When it comes to Summer vacations in Northern California, one of the must-visit spots you need to add to your list is the beautiful North Shore in Lake Tahoe, California.
Nestled in the heart of the Sierra mountains, less than 4-hours northeast of the Bay Area, lies a picturesque, rugged natural haven that is loved by visitors, both near and far. As the Summer season begins, majestic views of snow-capped mountains create a striking juxtaposition with the crystal clear blue lake and lush green forests below.
Where To Stay in Lake Tahoe
As you plan your trip to Lake Tahoe, one of the first things to consider is where to stay. From the Ritz-Carlton to Northstar, there are a number of lodging options, whether you’re interested in luxury resort accommodations or family-friendly condos and house rentals.
Boasting luxurious amenities mixed with rustic mountain decor, the Resort at Squaw Creek has always been one of my favorite places to stay in Lake Tahoe.
Located in Squaw Valley (just 15 minutes from the lake), this chic and contemporary hotel not only offers fine dining, a championship golf course, full-service spa, and Olympic-level skiing (in the winter), it’s also one of the most family-friendly hotels in Lake Tahoe.
By providing exceptional hospitality, service, and performance, the resort has accrued several prestigious awards and recognition from Condé Nast Traveler “Top 50 Ski Resorts in North America”, AAA Four Diamond Award, Smart Meetings “Platinum Choice Award”, TripAdvisor “Certificate of Excellence”, and other honors.
Plus, the resort is proud to announce the development of its new rooftop garden (which the on-site restaurants use for fresh vegetables) and bee program. In addition, they’re now hosting FootGolf on Monday nights as well as exciting new food and beverage programs including Craft Beer Weekends + Music and the summer garden dinners.
For a plush upgrade, be sure to book a Deluxe Fireplace Suite. This inviting abode provides ample space including a separate living room, dining area, and resort-style kitchen (that makes it convenient for whipping up eggs in the morning), plus tastefully-appointed comfortable furnishings in the bedroom and a spacious master bathroom (with a deep-soaking tub and a free-standing shower with spa-like dual-heads).
If the rooms weren’t enough to look at, take a peek just outside your window to view the towering mountains just beyond the golf course and swimming pool.
From guided nature walks and bike tours to back-country adventures, the Mountain Buddies kid’s camp, fly fishing, and even lawn games, this is truly one of the best places to take your children for Summer vacation. That’s not all!
Throughout the Summer season, the Resort at Squaw Creek offers daily and weekend special activities, including a Long Putt Challenge, Dive-in Movie (which means a film is shown on a projector screen adjacent to the swimming pool), a Water Balloon Fight, Crafts, and even a Sand Castle Build-Off.
With so many fun things to do, you might never want to leave the resort!
Where To Dine in Lake Tahoe
When in Rome, eat pasta. When in Lake Tahoe, eat everything! From sizzling steaks to the catch of the day, there’s no shortage of good restaurants in the North Shore of Lakes Tahoe.
From the casual elegance of Christy Hill (which features lakeside dining and unique dishes inspired by seasonal ingredients) to the upscale Six Peaks Grille (which boasts romantic mountain views and gourmet meals, served in a relaxed atmosphere), here are some of the best places to dine in Lake Tahoe.
When you want nothing but the best, one of your first spots to check out is the Six Peaks Grille at the Resort at Squaw Creek. The restaurant offers both indoor seating (with floor-to-ceiling windows) and outdoor patio dining (with a roaring fire-pit to keep you warm as the sun goes down). The restaurant is a popular spot for local and visitors because of the reputation for providing outstanding service, attention to every detail, and scrumptious food that is cooked to perfection (thanks to Chef de Cuisine, Charlie Trexel).
Inspired by regional ingredients, their robust menu offers something for every palette, and incorporates sustainable seafood, meats, and produce into their flavorful dishes. From fresh swordfish topped with roasted vegetables to juicy steaks and delicious french fries, if you’re a foodie, then this is definitely a must-visit restaurant when you come to Lake Tahoe.
For afternoon drinks with a side of good grub, head to Truckee to visit the Bar of America. When the sun goes down, this popular destination starts to get lively. Great music, bubbling beverages, and a laid-back atmosphere make this place one of the most happening spots around Lake Tahoe. Whether you’re in the mood for Cowboy Chili or Filet Mignon, don’t let the name fool you – this place is so much more than just a bar.
