Bay Area college students looking for a great spring break getaway need not travel far, because one exceptional destination is just a few hours away. The largest alpine lake in North America and the second deepest in the country, Lake Tahoe has been attracting spring breakers for more than 50 years. With some of the best ski resorts in California, hundreds of miles of hiking trails and Vegas-style casinos that stay open all night, Lake Tahoe is not only one of the most beautiful places to visit not far from the Bay Area, but it’s also one of the most affordable. All of these features make for a fabulous spot for students to unwind from the rigors of college. The following are five reasons to visit Lake Tahoe for spring break.
Perched high in the mighty Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe is clearly a place of infinite beauty. The region is rich with an abundance of plants, wildlife and towering evergreen trees and coupled with a wealth of activities that are more than enough to draw millions of visitors each year. Yielding breathtaking views all across the enormous crystal-clear blue lake, there are boundless opportunities for the perfect photo op. Among the favorite locations to take in all its grandness are Emerald Bay, Tahoe Meadows Zephyr Cove and Incline Village at Crystal Bay. During the winter months, Lake Tahoe is a winter wonderland and unquestionably the best spot in California for snow sports.
Heavenly Ski Resort
4080 Lake Tahoe Blvd.
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Lake Tahoe is a year-round playground full of outdoor activities for students and people of all ages. During the winter months, visitors can enjoy one of the several world-class ski resorts, such as Heavenly Valley, Northstar, Kirkwood and Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. Although some resorts may close early this season, there are plenty of other activities for spring breakers to enjoy, such as hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, and water sports. Other, more casual activities include a ride on a riverboat from Zephyr Cove, basking in the sun at Regan Beach or indulging in a spa treatment at a local day spa.
Spring breakers heading to Lake Tahoe can try their luck at one of the many casinos on the Nevada side of the lake, with the best gaming action centered in South Shore. It’s nothing like Las Vegas, but the handful of casinos offer most everything Sin City has to offer, including slot machines, roulette, blackjack and craps. If gambling isn’t part of the spring break plan, visitors have a nice selection of bars, lounges and nightclubs to choose from. At South Shore, top choices include Blu Nightclub and Opal Ultra Lounge at MontBleu Resort Casino, Peek Nightclub at Harrah’s and Sammy Hagar’s wildly popular Cabo Wabo Cantina at Harvey’s. On the North Shore, among the best bets for gambling and nightlife are Cal-Neva Resort, Crystal Bay Club Casino, the Fat Cat Cafe and the Breeze nightclub.
Red Hut Café
3660 Lake Tahoe Blvd.
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
For the typical college student on a budget, dining choices abound all over the Lake Tahoe region. From popular local hangouts like the Red Hut Café and The Divided Sky and casino buffets to ethnic and vegetarian dishes, there’s a little something for everyone. Among the top choices in South Lake Tahoe are Taqueria Jalisco, Yellow Submarine and Izzy’s Burger Spa for cheap eats and Off the Hook Sushi Bar, MacDuff’s Public House and Freshies for mid-priced menus. On the North Shore, the Grid Bar and Grill, Waterman’s Landing and Char Pit are all good choices for inexpensive, yet tasty dishes.
Zephyr Cove Resort Camping
760 US Highway 50
Zephyr Cove, NV 89448
Spring breakers have a host of options for overnight accommodations, ranging from very inexpensive to probably more than a college student can afford. Although most camping spots like Fallen Leaf and Campground by the Lake are closed during the offseason, some spots like Zephyr Cove and Tahoe Valley Campground are open all year for camping and RV parking. For students needing to be connected via social media, Zephyr Cove offers Wi-Fi access at campsites and RV campsites, in addition to more modern accommodations featuring cable TV and fully equipped kitchens in the mid-priced cabins. Other low cost options include a large assortment of motels, particularly on the South Shore, starting at about $40 a night, or if a group of students combine their resources can reserve a block of hotel rooms or vacation rental on the lake.
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.