Tahoe Vacationers: Time to Check Out Condos

November 8, 2011

When it comes to planning a family vacation, most people research and book a reservation at the best, and hopefully least expensive, hotel in and around their respective destination.

In the case of Lake Tahoe, however, most travelers are finding condominiums and houses the most accommodating of accommodations.

Crystal Bay Condo View

Not only is there a plethora of spacious, top-notch townhouses and single-family homes all within a short walk or drive to the lake, ski resorts, golf courses, shopping, and other points of interest, they usually are much less expensive than a hotel.

While a room at the Hyatt Regency in Incline Village may run $150 on a Saturday night during the month of December, a visitor to the north shore can get a very nice 2- or 3-bedroom condominium with two bathrooms and a kitchen for the same price.

For those looking to really stretch their dollar this winter, there are condo options for even less, such as two-bedrooms close to the ski resort, Diamond Peak, and other conveniently located options near downtown Incline Village. For those who require smaller places, there are one-bedroom rentals scattered throughout the Tahoe Basin that carry a nightly winter price tag of below $100.

Unlike the one-room accommodations at a hotel, condominiums and homes come with multiple rooms, lofts, cots, pull-out couches, and other amenities that make it easier for families to arrange and enjoy their sleeping arrangements.  Not to mention multiple bathrooms, possibly a washer and dryer, and a kitchen with cupboards, dishwasher, refrigerator, and other comforts of home.

For those with small children who go to bed much earlier than teenagers and older adults, multiple-room places are essential to a good vacation. At a hotel that means purchasing an adjoining room unless there’s an extended stay or special family-oriented resort in the vicinity.

Traveling in large numbers certainly has its advantages when it comes to lowering room costs. Even some of the finest luxury rental homes found near the shores of Lake Tahoe may at first appear to be quite the pretty penny until one realizes how many people the place can comfortably house. One of the featured homes on the Lake Tahoe property management website, Goldfish Properties, costs $1400 per night.

At first glance, that seems like a hefty price tag for one night. Yet, upon further investigation, it actually turns out to be a pretty good deal for anybody planning a special occasion where multiple families and friends are getting together. For one, it is a stunning, absolutely gorgeous property just across the street from the lake.

It is also a whopping 9,000 square-foot home with a huge outdoor deck, a hot tub, large back yard, a pool table, eight leather recliners, and a home theater system. Oh, and it has six bedrooms and sleeps 22, which brings the price tag down to a respectable $70 per night per person.

While hotels definitely have their advantages, such as restaurants, a pool, and a spa on the premises, the outdoor beauty of Lake Tahoe coupled with the economical price tags, really make it the ideal location for most families to go with a condominium or home for their next vacation.

With multiple rooms and all the amenities of home, they really are the most accommodating of accommodations.

Lake Tahoe a Winter Resort Wonderland

October 19, 2011

All those searching for the perfect ski destination this winter might want to take a look in the direction of Lake Tahoe.

There are fabulous locations throughout the United States that provide superb alpine terrain for skiers and snowboarders, such as Vail, Park City, Jackson Hole, Stowe, and Aspen. While each area is a superb winter getaway in and of itself, the number of other ski resort options in the general vicinity are usually very limited.

All travelers hope their next family vacation goes as perfectly as possible. After all, because of work and other obligations most people are only able to vacation once or twice a year. Throw in the cost of travel, room and board, and lift tickets, and the pressure for the time away to go as well as it can grows intense.

Then there is the issue of snow. If a specific resort doesn’t get any precipitation for an extended period of time or is hit by unseasonably warm temperatures, levels may get extremely low and conditions very slushy and even rocky. This may be enough to put a rather large dent in one’s vacation – and his or her ski or snowboard.

Then there’s Lake Tahoe.

With a slew of major, top-notch ski resorts all within an hour’s drive of each other, the options for winter-bound vacationers are near endless. Considering they are all ideally situated at different locations in and around the lake and all at various elevations greatly increases the chances that several resorts will have the perfect snow conditions.

The list of world-renown ski resorts all within a quick morning drive of each other is quite impressive: Kirkwood, Heavenly Valley, Northstar-at-Tahoe, Alpine Meadows. Squaw Valley, Mt. Rose, and Sugar Bowl. Then there are other fantastic resorts designed ideally for families that also have black diamond slopes ready to challenge any novice or expert: Homewood, Sierra-at-Tahoe, Donner Ski Ranch, Diamond Peak, and Boreal to name a few.

With so many resorts to choose from all within or next to the Tahoe Basin, it’s no wonder many expert ski officials are pushing for the Winter Olympics to return to the area.

