California Travel Articles
Lake Tahoe Summer GuideBy Eric Morgan
The only drawback to planning a summer vacation to Lake Tahoe is narrowing down your choices for fun and entertainment. Lake Tahoe is simply the name for an all encompassing mountain, lake, and gambling experience. South Lake Tahoe is actually a city on the California side of Lake Tahoe on the border Nevada. Perhaps because of its close proximity to casinos, gambling, and nightlife, South Lake Tahoe is very much a tourist destination. The residential population on the south side is greater, and it is a city more widely known for its tourist attractions than the north side. If one were to travel to Tahoe without a car, the entertainment and lodging of the south side are within walking distance of one another. In addition, the south side offers an abundance of public transportation to get around if you donít have a car. Both the north and south sides of Lake Tahoe offer such a vast array of summer activities including: entertainment, shopping, and outdoor activities that the only problem you will encounter is enough time to do them all.
The first order of business when planning a vacation to Lake Tahoe is finding lodging. There are a variety of options ranging form a $32/per night motel room to a luxury suite for $400+/per night. In addition to hotels and casinos, there are plenty of campgrounds available whether you are tent camping, or hauling an RV. The south and north sides of Tahoe each offer different entertainment and recreational options, so be sure to choose lodging based on the activities you want to partake in, as the north and south sides are separated by a lake and are fairly far apart from one another. It is possible to go from one side to another, but it isnít as convenient as choosing one side and its activities and remaining there.
If you want to stay in Lake Tahoe, but away from the glitz and glam of the downtown casinos, campgrounds can be the perfect alternative. There are so many to choose from, itís only a matter of narrowing down the amenities and location of your choice. As with any other accommodations, book early if possible as Lake Tahoe is a popular summer destination and the campgrounds and RV parks fill up fast.
While at Lake Tahoe in the summer season, (July-September) enjoy a number of summer outdoor events and activities. Over the week of the 4th of July Lake Tahoe boasts three straight nights of firework celebrations. The city is also host to the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, the Concours díElegance Wooden Boat Show, and the Lake Tahoe Summer Music Festival.
If you are athletically inclined, Lake Tahoe offers an entire week of marathons in late September. The city offers a three day triple marathon, 72 mile Tahoe Ultra marathon, a triathlon, marathon, marathon relays, Susan G. Komen Race for the cure 5K and 10K.
As Lake Tahoe is such a popular summer destination, it offers huge headlining musical concerts featuring such acts as the Eagles, Alabama, Sammy Haagar, and the Wallflowers for the summer concert series.
If you are an outdoor enthusiast, enjoy an entire mountain full of hiking, fishing, and boating. The mountain offers literally hundreds of trails for mountain biking and hiking on the mountain and around the diameter of the lake. The Tahoe Rim Trail is one of the more popular trails at Lake Tahoe, a 165-mile long trail that circles the lake. The trail ranges in elevation changes from 6,240 feet to 10,338 feet. The Tahoe Rim trail is not for the faint of heart, but for the die-hard hiker and mountain biker, the panoramic views at Relay Peak make the journey well worth the effort.
For those seeking a fishing experience at Lake Tahoe, there are fishing experiences for the novice and expert alike. Several chartered and guided fishing tours are available all summer long on both the California and Nevada sides of Lake Tahoe. Some of the most popular fishing charters include: Blue Ribbon chartered fishing trips, Don Sheetz Fishing Charters, and Tahoe Sport Fishing Co. Day trips on a chartered fishing boat range in price from $85 to $100, for a day trip ranging from four to five hours in length. Most charters guarantee that you will catch a fish, and some offer drinks and lunches as part of the price. In addition, if you are not inclined to fish, but want to tag along on a boat ride with friends or family, some charters will accommodate you for Ĺ the price of a regular fare. Be sure to book early, as summertime is a very busy season and most fishing charters fill up early. If you are looking for a more serene, private experience there are several anglers offering private backcountry fishing lessons. These are obviously more expensive than group chartered fishing boats on the lake, but can offer just the right amount of instruction and relaxation. A private lesson in local lakes and rivers, or remote backcountry streams ranges from $185/per person or $250/per person for five to six hours of instruction. For those of you who have always wanted to fish, but just donít know how, this private instruction is priceless.
An outdoor enthusiast with a desire for any time on the water at all can enjoy sailing, parasailing, kayaking, canoeing and paddle boating. Several rental facilities offer access to kayaks, boats, canoes, parasail, and sailboats for a reasonable hourly rates. If you have a yen for a faster pace of outdoor entertainment, enjoy the variety of motorized sports on the lake. Bring your own boat and jet skis, or rent one while at the lake. Several campgrounds offer boating docks for you to house your boat, as well as boat launches when youíre ready to play.
If youíve come to Lake Tahoe to gamble, there are dozens of casinos on the south side of Lake Tahoe (the Nevada side). While Reno, Nevada is a much smaller gambling city than Las Vegas, it offers a charm only possible in a bustling mountain community. Although much smaller in size than Las Vegas, the abundant amount of casinos will keep even the most seasoned gamblers happy. While various smaller establishments will keep any gambler happy, Harrahís and Harveys are the two most popular casinos offering the most variety of entertainment. Harrahís offers amenities such as a full service spa and salon, a pool, and golfing packages, as well as a variety of luxury accommodations for your stay. In addition, Harrahís continually hosts a vast assortment of events and entertainment. Concerts are hosted almost every night in the summer with musical acts ranging from the Smotherís Brothers to Kevin Costner and his band. Harveys Casino offers plenty of gaming such as: slots, table games, poker, and race and Sportsbook. During the summer months, Harveys outdoor arena hosts a wide assortment of concerts all summer long including: Beyonce, Sammy Haagar, and Rascal Flatts.
While some in your vacation party may want to spend time hiking, biking, fishing, or jet skiing, there is plenty of shopping for those who are less inclined for outdoor play. Whether searching for the perfect vacation souvenir or a new outfit, you can find it while shopping at Lake Tahoe. There are 6 featured shopping areas at Tahoe that are not to be missed: Carnelian Bay/Tahoe Vista/Kings Beach, Incline Village, Northstar-at-Tahoe, Tahoe City, The Resort at Squaw Creek, Truckee, and the Village at Squaw Valley. Whether you are looking for mall type stores such as The GAP, MAC cosmetics, Coach, and Banana Republic, or more local boutique type stores, Tahoe offers them all.
One of the absolute canít miss opportunities available at Lake Tahoe is the Heavenly Aerial Tram. This is a gondola type tram that traverses the mountain, climbing up to 2000 feet above the lake, with a final elevation level of 8000 feet. Be sure to wear your sunscreen for this high altitude summer ride, and enjoy the majestic views of the basin of Tahoe once at the top. If you are outdoorsy and want a hiking adventure, there are several trails available to you once you reach the top. For those interested in the breathtaking scenery and a mountain top meal, enjoy the Top of the Tram restaurant.
About the Author: Visit Heavenly Ski Resort for more information.