Summer Sojourn Through South Shore Lake Tahoe
The Epoch Times

A gorgeous view of Emerald Bay and Fannette Island. The bay is one of the most photographed sites in America. Photo by Beverly Mann.

It was a vision straight from the 1800s. Ladies decked out in sweeping, floor-length dresses, trimmed with ruffled lace and tight bodices creating enviable waistlines.

Wild West Weekend

Wide-brimmed bonnets, along with colorful parasols, shielded them from the hot, afternoon sun. A blanket of greenery encircled the aquamarine, glacier-carved lake where the M.S. Dixie II sternwheeler, draped with American flags, stood serenely on the glistening waters. By the shoreline nearby, noted writer Mark Twain was brought to life by impersonator McAvoy Layne, who flicked his cigar and recited excerpts from the author’s greatest works.


This reenactment at the Zephyr Cove Resort on the South Shore of Lake Tahoe was part of the Wild West Weekend commemorating the 100th anniversary of Twain’s death and stay in this area, while also the kick-off to one of many events on tap throughout the summer.

The South Shore

Lake Tahoe, the second largest alpine lake in the world next to South America’s Lake Titicaca, spans 72 miles in circumference between the California and Nevada state lines. It is surrounded by a vast range of ski resorts that are densely populated during the winter and summer months.

My 3½-hour drive from San Francisco, along interstate highways 80 and 89, was an escape into exquisite natural beauty of green towering pines against the backdrop of white-powdered, mountain peaks, still showing signs of past winter snow.

From June through September, singles, couples, and families flock to the South Shore to partake in such outdoor activities as paddle and power boating, parasailing, and hiking along miles of forested alpine trails.

Some great treks can be found at Camp Richardson and Fallen Leaf Lake on route 89 to with panoramic views of nearby Emerald Bay, one of the most photographed sites in America other than Niagara Falls. On the Bay sits Fannette Island, where Lora J.M. Knight’s tiny teahouse is perched high above the island’s mountain in view of triple-tiered Eagle Falls. Ms. Knight purchased 200 acres in 1928 to build Vikingsholm, a summer house modeled after a Scandinavian castle just a mile from Emerald Bay. Some noted visitors were Will Rogers and Charles Lindbergh. Daily tours of the home are from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

M.S. Dixie

The M.S. Dixie II Sternwheeler on Lake Tahoe. Photo by Beverly Mann.

Exploring the Lake

Another way to get a feel of the majesty of the lake and mountains is via a Mississippi-style paddlewheel cruise on the Tahoe Queen, which departs from the Marina at South Shore’s Ski Run Boulevard, or the M.S. Dixie leaving from Zephyr Cove, a pet and family-friendly property with 28 comfy cabins along a one-mile beach.


Sunset and dinner cruises are available year round on both vessels, passing such sights as Cave Rock (it resembles a woman’s profile and is sometimes called Lady of the Lake) which was a sacred site of the Washoe Indians. The rock was carved by wave action over tens of thousands of years. One legend tells how a monster still lurks in waters beneath.

Passengers also receive historical anecdotes along the way, with the character Twain aboard the Tahoe Queen and local storyteller and songster Darin Talbot (The John Denver of Tahoe) on the M.S. Dixie. The talented Talbot has written over 20 songs about the area. He sells CDs which include a road map to follow in real time as you drive along the shoreline listening to music, myths, and historic tidbits told by Talbot.

For those who prefer terra firma, there are 35-minute carriage rides, run by the Borges family for 40 years, which go leisurely around the lake. The carriages are located across from the MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa, where you can enjoy a filling buffet ($19.95 for adults), after participating in all the daytime activities. Harrah’s also has a varied buffet for a bit more.

More Food and Fun

Just beyond Heavenly Village, the casinos, and Stateline into the heart of South Shore sits a plethora of restaurants, art galleries, and shops. The Driftwood Café at Heavenly is great for breakfast with wholesome omelets, a variety of pancakes, and fresh fruit dishes.

For a healthful dinner, try Freshies along Lake Tahoe Boulevard (Hwy 50). The signage is not that noticeable because the restaurant is sandwiched between shops. Many dishes are made with organic ingredients. Vegans will love it here. The menu states, “The chef paints with flavors.” The Riva Grill at the Marina off Ski Run Boulevard comes highly recommended. For wine enthusiasts, nearby Apres Wine Company, at the corner of Lake Tahoe Boulevard and Ski Run, has a wine dispenser machine from which to sample a wide range of labels. There is live music on Saturday nights and informal wine tasting on Sunday (six wines for $10).

Another enjoyable activity which occurs the first and second week in June is the colorful, raunchy Valhalla Renaissance Fair. Perfectly set in the forested surroundings of Camp Richardson Resort, the fair seems far more civilized than others I’ve attended in the Bay Area. The X-Dance Action Sports Film Festival, which also happens every summer in early June, features spectacular films of skiers, surfers, and snowboarders in full action. Don’t fret if you missed any of these activities because there is a long line-up of summer events through September. The summer festivities draw to a close with the Labor Day Fireworks Extravaganza at Lake Tahoe South Shore on
Sept. 5.

As I wrapped up my weekend getaway in South Shore Tahoe, I thought of the words of Mark Twain, who resided in the area in the late 1800s and made his mark here.

“Lake Tahoe is the fairest picture the whole earth affords.”



Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority -, 1-800-288-2463
Paddlewheeler Cruises -, 530-543-6191

Riva Grill-
Driftwood Café - 530-544-6545
Freshies -
Apres Wine Company -
The Red Hut Waffle Shop - 530-541-9024

Places to Stay:

Zephyr Cove Resort -
MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa -, 1-888-829-7630

Summer Events:

Harveys Outdoor Concert Series - July thru September, featuring such past performers as Bob Dylan, The Eagles, Stevie Wonder, and Beyonce.
Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival at Sand Harbor State Park - July 9 to August 22
Lake in the Sky Air Show – August 28th; shows an impressive freefall skydive team
Great Gatsby Festival and Teas at Tallac Historic Site - August 14th and 15th

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