9 places to day trip close to South Lake Tahoe
Typically three-day weekends in January are marked by prime ski conditions — but that doesn’t seem to be the case this year. South Lake Tahoe is largely lacking the amount of snow it saw at this point last year, but the long weekend can be made better by a day trip that doesn’t take much planning.
Consider visiting the following places this holiday weekend.
Under 40 Miles Away
These trips will take approximately half a day, unless you’re someone who likes to hang around places for a while. Less than an hour’s drive means you can sleep in a little bit and go on your adventure later in the day.
Genoa — Head out to this Douglas County town, home to the historic Pink House and oldest “thirst parlor” in Nevada: Genoa Bar & Saloon. Enjoy an artisan lunch from the Pink House — which offers light fare like sandwiches, salads, cheese plates, wine, specialty coffee and more — before heading to the saloon and indulging in your drink of choice.
Grover Hot Springs State Park — Located a few miles west of Markleeville, this spot is the perfect place to relax. Apart from the picnic area and hiking trails, there are swimming pool hot springs surrounded by open pine forest and meadows. Entry is a mere $10 per adult and $5 per child.
Hope Valley — While the location is known for impressive fall colors, it boasts trails that are perfect for hiking during the dry winter (check out Crater Lake and Scotts Lake, and pack snowshoes just in case).
40-100 Miles Away
Tired of the traditional South Shore scene, but still want a taste of Tahoe? These locations are roughly one to two hours away, and because of the plethora of offerings you can stay all day or merely for a few hours.
Virginia City — There are many sights to see in this historic town, but be sure to stop by The Bucket of Blood Saloon: It features vintage décor and Old West memorabilia (think Comstock Lode era). Other popular stops include tours through the various mines and supposedly haunted buildings, such as the Old Washoe Club.
Truckee — Grab lunch or dinner at Moody’s Bistro and stroll through the quaint downtown, which offers both history and decent shopping. An unconventional option is to visit Donner Memorial State Park: Apart from the snowshoe trails, there’s a historical exhibit that will teach you everything you need to know about the Donner Party, the Land of the Washoe and more.
Sierra Hot Springs — A membership ($5 for one month) is necessary to enjoy the family-friendly springs, and the nonprofit that runs the site offers a variety of day-visit packages to choose from. P.S. Clothing is optional.
100+ Miles Away
This is for people who are really looking to make a trek. Wake up before the sun, hop in the car and get going to one of the following locations.
Bodie State Historic Park — While the site is roughly a 2.5-hour drive from South Shore, the opportunity to walk around the gold-mining ghost town is worth it. The spot was once home to nearly 10,000 people during the 19th century, but is now preserved in a state of arrested decay.
Calistoga — For those wanting to visit wine country, this is for you. Calistoga is located in Napa Valley, so the drive is somewhat lengthy, but the town features mineral pools, spas, a handful of wine tours and much, much more.
Calaveras Big Trees State Park — Located just outside of Arnold, this tourist attraction is the spot to check out the grove of giant sequoia trees that includes the Discovery Tree (Big Stump) and more. Be sure to bring the camera for this scenic stop.