Ahh, Lake Tahoe. You are a gorgeous, deep, inspiring place and a natural wonder in your own right (Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America and second in the world!)  So close to our home in Northern California, yet we (shamefully) take you for granted. But on a recent sojourn to your frosty, but sunshine-y, shores to celebrate another lap around the sun with my handsome hubby and dear friends of two decades, you reminded me that we are lucky to bask in your glory.

For most North Americans, this weekend was all about f.o.o.t.b.a.l.l. — Superbowl weekend.  But schedules being what they were, we decided to visit the West Shore of Lake Tahoe instead.  What a glorious weekend to do so! With the slopes nearly empty (ski conditions being sub-par after a week of sunshine and spring-like temps) and most of the restaurants in town following suit, it was a perfect weekend to really dig in and remind ourselves why Lake Tahoe is so amazing.

Here, in no particular order, are our 5 favorite things (eat, see + do) on the West Shore.

  • EAT: Dinner. West Shore Cafe has amazing food, cocktails + wine and on a weekend with few crowds, we got to enjoy one of our favorite spots without competing for a table or the bartender’s time. #winning ! We’ve come to know them for their Mountain Mules, amazing views and cozy dining room.  Highly recommend. (Price point: $$$. Kid-friendly (has kid menus). Wine list + cocktails: A+)
  • EAT: Breakfast and coffee.  A local favorite here is Firesign Cafe and one of my favorite things about them are their mimosas (hello fresh squeezed juices daily!) and benedicts. No doubt, their popularity has grown, what with all the great press and word-of-mouth, so be prepared for a 45-minute wait (even on slow weekends) and north of 60 minutes on busy weekends.  If you’re looking for something more chill, faster and (gasp) better coffee, head over to Syd’s Bagelry.  Their coffee is de-lish and their bagels and sandwiches are worth the short trek to town. (Price point: $$. Kid + dog friendly *outside*). Plus, you can take your food to-go, sit on the picnic tables just south of the cafe in Heritage Plaza (see below) and take in the breathtaking views while your kiddos get their wiggles out. WIN!
  • Bike + Walking Trail along the shore. As a recreational runner (and often the designated stay-behind parent for the kid who bails on skiing), I love the Tahoe City Trailways bike path along the West Shore. It runs, generally, from Sugar Point on the south end to Dollar Point on the north, and is a lovely place to stroll, run, bike or scoot with the kiddos or solo uninterrupted by motorists.  In the summer, there is a great park right along the shore (right near the 89 junction into Tahoe City) and it’s a great place to bring a picnic and let the kids frolick and play in the water or at the park.
  • Chillax at the cabin, marinate in the hot tub, and play board games. With little snow this weekend, and an awesome cabin (Thanks Debbie for the Way Chalet!) complete with loads of board games, snow ball fights and a hot tub, we definitely booked some sweet bonding time at the cabin.  Assuming you love your travel companions as much as we do, this was definitely a highlight of our trip.
  • SKI! Um, hello. Of course. With peaks topping 14,000 feet and runs for all types of skiers, Tahoe is clearly the place du jour in California (if not the United States) to do it all. The crazy thing about this place is that it could be blizzard conditions one week and absolutely gorgeous and sunny the next.  You could be skiing in full-on cold weather gear in January and then short sleeves and sunglasses by February. And for families, there is no shortage of fun family-friendly activities at any number of resorts. This weekend, we skied Homewood, a lake-level smaller resort with super-accessible runs for beginners and great ski schools for the shorties. Not to mention friendly on the wallet. But we have also enjoyed Northstar, Tahoe Donner, Sugar Bowl, and Squaw Valley. Of course, there are countless other resorts geared towards more advanced skiers and boarders – but for us, small, family-oriented and wallet-friendly resorts like Homewood (for those days when you only get 1 or 2 runs out of the kids)–are our sweet spot.
  • Ok… I said 5 things.. and even though we didn’t visit this time around, a trip to Emerald Bay is definitely high on the list of fun things to do with the kiddos! The views alone are stunning and whether you rent a boat or paddle out on a SUP to Vikingsholm Castle (in the summer of course), it’s gorgeous and a cheap-n-cheerful way to spend the day with the fam.

No matter the season, Tahoe never disappoints! For more inspiration, follow us on Facebook or Instagram! We’ve always got more travel adventures up our sleeves + tips (like what *not* to do on your next trip with kids in tow!)

Happy travels!