What’s better than a day of adventuring around Lake Tahoe? One that ends with a delicious meal from a nearby eatery. From hot springs to snow tubing, get out and explore all that the region has to offer — but don’t forget to eat.
Dunk in the lake (then a bowl of bisque)
Think you have what it takes for a polar plunge in Lake Tahoe? With an average water temperature of 47 degrees Fahrenheit in December, it’s certainly not for everyone, but for some, it’s a winter tradition. Run from the beach at Ski Run Marina in South Lake Tahoe into the freezing cold water for a quick dunk before retreating to towels and parkas. (Please be aware that cold water shock can initiate a “gasp reflex,” so ease in and do not jump into deep water.) After drying off, warm up at Riva Grill, also at the marina, with an Irish coffee and creamy bowl of lobster and shrimp bisque or a heartier meal of bacon-wrapped filet mignon with blue cheese and crispy fries.
Tube down a hill (then climb a mountain of nachos)
Fly down the snow tubing hill at Donner Ski Ranch outside of Truckee for a family-friendly alternative to skiing and boarding. Inflatable tubes are supplied, and a moving carpet shuttles you up the hill to optimize the fun. Cap the day with a stop at the ski ranch’s Old 40 Bar and Grill, which features hearty fare like Mountain Nachos heaped with refried beans, cheese, jalapeños, pico de gallo, guacamole and steak. The philly cheesesteaks and chili are other popular menu items, and a meal wouldn’t be complete at Old 40 without a slice of homemade pie made fresh daily.
Soak in hot springs (then sip on suds)
Roughly 40 miles outside of Lake Tahoe, tucked in a valley, lies Grover Hot Springs State Park in Markleeville. Soak in the mineral pool fed by six natural hot springs while taking in the granite peaks and snow-covered meadow before popping into the cool swimming pool for a rinse. Grover Hot Springs now operates with a reservation system, which earns you 1.5 hours in the complex ($10 for adults and $5 for children). Afterwards, quench your thirst at nearby Cutthroat Brewing Company with their flagship Pale Ale, as well as a selection of beers from Truckee to South Lake Tahoe. Dive into a bowl of IPA Elk Chili; an Angler Sandwich with blackened mahi mahi, garlic aioli and pineapple slaw; or a uniquely topped pizza.
Rip on a snowmobile (then tear into fried chicken)
Take an exhilarating ride to 9,000 feet across 45-miles of trails with Zephyr Cove Resort’s snowmobiling tours. Choose from a two-hour scenic tour, customized backcountry adventure or private group tour — all with seasoned guides, clothing and gear rentals, and unbelievable views of the lake. After ripping through powder, end your day with a stop at the resort’s Zephyr Cove Restaurant. From boneless fried chicken with a buttermilk crust and garlic mashed potatoes to buffalo meatloaf drenched in gravy, it’s all about comfort in the dining room, which is reminiscent of its original design from the early 1900s. Pro tip: Grab a table by the large stone fireplace.