by Carmel L. Mooney
If breathtaking scenery, less crowded attractions and activities, and serene mountain views are just your things, then look no further. The Zephyr Cove area of Lake Tahoe provides the perfect family day trip and a golfer’s, horse lover’s, mountain biker’s, or nature lover’s paradise.
And even if those activities aren’t your style, you’ll still love Zephyr Cove’s history, culture, and excellent dining and shopping.
Zephyr Cove’s location on the lake enables visitors a refreshing change of pace compared to the busiest parts and highly touristy areas of Lake Tahoe. Emerald waters, often flat as glass, and striking mountain peaks and summits make Zephyr Cove a favorite spot to take in the enormous beauty and bounty of all Lake Tahoe has to offer.
Just south of Zephyr Cove, a few minutes from the California/Nevada Stateline, visitors will find numerous major casinos, restaurants, and shopping centers with attractions for everyone in the family.
This gorgeous area is home to Edgewood Golf Course, truly the Pebble Beach of Lake Tahoe. Arguably the most scenic golf course in the Tahoe region, this gem has been rated by Golf Digest as one of “America’s Top Golf Courses”. Despite its young age, Edgewood hosts a variety of major annual golf events, including the famous American Century Celebrity Golf Championship.
One game on this spectacularly groomed and pristine course and you may be ruined for many other courses. Several of the holes are played right alongside a private beach on the lake and the views of wildlife, waterways, and mountains are incomparable.
A bit pricey, but the best the area has to offer, Edgewood Tahoe offers both beauty and challenge that make it no wonder that Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer are repeat visitors. You’ll want to make reservations in advance because this golf course closes during the winter months. It’s an unforgettable experience with impeccable service, well worth your effort. Zephyr Cove offers many different vantage points from which to experience the wonders of North America’s largest alpine lake with trillions of gallons of pure water. If family golfing isn’t your preference, then perhaps a little mountain horseback riding will spark your interest. You can choose from either the 90-minute or two-hour guided tour. Zephyr Cove Stables locally owned by Louise McGill and family, affordably offers a spectacular way to experience the lake and environs. What better way than to be guided by locals through real western wilderness taking in a breathtaking scenery?
Nearby Spooner Lake is another outdoor enthusiast’s common favorite, with mountain biking in the summer and cross country skiing in the winter.
Zephyr Cove also offers guided snowmobiling tours. Snow lovers and thrill-seekers of all ages can board a shuttle that takes you to Spooner Summit and leads you on a spectacular journey to Genoa Peak. There, you’ll catch views and scenery only snowmobile riders can access, all under the supervision of thoroughly safe and knowledgeable tour guides.
Zephyr Cove is known for its annual activities, festivals and culture. If you’d like to see the lake up close, then there’s no better way than to take a Lake Tahoe cruise. Aramark Parks and Resorts recently acquired the Tahoe Queen and MS Dixie II. Now more than ever, there’s a cruise to fit every taste and activity. Through winter, the Emerald Bay Cruise is offered where guests can enjoy the history of Emerald Bay, fascinating Vikingsholm, and the other side of Lake Tahoe. The weekend dinner dance cruise is a favorite through the fall where guests enjoy complimentary champagne, a three-course dinner, and dancing the night away to a live band.
The summer months have even more themed cruises available, such as the Family Fun Cruise, where kids have photos taken with Tahoe Tessie while eating kid-friendly foods from a boat and a souvenir cup, while they search for surprises throughout the boat. And keep in mind: history buffs love Mark Twain’s Tales of Tahoe Cruise with nationally acclaimed impressionist McAvoy Layne telling tales of the lake and history on a scenic voyage. For skiers in the group, December to April offers a skier/boarder floating shuttle including buffet breakfast and après ski drinks, and dinner on the way back. For $119 per person, including an all-day lift ticket and ground transportation to and from either Squaw Valley or Alpine Meadows, that’s service and fun at an affordable price.
Any way you decide to cruise on Lake Tahoe, you can enjoy the best in food, entertainment, music, dancing, history, narration, and friendly service, all from a relaxing and comfortable setting aboard a unique vessel.
Zephyr Cove is known also for its annual activities, festivals, and culture.
The Summer Shakespeare Festival held at Sand Harbor attracts repeat visitors from all over the world. There is nothing quite like the backdrop that Lake Tahoe and the moonlight provide for live theater enjoyed from one of Zephyr Cove’s best beaches.
The Tallac Historic Site is another noteworthy attraction with various offerings throughout the year.
Each year’s Octoberfest will be held in October at nearby Camp Richardson, less than twenty minutes from Zephyr Cove itself. If live theater is of interest to you, plan your visit for early October to enjoy Chaucer’s Tales, a theatrical performance held at the Valhalla Boat House. A busy weekend, October 4th and 5th will also feature the Kokanee Salmon Festival held in neighboring Taylor Creek.
This is just a sampling of what Zephyr Cove offers year-round to visitors who come from all over the world to enjoy the other side of Lake Tahoe.
Carmel L. Mooney is a travel columnist, author, and radio talk show host. For tips on smooth traveling with kids, check out Carmel’s book, Holiday Family Travel Tips.