…because words just don’t do this place justice.Do you ever go somewhere that’s so not what you’re normal life is like? And it’s so awesomely mysterious that you ask locals what it’s like to live there they’re and they’re all like “oh it’s amazing, I came to visit one winter and never left…”. That’s Lake Tahoe. It’s like this little sleepy town that’s not very little and actually has a lot to do but it’s not overly in your face like New York and people actually just never leave like they do in New York.
It’s just CHILL.
When we went for our first anniversary (which was like 2 years ago) we kept saying that we wanted to just pick up and move there and slow down and live by the lake and hike and eat local food everyday. And we still say it because it’s basically like the best place ever.
There were some things we would have liked to do that we didn’t get to because we went in May, between their winter and summer seasons, like the ziplining at Heavenly Mountain Resorts, but here are some of our trip highlights that we think are absolute must sees.
Drive around Tahoe/Bonsai RockOur first full day in Tahoe was spent driving the loop around the entire lake. It’s long, but not too long, and totally worth it to stop along the route for pictures. A few times, we hiked down to the lake and just enjoyed the scenery.
My absolute favorite spot during our drive was Bonsai Rock. In reality, it’s actually much smaller than it looks, but totally cool and worth the search. My husband hated me that day after seeing how long we spent looking for a rock that was the size that it was…but I think it’s worth the picture!
We used this site for directions/coordinates, and it wasn’t too difficult. During the hike down, we didn’t actually use a trail, and it was totally fine, even in my sperrys.
Emerald Bay HikeHubby’s favorite spot was Emerald Bay. We went on a rainy day, and it was still absolutely gorgeous. This state park was easily accessible from the parking area for Vikingsholm. It’s a steep but short mile down to the beach, then from the beach you can access trails that will take you around the beach for any number of miles. We continued around the right side of the lake and back for probably a total of 6 miles. I have no clue what trail it was but I made us turn around when I was convinced there was bears. There probably were bears.
Virginia City Day TripVirginia City, NV is about an hour away from Lake Tahoe, depending on where you’re staying. It’s this old, cool, wild west town that still feels like this old, cool, wild west town. You like actually forget that it’s 2000-something which is really nice because older, vintage things are so much better!
We did a combo-tour of Chollar Mine and the Haunted Washoe Club, which are both exactly what they sound like…an old abandoned mine shaft and a Haunted rich person’s club. Almost everything in Virginia City is “haunted”… of course I didn’t experience any ghosts but ask my husband if I was afraid or not…After the tours, we spent a lot of time walking around the old shops, shooting arcades, and saloons. The saloons were the coolest. Obviously.
Truckee, CA is most famous for the Donner Party cannibalism thing. And Donnor-Memorial State Park is dedicated to the survivors…aka the cannibals. Kind of cool and definitely worth checking out for the history.If you like history, or watching Hell on Wheels, you probably recognize Truckee as one of the original hubs of the Central Pacific Railroad.
If you drive about half way down Donner Pass Road and turn off at the summit bridge, you can do the summit tunnel hike through the railroad’s history.
You actually start the hike (if you pull off near the summit bridge) near a sign for these old Native American petroglyphs, ancient symbols carved into the rock face. Definitely worth stopping to take a look.
Then, hike up the hill towards the 75 foot rock wall…you can’t miss the Chinese Wall It’s hand built to hold up the train tracks that ran between the tunnels and it’s still standing today.
Once you’re there, it’s impossible not to see the tunnels. Walking through them really gave us an appreciation for the work that was done during the railroad’s construction. Plus, the views between the tunnel segments are insane.
Favorite Places to Eat and Drink
Obviously the best part of the trip…
Squeeze Inn…I’m not going to lie, in one week, we ate breakfast here three times.The food is really, really good and the sauces for the eggs are like the most amazing thing I think I’ve ever had. Sad, I know, but they’re THAT GOOD. Also, it was on Throwdown with Bobby Flay so it gets busy…but being on NY time really came in handy when we showed up super early!
Cottonwood…we also shamelessly ate here twice. My mom’s cousins (who owns the house we stayed in) recommended this place as more of a romantic, nice dinner out spot and it was incredible. Such great food, but the atmosphere is super chill and rustic since it’s an old converted ski lodge. Not pretentious at all.
Mountain Valley Meats…I’m adding this one because we did eat at our cabin a lot. With access to a full kitchen and a gorgeous yard, we wanted to enjoy where we were staying, too (and save some money by not eating every meal out). Mountain Valley Meats is all organic, local sources, etc and was right in Truckee.
There’s also a ton of places to get local wine, eggs, cheeses, breads, etc to stock up and enjoy cozy nights at home with your hubby =)
I really could ramble about Lake Tahoe for the rest of my life and I wouldn’t exactly be said if I somehow ended up moving there. It’s really just this perfect combination of local charm, fun outdoorsy stuff, history, and romance.
Now I need another vacation..