Tips on visiting Lake Tahoe

 
LA Times | Travel
 

GETTING THERE Reno, Nev., is the gateway for all of Tahoe's resorts. American Airlines has one daily non-stop flight from O'Hare, and Southwest has one daily from Midway. Several other airlines have connecting flights. Both Heavenly Resort and Squaw Valley are approximately one-hour drives fr...

By Randall Weissman // 11.04.08
 

GETTING THERE

Reno, Nev., is the gateway for all of Tahoe's resorts. American Airlines has one daily non-stop flight from O'Hare, and Southwest has one daily from Midway. Several other airlines have connecting flights. Both Heavenly Resort and Squaw Valley are approximately one-hour drives from Reno, the former around the south end of the lake; the latter, the north.

WHERE TO STAY

At Heavenly Resort, the options are myriad, ranging from glitzy casino hotels to small B&Bs. I split my stay there between the Embassy Suites hotel on the main strip and the Black Bear Inn, a B&B with five rooms and three cabins. The Embassy Suites was more convenient to night life and skiing; it was an easy walk to both casinos and the gondola. The Black Bear was much quieter, and its owners provided a welcoming ambience. The Embassy Suites is offering a number of ski packages for the 2008-09 season. Embassy Suites prices start at $209 per night, but packages add value to that rate; www.embassytahoe.com; 530-544-5400. Black Bear Inn prices start at $225 per night; www.tahoeblackbear.com; 877-232-7466. For other lodging choices, check www.skiheavenly.com/plan_your_trip.

In Squaw Valley, the Plumpjack Inn is one of the Valley's original properties and housed athletes during the 1960 Olympics. All of its 61 rooms and suites were remodeled about 10 years ago. The rooms on the second floor are much quieter than those on the ground floor. Rates start at $209; packages are available. www.plump jack.com; 530-583-1576. For more luxurious accommodations, try the Resort at Squaw Creek. This is a more modern, luxury ski lodge with ski-in/ski-out access to the slopes. Rates start at $329; www.squawcreek.com; 530-583-6300. Other options are available through Squaw valley central reservations: www.squaw.com; 800-545-4350.)

WHERE TO EAT

Heavenly's visitors have a wealth of fine dining choices. Among the best are The Summit (775-588-6611),which offers a spectacular gourmet tasting menu with a fabulous view from the 18th floor of Harrah's, and Cafe Fiore (530-541-2908),which serves sophisticated Italian fare in an intimate atmosphere. Both are expensive and reservations are suggested, but well worth the cost. For a lighter impact on your budget, try McP's Pub, which serves a fine version of pub grub, or Chevy's for Mexican food. The options for dining at Squaw are less numerous than at Heavenly, but no less intriguing. The Auld Dubliner (530-584-6041) is a great spot to enjoy Irish stew or shepherd's pie along with a glass or two of one of the 14 beers on tap. The Plumpjack Cafe (530-583-1578) serves exquisite modern California fare accompanied by a superb wine list and excellent service.

Each resort had far more intriguing restaurants than I could sample in three or four days. This list includes only those I sampled.

SKIING

Lift ticket prices are slightly lower at Squaw than Heavenly. For example, a two-day ticket costs $134 at Squaw and $20 more at Heavenly. Skiers frequently can save money if they purchase lift tickets as part of a package or online ahead of their scheduled arrival date. Equipment rental is available for all activities.

Weissman is a staff writer for the Chicago Tribune.