Around Tahoe Tours is your best bet for getting a true feel and knowledge of the local area. Created by Darin Talbot, the tour agency is a culmination of his knowledge that began in 1977 when he moved to the area with his fun attitude and amusing ways of sharing the tales of Tahoe. A musician and storyteller by heart, Talbot is able to create an entertaining and educational tour for the entire family. His tours range from in-person private tours to group tours to CD tours that are self-guiding. The tours focus on all of the various areas of the Tahoe Basin, from South Lake Tahoe to Truckee. Around Tahoe Tours also offers a GPS app to help visitors know the area and see hidden gems.
For more than a dozen years, Big Blue Adventure has hosted a variety of sporting events around Lake Tahoe and Truckee. When summer arrives, Big Blue Adventure’s events start rolling so they are perfect for those visiting the area and who want to try out their competitiveness. That said, Big Blue Adventure races are great for people who just want to get out and move while taking in the beauty of the various venues of the events. Try the Emerald Bay Trail Run and it will be hard to keep your eyes on the trail while gazing at the beauty of Lake Tahoe’s iconic bay. Put a few of the running events together for the Tahoe Trail Running Series. Try the Lake Tahoe Mountain Bike Race on the lake’s North Shore, Xterra (an mountain bike triathlon that includes swimming in Big Blue), various SUP events, adventure racing and triathlons, including the long-running Donner Lake Triathlon in Truckee.
Of course Northstar at Tahoe Resort has skiing, but its range of offerings make the longtime Truckee fixture a four-seasons must visit. With upgrades, remodeling and the addition of a mid-mountain Ritz Carlton hotel, Northstar has upped its game in recent years. Considered to be the resort for families looking to ski on the North Shore, there is now more challenging terrain to be had amongst the resort’s 3,100 skiable acres, 100 trails all serviced by 20 lifts. Nine advanced runs have been created on the backside of Northstar, which is called, yep, The Backside. There are seven snowboarding terrain parks and pipes to give beginner and advanced riders more room to shred. Of course there is a world-class view of Lake Tahoe from atop the mountain’s 8,600-foot summit. But not all the fun is had on the slopes. There is a 9,000-square-foot ice rink in the middle of the village accompanied by live music, snacks and beverages for those not into skiing. Visitors will find dozens of places to eat and shop from sushi and pizza to Patagonia and The North Face. There is even a movie theater for visitors and locals alike. For those into hiking in the snow and skinny skis, there are 35 km of groomed and tracked trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The fun doesn’t end when winter does, however. Northstar features one of the earliest — and now most extensive — lift-assisted mountain bike parks in the country. Northstar features an 18-hole golf course and has a variety of lodging options from luxury hotels, condos and home rentals.
The sprawling Tahoe Donner subdivision and its 6,000-plus homes above Truckee is many things to lots of people. For some it is their home neighborhood; for others it’s where they rent a house for a few days in winter or summer. Locals and visitors all take advantage of the Tahoe Donner Association’s 7,000 acres and equally vast amenities available to homeowners as well as to the public. The association’s clubhouses are members only, but the public can experience Tahoe Donner for free or pay-to-play at top-notch offerings such as the 18-hole golf course, the equestrian center for riding lessons, the cross-country ski center and its 100 km of groomed trails and kid-friendly snow-play area. The downhill ski center is ideal for little kids (and adults) to learn skiing and snowboarding. More than 60 miles of trails and fire roads wind through nearly 3,500 acres of open space and can be explored for free on foot, bike or snowshoes. And after all that exploring, Tahoe Donner has a variety of places to dine. The Lodge Restaurant and Pub has indoor and outdoor dining next to the golf course. Pizza on the Hill also offers other fare plus a full bar and game room for the kids. Also keep an eye open for events open to the public held at various times in the season.
One way for almost every person to explore Tahoe Donner’s nearly 3,500 acres of open space mountain scenery is on horseback via more than 100 km of trails. During the summer season Tahoe Donner’s equestrian center offers a variety of guided rides for members of the homeowners association, their guests and the public. Choose from 1-hour to 2-hour trail rides, with the latter best suited for those with riding experience. For the 2- to 6-year-old set the center has pony rides with mom or dad leading the way. Private lessons are also available on weekends only. All rides and lessons require reservations, and helmets are required for all riders younger than 18 and recommended for those 18 and older. Long pants and closed-toe footwear are a must for horse and pony rides. An on-site shop stocks sun screen, bug spray, water bottles and other horse-related accessories and souvenirs.
