One Fine Weekend in North Lake Tahoe
Want to know this region's best-kept secret? September is the ideal time to visit.
Mourelatos Lakeshore Resort boasts lake views from every room.
Photos courtesy of Mourelatos Lakeshore Resort
It may be shoulder season in some resorts, but September is prime time in North Lake Tahoe: The crowds have gone, skies are sunny (with temperatures in the 70s), the lake water is finally warm, and the aspen trees are beginning to show their colors.
Extending about 27 miles along the lake’s north shore—from Sand Harbor Beach, Nevada, to Tahoma, California—North Lake Tahoe encompasses approximately 10 small towns and communities scattered along Highway 28. Unlike its glitzier neighbor, South Lake Tahoe, the north shore has retained its rustic charm. Strict zoning regulations that protect the lake views have allowed North Lake Tahoe to maintain its heritage and (literally) low profile. In this sublime Sierra Nevada Mountain setting, the action is all outdoors—even the epicurean delights.
While many of the area’s lodges and cabins incorporate classic old Tahoe architectural features and building materials—such as peaked ceilings, gabled dormers, lodge pole pine, and stone fire-places—you can’t get closer to the lake than the Mourelatos Lakeshore Resort in Tahoe Vista. Owned by the Mourelatos family since 1978, the hotel was renovated to ensure that each of the angled 32 rooms has a lake view.
After a day spent bouncing on the resort’s in-lake water trampoline or using its hydrobikes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards, walk across the street to enjoy a time-honored north-shore tradition: a sundae at the Mourelatos Cable Car Ice Cream Shop.
Nearby, test out the zip lines at Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park—a recent addition to the 125-acre North Tahoe Regional Park, which entices outdoor enthusiasts with its bike trails, tennis courts, disc golf course, and soccer field. mlrtahoe.com, tahoetreetop.com.
For dinner, head to Tahoe City, where several restaurants are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year—including Jake’s on the Lake, which is known for its fresh seafood, seasonal produce, and dining deck where guests can watch the classic wooden boats go by.
Wolfdale’s Cuisine Unique is another 40-year-old local favorite. Chef-owner Douglas Dale has devised an innovative menu featuring simple food with an East-meets-West twist. But remember: Visitors tend to dress down instead of up on the north shore, so leave the cocktail dresses and ties at home.
After your meal, take a leisurely stroll along the paved path from the Tahoe City Marina to Commons Beach. Or book a sunset kayak tour with Tahoe Adventure Company. jakestahoe.com, wolfdales.com, tahoeadventurecompany.com.
Paddleboard in the early morning, when the lake water looks like glass, then enjoy a full day at the 33rd annual Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival. Held September 7 through 9 at Northstar California Resort—just an eight-mile drive from Kings Beach—this three-day celebration of regional wineries, breweries, and chefs features outdoor wining and dining events designed to be savored among the towering pines of Mount Pluto and throughout the Village at Northstar and the resort’s other public spaces.
Among the fest’s highlights is the Vertical Mountainside Tasting, in which guests summit Mount Pluto via gondolas to sip vino while taking in the view from 7,870 feet. There’s also a Progressive Picnic, where participants hike from one pairing experience to the next. Other events include a Wine and Brew walk, cooking competitions, and an appearance by MasterChef winner Shaun O’Neale. Indulging in spectacular food and beverages in an unparalleled natural environment—what could be better than that? tahoefoodandwine.com.