KINGS BEACH — Imagine taking off, Subie stuffed to the brim with luggage, beach accouterments, two teen boys, camping gear topping the roof rack for the sometimes hectic highway drive to Santa Cruz. That was summer 2011. Fun, fantastic, and the most exhausting five-day vacay herding kiddies while pretending you don't exist (let's not even think about the child missing-for-two hours incident) unless you are supplying food or flash cash.Fast forward to August 2012, when said Subie is packed minimally for a Kings Beach “staycation” at Ferrari's Crown Resort. I am torn about sharing, for fear of filling the books before a second, shoulder-season reservation is secured.I grabbed the traditional Starbucks road-trip tall boy, popped over Highway 267, and there she sparkled in her huge blue glory: Lake Tahoe. The archetypal vacation thrill ran up my spine, slightly heightened by the bev. A 20-minute drive that didn't suck up a precious beach day. Or gas money. Fabulous.At the “Crown,” we checked in to delightfully fresh, clean accommodations in the non-smoking resort, situated lake front in the center of Kings Beach. Major dilemma: Swim in one of two pools, hit the hot tubs (all of which have stunning deck views overlooking Lake Tahoe) or mosey down to the private beach and dive into the achingly clear Lake Tahoe waters. Confession: I am a swim junkie beach addict.The tan, sandy beach gives way to a shallow, extensive myriad azure, aqua, turquoise to the deepest royal blue lake. The Crown has a private beach dotted with lounge chairs, where the vacationers flocked world-wide from all walks of life. German, French and English couples relaxed, swam and chatted. My buddy Katie from Alpine, with her lingering Austrian accent, dropped by the Crown to visit her friend in from London. A lawyer from Marin, retired businessman from San Diego, a family from Reno have all visited the resort for years upon years. The Reno gentleman, also with a teen in tow, said an adieu with prayerful thanks for the convenience of a Ferrari's staycation and Lake Tahoe. Seriously, Lake Tahoe effects the soul. A brown-as-a-nut-sun-worshipping woman walked by and said it simply: “It's so beautiful it just makes you want to live forever.”To that end, get off your bottom and work your core. Tahoe Paddle andamp; Oar, 8299 North Lake Blvd., the largest fleet of stand-up paddleboards, double and single kayaks on the lake, has a concession on the beach by the Crown for on-water playtime. Owner Phil Segal, whose business has been steady all summer, expects a stellar weekend and September, with warming temperatures and plenty of sunshine. Beyond the Crown property, stroll to the wide sandy beach around the Kings Beach State Recreation Area, just past the North Tahoe Event Center, with benches, restroom facilities, a boat launch and North Tahoe Watersports, offering kayak, Sea Doo, parasailing and lake tours. Rentals are also available from Adrift Tahoe on the main drag.Music on the Beach, the free weekly Kings Beach concert series winds up Aug. 31 at the with a blend of soul and world music performed by Tyler Matthew Smith, beginning at 6:30 p.m.Foodies, check out Jason's Beachside Grill, Steamer's, for top-notch burgers, grind down at The Grid or the iconic Char Pit. We traveled south of the border to upscale Mexican at Las Panchitas for a round of fried calamari, nachos, chile relleno, and tacos. Or lighten up at Hiro Sushi. For more cool deals, lodging, dining and events visit www.gotahoenorth.com.
Okey dokey, I wasn't exactly honest about starting off the staycation in Kings Beach.The day previous, we joined Granite Chief Communication's owner Bill Jensen, Dave's Deli Liz Mercer, Floriston neighbor Tammy Anagnos and my son, who pretends he is hatched, (I do not exist, remember?) for a cruise in a Ski Nautique along Lake Tahoe's West Shore.The High Sierra Water Ski School Homewood location operates from the Homewood High andamp; Dry Marina and had wonderfully shady parking at 1:30 p.m. on an August afternoon. They also run out of Sunnyside in Tahoe City.Although we took ourselves on a two-hour tour, High Sierra Water Ski School offers water skiing, wakeboard, paddleboard, wakesurfing, wakeskating and wakekiting lessons, and powerboat, Jet Ski canoe kayak and equipment rentals.For event West Shore events, beaches and more visit tahoewestshoreassoc.com.