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.

Paradise Found in Reno

imagesLast weekend my girlfriends and I decided to treat ourselves to a “girls” day in celebration and reward for a very busy and productive year.  Usually our gatherings include trips to the library, study sessions and coffee shops as we tackled graduate school classes together but this time the reason was much better – a spa day in Reno.  Our destination would be poolside, consisting of rejuvenating spa treatments, celebratory beverages and of course, great company and laughs.  Based on one friend’s previous experiences, we chose Spa Toscana at the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino on South Virginia Street.  We cleared our schedules, made a few calls to confirm appointments and packed our bags for an indulgent day in Reno.

Every spa day should be this effortless.  When the day of our appointments arrived, I pulled into the conveniently located self-parking and reunited with my friends about an hour before our 11 am massage appointments.  First stop, a visit to the Passport Reward’s member card registration desk where within minutes I was registered by the helpful concierge with my “local’s” passport reward’s card extending 20% discounts on all room, food, beverage, retail and spa purchases beginning immediately.  So convenient and immediate, I loved it!  Plus, it remedied any guilt I was feeling about the $$$ I was about to spend.

My friends and I found our way towards the resort pool and nearby Spa Toscana where we checked in for our appointments.  The first thing I noticed was that the spa was bustling with visitors.  It was a Sunday, but in early June, and I was surprised to see it this busy.  Nevertheless, our service was extremely courteous, not rushed and on-time.  After being graciously toured the spa lounge amenities, locker facilities and relaxation areas, we changed into our robes and were escorted to the upstairs private relaxation lounge where we awaited our spa therapists, sipping on flavored waters and teas.

Within minutes I was greeted by Tamara and whisked away to a treatment room for a 50-minute deep tissue massage. Tamara was delightful, intentional and very knowledgeable.  After reviewing with her areas of focus and attention, she made me feel at home allowing me the ability to customize the treatment room with TV video choice, select an iPod music spa-toscana-at-peppermillstation and even the temperature of the massage table.  I was already in heaven.  My massage was exquisite.  Tamara applied a perfect combination of deep tissue pressure techniques with smooth, longer relaxing motions that both healed and relaxed.  My only disappointment was that I hadn’t booked a longer treatment!  After my massage, I returned to the relaxation area where I met my girlfriends and headed to the salon for mini-pedicures and conversation. A quick pedicure later (just what I wanted), we were ready for an afternoon at the spa pool area.

Having worked up an appetite and thirst from our morning of pampering, we made our way to the nation’s only indoor/outdoor Caldarium spa area that features an indoor heated pool, cold plunge pool and heated whirlpool with outdoor patio seating and views of the resorts main pool down below. Here we happily camp for the afternoon on lounge chairs under umbrellas and began ordering lunch items, mimosas and margaritas from resort staff.  One immediately feels as though they are lounging poolside in Las Vegas, a sign that my staycation in Reno was working as a getaway retreat.  As temperatures heated up above and beyond the 80’s we spent our afternoon alternating between the indoor pool amenities and sun deck patio further enjoying the best of both worlds.

Spa 1Without realizing it, we saved the best for last – the Ladies Ritual room. The perfect ending to our relaxing day at Spa Toscana was a visit to the Ladies’ Ritual room were we began our spa ritual journey through the eucalyptus steam room, cold plunge pool, cedar wood sauna, hot whirlpool and cascading deluge showers.  While relaxing (and laughing) in the steam room amongst thick clouds of steamy mist, a friend announced “I think this is my new favorite place in Reno”, we all immediately laughed, signifying without words how we all unanimously agreed.  Spa Toscana truly is our new favorite place in Reno.

I hope this blog post helped you learn a bit more about Spa Toscana and gave you ideas about where to host your next girls day in the Reno-Tahoe region or spend a birthday or couples celebration.  If you have visited the Spa Toscana at the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino in Reno what treatments do you recommend?  What other spa locations in the region do you enjoy?  Please share your feedback 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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The BEST of Summertime in Lake Tahoe

waters-tahoe-vacation--1I am currently on vacation in my other favorite place in the world and place I formerly called home, Maui Hawaii, I can’t help but think of summertime.  As I am here playing in the surf, soaking in the rays and visiting with my Maui ohana of friends and wish for vacation not to ever end, I remind myself that everything will be ok.  Because, I am returning to home to Lake Tahoe at the beginning of summertime, my favorite time of year there.

Lake Tahoe in the summertime is an incredibly special time during the summer months. A place I feel so special to be for the season that I refuse to leave at anytime for any reason in fear of missing a day there to play.   It also got me thinking about why Lake Tahoe is the best place to travel to in the summertime and I wanted to share my list of reasons with you here.

Best Reasons to Visit Lake Tahoe in the Summertime:

The Lake – Obviously, this is the main attraction.  The clear, crisp blue waters of Lake Tahoe are the cornerstone of all summer activities including boating, trips to the beautiful beaches and my favorites – SUP and kayak along the coastline to hidden coves.