Tahoe Donner offers scores of amenities to its homeowner members, and the crown jewel is the championship golf course. What makes the 18-hole course even more special is that it’s also open to the public. Set on 200 acres of high-elevation, pine-shrouded beauty, the 7002-yard, par 72 course is open from spring to fall. But the fun no longer stops when the snow starts to fall, as Tahoe Donner now has a new Winter Golf Academy that offers “virtual” golf via a high-definition, interactive 142-inch screen. The academy offers coaching, swing analysis and an adjacent pub all winter. When the weather is warm Tahoe Donner has available PGA teaching pros for private lessons and a driving range.
The Village at Squaw Valley is northern California's example of a ski hamlet, offering a little bit for everyone. The rooms all have views of the mountains and are located a few steps from the various base area ski lifts. Rooms are situated above the plethora of shops and restaurants with balconies looking out over the hustle and bustle below. The variety of restaurants and shops is created to connect with the needs and wants of the variety of guests that visit the area. For example, for the 20-somethings there are three different bars that are busy on weekends and holidays. For couples, there are romantic restaurants and couples activities like sleigh rides to inspire connection. For families, there are a variety of restaurants and shops that keep all ages occupied plus a museum highlighting the area's ski heritage, miniature golf, climbing walls, the Trilogy Spa, Sky Jump (an acrobatic bungee play gym for all ages) and the Wanderlust Yoga Studio. The Village is also the launching place for the aerial tram, which flies another 2,000 vertical feet up, to High Camp located at 8,200 feet. Here you will find hiking, disc golf, the High Camp Pool & Hot Tub as well as dining and bar options. In February, the Village is host to a week-long, kids-focused event, Kid-O-Rama. The non-stop fun that focuses on youngsters offers fire trucks, snowplows and grooming equipment plus dancing to street concerts and children-centric concerts, or they can get artistic at the craft and game room. The entire Village becomes a virtual ghost town during mid-October to early-November. If quiet doesn't bother you, this is an excellent time to get incredible discounts on rooms.
Go to the Truckee Bike Park and you’ll see teens and adults pulling off high-flying stunts and toddlers pushing their strider bikes. The bike park was designed for all ability types, so it’s a perfect place to spend several hours while the little ones get a feel for riding on easy tracks and the older and bigger ones take advantage of berms and jumps on the park’s pump tracks, flow trails and dual slalom course. A pump track, by the way, is a small, looping trail system that one can ride continuously without pedaling. It’s an ideal way to master bike handling and have fun at the same time. There are also drops of differing heights to ride over to practice before getting out on the trail. Helmets are required; knee/elbow pads are optional but suggested.
Take a look around and it’s clear that Truckee is a special town: history, mountains, lakes, river and forests. But there are many hidden gems known mostly to locals. The thing is, those gems are kept shining by the Truckee-Donner Recreation & Park District for the enjoyment of locals and visitors. Some of the amenities and facilities managed by the district are accessible for free, others for a fee. Either way, the district has received awards for its facilities, and after discovering a few it’s easy to understand why. From the nine-hole Ponderosa Golf Course and an ice rink in winter to super-kid-friendly West End Beach and the public piers on Donner Lake, discover what locals keep to themselves. The crown jewel is the 40,000-square-foot Community Recreation Center with, among other things, a two-court gymnasium, indoor running track, exercise equipment and two climbing walls (one is 29 feet tall). Soon there will be a new, state-of-the-art aquatics center attached to the Rec Center. Want to find Truckee’s soul? Head to Regional Park every Wednesday evening in the summer for free concerts in the grassy amphitheater. Also check out the new bike park at Riverview Sports Park and the popular disc golf course and skate park in Regional Park.
