Tourists Fall for Tahoe

August 30, 2011

Bringing friends and family members to Lake Tahoe in the fall gives new, positive meaning to the phrase “giving someone the cold shoulder.”

With the return of school and other obligations such as homework and youth sports, many families find it hard to vacation in September. Others just don’t think about the mountains this time of year because they are waiting for the snows of winter so they can go skiing and snowboarding.

Yet, those who do manage to get away – if just for a weekend – are finding it pleasantly surprisingly.

For one, the same temperatures that come with summer have yet to abate and because of that, the cold waters of Lake Tahoe continue to warm up. This makes early fall the ideal time to go swimming, boating, waterskiing, kayaking, and canoeing.

Throw in the fact that most fellow tourists decide to spend a little R&R closer to home, means the crowds are pretty much non-existent. It is this fact that actually makes the shoulder season – the time between the peak tourist seasons of winter and summer – a favorite time of year for most locals. (And one many want to keep secret.)

This means that while the nice weather continues, the trails of the Sierra Nevada are free of people. Mountain bikers and hikers, for example, can do the well-known Flume Trail or Spooner Lake loop without bumping into others or having to wait to pass.

There are no lines at boat launches and beachgoers can set up camp pretty much anywhere they want – which to anyone who has been to the north shore on the Fourth of July knows may be reason enough to plan a visit.

The rates at all area golf courses drop and the lack of foursomes playing means a round won’t take up most of the day. Basically, a four-hour round will actually mean just that. Even going out to eat is much easier and quicker. Reservations are usually not needed and dinner doesn’t have to be at odd times to avoid any mad tourist rush.

Fall is generally associated with cooling temperatures, but, while the weather fluctuates each year, September generally remains very warm. The truth of the matter is it offers all the luxuries of summer, except for the one potential negative: crowds.

Thus, while it may require a little rearranging of the busy schedule, now is the ideal time to head to Lake Tahoe and give someone the not-so-cold shoulder season treatment.

Summer Vacations Heat Up in Tahoe

August 17, 2011

The city of Reno may have its nationally recognized vintage car show, but most people know Lake Tahoe is the place to be for hot August nights.

Not only is the high-altitude alpine setting the ideal place to escape scorching temperatures elsewhere, but the tourist action really heats up during the last month of summer.

While Christmas and New Years are extremely popular times to head to Tahoe, it is the mad rush to squeeze in one last vacation before school starts that brings vacationers flooding into the Tahoe Basin like the melting snow waters.

Fourth of July brings the most hotel and condominium bookings, but that is usually for a few days only. When it comes to a steady flow of crowds hitting the hotels, condos, rental homes, as well as the beach, casinos, hiking trails, and lake  – August, just like its namesake Augustus did before it, rules supreme.

To folks in the tourism-related industry, and to put a spin on a popular Counting Crows album title, there’s August and everything after. To those on vacation, it’s the last bastion of R&R before returning to a lengthy stint of work and school.

And what better place to do that than Lake Tahoe. If there is any place to find serenity and peace of mind to help revive the soul and raise the energy levels before the onslaught of duties once again befall most parents, it’s the Sierra Nevada.

If the giant pine trees and towering granite peaks aren’t enough to immediately make one smile, the dark blue shimmering water of Lake Tahoe will.

Summer is quickly winding down, but the activities and fun in Tahoe are just heating up. With a little time left before most schools start, Tahoe is the perfect spot to enjoy a last-minute vacation. Then all parents can do as Augustus said, and “make haste slowly” back home.

Gambling in North Tahoe? You Betcha!

August 5, 2011

It may be illegal at Bushwood Country Club, but gambling is definitely permitted in the state of Nevada. In fact, since it’s the number one revenue generator for the Silver State, all visitors are actually encouraged to spend at least a little time in a casino searching for Lady Luck.

While the north shore of Lake Tahoe makes up just a tiny fraction of the 36th state to join the Union, it does have its fair share of gambling parlors. Most of which tourists can’t miss – no matter how hard they try – as signs and blinking lights bombard them as they drive into Nevada from Kings Beach, Ca.

It’s not the Las Vegas strip, but the small community of Crystal Bay is home to four of the area’s five casinos: Cal-Neva, Crystal Bay, Jim Kelley’s Tahoe Nugget, and the Tahoe Biltmore. There are many restaurants and bars that contain video poker machines, but the only other casino on the north shore is the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe in Incline Village.

Most come to this little alpine section of the Sierra Nevada for a little rest and relaxation amid the breathtaking natural beauty. To them, enrichment to their lives comes from enjoying the outdoors and spending time with family and friends – not from any potential winnings at a blackjack or craps table.

For those that do decide to take their full house and go straight to the casinos, each one offers a great chance to try to double-down on the vacation fun. There are a few common sense things everyone should keep in mind, though, that may help keep a few more cents in the pockets.

One of which is: Do not gamble with money you can’t afford to lose. Gambling should be viewed as entertainment and any extra cash that might be won considered added bonus to an otherwise fun outing.

All those twinkling lights one sees in and out of each casino amounts to one extremely hefty utility bill. Yet, it’s a tab the casino does not have any trouble picking up. The reason: the odds on all gambling games is stacked in its favor and most gamblers walk out of a casino with less money than they had walking in. Since the “house” has every advantage, sometimes its wise to stay and have a good time at home.

Still, it can be fun and some people do in fact win. Thus, gambling might be something worth doing while vacationing in the area. After all, as the saying goes: “When in Rome.” Or, in this case, Nevada.

There are many different games to choose from, but the ones with the best odds – or the ones with the least “house” edge – are as follows: craps, blackjack, baccarat, pai gow, and then roulette.

While that is a nice list to follow, it is a bit more complicated as the edge is really dictated by how one bets in each game. For example, bettors have the most chances to win at craps, but that’s if they stick to the Pass/Come and Don’t Pass/Don’t Come lines. Roulette is also one of the best choices if gamblers only bet on red or black.

Then there’s Sports Betting. While not quite the same as betting on whether Judge Smails will slice his tee shot or not, it is just as simple. Gamblers simply pick a team (or individual athlete) they believe will win a sporting contest.  To make things more fair, a line or odds are placed on each game or match.

In the end, the important thing to remember is have fun. While the house does have the edge, just about everyone finds Lady Luck at one point. If not, though, best to just say “Gunga galunga” and continue having a great Tahoe vacation.