The Mountains – When you aren’t on the Lake, you’re hitting the mountains.  The Sierra Nevada mountain ranges surrounding the Lake provide the ultimate playground for all of your adventures including golfing, cycling, rafting and especially miles and miles of mountain biking and hiking.

The Beaches – Lake Tahoe’s 72-miles of coastline is scattered with beautiful sandy and rocky beaches.  A few of my favorites you can’t miss are: Sand Harbor State Park, Hidden Beach, Zephyr Cove, Emerald Bay, D.L. Bliss State Park and Sugar Pine Point.

The Temperature – It’s no secret, we have the best temperature in Lake Tahoe in the summertime.  With NO HUMMIDITY, bright blue bird cloudless days, consistent 70’s temperatures and cool evenings, the weather in Lake Tahoe is perfect for any and all summertime activity.

The Sunsets – Lake Tahoe offers some of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen with its alpine glow, clear skies and mountain range silhouette backdrop, perfect for every evening sunset spectating.

The Smells – Anyone who has visited Lake Tahoe in the summertime will state this accolade.  Lake Tahoe has the most amazing smell in the summertime.  It is a mixture of fresh pine trees, crisp cool air and occasionally a lingering BBQ in the distance.

The Evenings – I LOVE the long days in Lake Tahoe during the summertime.  It’s almost like the world knows we need longer days in order to squeeze in all of the jam packed activities we have planned.  It doesn’t get dark in Lake Tahoe during the evenings until 9pm. It is amazing.

The Events – Summer is FULL of fun activities of all sorts throughout Lake Tahoe with so many things to choose from including outdoor weekly concerts, farmer’s markets, Truckee Thursdays, Shakespeare Festival performances, holiday parades, fireworks, races and community events and more!

The Traditions – When people ask me to describe Lake Tahoe in the summertime, I often say it is reminiscent of quintessential American summertime traditions.  Everywhere you turn it is full of families celebrating pastimes and traditions whether its playing cards at the beach, enjoying secret family BBQ recipes and drinking games all while reuniting at the same rental cabin year after year.

The People – Whether its the locals, first time visitors or returning neighbors and family friends, you are guaranteed to be amongst amazing company, and likely to make some new friends, as visitors flock to the mountains and lake, year after year to reunite amongst this beautiful backdrop

I hope you have enjoyed learning a bit more about what is to come in Lake Tahoe over the following months. I hope to see you this summer around the Lake!

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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Lake Tahoe’s “Biggest Little Neighbor”

Lake Tahoe's Biggest Little NeighborThis past weekend I decided last minute I wanted to get out of town, but didn’t want to deal with an expensive or long drive anywhere.  So where could I go?  Then it dawned on me, time to take advantage of what’s right in my backyard.   The solution was a “staycation” trip to the nearby city of Reno, Nevada known as the “Biggest Little City in the World”.  Tourism professionals in the area strongly promote the activities and events in Lake Tahoe to visitors in Reno, but what about experiencing it the other way around?  Located only 29 miles away from Lake Tahoe’s North Shore, the short but gorgeous ride to Reno only takes 45 minutes.  So, I packed my bags, jumped in the car and within an hour was beginning my biggest little adventure!

First stop, the 2013 Reno-Tahoe WordCamp event held at the University of Nevada, Reno. Hundreds of developers, designers, social media gurus, speakers and blogger enthusiasts joined together for an exciting day of seminars, lectures and networking.  This was my first time attending a WordCamp event and it was amazing.  I learned so much and even more importantly, met some amazing new people.  This got me to thinking about all of the AWESOME events that Reno hosts year-round that may visitors to Lake Tahoe are completely unaware of!  Top events include:  Reno Rodeo, Rib Cook-Off, Hot Air Balloon Races, Air Races, Reno River Festival, Hot August Nights, US Bowling Lake Tahoe's Biggest Little NeighborChampionships and Ace’s Baseball games.   Any night visit downtown for dinner along the riverfront followed by some gambling or catch a show or concert at one of the casinos.  To keep up on events occurring in Reno, follow the Reno-Tahoe Blog.  What particularly impresses me about events held in Reno is how approachable and accessible they are.  Growing up near a big city, events of this sort are often challenged by overwhelming crowds, expensive fees and lots of traffic!  Instead, events in Reno are intimate, approachable, inexpensive and much less hassle.

