Here’s my top 5 list of things to do from a “historic” local’s perspective and memories, unedited to reflect how it might currently be unless it’s something I’ve recently done!
1 - Get on the Lake! (Part I)
Jet skiing, stand-up paddle-boarding, and wakeboarding are my preferred methods. The lake is cold, but it’s worth the venture out to experience and enjoy the crystal clear waters. I love to get out early in the morning in perfectly flat waters before the crowds and/or wind sets in. My preferred spots are towards the southwest side of the lake from Camp Richardson towards Emerald Bay. Round Hill pines/Nevada Beach is also decent.
Another lake to add is a trip to Angora, with a short hike into a beautiful alpine lake setting. You can rent paddle boards, row boats, and canoes, as well as enjoy the best lemonade I've ever had from the general store. They also serve food and have snacks, but getting there early is key to beating the crowds when it comes to parking and claiming a spot on the beach (nothing is sacred and secret anymore, I tell ya).
2 - Mountain Biking
I’m not hardcore, plus I’m out of shape for the area (kinda just moved back, give me some time to get used to it), but the trails out here are expansive and varied based on skill level. I love the Corral Loop trail, but you really should ride up the whole thing to earn the ride down! And, I would recommend a helmet with some sort of face protection, just in case you find a boulder on the way down.
My bucket list ride is the Tahoe Rim Trail, where you ride and camp your way around the lake. It’s not super primitive, as the trail is well-maintained and marked. The views are incredible and I love the combination of riding and camping!
My favorite easy-going ride is to park near the “Y” and ride to the beaches or to Fallen Leaf Lake. I used to pull my daughter in a chariot behind my bike and it was a fun way to get to and from the beach, plus she napped like a champ during the ride!
3 - Ski or snowboard
The obvious one, right? Although growing up in Tahoe didn’t mean putting on your new ski outfit once a year and shushing down the slopes with Pierre the hot French ski instructor. Oh nooo, my upbringing on the mountain was akin to the scene from “Australia”, where Nicole Kidman is deathly worried/afraid for her Aboriginal adopted son who has to go on a walk-about by himself while pretty much a child.
My aunt, who still skis better than most men, decided I should go on the Tahoe version of the walk-about around age 9 or 10. This meant skiing off (jumping) the cornices at Kirkwood ski resort, because there was no turning back once you traversed your way across the mountain ridge top, and no other way down. I managed to survive, and Kirkwood holds a special place in my heart, not to mention the snow and crowd levels are better than other options around the lake! So, while you may not need to jump cornices, the point is to get out there and (safely) enjoy the snow!
4 - Get on the Lake (Part II)
This time, it’s for camping. We used to go boat camping in Emerald Bay, which is very aptly named and to see it at dawn and dusk is almost tear-jerking. The best game plan is to reserve a campsite on shore, and then park the boat right off the site on the north side of the bay. It’s fairly private where you don’t see too much of your neighbors, although you might steal a glimpse of a bald eagle because they like to nest on the opposite side of the bay.
This is one of the most serene, yet fun camping experiences, mainly because you can get on the water at daybreak for some epic water skiing or wakeboarding, and then roll into the campground for a hot breakfast!
5 - Cruising Around Heavenly Village
This place didn’t exist when I grew up here, leaving our cruising and people watching to mainly occur in the casino corridor area (EVERYTHING was there - arcades, the better movie theater, our parents,...). Heavenly Village has a certain joie de vivre, bubbling with life, live music from most of the restaurants, and a good mix of retail stores with something for everyone. Plus it now houses the only movie theater in town and some pretty good places to satisfy a wicked sweet tooth!
Parking can be a pain, but I really like how once you’re out of the car, you can walk everywhere like being back in a European town center again. And the Heavenly Valley gondola runs right in the middle, making it an appealing ski-in/ski-out option.
- Wear a helmet - rocks and trees always win. So does the house if you plan to gamble at the casinos.
- Eat a banana or 5 to combat the effects of high altitude, such as headaches.
- Also stay hydrated, with water and not booze if you can avoid drinking alcohol for your first couple of days.
Being back in Tahoe after decades away, I can’t help but wonder and anticipate how different my memories of certain places will be compared to the current reality. I’m also very excited to return with the best business partner and to be a part of the community in uncharted territory as boutique owners.
Our new retail location is located in the iconic Swiss Chalet Village, the midtown area of South Lake Tahoe. Midtown has always had an eclectic mix of businesses and restaurants, catering more towards the locals. Having moved back, I’m thinking there’s been a shift and somewhat of a renaissance for the midtown area, and we’re so excited to be a part of that! In addition, Tahoe offers the perfect daily reminder for what Ginger Threads Collections is about - sustainable and ethical fashion so we can better care for each other and for our environment!