If you want to spice up your vacation a bit, drive up to Caliente restaurant in Kings Beach. This jumping hotspot is known for flavorful south-of-the-border dishes and refreshing cocktails that will make your mouth water. One a warm Summer day, there’s no better place to be than on the rooftop deck, under one of the colorful umbrellas, sipping on a Margarita and digging into cheesy quesadillas.
Where To Play in Lake Tahoe
From aquatic adventures (like parasailing, boating, and kayaking) to exploring the terrain (through hiking, guided horseback rides in the mountains, and golfing on championship courses), there’s no shortage of fun activities to do and places to play in Lake Tahoe.
If the idea of rest and relaxation gets you inspired, then get ready to be pampered in the plush, serene environment of one of the top spas in the area, the Spa at Squaw Creek.
From deep tissue massages and purifying mud wraps to skin-renewing facials and soul-stirring ritual treatments, the Spa at Squaw Creek will transport you to the most peaceful place you could ever imagine.
As you enter the spa, you’re welcomed by a friendly and attentive staff member who graciously escorts you toward the dressing area. After slipping into a cozy robe, you head down the zen-like hallway into the Sanctuary – a tranquil and inviting space that simply beckons you to kick-off your slippers and just relax.
After spending some time catching up on magazines, noshing away on fresh fruit, and sipping on herbal tea, you’ll be greeted by your therapist for your treatment. If your body is in need of complete rejuvenation, definitely book one of the spa’s healing massage treatments. Having experienced a thoroughly blissful massage by one of their expert massage therapists (Kate Rosa), I could easily say I’ve discovered Nirvana – at the Spa at Squaw Creek.
After you’ve been pampered, primped, and primed to have some fun, head outside to bask in the glorious sunshine and perfect 80-degree weather. A quick dip in the Resort at Squaw Creek pool (or a dash down the totally fun water-slide) is the ultimate way to instantly make you feel like a kid again. If you want a little adult play time, grab a cocktail at the bar and head over to one of the private cabanas, which are surrounded by swaying aspen trees and unobstructed views of the mountains.
For an afternoon of match-play, pick up your clubs and drive over to The Links at Squaw Creek. This championship 71-par golf course (designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr.) is truly an impressive (and challenging) course to play. Not to mention – the stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains make it one of the most breathtaking courses in Northern California.
Unless your putting is on par, book one of the PGA professional staff members to help you with golf instruction. Lessons can be arranged on an private or group level, depending on your personal preference. Plus, for your convenience, you can rent a set of clubs for a $40 (which is worth it if you’re traveling to Lake Tahoe by plane).
When you’re ready to go full throttle, head over to Tahoe City Marina for the ride of your lifetime. A heart-pumping ride on a powerboat (that can easily get up to 50 mph on the serene lake) is the best way to satiate the thrill-seeker inside of anyone. These deluxe powerboats are a luxurious and exciting way to enjoy a day on the lake, while taking in the spectacular mountain and lake views.
In addition to fast-paced powerboats, Tahoe City Marina also rents sailboats, which is great for those who want a slower-paced experience on the lake. After cruising into the harbor, take a walk over to the quaint shops and restaurants located within the Tahoe City Marina shopping area.
If you love animals, then one of the must-do activities in Lake Tahoe is a guided horseback ride in the mountains.
One of the top-rated places to go horseback riding is through Alpine Meadows Stables. In addition to having well-kept, easy-going horses, their friendly, experienced staff works hard to ensure that all riders (whether they’re novices or experts) feel comfortable throughout the entire ride.
What makes Alpine Meadows Stables stand out (among other horseback tours in California) is that they’ve trained the horses to be kept at a safe distance from each other (which makes it an easier ride), and the paths that they guide you through (including a lush forest and across a babbling brook) is both beautiful and relaxing.
After all these wonderful outdoor activities, you might be craving some shopping. For the best shopping around, head over to the historic town of Truckee. The downtown area boasts boutique shopping (for trendy apparel, swing by the Kalifornia Jean Bar), home decor stores, souvenir shops, restaurants, and bars.
As you can see, for more reasons than just its natural beauty, the luxurious North Shore of Lake Tahoe continues to be one of the must-visit destination spots for California residents and visitors from other parts of the world.
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[Disclosure: Complimentary accommodations and services were provided by The Resort at Squaw Creek, The Spa at Squaw Creek, The Links at Squaw Creek, Six Peaks Grille, Tahoe City Marina, and Alpine Meadows Stables. All opinions are my own.]