Vacation time is limited, especially when it comes to skiing and snowboarding as the there are only a few months to choose from out of the year. That is why anybody planning a winter getaway might want to select a destination that hosts multiple superb ski resorts.

Not only will it increase the chances that the snow conditions will be optimal, but skiers and snowboarders get to try a variety of different runs instead of the same old terrain every day.

In the end, it’s a pretty popular viewpoint: when it comes to selecting the best place to spend a winter vacation, Lake Tahoe may be a vision of perfection.

It’s a Fact – Lake Tahoe Pretty Cool

October 10, 2011

Anybody who has ever been to Lake Tahoe knows what a unique place it is. While the natural alpine beauty is remarkable, there are a few other cool facts that make it such a hot vacation destination.

For one, Lake Tahoe is known in the scientific world as oligotrophic. That means that it is still relatively free of the nutrients, such as phosphorous and nitrogen, that lead to algae growth and a decline in water clarity. The increase in erosion and pollution runoff as a result of the ever-expanding human population have resulted in most lakes around the country – and the world – becoming eutrophic.

Despite the year-round population surrounding it, Lake Tahoe remains classified as oligotrophic. While the clarity of the lake is, unfortunately, decreasing each year, that is pretty darn cool. Other facts that make Lake Tahoe even cooler:

* It is the largest alpine lake in North America.

* With a depth of 1,645 feet, it’s the second deepest lake in the USA (Crater Lake, Ore., is #1)

* It is 22 miles long and 12 miles wide. The shoreline is 71 miles long (42 miles in California, 29 in Nevada).

*If completely drained, the amount of water in the lake would cover the entire state of California 14 inches deep (it roughly contains 39 trillion gallons of water).

* The amount of water lost to evaporation each day (if it were able to be recovered), is enough to supply the daily water needs of most large cities.

* While there are an estimated 63 streams that flow into the lake, there is only one outlet: The Truckee River.

* Most bodies of water eventually lead to the ocean, but the Truckee River travels eastward into the Nevada desert and flows into Pyramid Lake.

* The lake was formed about 2 to 3 million years ago by normal geological faulting (block faulting). A fracture in the earth’s crust caused blocks of land to move up (Carson range on the east and Sierra Nevada on west) and down (Tahoe Basin).

* The Lake was first named “Lake Bigler” after John Bigler, the third governor of California. While the US Department of Interior did introduce the name Lake Tahoe in 1862, it didn’t formally receive it until 1945.

* The first documented European ever to see Lake Tahoe was explorer and surveyor John C. Fremont.

* The original native inhabitants of the region were the Washoe tribe. The name Tahoe (DaOwAga) translates to “edge of the lake.”

* Despite being at an elevation of 6,225, Lake Tahoe never freezes.

* While some winter days can bring lots of snow, in more than 50 years of weather history, 80% of the days have been classified as sunny.

* The Tahoe Basin averages 8.3 inches of rain and 216 (18 feet) of snow every year.

While there are many interesting facts about Lake Tahoe, the beautiful alpine setting may be the primary one that keeps bringing people back each and every year. All the fantastic winter and summer outdoor activities help too.

Whatever the reasons, Lake Tahoe is a clearly a cool place to visit.

Ski Season Just a few Snow Ball Throws Away

October 4, 2011

It may not be enough to hit the slopes quite yet, but with this week’s forecast calling for the white stuff in the Sierra, people got black diamonds on their mind.

“Snow accumulation of 3 to 8 inches at higher elevations,” stated a National Weather Service forecast for Wednesday, Oct. 5. “Snow level will be 6500 feet decreasing to around 5000 feet in the afternoon. Southwest winds 15 to 25 mph. Gusts up to 60 mph in the morning.”

With near 90 degree temperatures just a few days ago in the Sacramento area and high 70s in and around Lake Tahoe, this storm seems to be taking folks by surprise. In fact, the weather service reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned travelers in the Sierra not to take this early storm too lightly as it could bring heavy snow and strong winds.

While the storm may be fierce at times, warmer temperatures are due back later in the week. That means most of the white stuff will melt away well before anybody straps on a pair of skis or steps into a snowboard. Yet, the idea of it actually snowing in the Sierra has many people gearing up for the upcoming winter season.

Adding to the excitement is the news of Alpine Meadows merging with Squaw Valley. Not only are these two of the best ski resorts in Northern California, but both are on a short list for tops in the country.

“This was simply about the implementation of a vision,” said Andy Wirth, CEO of Squaw Valley. “A vision of something greater and pursuing a tremendous opportunity on behalf of our guests.”

