A jaunt to Lake Tahoe from San Francisco with Celeste Tabora
If you’re heading to Lake Tahoe by way of San Francisco, do yourself a favor and take the Golden Gate Bridge vs. the Bay Bridge through to the 80. It’s only four minutes longer, and way more scenic. Here are some reasons to take this slight detour:
1) You’ll cross the Golden Gate Bridge. Immediately after the bridge, exit at the scenic lookout. You’ll get a great view of the bridge and hopefully of San Francisco, as long as the fog doesn’t obstruct your view. Even if it is foggy, it’s really picturesque.
2) You’ll cross through Marin County. If you have time, eat in Sausalito. More beautiful views of the bay, and lots of tasty eats. I personally recommend Bridgeway Cafe - great American diner fare, quick and friendly service, easy drive in-and-out of Sausalito.
3) You’ll drive just south of Napa wine country! Again, if you have time to spare, stop and do a little wine tasting!
4) You’ll drive through Sacramento. California’s capital is right along the route, a few miles before you begin driving up the Eldorado Forest to Lake Tahoe.
From Sacramento, take Highway 50 to South Lake Tahoe! It’s better looking - you’ll drive along countless tiny cabins and a meandering creek that will make you look up real estate in the area as soon as you have phone service again. I recommend a daytime drive, especially since the highway is dimly lit and is frequently a two-lane highway.
Once you reach Tahoe, there’s a few options for lodging along the lake, but my favorite by far has become Tahoe Beach Retreat and Lodge. It’s a three-star hotel on the lake with nice rooms coupled with a decent price. Spring for the lakeside rooms if you can! If that’s just out of price range, not to worry - none of the buildings on site are too far from the lake. You can enjoy the hotel’s beach in summer and winter. And the hotel is pet friendly, a plus for those of us with furry friends who travel with us.
The hotel is admittedly sleepy and cosy, but just eight minutes down the road is the California-Nevada state line. You’ll find casinos like Harrah’s, Hard Rock, and Harvey’s.
During the day you can ski or snowboard at Heavenly Resort (who also provide lessons) or just take the gondola up from Heavenly Village to the mountain peak which will give you shore-to-shore views of the lake. Heavenly has a webcam too, of course.
If you don’t want to ski or snowboard, you can take a scenic drive around the lake. It takes about 2 hours and there’s plenty of lookouts and stops along the way!
Don’t forget to check the weather, road conditions, and plan ahead. There are certain types of year that causes more traffic and the need for chains on your tires!