Antique ski equipment adds to the Americana charm at Rosie's Cafe in Tahoe City, Calif.
What do we remember about Tahoe City? Knotty pine walls in intimate lakeside restaurants. Grocers thanking their customers by name. A compact downtown under towering pines that ring the lake. And the Truckee River—Lake Tahoe’s only outgoing water source—rushing under “fanny bridge,” so nicknamed for the view one gets of visitors leaning over the railing to watch trout. Tahoe City Visitors Information Center: 380 N. Lake Blvd., (800) 824-6348, gotahoenorth.com.
Area code is 530 except as noted.
To Do and see
Don’t miss the Gatekeeper’s Museum, the cabin of the “master” who controlled the flow of water out of Lake Tahoe into the Truckee River. The museum showcases Tahoe history, including a collection of American Indian baskets. 130 West Lake Blvd., 583-1762, northtahoemuseums.org. Less than 10 miles inland at Squaw Valley, the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, take the aerial tram up to High Camp. In addition to jaw-dropping views, you can enjoy a restaurant, a skating rink, and, come mid-March, a swimming pool. On Friday and Saturday nights during the full moon, meet at High Camp at 5:30 p.m. for guided moonlight snowshoe tours. 1960 Squaw Valley Rd., Olympic Valley, (800) 403-0206, squaw.com.
Gorgeous waterfront views are the name of the game at Jake’s on the Lake, where seafood stars and live music plays on weekends. 780 N. Lake Blvd., 583-0188, jakestahoe.com. Rosie’s Cafe lures locals and visitors with its Old Tahoe ambience (think wood-beam ceilings, antique ski equipment, and Americana) and its book-size menu covering the range of American basics from massive breakfasts to hot sandwiches to pizza, plus a lively bar and a kids’ game room. 571 North Lake Blvd., 583-8504, rosiescafe.com. Sunnyside Restaurant and Lodge offers substantial steaks and fresh seafood, a roaring fire, and what may be Lake Tahoe’s favorite dessert: hula pie, made of macadamia nut ice cream on a chocolate cookie crust, covered with chocolate fudge, whipped cream, and more nuts. 1850 W. Lake Blvd., (800) 822-2754, sunnysideresort.com.
To find a place to stay, visit AAA.com/hotels. America’s Best Value Inn in Tahoe City resides at a prime spot in the center of town, right across from the lake. Its affordable rooms include continental breakfast. 455 N. Lake Blvd., (866) 588-8246, americasbestvalueinn.com. River Ranch Lodge and Restaurant sits right on the Truckee River near a great bike trail. With its intimate setting and an inviting dining room, it feels like a vintage ski lodge. 2285 River Rd. (at the corner of Highway 89 and Alpine Meadows Road), 583-4264, riverranchlodge.com. The Village at Squaw Valley has it all: slope-side rooms and condo suites, restaurants, markets, and shops, plus all the snow sports you could ever dream of, whether you’re a beginner or an Olympic wannabe. 1750 Village East Rd., Olympic Valley, (866) 818-6963, thevillageatsquaw.com.
Check out the rest of our Lake Tahoe Area package:
Carson City: History tours and a lively restaurant scene
Incline Village and Crystal Bay: Twain meets Sinatra
Reno: A booming scene just 30 miles from the lake
South Lake Tahoe: Mountain recreation and lake access
Truckee: Handsome historic buildings and tasty eats
Photography by David H. Collier
This article was first published in January 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.