Since the region in between both resorts is owned by a third party, it should be noted that users will not be able to ski or snowboard between the two. Come November, however, there will be a shuttle service running between the ski areas and connecting the two may be investigated in the future, officials said.

Yet, talk about ski resorts and snow fall in the mountains have people putting away their golf clubs and dusting off their skis. And since it’s still early October, maybe it’s not too far-fetched to, as Irving Berlin might put it, “dream of a white Halloween.”

According to Twain, Tahoe one ‘Bigler’ Lake

September 28, 2011

When one hears the name Lake Tahoe, thoughts of stunning natural beauty come to mind. Supposedly when Mark Twain heard it, he got “disgustingly sick.”

Born Samuel Clemens in 1835, Twain was an avid traveler. He left his Missouri home at a fairly young age and crisscrossed the countryside working as a printer, typesetter, and master riverboat captain on the Mississippi River.

The gold rush brought him west to Nevada in 1861, where he tried to make it as a miner. He failed as a prospector, but soon struck gold as a reporter for the Virginia City newspaper. That is where he first used his pen name, “Mark Twain” in a series of articles.

About that time, in a small cabin in Tuolumne County, he also finished his work “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” which garnered him nation-wide success.

The beauty of the Sierra Nevada – particularly Lake Tahoe – immediately captivated Twain. In his book, Roughing It, he stated:

“We plodded on, two or three hours longer, and at last the Lake burst upon us — a noble sheet of blue water lifted six thousand three hundred feet above the level of the sea, and walled in by a rim of snow-clad mountain peaks that towered aloft full three thousand feet higher still! It was a vast oval, and one would have to use up eighty or a hundred good miles in traveling around it. As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.”

He ended up not only hiking down to the shoreline, but staying there for quite some time. “Three months of camp life on Lake Tahoe would restore an Egyptian mummy to his pristine vigor,” Twain wrote.

While the alpine scenery of Lake Tahoe overwhelmed him, apparently the name itself had quite the opposite effect. He did believe that most natural wonders and locations should bear Native American-related names, but ‘Tahoe’ was not one of them. To him, it sounded awful to the ear and Lake Bigler was the more appropriate title.

“I hope some bird will catch this grub the next time he calls Lake Bigler by so disgustingly sick and silly a name as Lake Tahoe…They say it means ‘Fallen Leaf’ – well suppose it meant Fallen Devil or Fallen Angel, would that make its hideous, discordant syllables more endurable?” he wrote.

It is true that Mark Twain is one of the most prolific, talented American writers. Just about every child remembers reading Adventures of Huck Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in school. When it comes to his writing about changing Lake Tahoe to Lake Bigler, however, that may be one read better left on the shelf.

To think that the word “Tahoe” makes someone sick to his stomach is just downright comical. But, as one famous American writer once stated — “humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.”

Perhaps that’s the big point.

Plan A Trip to Lake Tahoe – The Economical Way

September 20, 2011

Dinner $100. Bike rental $75. Gambling $150. Shopping $200. Overnight accommodations $300. Vacation in Lake Tahoe priceless.

To steal a popular slogan from a credit card company, there really is no price tag one can put on a trip to Lake Tahoe. The expansive shimmering blue lake set amid the towering pine trees and dwarfed by Sierra peaks on all sides is one of the most gorgeous, soul-soothing sites in all the world. Still, if one can save a few dollars on the next trip to the lake, that’s just what he or she will do.

Tahoe Rim Trail Above Incline Village

To help do just that, there are a few tips to keep in mind when heading to the big sapphire of the Sierra Nevada.

Plan an Offseason Trip – While it may not coincide with the summer or winter holiday breaks, heading to Lake Tahoe in the fall or spring will save a lot of money on accommodations alone. Discounts are a plenty, too, when it comes to trips out on the lake, dinner, shopping, and rentals.

Take a Hike – Many tourists feel they have to engage in activities that cost money – shopping, boat rentals, bike rentals, tram rides, MS. Dixie or Sierra Cloud trips out on the lake. While all those are fantastic ideas, think about mixing it up with a simple hike. The area is filled with trails – like the Flume, Spooner Loop, and Tahoe Rim – and range from easy to hard in terms of distance and steepness.

Plan Ahead – If booked early, not only could there be big savings in terms of accommodations, but the savings in airfare may be enough to offset all other vacation expenses. Southwest Airlines, for example, has great deals into the Reno Airport.

Alternative Transportation – Despite the high gas prices, for those that live nearby, piling the family into the car and driving is the most economical way to get to Tahoe. For those that want to try something new – consider taking the bus or the train. Not only is it eco-friendly, but both are economic ways to get to the town of Truckee. It may be a bit slower, but the train as it rumbles through the Sierra into the Tahoe Basin has been known to be quite a scenic, wonderful trip.

