Another spring break season is rapidly approaching. Last year Fred and George joined me in Nevada for their break and they are heading back here again this year. They once traveled with me everywhere but now we have punctuated adventures like break weeks. As they approach adulthood, they have their own developing ideas of what is fun so as I explore my new-ish stomping grounds in Nevada, I’m always on the hunt for things that will appeal to them when they’re here.
For their trip last year, my goal was to wow them with the wonders of Lake Tahoe. So after a couple of days at home to recover from the three-hour time change, we set off to a rental condo in Zephyr Cove. I knew they didn’t want their days completely filled. That’s not their style and it’s not mine either. With only a few days at the lake and plenty of downtime built in to play games, explore the beach, and hang out, we had to pick outings that had a lot of value for the time invested. But what to do with kids who aren’t interested in snow sports during the ski season at Tahoe?
To get the full effect of Lake Tahoe’s grandeur, we picked a ride on the Heavenly Gondola. While most popular with skiers headed up the slopes, the view is spectacular for any visitor. It is a bit pricey if you’re not going to ski or enjoy a hiking trail. If you go, plan to make the most of your ticket price by exploring a bit, preferably at a leisurely pace. Be sure to stop at the mid-station observation deck where you can get shore-to-shore views of Lake Tahoe as well as the surrounding areas. If you’re not planning to invest any more vacation funds in other activities at the top—like skiing or zip-lining—the view from observation deck is the biggest draw for the gondola ride aside from the lovely ride itself.
The M.S. Dixie II
The M.S. Dixie II is a paddle-wheel boat that runs out of Zephyr Cove and cruises across the lake to Emerald Bay in California. We opted for the daytime cruise which is a stunning 2-1/2 hour ride with a well-crafted narrative about the lake and its history. The recording is broken up into consumable chunks which are best heard on the deck in the brisk spring air. The confined chatter of other passengers made it difficult to hear when inside having lunch.
As for lunch, food and beverages are available on the boat. The food was passable but pricey. It was a necessity under the circumstances and the timing of our trip, though. Food options aside, the ride is very worthwhile. Think of it as the opposite of the gondola—instead of viewing the lake from above, on the boat ride you are traveling on the surface of Lake Tahoe, getting to know it on a more intimate level.
We made a casual visit to Sand Harbor State Park with no big agenda other than to show Fred and George a different area of Lake Tahoe than we’d seen up to that point. Being there in spring, it was still quite chilly and we encountered only a handful of other visitors. That allowed us to enjoy the interpretive trail, geocaches, and Pokémon Go offerings without struggling through crowds that are unavoidable during the summer months.
We didn’t want to be run ragged in the course of exploring activities at the lake so we built in down time to enjoy the property of the condo we stayed in. The attractions are fun but in the end, free-form exploring will always be my favorite.
So with that, here’s a short video slideshow of our 2017 spring break at Lake Tahoe, complete with teenage silliness and time lapses.
Adventure on, friends!