Take me out to the …. Reno Aces Ballpark!

One of my absolute favorite things to do in the summertime in the Reno-Tahoe region is visit the Aces Ballpark and watch an Aces games with my friends.  The Reno Aces are a Triple-A Minor League team in the Pacific Coast league.  Not only are they a great team, but also they have the most amazing stadium right in downtown Reno – the Aces Ballpark.  Rumor has it that other Triple-A teams love to play the Aces just so they can make the trip to Reno since our ballpark is so much better than the rest.

Just last week, my colleagues and friends visited the park to catch a Monday night game and had a blast!  We sat in spectacular Bugsy’s Sports Bar and Grill patio section overlooking third base.  Not only were the views great, but we also enjoyed full service for food and beverage which you can’t pass up.  Its especially perfect for group events and large parties to enjoy.  My favorite – the pretzel bites, yum!

The Aces Ballpark has a number of great features in the park located in downtown Reno adjacent to the Truckee River.  Some of the highlights include the Circus Circus Kids Zone, Baseball Mountain, the Bugsy’s Sports Bar and Grill as I mentioned above and of course the lively Freight House District where you can catch live concerts, DJs, play a game of corn hole and celebrate after-the-game drinks.  Besides all of the special events and concerts hosted at the  popular Freight House District, the ballpark also hosts a packed schedule of featured events including:  St. Mary’s Firework Fridays, Small Business Nights, Girls Night Out, the Dog Days of Summer where two guests and their dog enjoy tickets for only $25 and many more!

The Reno Aces schedule last through September with weekly games and ticket prices ranging from as low as $7 for standing sections to $34 for prime seats behind home plate.  With these prices, this is a family, friend, work outing that you can’t miss.  Visit the Ace’s website at www.renoaces.com to learn more about the game and event schedules as well as purchase your tickets!

Check out a video of our recent trip to the Aces Ballpark!

Have you ever been to a Reno Aces game?  If so, share your favorite part about visiting the stadium 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.

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A Local’s Favorite Daycation – Emerald Bay

EagleFalls1As a Lake Tahoe local, whether by car or boat, the trip to Emerald Bay is my favorite sightseeing day trip to make.  Named one of the most photographed panoramas in America, I am not the only one!  But what you may not know is that springtime can be the best time to visit Emerald Bay.

People mistakenly think that there isn’t much to do in Lake Tahoe during the spring “off season” after ski resorts close and before golf courses and lake activities begin, but the off season is actually a favorite time of locals to enjoy Lake Tahoe.  Emerald Bay is a perfect example of this.  Two reasons my favorite time to visit Emerald Bay is in the spring are simple:  bigger waterfalls and smaller crowds!  Sound good to you?  Here I will share with you some of the best things to do and tips for visiting Emerald Bay.

3717160754_d3f6c55207_bBut first some history. Emerald Bay is a state park and national natural landmark located along the south west corner of Lake Tahoe famous for its expansive panorama of Lake Tahoe, granite glacier carved surrounding peaks and rich emerald shimmering waters.  Emerald Bay is accessible via Highway 89 and located 22 miles south of Tahoe City or 12 miles north west of South Lake Tahoe.  It is famous for a few unique features including being home to the Lake’s only island as well as the only flowing waterfall into the Lake.  Emerald Bay is also home of  Vikingsholm and its adjoining “Tea House” on Fannette Island. To learn more about these famous landmarks, visit my earlier post Lake Tahoe’s Original Mansion Masterpieces.

When visiting Emerald Bay, plan on spending the entire day as there is so much to do!
Here is a list of my favorite must see and do when visiting:
IMG_0879– Hike to Upper Eagle Waterfalls
– Hike to Emerald Beach & Lower Eagle Waterfalls
– Hike to Eagle Lake and have a picnic. My favorite!  (photo left)
– Sunbathe on the beach & swim in the emerald waters
– Snap a photo of the famous view from the Visitors Center
– Take a tour of the Vikingsholm Mansion
– Hike along the Rubicon Trail towards D.L. Bliss State Park
– Visit the bay by boat! Enjoy a different perspective of the waterfalls and mountains
– Take a day hike trip to nearby Cascade Lake or Granite Lake. Learn more at Stephen Berei’s Lake Tahoe All Access Blog

mapLocal Tips for your Trip!  Emerald Bay becomes EXTREMELY crowded in the summer months of July and August.  My friends and I have a rule that if we won’t get there by 10:00 am on summer weekend, its better not to go.  Parking is very limited with only three small lots available and it can take an hour of circling to find a spot during peak summer time.  Bring cash!  Parking rates at the visitor local center apply and can vary each year.  Hiking trails can also be very crowded, but are easy and short making them accessible for family members of all ages and ability. Dogs are not allowed along the hiking trails or beach.  Last, layer clothing.  The beach is surrounded by spectacular granite cliffs, gets shady early in the afternoon and the waters are very chilly due to the snowmelt especially during spring months.  Campsites, park facilities and museum tours do not open until Memorial weekend and remain open though Labor Day weekend.  To learn more about park information and hours visit the Emerald Bay State Park website.