Where to eat?  Reno has hundreds of fantastic restaurants and a rich diversity of cuisines which I particularly enjoy when visiting from Lake Tahoe.  I could write hundreds of posts on the best places to eat in Reno, so instead I will only mention the two that I visited this past weekend – Hiroba Sushi and Campo.  I was craving sushi and feeling lucky to be in town so I could visit my favorite place, Hiroba Sushi.  They have a fantastic all-you-can-eat sushi which is hassle-free, delicious sushi creations and a personal, engaging waitstaff.  The only downside, they are always packed!  I was especially appreciative this past visit when a gracious hostess slipped me into a spot at the sushi bar and I walked right in without waiting.  The next day, it was gorgeous outside and I was able to join friends and visit a restaurant I have been anxious to try, Marke Estee’s Campo.  Located in the River-300x200hub of downtown along the Truckee River, its indoor/outdoor scene was perfect for this gorgeous day.  We grabbed a table outside and enjoyed Sunday brunch.  The selection was fantastic and proud of my italian heritage I was particularly pleased with the authentic Italian dishes and ingredients on the menu.  I will definitely be back for seconds.  To decide what to eat during your next trip to Reno, check out Chris Cook’s Sincerer Love and learn about dozens of restaurants and cuisines to enjoy while in town.

Shop ’till you drop!  Reno also offers a fantastic variety of shopping venues to visitors ranging from small boutiques, vintage stores, discount outlet plazas and malls to full-service department stores.  Whatever you are looking for, Reno has it.  This past weekend I was able to find one-of-a-kind items while boutique shopping on South Virginia Street, conventional pieces at Macy’s in the Meadowood Mall and hot sale items at the Summit outlet stores in South Reno all in the matter of hours.  Not very many big cities afford the variety, ease of navigation and close distance as Reno shopping does.  To learn more about Reno fashion along with great tips on where to shop local visit Reno Has Style.

After learning more about Reno, I hope during your next visit to Lake Tahoe you drive down the mountain to witness the rebirth in Reno and experience the “biggest little city in the world” for yourself.  Share in the comments if you have visited Reno before during a trip to Lake Tahoe and if so, what did you do?

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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Tahoe Rim Trail – A “Trail Like No Other”

Tahoe Rim Trail 2011 074When visiting Lake Tahoe you will likely hear locals speaking about the Tahoe Rim Trail but you might be asking what is it? where is it? and what can I do on it?

The Tahoe Rim Trail Association describes it as a “Trail like No Other” which we are so lucky to have in our backyard at Lake Tahoe.   A few cool facts about The Tahoe Rim Trail:  165 miles of single-track multiuser trail, circumvents Lake Tahoe peak by peak, passes through both California and Nevada, six counties, one state park, three National Forests and three Wilderness areas.  If you have ever hiked in Lake Tahoe, you likely set foot on the Tahoe Rim Trail whether you knew it or not.  Even better, the Tahoe Rim Trail isn’t limited to hiking, it offers something for all outdoor enthusiasts including horseback riding on all portions of the trail, backpacking for overnight adventurers as well as mountain biking access on more than 50% of the trail.  One of the best features of the Tahoe Rim Trail is that it connects to so many other trails in Lake Tahoe including the famous Flume Trail on the East Shore and Pacific Crest National Scenic Trails along the West Shore just to name a few.

map-using-trail-master copyI love hiking and it’s so hard to pick my favorite portions of the Tahoe Rim trail!  For shorter, 1/2 day hikes that are closeby, I enjoy hiking along the portions that loop Mt. Rose and the nearby Tahoe Meadows which can also be great snowshoeing trails in the wintertime.  For longer day trips and overnight backpacking, I head towards Echo Lake in South Lake Tahoe to explore the trails that leads deep into Desolation Wilderness. I enjoy the trails that traverse though granite meadows and High Sierra alpine lakes that I visited as a child with my family during backpacking trips.  Here is a map of the complete Tahoe Rim Trail.

Can’t choose? Wanna do it all?  Join the 165 mile club and become the 1423rd member!  That’s right, do as the locals do and set the goal to complete the entire Tahoe Rim Trail.  I am proud to say that I have two local friends who accomplished this amazing feat a few summers ago.  You can tackle this challenge in different ways and strategies.  My friends completed it in one summer by dividing up sections of the trail, conquerining it one weekend at a time and enjoyed seeing so much of Lake Tahoe’s backcountry while doing it.  If you are interested in joining the 165 mile club check out more details and a list of current members on their website.

IMG_1780The Trail Rim Trail is managed by the Tahoe Rim Trail Association, a nonprofit organization formed in 1981.  They began constructing the trail in 1984, later  completed in September of 2001.  The Tahoe Rim Trail Association is continuously maintaining, restoring and reconstructing sections of the trail.  Each season they offer volunteer programs to locals and visitors to work on repairing a section of the trail. If you love Lake Tahoe, especially hiking and biking, volunteering on the Tahoe Rim Trail is a great way to support Lake Tahoe and meet some of the locals who are dedicated to keeping Lake Tahoe the best lake!  The Tahoe Rim Trail Association also offers educational seminars and special events for members, groups and visitors.   To learn more about the Tahoe Rim Trail’s volunteering programs and schedule of events visit their website.

Have you hiked the Tahoe Rim Trail and if so do you have a favorite section? Share it 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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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.

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