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Check out Part 1 on picking where to go and picking lodging.

Now that the big things are chosen and booked, it is time to move on to the most fun part!

Food and Activities!

This is where Google and Trip Advisor will be your best friends.

First Stop Reno, NV

Since we land in Reno, NV just after noon Pacific Time and we can check-in to our lodging after 3:00p PT, I wanted to find us some lunch and something unique to Reno to see before we head south.

One of the first things that popped up on my search was the iconic Reno Arch (located at the intersection of Virginia St. and Commercial Row); selfie time, gotta do that!

Reno Arch

We also need to get some lunch….I found a place called The Depot Craft Brewery Distillery that is in a building from 1910 that served “as the headquarters from the Nevada-California-Oregon Railway”.

Between my love of history and gin and my husband’s love of craft beers and bourbon, our quick Reno experience is going to be epic! I will post a review of the food, beverages, and experience here on my other site called: Restaurant Reviews – ByCandace.

Second Adventure

Being from Texas, I have been endlessly subjected to old western television shows like Bonanza and Ponderosa….well, if you didn’t know already….both were filmed on the land that stretches down the side of Lake Tahoe out to Carson City and between Reno and South Lake Tahoe. Which means….we will be driving through The Ponderosa!

ponderosa map

How-to Scope-out All the Places!

The first thing I do is pull up GoogleMap of the address where I am staying, I look around on the map for what is close by. The types of places I look for are: grocery stores, liquor stores, pharmacies, hospitals and emergency rooms, coffee shops, breakfast spots, lunch spots, dinner spots, breweries, wineries, happy hour spots, spas, and entertainment and activities. I create a Word document with a list of places for each category.

Since we have a kitchenette in our lodging we are going to keep some snacks, breakfast food, and stuff for morning coffee. We are a little bit of coffee snobs so we are probably going to pre-grind and food-saver our home coffee and pack it in our suit case to take with us. However, I did find a couple of breakfast spots near our place that we’ll probably try out a couple of mornings.

Over the years traveling, Trip Advisor has been my best and most reliable tool when it comes to restaurants. I typically start with their top 10 best rated restaurant list. Then I look up all the places that show up nearby on the GoogleMap. It is also fun to see if there are any nearby Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives spots.

As I’m looking through the places on Trip Advisor and Google under each category, I’m looking at the reviews, ratings, location, menus, and locations to determine if they are places I’d like to go. If they look appealing then they go on the list, including their name, address, phone number, webpage, hours of operation, affordability, type of food served, and any notes that I may have about the place.

The Word document is what I’ll use to make reservations for dinners and will email myself and husband so we have easy access from our phones to the address, phone numbers, and web-pages while we are there and on-the-go.

Activities

Again with the Google and the Trip Advisor…..

Depending on where you go, you can do targeted searches for specific activities (like fishing) as well as general searches (like top 5 things to do in Lake Tahoe in the summer). I did many searches of both types.

For the South Tahoe area, there are tons of activities to explore:

Activity List

Once there is a list of activities identified, then you narrow them down to what interests you the most and what you can afford to do. Then I typically check out all the reviews of the companies so that I can pick the best one for the activity I want to do. I add the activities that I want to do, by category, to the Word document, including the name, address, phone number, webpage, and costs for each.

Some activities like fishing excursions for my husband and spa days will likely need to be booked in advance during a holiday week. While some things like renting a kayak a reservation probably won’t be needed.

Day Trips

It is always good to research what else is around the area you are visiting. While we want to experience all that South Lake Tahoe has to offer, we also want to be open to experiencing surrounding areas as well. During my Google searches I also found two places (Nevada City and Markleeville) not far from S.L.T. that might be worth visiting that offer something different (like Hot Springs) that we may decide to experience.

Making Reservations

This is where things can get tricky. Part of the fun of vacation is to not be overly scheduled so that it allows you the freedom to come and go and move around as you please at the time and mood strikes you. However, some things need to be reserved, particularly during a holiday week.

Since we are traveling to a popular area during a holiday week, we will make reservations for dinner for 4 of the 7 nights at the nicer places that it may be difficult to get into. If you can make reservations on OpenTable that is great, because you’ll earn points, but not all restaurants are on OpenTable. I’ve found some restaurants allow Yelp reservations now; I don’t like Yelp personally. We will for sure make reservations for my husband’s fishing excursions and the spa treatments and massages.

The key is to plan and reserve the activities you want to make sure you do and leave room in between to go with the flow and do what you feel like…..like hit the pool, beach, take a nap, go to a brewery, have lunch, or check out local shops.

The best way to do this is to spread things out so there is plenty of room in between activities. Use your calendars folks! For my example below, I’m going to list out the days.

Saturday:

  • Arrive @ 12:00p PT
  • Reno Arch & Lunch
  • Drive to S.L.T., Check-In
  • Go Check Stuff Out, Have Dinner, Hit Grocery Store

Sunday:

  • Exploration Day
  • Reservation for Dinner – Assign a Restaurant & Time

Monday:

  • Hike Eagle Falls – Lower hike is 30 mins
  • Reservation for Dinner – Assign a Restaurant & Time

Tuesday:

  • Husband to Fish AM / Me to Kayak AM
  • Reservation for Dinner – Assign a Restaurant & Time

Wednesday: Independence Day!

  • Spa Treatments/Massages
  • Casual Dinner

Fire Works!

Thursday:

  • Heavenly Resort Activities (Gondola, Zip Line, Hike)
  • Reservation for Dinner – Assign a Restaurant & Time

Friday:

  • Husband to Fish PM
  • Low Key Evening, Pack-up

Once you have an outline of what you want to schedule and on what days, then buy tickets and make reservations. Update the information to the Word document and to your calendar with time reminders, addresses, phone number, webpages etc. for easy information access.

It is also a good idea to print and take multiple copies of the Word document. One for the rental car and one to leave in the room. Then email the data from the Word document as well, so that it is accessible on your phones with clickable links and phone numbers. The document will have more information on it than what you’ll put in calendar invites, as the calendar will only have reservation information.

Part 3 on Packing Lists – Coming Soon!