It’s the perfect time to plan a warm weather getaway to Lake Tahoe. With that in mind, my husband and I chose the west shore (Homewood and Sunnyside) as our home base. We had everything at hand for a fun, casual weekend.
Leaving San Francisco early on a Saturday morning almost guarantees a smooth ride up Highway 80 to Highway 89 south through Tahoe City and Sunnyside to Homewood. Arrive in time for lunch and a hike in the afternoon.
Stay & Play
The West Shore Café and Inn is all about its prime lakefront location. Situated in the middle of Homewood, it’s convenient to water sports, hiking trails and delicious food and wine. The surroundings are magnificent, the accommodations are lush, and the vibe is laid back. Find beautiful wood and exposed beam ceilings throughout the interior of the resort accompanied by wonderful old photos of the Tahoe area from the early 1900s.
The inn has only six suites and guestrooms. We stayed in the two-room Mt. Watson Lake View Suite. The rustic décor is warm and comfy and includes a fireplace in each room, oversized comfortable chairs, and huge windows. With a choice of two private patios, we had just the spot to sip wine, drink in the pleasures of the blue lake, and have a bird’s eye view to watch people at the bar and dining on the deck. In the morning, we savored a continental breakfast of freshly baked goods, fruit, yogurt, juices, and coffee. (530-525-5200, www.westshorecafe.com)
Not too far up the road, Sunnyside Restaurant & Lodge has been a fixture at Lake Tahoe since the mid-1900s. Located between Tahoe City and Homewood, it offers 23 suites and guestrooms, many with full views of the lake and marina. The lakeside rooms put you front and center for the water activity as well as the action on the deck at the restaurant and bar. Modern amenities, lots of lodge character, and friendly staff make this a popular destination. Enjoy breakfast in a cozy nook with a knockout lake view. (530-583-7200, www.sunnysidetahoe.com)
Because Tahoe really is all about playing, there’s never a shortage of activities. At this time of year, hiking, biking, and water sports capture everyone’s attention.
A couple of miles north of Homewood sits Eagle Rock, a dormant volcano. An easy, 20-minute climb leads to panoramic views. Heading south, explore Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park, the largest park at Tahoe (2,000 acres). Trails lead through the pines as well as down to the lake where visitors can walk around the beach, the Nature Center, and tour Pine Lodge, the historic Ehrman Mansion.
Continuing south along the lake, Emerald Bay State Park delights with beautiful trails and gorgeous bay views that sparkle with an emerald hue. It was designated an underwater state park in 1994 because of the boats and barges from the late 1880s that rest on the bottom of the bay. They were used during the prime summer season and in the building of Vikingsholm castle, a summer home there. Fannette Island, just offshore, is Tahoe’s only island. Inspiration Point provides the ultimate viewing spot of this beautiful glacier-carved bay. Camping is available at some of the parks (check ahead). (800-777-0369, www.parks.ca.gov)
On the lake, standup paddle boarding is a favorite as are kayaking and boating. The West Shore Inn offers complimentary kayaks, paddleboards, and bikes for its guests.
The Obexer family has been a west shore institution for close to a century. Obexer’s Water Sports is right next to the West Shore Inn. Take advantage of their Jet Ski rentals, water skiing lessons, boat charters, and wakeboarding activities. (530-525-7962 ext. 2, www.obexersboat.com)
At the Tahoe Maritime Museum you can see artifacts and boats retrieved from the lake bottom. (530-525-9253, www.tahoemaritime.org)
Shop & Dine
There’s not a lot of shopping in Homewood or Sunnyside, but both the West Shore Café and Inn and Sunnyside Resort have a variety of T-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, and more for sale. The Maritime Museum, a local gem, has a gift shop, as do many of the parks. For classic resort shopping, including specialty sports stores, hit Tahoe City.
Obexer’s General Store is everyone’s favorite place for bagels, brown sugar pepper bacon and sandwiches, spirits, wine, and anything you may have forgotten at home. At one of their picnic tables, we lunched on Kaleb’s Club, which features their incredible bacon with turkey and the works. We even had them put the bacon on Keith’s Catch with tuna salad, another signature sandwich. (530-525-1300, www.obexersgeneralstore.com)
In the nice weather, everyone relaxes (and lingers) on the expansive deck at the West Shore Café for lunch and dinner. There’s even a boat valet that ferries you between your boat and the dock. Summer favorites included Dungeness crab and corn fritters (scrumptious with a chipotle aioli) and the tangy sesame-seared ahi chips. Served over a crunchy slaw, the BBQ pork wings were tender and juicy. The California lobster roll, piled high with yummy lobster and avocado, was kicked up with a garlic mayo. Pair these with specialty cocktails or a selection from the international wine list, and you’re set. Some nights, live music enlivens the deck.
Sunnyside’s Lakeside Dining boasts the largest deck in Tahoe and is an incredible spot to savor artisan cocktails and terrific wines. Dinner included the yellow fin tuna tartar spiced up with a wasabi cream cheese and delicious wakame salad. We enjoyed a trio of diver scallops, sesame-crusted ahi tuna and Alaska halibut for our entrees. Save room for a slice of their house-made cream pie (coconut the night we visited). When you’re finished, take the complimentary boat valet to your vessel or stroll to your room.