San Francisco is one of a few large U.S. cities within easy driving distance of river rafting and quaint towns offering world-class wine and organic food. Hiking through a gorgeous forest to a castle is an adventure this continent just doesn’t typically offer, but Tahoe does. Summer is one of the best times to visit the Lake Tahoe-Truckee-Reno area, with limitless water sports. Take a gentle rafting trip, go gourmet and just explore on a wonderful one-tank trip to Lake Tahoe just four hours away.
From San Francisco, shoot down I-80 East going southeast to U.S. 50. Head into Tahoe on California 89 North.
3299 Emerald Bay Rd.
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Combine a trip back in time with a challenging hike when you visit Vikingsholm, a premier Lake Tahoe attraction. The best way to approach Vikingsholm is by taking a 1.7-mile hike along the lake. The first thing you’ll notice is that the structure seems to have grown right out of the pine and cedar forest. Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight, who incorporated Scandinavian architectural elements into its ingenious design, built the castle in 1929. A gracious hostess, she filled the place with guests, and Will Rogers was a frequent visitor.
Related: South Bay Winery Roadtrip
Truckee River Raft Company
2200 River Rd.
Tahoe City, CA 96146
Click here for pricing
Drive south along the lake to Truckee River Raft Company to recover from Reno’s fast pace with a relaxing three-hour float on the Truckee River. The staff has thought of every detail to make your trip perfect, down to a group photo before you set out. This is a great trip for kids, as they get to stop when they’re hungry and explore intriguing rope swings along the way. Non-swimmers are welcome with life vests provided for everyone. A friendly and fast shuttle service ferries you upstream to your vehicle after the adventure. Navigate small rapids that will make your heart quicken, and breathe the mountain air on these exciting trips. When you see an inviting spot on the river, enjoy a mouth-watering picnic and deliciously cool swim.
1785 W. Lake Blvd.
Tahoe City, CA 96145
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite with all that sun and water play, relax at this nearby comfort food eatery. Be sure to sit in the homey upstairs section of this small and folksy spot, and savor the hand-crafted interior. Don’t miss the pecan-encrusted enchiladas, the barbecued chicken pizza crisp or the home-baked red velvet cake. Locals love this place for its fork-tender meat that absolutely melts in your mouth. The service is fast and solicitous, perfect for any traveler.
West 1st Street and West Street
Reno, NV 89501
After a satisfying meal, stroll along the Truckee River and browse the Riverwalk District shops. Be Abundant Home Accessories features imported gifts for bath and garden. Dharma Books stocks rare and used books on photography, art and literature. Reno eNVy offers a signature clothing line and hip, irreverent options. Don’t miss the National Automobile Museum’s Harrah collection, with more than 200 cars of every era and interest, considered one of the top auto museums in the country.
Eldorado Hotel Casino
345 N. Virginia St.
Reno, NV 89501
Turn this little road trip into an intimate weekend getaway with a personalized stay at the Eldorado Hotel Casino. Enjoy mountain views, in-suite amenities and a spa suite for the royal treatment all around. When it’s time to dine and knock back a few martinis, choose from a menu of more than 100 varieties at Roxy. Roxy sits inside of the Eldorado casino, offering a romantic and refined atmosphere with exposed brick and continental touches. Just look for it adjacent to the Fountain of Fortune (after you win that cash, of course).
Related: Day Trip to Bolinas
Ashley West is a theater FAN-atic, who has attended theater in London, Manhattan, Los Angeles and of course, San Francisco. Her parents often took her to Broadway, which cemented her addiction at an early age. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.