast in town, competiting during a “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” and also for having the “Best Omelettes on the Planet” ® .  That was enough convincing for me and soon I headed over to experience my first breakfast at the Squeeze In.

Located on historic row of downtown Truckee, CA I learned that Squeeze In had a few different meanings.  First, it pays tribute to the restaurant’s cozy size which consists of one long hallway spanning only 10.5 ft across in length so you literally have to “squeeze in”.   Secondly, they serve generous portions of delicious breakfast and lunch dishes which you also have to “squeeze in”!   Most famous for their omelettes with 65 different versions featured on their menu with colorful names such as the “Forest Gump”, “Shake & Bake”, “Spanish Flay” in tribute to Bobby Flay and their very own “Lake Tahoe”.  Squeeze also has a number of other delicious items on their menu including what they call “the usual breakfast” which you can imagine the players and tasty lunch specialities such as burgers, sandwiches, salads and more!  I dined with a friend, shared their signature “Racy Tracy” winning omelette and immediately fell in food love.  One thing I was particular impressed with, my friend brought her young 1.5 yr. old daughter who was antsy to play – immediately the server brought over a toy box crate filled with wonderful things instantaneously occupying her allowing us to enjoy our breakfast and chat.

Best Place to Squeeze InRecently, Shila Morris, president of the Squeeze In visited my MBA personal branding class to tell her family restaurant’s history, triumps and tribulations and how social media marketing channels contributed to their success.  It was during this hour lecture that I came to learn that I had much more in common and opportunity to learn from Shila and the Squeeze.  Shila explained the story of how her parents acquired and established their family business fulfilling their early dreams of someday owning the Squeeze In after years of enjoying “free omelette” tips from Shila’s dad’s company.  In particular, Shila described parents as a free-spirited, beach loving surfers from Southern California which resonated with me strongly.  See, I am also married to a similar soul whom I met on Maui, Hawaii and whose life-long dream is own and operate his own restaurant.  Therefore, the stories Shila shared of Squeeze In’s history, successes, mistakes and strategic growth through the use of social media marketing channels hit a deep cord.

Today Shila’s mom Misty Young and original co-founder of the restaurant recently wrote a book which will be on shelves this summer titled From Rags to Restaurants documenting the lessons and experience that her family has learned in establishing their small business and sharing this advice to anyone who wants to open a restaurant and or wants to take their restaurant business to the next level.  To say the least, this book will be in my husband’s Christmas stocking next year!

Recently I visited Shila Morris at the Squeeze In in Truckee to learn more about her favorite things about the Squeeze In and Truckee during the summer months in Lake Tahoe.  You can also check out Shila’s “5 Must Do’s this Summer” in the region on a recent  blog post.   Check out my interview with her below and learn a bit more about the Squeeze In:

Not rookies to video, the crew at Squeeze In love their creative videos including favorites such as  “Squeeze In “Omelette Style”/”Gangnam Style” Parody Video and their very own Squeeze In Harlem Shake video each with thousands of views!  Also, check out their blog “The Good Egg” and learn more about specials, events and get an insider view of the Squeeze In.

Best Place to Squeeze InHave you dined at the Squeeze In in downtown historic Truckee? If so please share your favorite dish in the comments below.  If not, head over there today!  They are open daily from 7am – 2pm and now celebrate four locations throughout the Tahoe-Reno region.   Look forward to squeezing in alongside you soon!

If you enjoying learning about Lake Tahoe follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

My Favorite – The Five Lakes Hike

Hiking in Lake Tahoe is one of the top attractions visitors and locals enjoy throughout the basin.  There are hundreds of miles of trails to choose from and explore, but year after year my favorite hike to enjoy each summer is the Five Lakes Hike on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe.

The Five Lakes Trail is located in the Granite Chief Wilderness in between Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley ski resorts and is easily accessible at the intersection of Alpine Meadows and Deer Park roads.  The 5-mile moderate trail ascends approximately 900-1000 ft. along granite canyons and pine forests to a high-altitude meadow that creates a bowl of five lakes in between the rugged mountain peaks towering from above including a peak of Squaw Valley ski resort.  As you ascend the trail, you will enjoy view of the Alpine Meadows ski resort from a distance, traverse under an abandon ski resort chair lift (said to be created to link the two ski resorts at one time) and climb along the rocky, granite cliff until you pass a waterfall and reach the high-altitude meadow.  The hike takes only about one-hour to reach the meadow and lakes but I recommend spending at least a 1/2-day on the trail in order to fully explore and enjoy the lakes above.  Since it is such a popular hike, the trail can become crowded, especially on weekends, but not to worry as there are plenty of nooks and coves to relax, picnic, swim and even fish in the lakes.

