My Favorite Things to do in Lake Tahoe in Winter!
I love Lake Tahoe. It is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and coming from me that is saying a lot. I’m not a Skier, but winter is my favorite time to go to the Lake. Summer, Fall and Spring are also wonderful seasons in Lake Tahoe, but I am enthralled by the snow and scenery during winter. Here are my favorite things to do in Lake Tahoe in winter!
Take the Gondola to Heavenly Ski Resort
After the snow arrives in Lake Tahoe, seeing the mountains is incomparable. I recommend taking the Heavenly Ski Resort Gondola from Heavenly Village in South Lake Tahoe. Heavenly Village is the place to rent skis, boots, and snowboards. It is also a shopping area with great dining. While in Tahoe December 2019, my cousin, Lisa, and I decided we had to go up to Heavenly Ski Resort to see the sheer beauty of it. I can’t ski, but I love watching others gliding down the slopes.
It is a 2.5 mile ride up the mountain! From below, you cannot even see the destination. The first stop is an Observation Deck, and the panoramic views are breathtaking. The Observation Deck was freezing because of the wind, but it was exhilarating, too. The snow was a fine powder, so of course I had to play! You can see why it is one of my favorite things to do in Lake Tahoe in winter!
Heavenly Ski Resort
Heavenly is fun for both skiers and non-skiers. As I said, watching the skiing and snowboarding is fun, but the beauty of the mountain is absolutely worth the trip. The Tamarack Express chairlift can be taken with your Scenic Gondola ticket for incredible views of Lake Tahoe and access to hiking trails. Unfortunately, I could not do the trails because my hip is bone on bone and I need to have it replaced, which I plan to do in March. Then I will be bionic and able to kill the trails!
There are chairs and picnic tables available to eat or just watch the skiers, and if you buy one hot chocolate at the lodge, you get endless refills. It was 18 degrees the day we were there, but the sun was so bright and hot we didn’t feel it. I took off my coat and enjoyed a little sun. Yes, I had on organic, biodegradable sunscreen! When in nature we have to be mindful not to add chemicals to the area.
I wanted to ride the Ridge Rider Coaster, but there was too much snow when we were there. Next time I will, it looks awesome! Would you like to ride? Check out the video at this link! I’m sure it would be a favorite thing to do in Lake Tahoe in Winter!
Emerald Bay, South Lake Tahoe
Never mind the season, Emerald Bay, the only inlet on the lake, and the crown jewel of Lake Tahoe, is a must visit. Lake Tahoe’s depth and visibility is ethereal, and the view from the observation area on Route 89 is the place to see it. The drive to Emerald Bay is a labyrinth of curves and hairpins with no guard rail, so drive carefully and slowly.
Why is it called Emerald Bay? The bay is shallow, and the color of the water is emerald green. The Emerald Bay State Park has endless options to enjoy this iconic bay. There is a “castle” in Emerald Bay called Vikingsholm, built by Lora Josephine Knight in 1928. The home is considered the finest example of Scandinavian architecture in the United States. Emerald Bay is definitely on my list of favorite things to do in Lake Tahoe in the winter.
Zephyr Cove’s MS Tahoe Dixie
Regardless of the season, you have to get out on the water! The MS Tahoe Dixie is a paddlewheel cruise for sightseeing and dinners. It isn’t luxurious, but lunch and drinks are available, along with unreal views of the lake. The best part? Going into Emerald Bay! After you have seen Emerald Bay from above, you have to see it by boat! It is beautiful from above and below.
Zephyr Cove Snowmobiling
Oh, yes, I went snowmobiling. Zephyr Cove Snowmobiling has an amazing tour with 45 miles of trails, and going to 9000 feet! Now, I have already written a blog about my experience ( https://travelswithtam.com/its-photo-friday-have-you-seen-lake-tahoe-in-the-snow/#more-22124 ), but suffice it to say that I was not very good at controlling the snowmobile. It was something I always wanted to do, and I’m glad I did it. I do feel sorry for the others on the tour because I drove very slowly. But hey, I didn’t want to fly off the mountain.
My Favorite Places to Eat
The Beacon Bar and Grill is “old Tahoe” and located in Camp Richardson, a historic site for lodging, camping, and dining. There are few restaurants as close to the lake as the Beacon Bar and Grill. What a great view, and great food! I had an excellent burger with lettuce instead of a bun, a yummy Rum Runner, and tasty french fries. Now, I am a french fry connoisseur, so take my word for it. Our waiter was Charles, and he could not have given better service. He was absolutely wonderful, so when you go, ask to be seated in Charles’ section! They also have seating outside with fire pits, and plenty of waterline to walk. It is also the home of the Rum Runner Cocktail, which has a fascinating story about Crazy Captain Dick! He is part of the history of Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe. The story of The Hermit of Emerald Bay will interest you, I’m sure!
The Getaway Cafe was voted Best Breakfast in 2018, and believe me, they deserve it. The Getaway Cafe is a little bit outside South Lake Tahoe in a town called Meyer. Diane Guth gave us a warm welcome at the door, and after we came in, it filled up completely. It was easy to see why. The food is fresh and locally sourced, the sauces are all homemade from scratch, and only fresh baked bread is good enough! I had a Blood Orange Mimosa with a Deluxe Eggs Benedict, a combination of the veggie and the regular Eggs Benedict. Two poached eggs on an English muffin with canadian bacon, avocado, sauteed tomatoes, spinach and onions; topped with hollandaise and served with potatoes. I cannot even begin to tell you how delicious it was! I loved the cafe, the people, and the ambiance, and from the crowd, so does everyone else! The Getaway Cafe is a must!
Did you know I love to gamble? Well, I love to play Video Poker. I stay at Caesar’s Group Hotels, and I love Harrahs at Lake Tahoe. They have a restaurant on the 18th floor called Friday’s Station Steak and Seafood Grill. Yum. This fine dining establishment features a dramatic entrance and a 1,000-bottle display wine cellar. Friday’s Station is a “steak and seafood restaurant that specializes in a wide variety of certified Angus and USDA Choice beef, ocean-fresh seafood specials and tantalizing side dishes, all served up with a breathtaking panorama of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevadas”. Yes, that is the best way to put it! Whether you stay at Harrahs or not, Friday’s Station should be on your dining list. After, you can play a little in the casino.
How to Get There
There is an airport in Lake Tahoe for smaller planes, but I recommend flying into Reno. The drive to Lake Tahoe is well worth it!
Questions? I’m happy to answer them…I am ready to go back!
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