Get Out of Town, Tahoe in Summer

photos courtesy of Seth Halpern

Our guest post comes from Seth Halpern, editor of The Ambassador, a monthly publication dedicated to encouraging the local Christian community in Yuba City, CA. Seth is also the host of a weekly radio show of the same name. His website is

For the most part, ever since we moved to Yuba City from the Bay Area, we have been “locals” who do just about everything here in town. Once in a while, though, it is good to “get out of town”! So recently we went for a weekend getaway to South Lake Tahoe. Somehow (and I’m still not quite sure why), we have never taken the drive to spend a weekend in Tahoe. Perhaps it’s because I thought that since we aren’t skiers in winter or boaters in summer, there was nothing much to do. Well, we found out otherwise.

We shared a “cabin” (more like a big house) with longtime friends from the Bay Area. After a Friday evening of relaxing and breathing in some fresh mountain air, we got ready for a full day of activity on Saturday. We experienced what is perhaps the two most popular “attractions” in the area. A Scenic Cruise around the lake and the Heavenly Gondola. Of course, the truly more popular attractions are the ski slopes and the beach/boating areas, but that’s not us.

So, we set off to Zephyr Cove to find a beach, ticket booths and LOTS of people. We boarded the M.S. Dixie, a three deck paddlewheel boat. The two hour relaxing cruise gave more than ample time for unlimited postcard-like pictures. We enjoyed the beautiful (and maybe mysterious) snow on the mountains in mid-July. The cruise is narrated on weekends by Darrin Talbot, self-proclaimed “Mr. Tahoe” who is an entertaining story-teller that seems to have an “obsession” withLake Tahoe! Most people were enjoying the “show” and the sun on the top deck, so after a while we moved to the nearly empty lower and considerably warmer inside second deck, where we alternated between listening to Mr. Tahoe and chatting with our friends over a soda and chili fries. It was a very enjoyable and relaxing time.

From Zephyr Cove, a ten minute drive to Stateline and next to the casinos wasHeavenlyVillage. We meandered around the shops afterward, but for now our mission was to scale the heights on the gondola. The six of us sat comfortably in the fully-enclosed container. Though not thrill ride, the gondola is quite a challenge for those with a fear of heights. My wife, has such a fear, but after a few brief bouts of panic, seemed to really enjoy the ride. The first stop (more than half way up) brings you to the observation deck with breathtaking views of the lake, while the casinos resembled Lego pieces. At over 9,000 feet, I’m not quite sure whether it was the spectacular view or the elevation that took our breath away.

Further up we enjoyed lunch at the Tamarack Lodge. Nearly empty (good for us) it was 3:00pm and almost ready to close (bad for us). The Gondola runs until 5pm but the restaurant closes early. That would have been good to know. Unfortunately, we had to eat a less than leisurely lunch and the prices, well, let’s just say that they were on par with the elevation. On the positive side, as much as they don’t skimp on the price, they don’t skimp on the portions either, nor the quality.  At nearly 10,000 feet up, they could have served us anything and we didn’t have much choice. McDonald’s was a long drop from there. But the food was great and we got to throw snowballs at each other in mid July. What is that worth?!

For a couple that is not interested in water sports, skiing, or casinos, South Lake Tahoe really does have some wonderful experiences to behold. One piece of advice, though… although, it was suggested that we can easily enjoy both of these activities in a day, I don’t advise it. Take a day at each to enjoy God’s handiwork at the beach at Zephyr Cove, and hiking trails at the top of the gondola ride and enjoy this jewel of the Sierras without the need to even peek into the casino!