Check out a video of my recent trips along the Five Lakes Hike in Lake Tahoe and learn tips and see pictures of this gorgeous trail!

A few local tips on the Five Lakes Hike:  

  • Be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen!  This hike is primarily exposed and can be very hot during the midday until you reach the shady meadows above
  • Pack lots of water and snacks.  As you quickly ascend the trail it is roughly a 2.5-mile straight climb until you reach the top.  The added elevation factor in the mountains can surprise out-of-town visitor
  • Sometimes finding all 5 lakes can be tricky but take your time enjoying and exploring the high elevation meadows and trails connecting the lakes throughout.
  • Worth the wait!  Due to its high elevation, I recommend enjoying this hike later in the summer season as high-altitude snow is likely to remain throughout spring.  One year over 4th of July friends and I did this hike and there was still snow covering the trail and the lakes were frozen over!

To learn more about this popular trail visit this online trail guide that including stage by stage directions as well as this complete review in SFGate.com.  Have you ever hiked Five Lakes?  If so do you have any tips to share on how to find all five lakes? Please share them in the comments below.

If you enjoying learning about Lake Tahoe follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

The Best Bites in Lake Tahoe

IMG_4004 This weekend I enjoyed one of my favorite restaurants in Lake Tahoe, Bite American Tapas located in Incline Village on the North Shore.  When my husband and I moved to Lake Tahoe from Maui we were at first a bit underwhelmed by the culinary options in our quaint neighborhood until we discovered Bite.  When stepping into Bite one feels relieved to be met by its modern decor, an escape from the mountain decor often found in local restaurants.  I love their large bar and lounge area where I almost always sit even though they do have a separate dining area. Bite’s concept features creative share plates, perfect for a social gatherings, and their menu features high-quality, seasonal products and hard-crafted mixology creations from scratch.  Menu items are priced to try and share multiple dishes which makes the dining experience more fun and different every time you visit.  Another favorite thing about Bite is their daily happy hour food and drink specials from 5-6pm perfect for after work as well as their special late-night menu offered in the off-season.

IMG_4016So after my husband and I jumped in the car, took a short drive to Bite, walked in and pulled up to cozy bar seats we started ordering a few of our favorite items I will share with you here.  First stop, their seasonal cocktail menu which they had just recently updated for the summer season.  However, I had to stick with my favorite, the lemon ginger zinger shown below.  It is a fresh mixture of vodka, fresh mint, ginger, lemon and soda offering a refreshing citrus blend.  No exaggeration, this is my favorite cocktail on the planet.

While the entire menu is designed for sharing, a few of my favorite appetizer menu items include the Crispy Risotto Balls with Marinated Mozzarella and Tomato Sauce and the Green Eggs-n-Ham Deviled Eggs with Wasabi Tobiko & Prosciutto.  They also have a great selection of delicious soups and salads including the Chopped Chinese Chicken Salad which is our favorite.  We chose to start our meal by enjoying the Green Eggs-n-Ham Deviled Eggs featured below.

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Ah the slider menu!  Always my favorite part of the meal is picking which pair of savory sliders we will enjoy since they are all delicious and uniquely creative.  With ahi sliders, beef short rib sliders, duck confit sliders, BLT (L is for lobster!!), crispy goat cheese and of course traditional American cheeseburger sliders to choose from, you can’t go wrong.  If I had to, I would say the ahi sliders are my favorite for their unique balance of flavors and my second favorite the BLT sliders pictured below.

The Best Bites in Lake Tahoe

Finally, the main small plates… our favorite dish we always order is the Grilled Filet Mignon Bites with roasted red onions, shiitake mushrooms, blue cheese and a red wine demi glaze for only $18.  The sliced presentation makes sharing easy and the decadent red wine glaze paired with mushrooms and blue cheese makes your mouth water!
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IMG_4050Make sure you save one last bite! Because their desserts are also served in bite-sized portions perfect for sharing (or not sharing!). Ranging from decadent chocolate cake bites, key lime pies bites, crème brule bites to bread pudding bites the hardest choice by far is sticking to just one.  I recommend they create a sampler platter of bites!  My husband picked the bread pudding bites with vanilla ice cream and it was the perfect ending to our recent visit to Bite.

Hopefully by now I have convinced you that Bite in Incline Village is worth a visit and to learn more view their complete menu.  For a list of the most popular dining options on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe be sure to visit this great restaurant list of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.

If you enjoying learning about Lake Tahoe follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.