Condo over Hotel – When it comes to planning a vacation, most automatically start searching for hotels. Since the number of hotels, especially on the north shore, are limited, the prices get fairly expensive fairly fast. With a plethora of beautiful townhouses, condominiums, and full-size homes to choose from, the prices remain relatively low. They also sleep more than one hotel room does, so the bill can be split if need be between family and friends. Also, by renting a home or condo, vacationers can purchase food at the local grocery store and eat in, which also saves precious ducats.

Best Bet is No Bet – Since nearly half of the Tahoe area is located in the state of Nevada, there are many locations to spend a little money gambling. Although it can be a very nice social night out, it’s important to remember all odds on every game is stacked in favor of the “house.” Thus, it may be wise to simply stay in for a nice quite evening at home.

There are many ways to save money when vacationing in Lake Tahoe. The beauty of it all is – it’s free. Most go to Lake Tahoe to get closer to Mother Nature and since it’s all around – and free to soak in and enjoy – means the trip will be way more economical than most others.

Taking a stroll along the shore, going to the beach, taking a hike, or simply sitting on the back porch sipping coffee or a margarita under a giant sugar pine tree is all gratis.

While the scenic beauty of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding area is simply priceless, there are ways to enjoy it at prices less than others.

For more information on Lake Tahoe – including popular activities, trail and rental locations, or accommodations, please contact Goldfish Properties at (800) 948-7311 or info@goldfishproperties.com. Feel free to visit us at http://www.goldfishproperties.com as well. 

Vacationers Still Flocking to Tahoe

September 13, 2011

Despite no summer break or snow on the ground, visitors are still flocking to Lake Tahoe in greater numbers than Canada geese.

View of Lake Tahoe from high above Incline Village

While afternoon thunderstorms seem to be more frequent, all the amenities that greeted vacationers during the summer are still open and just as fun. And judging by the rather large amount of visitors in and around the area over the weekend, it appears many are still managing to get away for the weekend.

Despite that nice I-80 construction.

Perhaps fall is no longer the quiet time for locals to finally enjoy the Tahoe Basin by themselves. Since it’s still extremely hot throughout most of the country – especially in the West – Tahoe is still the perfect escape. Boating, golf, canoeing, rafting, hiking, biking, and just sipping an afternoon beverage under the towering pines are still fantastic options.

For the rest of September the high daily temperatures are supposed to be in the 70s. What that basically means is there is still plenty of time to join all the locals and tourists who are taking advantage of the great weather and all the activities Tahoe has to offer.

In case the busy schedule impeded a summer visit to the Sierra, or the views and laid-back attitude are drawing that mountain-man (and woman) soul back, it’s not too late to squeeze in another vacation before the temperatures drop and the interest switches to skiing and snowboarding.

And the Canada geese again flock to the vacant beaches and golf courses.

For fantastic accommodations and great weekend activities, feel free to visit http://www.goldfishproperties.com

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.

North Tahoe Cuisine Worth Every Bite

July 29, 2011

Visitors to Lake Tahoe may be away from their humble abodes, but it doesn’t mean they have to stray from delicious home-style cooking. While some vacation spots may provide very little when it comes to restaurants in terms of quality and variety, the north shore definitely bucks that trend. This may be the Sierra Nevada, but don’t expect any mountain oysters on these fine menus:

Formal Dining*

Lone Eagle – Soar to new food and libation heights at this waterfront gem. If the pine aroma doesn’t make you smile when you walk through the doors, the view of the lake as you eat and sip a cocktail certainly will. Owned by the Hyatt Resort & Casino, the quiet, romantic atmosphere could be the best on the lake.  www.loneeaglegrille.com   (Dinner & Buffet – Incline Village)

Jack Rabbit Moon – The unique and contemporary menu will make anybody speed faster than a hare right on down to sample the savoring entrees. From steak and seafood to duck breast, this upscale dining experience will make all friends and family hopping mad that they didn’t join in. (Dinner – Incline Village)

La Fondue – Since technically this is the only fondue restaurant in all of Lake Tahoe, anyone fond of this cuisine and wanting to break bread should take a dip into this place. Be forewarned – it’s very cheesy! In a good way. www.lafonduetahoe.com (Dinner – Incline Village)

Azzara’s Italian Cuisine – Italians may be wrongly stereotyped as being a bit talkative as this place could quite possibly be the best kept secret on the north shore. The quiet, elegant atmosphere and scrumptious pasta and antipasti are “molto delizioso.” It’s no wonder this place has been around for more than 33 years. (Dinner – Incline Village)