Have you ever visited Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe?  If so, share your favorite thing to do there in the comments below!

Enjoy learning about Lake Tahoe?  Follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

Photo Credit 1Photo Credit 2, Photo Credit 4

Lake Tahoe’s Original Mansion Masterpieces

Sorry Larry Ellison but when it comes to building mansions at Lake Tahoe, you were not the first.  Since the turn of the century, elite have flocked to Lake Tahoe building luxury summer homes along its shores.  I am often asked about the history and facts about the mansions that adorn the shores of Lake Tahoe.  Here I share what I consider to be the crème de la crème!

UnknownCastle-in-the-Sky
The historic Thunderbird Lodge and its world famous Thunderbird Yacht sit stately along Lake Tahoe’s tranquil East Shore.  George Whittell, Jr. born in San Francisco in 1881 into great wealth, lived a fast life as a playboy of California and Nevada and later became a recluse.  His immigrant grandfathers exploited the gold rush, founding his family’s financial empire in the San Francisco Water Company, today Pacific Gas and Electric.  In early 1929, Whittle sold $50 million in stock holdings later insulating him from the stock market crash and became one of the wealthiest men in California.  Eventually Whittell acquired over 40,000 acres on the East Shore, including 20 miles of shoreline.  Thunderbird Lodge was completed in 1939, and consists of a main lodge surrounded by three cottages, a card house, a boathouse, an elephant house, a lighthouse, three garages, and a gatehouse!  Many stories surround Whittell’s activities including colorful parties and high-stakes gambling in the card house. Whittell loved exotic animals which he collected, including elephants and lions, who made guest appearances each summer!

images3Vikingsholm & Fannette Island House
Vikingsholm is known as one of the first summer homes as well as for its unique location incorporating the only Island and nearby the only waterfall on the Lake.  Mrs. Knight purchased the land from previous landowners in 1928 and decided she wanted to build a summer home that would compliment the natural surroundings.  She commissioned her nephew, Lennart Palme, a Swedish architect, to construct a Scandinavia masterpiece. It was completed in 1929 and occupied by Mrs. Knight, her staff of 15 and many guests and enjoyed for 15 summers thereafter.

images4The Pine Lodge
The Ehrman Mansion is located at Sugar Pine Point State Park and was originally built by Isaias Hellman in 1902.  Hellman was a German immigrant in 1842 and as a young 16 yr old boy began working in his cousin’s dry goods store.  He had a natural talent for business and shortly was running his own stories and decided eventually to open a bank. Banking became his true passion in life, later moved to San Francisco and became the President of Nevada National Bank which eventually became the Wells Fargo Bank that we know today.  Hellman hired Walter Danforth Bliss to design a summer home in Lake Tahoe and bought 2000 acres of the surrounding land.  The home was completed in 1903 and the family began summering at the estate that July.  The Mansion is complete with the main house, barn and coach house, water tower, various worker cabins and a pier.

Unknown4The “Godfather” Estate
Also formally knows as the Kaiser Estate was originally built by Henry J. Kaiser from San Francisco in 1935 as an exclusive hideaway for him and five other owners who joined forces to build the Hoover Dam.  The walled compound was originally a 16-acre mansion which included 17 large homes, small cottages, servant quarters, a yacht club and boat house and is found on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe.  The mansion’s was nicknamed  “Fleur du Lac” or “Flower of the Lake” after Kaiser’s favorite hydroplane.  The mansion became most famous when it was featured in “The Godfather II” movie and site of Freddo’s death on the Lake.  Today the property has been redesigned into private residences and only the original boat house, harbor and lighthouse remain.

Most of these mansion offers daily tours starting in late spring through early fall which is a great activity to enjoy during the shoulder seasons in Lake Tahoe.  Share if you are interested in visiting any of these historic mansions at Lake Tahoe in the comments below.

Enjoy 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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Ready, Set… Let the Hiking Season Begin! Tunnel Creek Trail

montrail4Spring has sprung, ski resorts are closing and to Lake Tahoe residents and visitors that means it’s time to take a hike!  I am thrilled for this time of year when the snow melts from the high Sierra’s granting more and more access to backcountry terrain for  summer exploring on foot to begin.  As a resident of North Lake Tahoe one of my favorite hikes nearby is Tunnel Creek, a favorite amongst locals for its convenient access, great work out and of course, the unparalleled views!

Tunnel Creek offers unbelievable views as you ascend trails hovering above some of the most spectacular and scenic shores of Lake Tahoe above Highway 28, Hidden Beach Unknownand Sand Harbor State Park off in the distance.  Not only does the trail offer spectacular views, but it’s also a fantastic workout!  To access the trailhead simply park across the street from the old Bonanza parking lot on Highway 28 just as you leave Incline Village traveling towards South Lake Tahoe (if you reach Hidden Beach trail head on Highway 28 you have gone too far). Today there is the new Tunnel Creek Station which includes Flume Trail Bikes and the Tunnel Creek Cafe making the entrance to the hike easier to spot.  Park along the shoulder of the highway, there is no public parking allowed in the lot nor along Tunnel Creek Road itself for hikers.   The Tunnel Creek Trail also connects with the world famous Flume Trail, which eventually connects with the Tahoe Rim Trail, making this trail a multipurpose access point to many Lake Tahoe adventures!

