A week before school started, we decided to make our way to Lake Tahoe. We had heard so much about it.
When folks say Lake Tahoe, it doesn’t mean just one location. Check out this map here. Lake Tahoe borders California on West and Nevada on the East. There are hotels all around the lake. The ones down South, near South Lake Tahoe have casinos in them. If you are looking for a great time sans kids, this is probably where all the action is, round the year.
In the North-West, you see Olympic Valley. This place is definitely far more packed in Winter than in Summer. The 1960 Winter Olympics took place here in an area called Squaw Valley. This is where we decided to spend three nights this Summer. We chose this place because we like to cook our own food – we have a fussy, vegetarian child and I like to stick to fresh, organic, low-sodium food and organic wine as much as I can help it. Luckily, dear Mr. Kapoor is generally okay with anything and doesn’t seem to mind.
In Winter, folks love Alpine Meadows, which stays closed during the Summer months. Anyway, we stayed at the Village at Squaw Valley. – Lovely one bedroom, living room, kitchen accommodation. In Europe, they would call this an Apart-Hotel. We ended up changing rooms almost immediately after we got our keys because we had asked for AC and there was no AC. The second room that we got had AC but it was definitely older and smaller with no stainless steel appliances. Squaw Valley should definitely put AC in all their rooms to attract more Summer tourists! It does get pretty hot post noon for a few hours, if you plan to stay in the room. Mornings and evenings are absolutely gorgeous – light jackets are a must, even in Summer. It truly has a hill-station feel.
Lake Tahoe reminds me of a few places I used to go to as a little kid in India: Panchgini, Matheran, Mahableshwar, Mt. Abu, Nainital and Darjeeling. Crisp air, high altitude, boating in the river, warm cup of tea with freshly baked cookies in the morning, my body wrapped up in shawl from Kashmir. How nostalgic!
Since we happened to drive through the city of Sacramento on our way to Lake Tahoe, we stopped by the local Whole Foods to stock up on grocery supplies. We spent the first evening exploring the Squaw Valley campus which was quite nice with little boutique shops and restaurants.
The second day, we decided to drive around the lake. We first went down to Tahoe City. Around there, there was a hike by the Lake which we quite enjoyed. It was called Fallen Leaf Trail. This one is child-friendly and dog-friendly and is as short or long as you want it to be.
BTW, if you are into trails, Lake Tahoe has many options. You can explore this here.
Then, we drove down to South Lake Tahoe. This was a good time to take a lunch break. This is a fairly big town, with lots of restaurants. There is a tiny little strip here that seems very much like Las Vegas.
We crossed the Nevada border, checked out the casino town and then drove all the way up north to Incline Village – which is also a really cute town – much quieter than South Lake Tahoe. There is a Starbucks for ye coffee lovers – if you plan to stop. We then drove back to Olympic Valley for dinner and to listen to some music. Squaw Valley has a music concert schedule for Tuesdays!
The next day, we decided to go to what is called High Camp. Basically, you take a tram up the mountain. You reach the elevation of 8200 ft where you get to spend an entire day. The first tram up is 11 AM and the last tram down is about 4 PM or so. Each adult ticket costs around $42 and includes a free towel. There is a nice pool and a jacuzzi which are wonderful. There are locker rooms and showers right next to the pool.
This photo below is what it would look like with snow on the mountains. We didn’t really see much snow in August.
There is a bar for drinks near the jacuzzi. Food is available for purchase, drinks are reasonably priced. We ordered a few things to munch on, didn’t love any of the things that we bought. The biggest annoyance were honey bees that kept hovering around the food. We also noticed subsequently, that most people were eating at the restaurant, not by the pool. They enjoyed the pool and the sunbathing a lot better than we did. Lesson learned.
There is a roller-skating ring that probably turns into an ice-skating ring in the winters. Make sure you carry your socks else you may need to pay $9 per pair to skate. They provide the skates.
We also hiked for about 60 minutes when we were at that elevation. The air is so clean – it was great! Bees were a general issue again so best to put some insect-repellant on you. After all, it is their home and not ours and we shouldn’t really be complaining.
Also, remember to carry water up. If you are hiker, you may already be familiar with collapsible and reusable BPA-free water bottles? I ended up buying one of these when I was Squaw Valley but for so much more money. If you care about filtered water, then buy a set (in advance on Amazon) that comes with a reusable filter, such as this one with these bottles. (Survivor Set, perfect for outdoor activities for environmentally-conscious individuals who travel light!)
Our last night, we decided to watch one of Martin Scorsese’s movie over wine and cheese. It was a perfect ending to our little getaway!
A few years out, we will make our way down here again….this time in Winter.