Bite – Don’t let the name fool anybody – there will be multiple bites eaten at this popular location. The American Bistro menu includes a great selection of meat, fish, tapas, and wine that won’t take too much of a bite out of the wallet. www.bitetahoe.com (Dinner – Incline Village)

Big Water Grille – With quite possibly the best views of the lake, Big Water is a very apropos name. A romantic, elegant atmosphere with an upscale, eclectic American, French menu and a huge selection of fine wines means diners should bring a big appetite and will most likely leave with bigger smiles. (Dinner – Incline Village)

The Soule Domain – Considering this place has been voted the most romantic place to take a date for 15 years running, it may be the perfect place to take one’s soul mate. The eclectic menu of assorted organic meats and seasoned vegetables set in an intimate log cabin may be the ideal dining domain. (Dinner – Crystal Bay)

Casual Dining

Hacienda De la Sierra – To steal from the Corona beer tagline – La restaurante mas fina! Voted best Mexican food on the north shore for pretty much too many years to count, this is the ideal family place for almuerzo y comida. (Lunch & Dinner – Incline Village)

Tomaato’s – Tomatoes, Tomaato’s? What’s the difference? Actually, one’s a fruit and the other’s an extremely popular pizza, pasta, and salad restaurant. Very well-known for its tasty take-out. (Dinner – Incline Village)

Lanzas – After enjoying the pasta and salad selections at this popular Italian restaurant, diners will be saying “Grazie!” over and over again. Voted one of the best Italian restaurants on the north shore for 12 consecutive years, it might be time to say “Arrivederci!” to eating in. (Dinner – Kings Beach)

Mofo’s Pizza & Pasta – It may be a great pizza pie, but one bite will make everyone think of the Big Apple. This New York style pizzeria is known for its great thin-crust pizza and full salad bar. Perfect for a family night out or just take-out. (Lunch & Dinner – Incline Village)

Jason’s Beachside Grille – If no family member has a friend named Jason, everyone will after a trip to this casual eatery. Considered one of the most family friendly places to dine, it offers a great menu of hamburgers, prime rib, baby-back ribs, and a top-notch salad bar. The nice pine-wood inside and quaint outside patio is the ideal Tahoe setting – the perfect “Landing.” (Lunch & Dinner – Kings Beach)

Austin’s – It may be a town known for its Tex-Mex and great music scene, but this place offers an unbeatable country American cuisine. Hankering for a hunk of meat like a chicken-fried or Salisbury steak? Or mashed potatoes, salad, baked macaroni & cheese? Then best to strum on over to this local favorite. www.austinstahoe.com (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner – Incline Village)

Gar Wood’s Grill & Pier – While named after a power boat and pleasure craft  inventor, this waterfront restaurant is mostly known for having its own pier and for the tasty rum-based drink it serves called the Wet Woody. A great family menu and spectacular views of the lake make this a well-known, yet fantastic place to wet one’s whistle. www.garwoods.com (Lunch & Dinner – Carnelian Bay)

Steamer’s Beachside Bar & Oven – Despite the name, the only seafood this place serves may be anchovies – for those that actually like those on their pizza. Quite possibly the best pizza and calzones served on the north shore, maybe in the entire Tahoe Basin. The nice outside patio and upstairs bar make this the ideal place to let off a little steam. (Lunch & Dinner – Kings Beach)

Crosby’s Grill – Not quite the posh place that Bing and his Rat Pack would hang out at, but the rest of the locals do. A nice menu for hamburgers, wings, chicken, and hot or cold sandwiches. TVs abound for the latest sporting event and there are video poker machines at the bar. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner – Incline Village)

Rookies Sports Bar & Grill – This could be the number one sports bar in the area – possibly the entire Tahoe Basin. If the goal is to kick it in front of a TV watching a sporting event, play a little video poker at the bar, or chow down a hotdog or hamburger (not quite Joey Chestnut style), then this venue scores a touchdown. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner – Incline Village)

Of Special Note

Wildflower Cafe – The generous helpings here will make everyone want to go for a nice wildflower hike afterward to walk off the fabulous breakfast. A local favorite for breakfast after a wild or mellow time the night before. (Breakfast – Incline Village)

T’s Rotisserie – One of the best places anywhere to quickly pick up a burrito, tostada, or taco. The salsa may just be the best you’ve tasted this side of the Mexican border. And possibly beyond. Grab the meal to go or stay and have your mouth water as you watch the savory meat roast right there on the spit. (Lunch & Dinner – Incline Village)

*Formal dining is Tahoe Style meaning children and a happy, laid-back attitude are most welcomed. Mountain-style oysters not so.