South Lake Tahoe Makes a Great Escape From Bay Area

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In only three and a half hours, Californians can sync the calendar and the thermometer. As any San Franciscan knows, the Lake Tahoe region is where you go to experience the seasons.

While San Francisco is usually foggy and chilly in summer and often mild and sunny in winter, Tahoe knows when to snow and when to get summery. I had a last hoorah with summer weather during a weekend in South Lake Tahoe late last summer.

On this January day, I’m sitting here looking through my pictures of the trip, marveling at the scenery of Emerald Bay, Zephyr Cove and the view from my patio at The Landing Resort & Spa, which was quite literally steps (barefoot steps in my case) from the beach.

Really, the only thing that wasn’t wholly satisfying about our stay at  The Landing Resort & Spa was that while our three bedroom suite had a fireplace in every room (and one more in the living room!) we never got to use them given the weather.

So I can tell you about the summer amenities and activities but winter is a whole ‘nother experience that is no doubt worth the trip. For instance, the hotel is just 5 minutes from Heavenly Village, which we stayed clear of this summer. (It’s quite a scene, all the restaurants have a wait, so why not snuggle in our hotel suite with a big screen TV, a kitchen and some takeout pizza?)

I’m not much of a skier, but I may come back for tubing (at the top of the gondola) or snowmobiling. There’s also cross-country skiing and The Landing offers ski valet and transport to the Gondola. The hotel’s year-round outdoor pool and hot tub are also major perks, but we didn’t venture there in August as it was a delightful Tahoe heat wave weekend and the gorgeous blue lake beckoned.

In the summertime, the Landing’s beach proximity is the big draw. Across the street is a private beach and the hotel gives out passes. It is far from swell that the lake is blocked by a long metal-barred fence. That the powers that be thought it was a good idea to turn this lakeside view into parking spaces is beyond me. It’s a tad of an eyesore and interrupts an otherwise breathtaking view from the hotel restaurant’s patio dining area.

Jimmy’s, the hotel’s on-site restaurant, is certainly an appealing alternative to the hustle and bustle and long lines at Heavenly Village. And with the patio’s couches, armchairs and fire pits, it’s a great place for a liquory summery spritzer or a boozy wintertime warmer. All that’s wrong with it is the very wrong view of cars in front of majestic Lake Tahoe.

If its still daytime, a nice low-key and honky-tonk option is The Lakeside Beach House, across the street and right on the beach. It’s a typical, burgers and fries and beer place that’s perfect for price and proximity. Less than an hour away, on a lake-hugging scenic drive, is the pristine Emerald Bay, a national natural landmark.

A mile down from the parking lot is the beach and Vikingsholm, an impressive Scandinavian castle.

Nearby you can rent kayaks and paddleboards and paddle around or head to Fannette Island, which is, I’m told, Lake Tahoe’s only island. It was the site of a tea house built for the Estate’s original summer guests. We considered waiting for a kayak— and then opted to break all the rules and swim out to the island (about a mile each way). One must be attentive though, because boats come into the cove, which is why, I guess, its against the law so don’t try this at home.

We had another terrific day borrowing the hotel’s bikes (kinda beat-up but very fun colors) and rode a lovely bike path through trees and meadows to Nevada Beach.

Later that evening, we found ourselves tailgating with a bunch of Stateline’s friendliest townies, outside of Harvey’s outdoor arena at a surprise (for us) WHO concert that we could hear from our room at the Landing.

Once we realized that we weren’t listening to what we first assumed was the hotel’s surprisingly authentic cover band, we bolted from ran our room and ran the few blocks the free side of Harvey’s chain-link fence for a surprise concert by The Who. All and all, an electric ending to a weekend of stunning natural beauty.


The Landing Resort & Spa| 

4104 Lakeshore Boulevard

South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

(530) 541-5263

For more information on how to book, visit their website.


Note: we were hosted by the hotel but all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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