We recently took our first trip to Lake Tahoe and were blown away by the vastness of this incredible place. As we visited in May, it was in between the Winter and Summer seasons and so on the quiet side, but this was fine for us. We took the four hour car ride with our four month old daughter, Holly, and our nine year old Jack Russell Terrier, Jasper, and I’m not sure who was more demanding! Jasper has never been one for cars so didn’t enjoy the journey very much, however after spending so long in her car seat Holly was feeling a tad frustrated by the time we arrived!
We stayed in the two star Pine Cone Acre Motel, at South Lake Tahoe. I came across this little motel via Craigslist and was a bit concerned it was going to be a little too basic. However when we arrived we were pleasantly surprised. The owner was warm and welcoming, as were her two pooches Jessie and Charli. As we entered our lodging for the next two nights we discovered the room had two double beds and a small kitchen with fridge, microwave, cooker and a little table and chairs, not to mention cable and free wifi. All for $70 a night, you couldn’t ask for much more!
After unpacking our things (and Miss Holly’s many suitcases), we decided to take a wander down to the lake. We drove via the Keys, which seems to be a hot spot for the wealthy and their yachts although it was pretty quiet and the small play area and pool were shut. After that we arrived at the nearest dog-friendly beach, Kiva Beach. As it was out of season the drive down from the main road was closed, so we parked up and wandered down to the beach. Halfway down it got a little like an off-road trail and the buggy’s suspension was tested as Holly was jolted all over the place, but we got there in one piece. It was quiet but provided a beautiful view over the lake, with the snow-capped mountains behind us. Jasper had a lovely play in the sea and Holly pressed her toes in the sand for the first time.
That night we left Jasper curled up in his bed and ventured to the nearby Murphy’s Irish Pub. As they have an outside terrace area, we could have brought Jasper along with us, but as he prefers to be constantly on the go and isn’t keen on being made to sit next to us calmly, we opted for a peaceful evening. The pub had a welcoming atmosphere and the ice cream cocktails were an instant hit. There was some live music playing on the terrace, which occasionally drifted into the restaurant area and we unwound with a couple of drinks and some chicken wings.
The next day we decided to venture west of the lake and headed to Emerald Bay. The drive there provided us with some spectacular views and when we parked up the ridge in front of us jutted out directly over the bay and we took the opportunity to take a few good photos and breathe in the fresh Tahoe air.
Unfortunately no dogs are allowed on the trail down to the bay, so we piled back in the car and proceeded further along the coast, taking in the scenery as we went. Eventually we ended up near the Olympic Park at Squaw Village so decided to take a detour and have a look. As we parked up, we couldn’t believe there were still skiers on the snow-covered mountains in front of us – it was May!
We had a wander around the village, which provides a few clothes shops, small eateries and access to the cable car which takes you up to High Camp. At 8200 feet up, you can enjoy shopping, dining, sightseeing and ice skating at the Olympic Ice Pavilion as well as an enormous heated free-form swimming pool and a jacuzzi with apparently amazing views. Unfortunately Jasper was not permitted on the ride up there, so we had to pass, but it is a very poplar attraction.
After a wander round the village, we returned the the motel to once again drop Jasper off as we had decided a refueling was in order. We walked next door to The Cantina Bar & Grill, which has been voted Best Mexican Restaurant 10 years running and Tahoe’s Best Margarita’s – of course I had to sample this for myself! I opted for the Blue Lagoon Margarita and it was yummy! For the next few hours, we had a Mexican feast including burritos, enchiladas, tamales and the recommended special fish tacos, which were lovely. The place was definitely a great find!
On or final day we said goodbye to the Pine Cone Acre and drove up the Eastern side of the Lake for a trip to Virginia City. Driving over the state line into Nevada we got an immediate view of the many casino’s available to those in the gambling mind, as well as more great views of the Nevada terrain. Once we arrived at Virginia City, we knew we were in for a treat. The site of a world-famous gold and silver mining boom, the city has been preserved in it’s 1865 origins and provides a great experience of the old West. Here we wandered down streets past cowboys complete with spurs and saloon ladies in full attire. We took our time, browsing at the leather shops and Western bars, but making sure to wrap up a little more as at 6200 feet it’s a little chilly. For $11 each you can ride the authentic steam train, taking a 35 minute historic tour to Gold Hill. Here the conductor tells the story of Nevada’s late 19th century mining boom, when the V&T was built and Virginia City was the richest city on earth. Dogs are allowed on the trains, however due to Jasper’s hyperactivity, we decided to give it a miss.