Lake Tahoe, 15 minutes away, gets all the attention, but Truckee has a gem of its own: Donner Lake. While not as big and broad as Big Blue, Donner Lake offers up a good bit of watery fun too. One of the best places to access Donner is West End Beach. In summer months during the day, there is a modest admission fee to enter the 10-acre west end area, but the sandy beach and roped-off, kid-friendly swim area is the place to take youngsters to build sand castles and splash in the water all under the watch of life guards. Operated by the Truckee Donner Park and Recreation Department, West End Beach also has paddleboards, kayaks and pedal boats available to rent. There is plenty of free fun once into the beach area: two playgrounds for kids to get their kicks on, a sand volleyball court, tennis court, a basketball court and horseshoe pits. A snack bar serves up soft drinks, hot dogs and ice cream. Get there early and stake out a picnic table and grill. There are shady group picnic areas available by reservation. Local's only tip: If you can wait until after the summer operating hours, access to the beach is free, but gates close at sundown so do your grilling quickly.
A Santé Lakeside Fitness is the largest gym on the north Lake Tahoe shore, from Homewood to Kings Beach. With a full gym, designated room for group fitness classes like bike spinning, yoga and pole dancing as well as a room for stretching, A Santé give options for keeping yourself fit and ready for all Tahoe has to offer. A Santé is focused on the... read more
Action Water Sports of Incline Village has got you covered for a day of fun on the lake. You’ll find a variety of watercraft to rent, from surfboards, kayaks and standup paddleboards to Jet skis and powerboats. Guided boat tours are available or, if you want to be closer to the water, they’ll take you on a shoreline tour on SUP boards or kayaks. You... read more
Action Watersports offers a full spectrum of rentable power toys for the water and more. Giving choices for every type of speed option possible for playing on water, Action Watersports gives access to water ski boats, cigarette boats, Jet skis and parasailing. They also have large sailboat yachts for charter as well as pedal boats and aqua cycles for rent. They offer a variety of... read more
Adrift Tahoe carries the leading brands of standup paddleboards for sale or rent including their own line of handcrafted surf and SUP boards. The beach is just outside Adrift's back door, so you can walk your rental or potential purchase right out to the sand and launch into the lake for a test drive or a day’s journey around the lake. They also rent canoes... read more
Air Tahoe is a great way to bring five minute increments of flying excitement into your day. In the form of a giant bungee, this safe way to fly feet into the air is for anyone who weighs up to 180 pounds. Harnessed in and jumping vertically as well as learning how to do front and back flips is part of the fun. Situated at... read more
The Alder Creek Adventure Center in Tahoe Donner is brand new with its grand opening in November 2015. And while its centerpiece activity is cross-country skiing, the state-of-the-art lodge is set to be open throughout every season. As the hub for Nordic skiing, the center offers ski rentals, wax and tuning services and lockers. There is also a shop selling Nordic gear and accessories. Non-skiers... read more
For nearly 40 years Alpine Skills International has educated people looking to either learn the basics of rock climbing, backcountry skiing, snowboarding and mountaineering or to take their skills to higher (and safer) levels. ASI offers expert climbing instruction on Donner Summit and multi-day ski tours in the region’s backcountry from Castle Peak to the eastern Sierra. Guided mountaineering tours to iconic places like Mt.... read more
One of the true treasures of Lake Tahoe is the lush and serene forest that borders her shorelines. To take advantage of this beautiful setting, use Anderson's Bicycle Rental. Set up right on the edge of miles of forested bike path, Anderson's Bicycle Rental is ideally located to help you and your family feel the love that comes from the natural setting by offering high... read more
One way to experience Lake Tahoe as the rich and famous do (or at least how we imagine they do) is to stay at one of the lakeside resorts. The Aston Lakeland Village Beach & Mountain Resort is located very nearly right in the center of South Shore on some 19 acres of woods and beach. They even have a pier that stretches out onto... read more
Baldwin Beach is a great place to enjoy the nature that Tahoe has to offer. It’s often uncrowded and walks along the wide-open sandy beach include dunes. Baldwin provides restrooms and some picnic tables, and there is a nearby campground for overnighters. The parking, which costs $8 per vehicle, is convenient for those who bring kayaks or other water toys as well as for visitors... read more