Our guide to three perfect days at the West's greatest lake
Day one: Play on the lake
Day two: Raft the river
Day three: Browse around town
You know summer is in full swing in Tahoe when its crystal-clear waters warm to tolerable temps and the Truckee River flows with turquoise tubes. While the area's most recent development has centered on the increasingly upscale corporate village scene, some things haven't changed: Diners swarm outdoor decks, motorboats zip every which way ― and, well, State 89, which runs between Truckee, Tahoe City, and the West Shore, is clogged with college kids in open-air Jeeps and station wagons of families on their way to the beach. What's a little traffic, though, when you've got hundreds of miles of breathtaking trails to hike, fleets of brightly colored kayaks waiting for you onshore, and a brand-new eco-European-style inn to call home?
TRAVELING TO TAHOE
WHERE TO STAY
The Cedar House Sport Hotel. New 42-room European-style inn less than a mile from Historic Downtown Truckee. From $180. www.cedarhousesporthotel.com or 530/582-5655.
Resort at Squaw Creek. Fresh off a much-needed $53 million facelift, the resort's 405 guest rooms are decked in plush beds and flat-screen TVs; suites have fully equipped kitchens. From $214. www.squawcreek.com or 800/327-3353.
Play on the lake
Plan ahead for a half- or full-day guided kayak tour of the lake, or even a sunset or full-moon paddle (popular with kiss-y couples). This summer, Tahoe City Kayak owner Andy Laughlin has introduced his favorite route as a three-hour tour that launches at Kings Beach and meanders alongshore to the relatively unknown Speedboat Beach, where you can swim in one of the warmest parts of the lake and sun yourself on massive boulders.
At 22 miles long and 12 miles wide, Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America, but it's still easy to rent a kayak and paddle around on your own. (Grab a copy of the new waterproof Lake Tahoe Water Trail map for ideas on where to go.) Rubicon Bay and Ed Z'berg-Sugar Pine Point State Park are good launching points; en route, stop at Tahoe House for gourmet goodies like smoked trout and giant chocolate-chip cookies for a mid-paddle picnic.