Historic figures from Mark Twain to Frank Sinatra haunt Tahoe’s North Shore gambling destination.
If you’re suddenly blinded when you cross the border from California into Nevada, it’s probably not the sun, but the head-swiveling sight of thousands of flashing lights, which in Nevada means one thing: gambling! But Incline Village and Crystal Bay also host two excellent ski areas. Plus, locals like to brag that the area offers the longest view of the setting sun on the lake. Now that’ll get your eyes blinking. Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau: 969 Tahoe Blvd., Incline Village, (800) 824-6348, gotahoenorth.com .
Area code is 775 except as noted.
To Do and see
The UC-Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center’s Thomas J. Long Foundation Education Center, located at the campus of Sierra Nevada College, offers simulated 3-D “tours” of the lake, during which you feel as if you’re swooping over, under, and around the United States’ second-deepest lake (and among its most pristine). 291 Country Club Dr., Incline Village, 881-7560, terc.ucdavis.edu . Mark Twain was born 176 years ago, but he’s still kicking around these parts—or, at least, he’s well represented by a fine impersonator rumored to be local fellow McAvoy Layne, performing at the Mark Twain Cultural Center. 760 Mays Blvd., No. 10, Incline Village, 833-1835, ghostoftwain.com . Even locals rave about the Frank Sinatra Tunnel Tour at the Cal Neva Resort. Onetime owner Frank Sinatra used tunnels so he and his Rat Pack–era celebrity guests—Marilyn Monroe, Sammy Davis Jr., and even John F. Kennedy—could travel unseen from their cabins to the casino. Tours cost $10 and include a coupon for the cocktail lounge. 2 Stateline Rd., Crystal Bay, (800) 233-5551, calnevaresort.com . The Lake Tahoe area offers the largest concentration of ski resorts in North America. On the Nevada side of North Tahoe, find downhill skiing at Mt. Rose–Ski Tahoe (mtrose.com ) and both downhill and alpine (as well as snowboarding) at Diamond Peak (diamondpeak.com ). Visit gotahoenorth.com  for extensive skiing info.
The Crystal Bay Steak and Lobster House, with its classic tableside preparation, has a retro vibe; regulars praise the veal piccata, rotisserie duck, and extensive wine list. Crystal Bay Casino, 14 Hwy. 28, 833-6333, crystalbaycasino.com . At family-run Lupita’s Mexican Restaurant, instead of boring burritos and nachos you’ll find authentic, affordable Mexican fare such as pescado with garlic sauce. 754 Mays Blvd., Incline Village, 833-4141. The Soule Domain makes a fine date-night spot. In winter, snuggle by the fireplace in this cozy log cabin behind the Tahoe Biltmore hotel, just over the California border from Incline Village–Crystal Bay. Here chef Charlie Soule has been serving an eclectic menu for over a quarter century, fusing country French with creative American flavors using local, organically grown ingredients. 9983 Cove St., Brockway, 546-7529, souledomain.com .
To find a place to stay, visit AAA.com/hotels . The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino is the only major resort (and the only Four Diamond resort) actually on Lake Tahoe; its lakefront cabins boast huge stone fireplaces and porches. Don’t miss the “swim-out” pool: Start your dip inside, then swim under a window into an outdoor scene of snowy peaks and fir trees. It's among the best photo ops on the lake. 111 Country Club Dr., Incline Village, 832-1234, laketahoe.hyatt.com . Ski or snowshoe among Scandinavian-style log cabins (which include winter bedding and warm drinks) in the Spooner Lake Cross Country Ski Area in Lake Tahoe–Nevada State Park, 13 miles south of Incline Village. Room fees include trail passes, lessons, and snow gear. 3709 Hwy. 28, Glenbrook, 749-5349, spoonerlake.com .
Check out the rest of our Lake Tahoe Area  package:
Carson City : History tours and a lively restaurant scene
Reno : A booming scene just 30 miles from the lake
South Lake Tahoe : Mountain recreation and lake access
Tahoe City : Squaw Valley skiing and the Truckee River
Truckee : Handsome historic buildings and tasty eats
Photography courtesy North Lake Tahoe Resort Association/Jeff Dow
This article was first published in January 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.