Every year for the holidays, P and I would split our time between California and Arizona so that we could see both of our families. This year, with work being more busy than usual and our holiday vacation being cut short, we could sadly only visit one or the other. In order to see everyone, we organized a trip to Lake Tahoe, hoping that both of our families could make it. Lucky for us, we were able to organize a mini family reunion of sorts and see both my parents and P’s parents.
With us being a bit last minute with planning and with Lake Tahoe cabin rentals being sparse and prices steep during this time of year, our families opted to stay in Reno, a city about 45 minutes from Northern Lake Tahoe and a little over an hour from Southern Lake Tahoe. Reno was much more reasonably priced. For about $60 a night (including resort fees and taxes), we were able to get an upgraded room at the Grand Sierra Resort, a newly remodeled hotel with a casino, 50 lane bowling alley, golfing range, pool (not open in the winter), shows, and plenty of restaurants / lounges / bars. Think a smaller version of a Vegas hotel. The hotel was perfect for us when a blizzard hit on our second day in Reno/Tahoe. We bowled two games with our families, had dinner, and made some new friends playing a few hours of poker in the hotel’s small but cozy and fun poker room… all without having to leave the hotel. Of course, we would have preferred to go out exploring, and sure, we would have loved to be living in a cabin only steps from the lake, but this hotel gave us options in the wintertime. If we visit again the summer, we would probably try to book early and snatch a room or cabin right on the lake.
> Lake Tahoe: From the spring to the summer to the fall to the winter, this lake is always beautiful. Visit the North side of the lake or the South. In fact, if you have the time, drive around the entire lake, which will take about 2 hours if you want to stop frequently for photo opportunities. In the warmer months, you can go swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, or boating on the crystal clear lake. In the colder months (which is when we visited), there are plenty of snow activities nearby the lake, such as downhill skiing, ice skating, cross country skiing, sledding, and snowmobiling. Cross your fingers for snow because when we visited, there wasn’t a lot of it. We got lucky and were able to book a last minute snowmobiling tour with Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours on our last day when the weather improved. Handling the snowmobile was fun and the tour took us to a viewing vista which is only accessible by snowmobile or walking. We got the most perfect view of the lake from above.
> Lone Eagle Grille: Have a drink at this beautiful location overlooking the lake in Northern Lake Tahoe. What’s really nice about this restaurant is not necessarily the food (which is good but pricey), but the outdoor set up. There is a large fire pit surrounded, a pier that goes right out to the lake, and plenty of chairs right on the beachfront. If timed right, guests can witness an incredible sunset over the lake while sipping a delightful cocktail and enjoy the surrounding views. Unfortunately, when we visited, there was a huge blizzard, so we only got to take a peak of the outside set up from the large glass windows inside the restaurant.
> Hiking: Whether in Reno or Lake Tahoe, there are plenty of hiking trails. With the weather being terrible near the lake when we visited, we decided to do an easy “trail” in Reno where it wasn’t snowing and raining. It was more like a landfill than a hiking trail with discarded furniture and empty shot gun shells along the way. But, we saw jack rabbits crossing our paths, and I suppose the views were unique and somewhat beautiful in its own way. We were supposed to get a view of downtown Reno from the top, but the trail just got sketchier and sketchier as we went up. So, we ended up turning back. The hiking trails near the lake would probably be more lovely and less remote…
> Heavenly Village: If you find yourself in Southern Lake Tahoe, check out Heavenly Village, which has plenty of shops and restaurants to wander through. What P and I loved most was the live music, tons of outdoor restaurant seating in the winter (with heat lamps of course…), and a gondola that departed right from the center of the village to the top of Heavenly Mountain for downhill skiing and views of the lake. Though our time at the village was short, we loved the laid back vibe.
> Downtown Reno: Because we stayed in Reno, we checked out downtown Reno. Despite the few abandoned motels and lack of visitors, there were some fun restaurants and bars along the river way that may be worth exploring if you’re in the area.
Hope everyone had a great holiday!