How to Spend 2 Days in Lake Tahoe
Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and pine trees, Lake Tahoe is one of the purest lakes in the world and is the second deepest lake in the United States. Ask a local why they live in Tahoe and they’ll smile, open their arms wide, and with a small wave towards the lake and the mountains, they’ll say “this is why I live here.” There’s an unspoken understanding that “this” implies the beauty and adventure of Tahoe. The locals’ adoration and the jaw-dropping awe you experience when you first see the lake will follow you throughout your amazing Tahoe experiences to come. Squaw Valley is a forested, ski community nestled in the Sierra Nevada Range. The mountains surround you as you drive up the road, past a blend of old and new, toward the Resort at Squaw Creek and Squaw Valley ski area that lie at the base of the mountains. The valley is gorgeous and green in the summer, white and sparkling in the winter, and there’s no question as to why the 1960 winter Olympics were held here. Standing tall over the village, Squaw Valley ski area is a constant reminder of the years of fun, laughter, and adventure that have brought the valley to life over the past six decades.
The Resort at Squaw Creek echoes the beauty of the valley. An all glass outdoor façade faces the mountains and trees, blending the resort in with the landscape while simultaneously reflecting its surroundings. Upon entering the lobby, floor to ceiling windows showcase the mountain view and leather chairs surround a large stone fireplace, reminding you that you’ve arrived at your very own mountain retreat. Summer season brings you everywhere from tee times on the golf course and sunbathing at Squaw Creek’s pristine pool, to beautiful Lake Tahoe, its beaches, and surrounding mountain trails. Come winter, you can hop on the slopes right from the Squaw Creek lift, which is a stone’s throw from the resort’s outdoor ski bar. As the snow falls, the mountains become your playground as you snowshoe up Truckee’s Castle Peak trail or cross country ski at the Nordic Center at the Resort at Squaw Creek. As a special guest in one of the most majestic alpine hideaways in the world, it’s your duty to enjoy relaxed California hospitality and let the locals divulge a refreshing breath of air on what to do in Tahoe.
EAT + DRINK
Every Tahoe morning prompts an adventure, whether it’s trying a new activity or trying a new restaurant. Rent bikes at the Resort at Squaw Creek and cruise along the Truckee River and Lake Tahoe’s West Shore to get breakfast at Fire Sign Café. Just south of Tahoe City, Fire Sign Café is a local’s favorite, offering a hearty plate of eggs, bacon, and homemade biscuits, or lighter fare, like veggie benedict complete with a California dose of avocado, tomato, and farm fresh eggs.
Lunch gives you the opportunity to visit the lakeside deck at Moe’s Original BBQ. Located in the heart of Tahoe City, Moe’s serves up a healthy serving of ribs and Southern fare. Fresh ingredients, a friendly staff, and everything from jambalaya and pulled pork, to a fantastic craft beer selection, make this eatery an easy, fun stop for lunch. You can eat outside on the deck or take your lunch to go as you can continue exploring Lake Tahoe.
After a day of hiking, skiing, or paddle boarding, head back to the Resort at Squaw Creek’s Six Peaks Grille. In the summer, dine al fresco on the bistro patio that overlooks Squaw Valley. In the winter, cozy up inside by the fire for dinner. The seasonal menu is prepared with distinctive regional ingredients. Whenever possible, the chef sources sustainable seafood, meats, and produce. A favorite right now is the butter poached Maine lobster tail with wood grilled filet mignon. The charcuterie plate is always popular, featuring local cheeses and meats.
To best get a lay of the land, drive the road that borders the shore of Lake Tahoe. Head down Tahoe’s West Shore, where massive sugar pine trees rest in Sugar Pine State park. As the road winds on, you drive into Emerald Bay, a small sanctuary of emerald water and one of Tahoe’s most pristine attractions. Emerald Bay borders the south side of Lake Tahoe and is home to Fannette Island, the only island in the lake. The island contains what is left of “Tea House,” which is now a crumbling stone structure that was built by Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight, the owner of nearby Vikingsholm. Vikingsholm is a historic mansion built by Mrs. Knight, who was best known as a primary backer of Charles Lindbergh’s 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Fannette Island, Vikingsholm, and Emerald Bay, are now part of Emerald Bay State Park. If you’re feeling adventurous you can sail, kayak, or canoe to the island where you can explore the remains. History buffs can take a guided tour of Vikingsholm.
Head back to North Lake Tahoe along the East Shore and enjoy turquoise waters, giant boulders, and the most beautiful beaches on the lake. Arrive in time for sunset and hike down to Skunk Harbor, one of Lake Tahoe’s hidden beaches, which also boasts one of the oldest stone cabins on the lake. Now abandoned, the cabin is maintained by the Forest Service, but was once the summer house of George Newhall, a California gold rush and railroad heir, who presented it to his wife Caroline as a wedding gift. The site was used to host Great Gatsby style parties in the roaring twenties and the Newhalls boated their guests across the lake from the West Shore to retain the seclusion of the home. The magnificent sunset, the echoes of parties long gone, and the fun of your present day adventure are memories that will stay with you forever.DO
Get up early. Tahoe is a mountain town and you’ll want to be up with the sun so you can get first chair at Squaw Valley in the winter. In the summer, catch an outdoor yoga class on the lake or rent stand up paddle boards in Tahoe City. Insider hint: the earlier the better when it comes to paddle boarding. The sunrise and morning hours provide calm waters before Tahoe residents and visitors alike begin boating or the afternoon wind picks up. A great summertime Squaw Valley hike is the Shirley Canyon trail, which climbs the back of Squaw Valley Ski area along a series of waterfalls that flow from mountain snow runoff. Make sure you bring your bathing suit so that you can take a dip in one of the many granite pools that form below the waterfalls.
Located at the intersection of the Pacific Crest, Ellis Peak, and Tahoe Rim trails, Barker Pass is one of the most beautiful summer hikes in Lake Tahoe but it takes some inside information to get there. Drive to the top of Blackwood Canyon, which is accessed off the main road that runs along the West Shore of Lake Tahoe. After 11 miles and a 2000 foot elevation gain, you’ll be able to park your car and set out on foot, following the Ellis Trail, past the 4th of July chutes, aptly named because the locals ski there when there’s snow. Eventually, the trail leaves the trees, opening into a broad meadow that will take your breath away with a panoramic view of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Lake Tahoe, and an ocean of red and yellow wildflowers stretching as far as the eye can see.
During winter, take advantage of the Resort at Squaw Creek’s proximity to one of the best ski resorts in the world and hop on the Squaw Creek lift, which loads directly from the Resort at Squaw Creek. With 3,600 acres of skiable terrain, Squaw offers all levels of skiing for the whole family, with skilled instructors to teach the kids while you ski laps on KT-22, Squaw Valley’s famous ski lift. If you’re not a skier, but would like to see Squaw, ride the Aerial Tram to Squaw Valley High Camp and check out the Olympic Museum.
After a morning exploring the outdoors, head back to the resort for a massage at the Spa at Squaw Creek. Rated as the #5 top resort spa by Conde Nast Traveler, the Spa at the Resort at Squaw Creek uses organic products sourced locally from the San Francisco Bay area. Before your massage, soak up more mountain views as you sunbathe by the pool.