Things To Do In Lake Tahoe When Winter Feels Like Spring
Visit a Tahoe Beach
When the sun is shining and the air isn’t frigid, Tahoe beaches call my name. The water is a bit cold for swimming, but there is still plenty to do. Grab a book, a blanket and soak up the sun, picnic with the family, visit a dog-friendly beach with your pup, go beachcombing or just wander barefoot in the sand. In the winter there’s always a parking spot and the beaches are practically empty. I recommend getting some awesome sandwiches and some potato salad (it’s so good) at the Tahoe Central Market then hop across the street to Kings Beach for an impromptu picnic. Or visit some of summer’s busiest beaches, like Sand Harbor or Zephyr Cove and enjoy the winter silence. Bonus: The day use rate goes down in winter for many of the beaches around the lake.
Hit a Trail
Get out your hiking boots, bike or walking shoes and hit a low altitude trail. Many Tahoe trails haven’t received enough snow this year for snowshoeing or cross country skiing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your winter trail fix. The Lam Watah Trail is an easy 2.2 mile out & back hike and is a great hike for late afternoon views of sunset over Lake Tahoe. The trailhead begins on the corner of Khale Lane and Hwy 50 that meanders through Lam Watah meadows for about a mile before ending at Nevada Beach. Another easy hike, although a bit higher in elevation, is the 2 mile round-trip hike to Cascade Falls near Emerald Bay. Take the Bayview Trailhead for gorgeous views of the falls.
Soak up the beautiful scenery on the one of the three trails of the Tahoe Trailways Bike Path starting in Tahoe City. These paved pathways each end in a magnificent destination with lots of photo ops along the way. The first leg, from Tahoe City to Dollar Point, passes through the downtown area with shops restaurants, and ends with gorgeous views of the lake. The second leg, from Tahoe City west Olympic Valley (Squaw), meanders through evergreen trees along the Truckee River. The last leg is the path from Tahoe City to Sugar Pine Point SP. Part of the trail hugs the Tahoe shoreline and ends in the lush forest of pines, aspens and fir trees.
The Truckee River Legacy Trail is an approximately 6 mile trail that stretches from the Glenshire Rd trailhead to the Truckee River Regional Park along the river basin’s south side. The paved trail is smooth with easy inclines. It offers not only beautiful views of the mountains, river and alpine setting, but features historic landmarks and art with interpretive signs.
The trail starts at the Bayview Trailhead on the back side of Bayview Campground. The round-trip to the falls is not in Desolation Wilderness, so no permit is needed. The trail is public, but Cascade Lake itself is a private lake. The trail is approximately one-mile each way, for a total of a two-mile round-trip. The trail is easy and mostly level, but rocky. Sturdy hiking shoes are recommended.
Dine Out or Enjoy a Cocktail Alfresco
Who doesn't love dining outside in a beautiful setting? Opt for a table outside, if the weather is right and there's one available, then soak up some sun, people watch or gaze at the lake or mountains.
Old Town Tap in charming downtown Truckee has a great selection of craft beers, cocktails and wins in a modern relaxed atmosphere. The lunch and dinner menus offer salads, appetizers and entrees with an emphasis on fresh and local. I recommend the “mushroom pie” pizza for an afternoon lunch on their patio. The crust on this pizza is perfection.
T’s Mesquite Rotisserie in Incline Village is, hands down, my favorite place to eat at Lake Tahoe. The menu consists of the most delicious burritos (the chicken burrito is heaven in a tortilla), tacos, roasted meat plates from the rotisserie, sandwiches, tostadas, sides, quesadillas and house-made guacamole and salsa. Everything is always fresh tasting and perfectly seasoned. Eat in their outdoor space or take your tasty order to-go and hit the beach for some "you" time.
If you’re craving some Latin inspired world cuisine after hitting all the shops in downtown Truckee, head to Marg’s Taco Bistro. The menu offers starters, soups, salads, delicious enchiladas and unique tacos. The bar menu includes a wide variety of tequilas, Mexican beer as well as some uniquely flavored margaritas. An order of Vindaloo tacos (Indian-inspired chicken tacos), a strawberry-basil margarita and a seat on the patio makes it feel like summer is near.