If you’re looking for a picture-perfect getaway, I have two words for you: Lake Tahoe. Spanning the border between California and Nevada, Tahoe is one of the country’s greatest natural wonders, and the highest alpine lake in the contiguous U.S. It’s the combination of lake and mountains that makes the scenery so special, and it’s impossible not to fall in love with the area. Keep your camera handy, because around every turn is a new photo op. There’s something about the lake and its depth (1000 feet on average), its size (almost 200 square miles), and its deep blue color, that encourages even the most active travelers to slow down and take the time to enjoy this stunning natural wonder.
To get here, you can fly into Reno, about an hour distant, but if you can’t get a direct flight there, I’d suggest flying to San Francisco or (preferably) Oakland, from which Lake Tahoe is about four hours. The drive is surprisingly painless, mostly on freeways that move from pleasant/efficient to really beautiful in the last hour or so. I wind around twisting roads, climbing at one point to over 7000 feet, past streams rushing through trees and mountains clad in green and still showing some late May snow. As I take the final turn and descend into South Lake Tahoe, I’ve already been introduced to the beauty of the area.
First let’s check in, then we’ll explore. One great choice is Edgewood Tahoe (180 Lake Parkway, Stateline NV. Tel: 888-769-1924. www.edgewoodtahoe.com) in the town of Stateline Nevada (you’ll cross many times between the two states). Opened in 2017, it’s all high ceilings and intriguing angles, wood and stone. A massive stone sculpture lines one wall. A row of reindeer heads are made from what looks like papier-mache: cruelty-free taxidermy. A low wall is made from wood reclaimed from a fence that used to be on the property. Fire pits are scattered around the grounds for outdoor relaxation. Rooms are done in earth tones, with “rivers” of dark brown running across the taupe patterned carpets, twig-shaped lamps, and the lake and mountains through your window. Perfect service, perfect views, perfect luxury. Unbeatable.
A very different feeling lures you into Black Bear Lodge (1202 Ski Run Blvd., South Lake Tahoe CA. Tel: 530-544-4451. www.tahoeblackbear.com), a world totally unlike Edgewood. Here you’re not at a grand resort but at a rustic and comfortable hideaway, where your beautifully equipped cabin lets you hide out from the real world in utter privacy. With electric fireplaces sheathed in river rock for chilly Tahoe nights, wide-plank wood floors, your own kitchen area with refrigerator, coffeemaker, and microwave, it’s truly a home away from home, and much nicer than the word “cabin” implies. Relax on the couch in front of the fireplace or take a seat at your wrought iron table in the garden area. This is country living done right, with the sophistication of simplicity.
Do get out and explore, at whatever pace you like. I like to start at Revive Coffee and Wine (3135 Harrison Ave., South Lake Tahoe CA. Tel: 530-600-4007. www.revivecoffeewine.com), a sweet little South Lake Tahoe spot. Wood tables with little squares filled with gravel under glass, a large patio front and back, and a friendly crowd.
Another day I might begin at Clyde’s Coffee (292 Kingsbury Grade, Stateline NV. Tel: 775-580-6399. www.clydescoffee.com), which is a coffeehouse done right. It’s in a little mall just off the main drag of Stateline, and it’s comfy and welcoming, with lots of wood giving it a rustic feel, a few baked goods like scones and apple strudel, and the best coffee I’ve had in the area. As I sip my espresso, I notice a sign: “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” Now this is a coffeehouse philosophy I can love!