Saturday, July 16, 2011

Lake Tahoe Weekend Getaway

We wanted to take a trip somewhere in the summer and decided on Tahoe after I saw a discounted rate for a 2 night stay at the Plumpjack Squaw Valley hotel from I have never been to Tahoe in the summer--Dan hadn't been in a while either--so we thought it would be a nice weekend getaway.

Our hotel was located in Olympic Valley, which was interesting because the name of the hotel was Plumpjack Squaw Valley. :p Olympic Valley was actually the site of Winter Olympics. The Lake Tahoe area is actually pretty big. Olympic Valley was on the northwest side of the Lake.

Lake Tahoe

Day 1

We arrived on Friday night. The hotel was actually an older one that was recently taken over by Gavin Newsom's company. They redecorated the inside and re-branded the hotel. The lobby was nice and modern. We booked a standard king bed room on the first floor. As soon as we entered our room, there was a little bit of a smell. We were not bothered enough to change rooms though. It appeared that dogs were allowed in the hotel, so it's probably some leftover dog smell :( ...after a while we got used to it. :p

Plumpjack's Lobby
Industrial looking bedroom
Shower area

Another thing about this hotel was that there's no air conditioning. Thankfully the weather at night was nice enough where having no AC was not a big deal. We rested for a little bit and then head over to Tahoe City for dinner. Tahoe City was a quick 10 minute drive, and we had dinner at Evergreen cafe. We got seated at a nice outdoor table overlooking the lake. Dan ordered the pork chop with grilled polenta, and I had the BBQ quail with macaroni and cheese. Food was ok....not bad but not that great either. After dinner we went back to our hotel and rested.

Day 2

We woke up a little later than usual (around 8:30 AM), probably too tired from the drive. Breakfast was included in the room rate which was great. Breakfast was simple but pretty good. They had french toast, eggs, bacon, potatoes, various breads, cereals, granola, yogurt, and fruit, along with milk, juice, tea, and coffee.

Yummy breakfast!

The other great thing about this hotel was that they provide free bike rentals. We had to fill out a form and then off we went with our free bikes. :) The trail was supposed to be pretty easy, around 8 miles one way from our hotel to Tahoe City (which was where we had dinner the previous night). The bikes were pretty old school though, pedal brake and only 3 speeds. But hey, it's free! I chose the bike with the basket on the front, it looked so cute!

Cute bike (and they were free!)
Ready to bike

 The trail was nicely paved and was actually pretty easy. There were some uphill areas but for the most part it's a pretty easy ride. It took us around 1.5 hours to finally reach Tahoe City. We took breaks along the way to take pictures and enjoy the beautiful scenery. The ride was really nice; we biked alongside the Truckee river (I think) and saw views of the mountains and trees.

Beautiful trail
Truckee River

Once we got to Tahoe City, we had a picnic at the beach park instead of eating at a restaurant. We got some bread, cheese, potato salad, milano cookies, and vitamin water from the supermarket in town. The beach (Commons Beach) was packed. Everyone else came ready with mats, umbrellas, swimsuits, coolers, etc. We only had our stuff from the market and nothing else. :p We sat at a bench and ate our lunch. It was nice, relaxing, and cheap. :) After resting for a while, we rode back to our hotel.

We got back to our hotel at around 3 PM and were really tired. We then went to the pool to chill and relax. We found sunbeds in a shaded area, which was perfect. I ordered a cold ginger ale-martinelli drink from the bar which was a perfectly refreshing poolside drink. We rested, swam, and rested some more. It was nice!

Nice pool area

We had dinner reservations at the PlumpJack restaurant at 6 PM. We didn't realize there was actually a bar area (by the restaurant) where they offered a bar menu which was considerably cheaper than the restaurant. However, we went ahead with our original dinner plans. Dan said that I had expensive taste sometimes...hehe. I had the soft shell crab appetizer which was served with sliced cucumber and avocado relish. It was actually a good portion size and the soft shell crab was perfectly cooked and the cucumber was refreshing. Dan had the rib eye steak which was pretty good too. We shared the strawberry shortcake for dessert which was pretty awesome. We compared it to Bakesale Betty in Berkeley.

Dinner area
Soft shell crab
Rib Eye Steak
Strawberry shortcake

After dinner we walked around the Squaw Valley Village area which was really empty because it was summer. Most of the restaurants were less than half occupied. We can imagine though that it must get really packed in the winter.

Squaw Valley Village in the Summer
Day 3

We had breakfast at the hotel again (love free breakfast!), and then checked out of the hotel. We stopped by the town of Truckee. It's a really really small town; we walked through the main street in 15 minutes.

Town of Truckee

For lunch we went up to Manzanita restaurant at the Ritz Carlton in Tahoe. The hotel was absolutely beautiful, and looked pretty new. The grounds were beautiful and the staff was very friendly. We didn't know this but parking was valet only, but they waived the fee because we were only there for lunch. The chef of the restaurant, Traci des Jardins, was in Top Chef Master. I tried the specialty item in which she won Top Chef Master, the warm bread salad. It was pretty good. Arugula with warm bread and gooey cheese :)

Manzanita Restaurant
Excellent warm bread salad

After lunch we drove back to Sacramento to meet up with Dan's friends to have dinner. We had a great time in Tahoe and it was interesting to see it in the summer.

Some tips & recommendations:
  • There are definitely some pretty good deals to be found in Tahoe during summer, since summer is considered low season.
  • Find out what "free" stuff your hotel/resort offers. Our hotel offered free bike rental which we took full advantage of.
  • We wish we could recommend our hotel, but we probably wouldn't go back and stay there. The hotel was a little older and the dog smell was pretty obvious. On the other hand, if you prefer a dog friendly hotel, then this hotel is definitely a possibility.

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