IMG_7294To begin the hike, cross Highway 28, walk towards the Tunnel Creek Station along Tunnel Creek Road and climb the short paved road/driveway.  After a few hundred yards you will reach a flat, sandy trail that stretches for about a 1/4 mi above Highway 28 until you reach the official trailhead shown on the right.  From here it is a fairly steep uphill climb for about a mile along a dirt path under shaded pine trees.  The next mile+ of the trail is the most enjoyable of the hike offering a windy, sandy trail along the East shore with unobstructed views of the Lake Tahoe and the beautiful shores below.  The mostly flat and clear trail also make it perfect for trail running if you want an extra workout.  Towards the end of this portion of the trail it enters a shaded, wooded area which leads away from the Lake and continues on to the Flume Trail and is where most hikers turn around.

5051203881_8c91508e30_oI most enjoy hiking the Tunnel Creek Trail early in the morning or later in the afternoon, during spring and fall.  During these times the trail is less crowded, especially with mountain bikers.  Since this trail is connected to the Flume Trail, it can become heavily congested with mountain bikers racing down the trail so be sure to be on alert.  Also, much of the trail is exposed so be sure to wear sunscreen and bring additional coverings to avoid sunburns.  The Tunnel Creek Trail is also an excellent location to catch sunset views over the ridges across the Lake during evening hikes.

If you enjoy hiking in Lake Tahoe, share your favorite hiking trail in the comments below and whether or not you have hiked the Tunnel Creek trail!

Enjoy 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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Lake Tahoe – The “Most Beautiful Drive in America”!

Screen Shot 2013-04-13 at 2.29.28 PMToday I woke up and decided to enjoy the BEST of Lake Tahoe by enjoying the scenic drive around the Lake which has been named one of the “Most Beautiful Drives in America”!  Driving around Lake Tahoe is 72-miles and can take anywhere from 3-4 hrs to all day.  I recommend spending the entire day to do the drive in order to give you plenty of time to stop along the way at all of the marvelous spots to see!  This is a perfect activity to enjoy during the spring months of April and May before the summer beach crowds flock in, traffic is minimal and picnic grounds, beaches and hiking trails are nearly empty.

You can begin the drive anywhere along the Lake wherever you are staying.  Since I live in North Lake Tahoe, that is where I started and below I am going to highlight my favorite spots to visit along the way:

IMG_2076First stop, Sand Harbor State Park, my favorite beach in Lake Tahoe.  It’s a spectacular expansive, sandy beach with far-off distance views of the Thunderbird Lodge.  When I am here I feel like I am back in Hawaii.  It also has picnic areas, a boat launch, a restaurant and home of the Shakespeare Festival each summer.

Next, drive along the East Shore enjoying views of Lake Tahoe, the crystal-clear clarity of the water and the rocky outcroppings that make the East Shore famous.  You will pass through Cave Rock and I recommend stopping at the Cave Rock Vista Point, once a sacred site of the native Washoe Indians.  Cruise into South Lake Tahoe where you will be greeted by Casinos, Hotels and a Golf Course, take a break and place a bet if you are feeling lucky!

IMG_0332Welcome to California!  Travel west on Highway 50 and soon you will be rewarded with what are my favorite sightseeing wonders along Lake Tahoe’s East Shore.  First,  head to the Emerald Bay Lookout which offers break taking views overlooking Emerald Bay, Fannette Island and waterfalls season depending. Emerald Bay is famed one of the most photographed places in the world.  Next, you will reach D.L. Bliss State Park, a secluded beach and picnic area with views of the renowned Rubicon Bay.  Afterwards, keep traveling until you reach Sugar Pine Point State Park, home of the Hellman-Ehrman Mansion, picnic grounds, hiking and biking trails and great kayaking location in the summertime.  Last, travel along the East Shore enjoying views of quaint cabins and piers, you will reach Tahoe City.  Here take a break at Fanny Bridge and overlook as waters rushes into the Truckee River from the only outlet in Lake Tahoe.  Stroll along the sidewalks of Tahoe City and reward yourself with shopping, coffee and afternoon snacks.

As you return to North Lake Tahoe you are greeted by the “Welcome to Nevada” sign near Crystal Bay.  End your journey by taking a moment to stop and traverse up the State Lookout Trail to enjoy stunning views of Lake Tahoe at sunset to end your remarkable day!

If this has inspired you to enjoy the drive around Lake Tahoe on your next visit to the area check out the Most Beautiful Drive in America’s website to learn more about the journey, places to stop and even download a copy of driving map featured in this blog.

What is your favorite place to stop and visit while driving along Lake Tahoe?  Please share your favorite spot in the comments below.  Enjoy 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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