In the fall, Tahoe is a visitor’s dream — stunning lake, enticing trails, majestic views, and culinary excitement — all without the crowds. This trip, we chose the north shore near the historic town of Truckee. Here, it’s all about relaxation whether you’re enjoying a casual meal at a local restaurant, playing the links, or taking advantage of the luxe accommodations at the Ritz Carlton. And during the first weekend in October, the Ritz celebrates all things epicurean.
Just past Northstar Village and heading up the mountain, the eye-catching Ritz Carlton comes into view. This LEED-certified property sizzles during ski season and is just as active the rest of the year. From the mountain bikers racing by outdoor weddings, to guests by the stone hearth and crackling fire, this is a people-watching paradise.
The ambience is warm and friendly and the decor is mountain chic with lots of wood and soaring ceilings in the lobby. Spread across the side of the mountain (at about the mountain’s midpoint) with knock-out views of Martis Valley, the hotel offers spacious rooms with fireplaces, private balconies, and Asprey bath amenities. WiFi is included in the daily resort fee (530-562-3000, ritzcarlton.com).
SHOP & PLAY
Autumn at the Ritz offers fun options for guests including Marshmology (learn about marshmallows as you indulge in gooey s’mores), the Art of Mixology (sip creative cocktails paired with hors d’oeuvres), and at night, the Tahoe Star Tour, complete with comfortable chairs, snacks, heaters, and blankets. Lawn games are available on the hotel grounds; play bocce ball, badminton, ping-pong, lawn darts, and more. The spa has an array of tantalizing treatments guaranteed to revive and rejuvenate.
The Ritz’s October Epicurean weekend (http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/california/lake-tahoe/hotel-overview/calendar) offers an opportunity to show your creative side: Dab paint and sip wine simultaneously at a vintner-inspired painting class; carve your own wooden spoon using traditional Japanese tools; and eat well at the hotel’s signature restaurant, Manzanita (see EAT below). Kids will love the Pumpkin Patch where they choose and paint their own pumpkin and make candy apples.
For the mountain enthusiast, find great hiking trails and biking for all skill levels. Nearby Lake Tahoe has kayaking, boating, stand-up paddle boarding and other water sports.
From the Ritz, you can ride the complimentary gondola from the hotel down to the multilevel Village at Northstar (northstarcalifornia.com/). Always buzzing, it’s full of shops, cafes, art galleries, and places to sit and take in the scene.
The Old West mountain town of Truckee (truckee.com/) is also a hotbed of activity. Explore boutiques, restaurants, artists’ enclaves, breweries, and more. The weekend we visited, the Downtown Wine, Walk & Shop (truckeewinewalk.com/) was in full swing. It’s a great way to taste local delicacies paired with wine — and shop at the same time. The official passport is your ticket to the many venues spread throughout town. A portion of the proceeds are donated to local charities.
Just outside of Truckee, the avid golfer can find a challenge at Old Greenwood (530-550-7010, golfintahoe.com/Old_Greenwood), designed by Jack Nicklaus. The course winds through sugar pines and features dramatic bunkers and undulating greens. It plays at four different distances — from a short layout of 5,419 yards to 7,518 yards from the championship tees (don’t forget, mountain altitude is involved). Pick the right set of tees and strategize every hole for a golf adventure that matches your game. Whatever your preference, the course condition is usually excellent and the overall experience first rate, from the treatment in the pro shop, to the attendants at the range, to the marshals on the course
Chef Marty Carlton has brought his years of experience in some of the nation’s best restaurants to his home cooking at Marty’s Cafe (530-550-8208, martyscafetruckee.com/) in downtown Truckee. Popular among locals and tourists alike, the food is popping with flavor, and the service is friendly. At breakfast, we tried Israeli couscous in a unique combination of coconut milk, dried mango, raisins, and almonds. The eggs any style are served with house potatoes (made with scallions, sour cream, onion, two kinds of potatoes, and more) and thick smoked bacon. Marty’s participated in the Downtown Wine, Walk & Shop event, and served tomato soup and grilled cheese on their front porch.
Also downtown, but on the banks of the Truckee River, find the 1882 Bar & Grill. (530-550-9222, riverstreetinntruckee.com/). Named after the year the building was constructed, it shares its location with the River Street Inn. Eat al fresco on the patio next to the river or enjoy the cowboy-inspired interior with a cozy bar and intimate seating. Specializing in all things barbeque (the Texas smoker is always going), we enjoyed the Cajun BBQ shrimp and baby back ribs cooked with a dry rub. Classic sides include coleslaw, onion rings, and a chopped salad.
Manzanita (530-562-3050, manzanitalaketahoe.com/) is the signature restaurant at the Ritz. It has commanding views of the mountains and blends indoor and outdoor seating integrating lots of wood and stone throughout. To celebrate rustic local cuisine during Epicurean Weekend, a guest chef worked side by side with the restaurant’s chef in the large open kitchen to create wonderful dishes: Yuzu kosho rubbed Japanese hamachi with radish, cucumber, Sriracha pearls, and white soy foam; squab confit lollipop leg with roulade of foie gras and duck confit, and quail egg with a blackberry foie gras emulsion; and for dessert, a golden beet cheesecake with berries, bacon, and basil. The first two courses were paired with Sonoma wines, and Prosecco was served with dessert.
Breakfast is also served in Manzanita with traditional items including eggs Benedict, buttermilk pancakes, and steel-cut oatmeal.
Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureau: visitinglaketahoe.com