- Check out Part 1 on picking where to go and picking lodging.
- Check out Part 2 on Food and Activities.
- Check out Part 3 on Packing List
- Check out Part 4 on Last Week To-Dos & Packing
- Check out my post on Vacation Training
Trip Recap & Experience
I booked our lodging using HomeAway.com. I did also purchase travel insurance through the site, since we booked it 6 months in advance.
We stayed at Aston Lakeland Village Beath & Mountain Resort while in South Lake Tahoe, CA. This property is a mix of permanent residence, vacation condos, private owners who rent out their properties (which is what we stayed in #105), and rooms that are managed like a hotel.
Check out my first post in this series for more details and pictures of the property.
Location, location, location….this property is located in an ideal spot in South Lake Tahoe. Many places are walkable, bike-able or scooter-able (via LimeBike) from the property. The property has a shuttle service that will drop you off and pick you up within a 2 mile radius of the property until 10:00p PT at night.
The property has a private beach, pier, two pools and hot tubs (one overlooking the lake). The amenities we didn’t use was the laundry facility, kids wading pool, sauna, fitness facility, tennis court, grills, volleyball courts, nor the beachside bistro. I also think that they offer kayak and paddleboat rentals.
The privately owned unit we stayed in had a view of the parking lot, so we didn’t spend any time on the patio. It was well equipped: large closet with hangers, dresser, bathroom, full kitchen with full size appliances (including a traditional coffee pot), dining table, sitting area, king size bed, a flat screen TV with remotes and channel guide, a gas fireplace (we didn’t use), A/C unit, and an oscillating fan. Because it is privately owned, we were not able to use the “hotel” services, but it really wasn’t an issue for us; there were plenty of towels. However, we did purchase our own higher quality toilet paper.
We received a parking pass for while we were there, that is to be kept in the dash board when parked in the lot.
- They offer free Wi-Fi, but you have to enter a password every 24 hours and the Wi-Fi is not that great, but better than the cell service in the area.
- The bathroom vanity has an electrical short in it, if you close the drawers just right the lights above the mirror would flicker or go out.
- While the mattress was comfortable and we had no issues sleeping on each side of the bed separately, this was achieved by each individual sleeping on their side of the bed in the pre-existing divot/hole that was in the mattress on each side. I really do suggest that the owners replace it.
We were there through a major holiday, when the masses descend upon the lake. On the 4th of July our parking lot was so full that there were vehicles parked in every nook and cranny on the property. We had to park between a tree and a bush between the driveway and a walkway. It was crazy, I wish they had warned us!
The evening of 4th of July we and long with everyone staying there (plus some it looked like) went down to the private beach and dock to watch the fireworks show put on by the casinos and coordinated with music from the local radio station. They had a local radio station DJ on-site playing music before and after the show.
Generally speaking and overall we were pleased with our accommodations and would probably stay there again.
I will be posting reviews of all the restaurants that we visited at my sister site: Restaurant Reviews – ByCandace in the coming weeks, which will probably slow down my posting on this page.
Reno Arch: Overrated idea, but we got a picture.
Hiking Eagle Falls:
The Eagle Falls trailhead is approximately 12 miles and 20-30 minute drive from the location of our lodging. It was a breathtaking drive.
Thankfully we had spoken to a family the day before at the pool about this hike and they suggested we arrive early, because the parking lot is small and it is a very popular hike.
We arrived at the trailhead parking lot at about 8:30 a.m. local time and the parking lot was already full. We went just past the trailhead parking lot (on the left side of the road) to another parking lot 100 yards or so up on the right side of the road. This lot was ideal because it is larger, they have Porta Potties, and a beautiful scenic outlook to take pictures from. This is a pay-to-park lot; put the ticket on your dashboard. There is a walking trail down the side of the road to the Eagle Falls trailhead.
Warning: if you miss the second lot, there is no place to turn around, the road is two lanes, narrow, and you are high up on the mountain.
These are pictures of the falls across the road and just below the trailhead parking lot.
Thankfully the trailhead also has bathrooms; we ladies really appreciate this. Read the maps before you start heading up! There are different directions you are hike.
The upper Eagle Falls hike is short and fairly easy. There were lots of kids on this trail.
We decided to hike up past the falls to a lake, which was another 30-40 minutes up. Someone said it was 15-20 minutes further, but it took us longer. It was worth the time and effort to get to. Do this! Kids were doing this hike as well. People had their young children in back carriers, hiking up with them.
On the way to the lake….
The reward….the lake!
If you are even more ambitious and more prepared than we were (food, more water, and toilet paper). There is a second lake that is another 3-5 miles up past the first lake. We did not do this.
There is also a hike path that is “the loop” that is a very long hike. We also did not do this.
I’d love to go back and hike this again and maybe even go up to the second lake.
I cannot speak highly enough about this hike. It was beautiful!
I researched fishing guides for my husband to do 1 or 2 ½-day fishing excursions while there. Boy was his experience different than what we had expected based on the reviews and research I did. Out of the two companies that I had narrowed it down to, we picked the first one (Mile High Fishing Charters) because it presented as though he’d receive more personal attention because it was a little smaller outfit.
My husband spoke with the ower-operator, Joby, two moths out, twice for about 20 minutes each time in May 2018 (trip was July 2018). Joby said that he didn’t want to take payment that far in advance. He said the schedule was wide open and he’d put my husband down for those two dates and to call him back when we arrived in town to confirm what time of day my husband could go. The plan disused was to do a morning trip on Tuesday, 07/03 and then maybe again on Friday, 07/06.
My husband and I drove over to the marina on Sunday, 07/01 in attempts to perhaps drop in and speak to Joby in-person. On the way into the marina area, BAM! Momma bear and two babies (one of the little bears is towards the back right side of the tree) on the side of the road. Apparently, she forages trash cans for leftover fish parts. Generally pretty dangerous for people riding their bikes and walking down that road behind us and in the nearby neighborhood.
I’ve never been this close to a bear before, it was sooooo cool, but I was very thankful to be inside my vehicle and not riding a bicycle.
We had a difficult time finding their place of operation, as there are multiple businesses out of this marina; we didn’t see any signs. We called Joby and he was out on the boat. A brief conversation was had that reviled to us that he didn’t remember my husband nor having two conversations with him two months prior. We were told that once he got back on dry land he’d call my husband back to disucss; he never called. My husband had to keep calling him. Once my husband was able to speak with him again, we were told that my husband wasn’t on his schedule for Tuesday and was on for “maybe Friday”, this after he was reminded again of the previous conversations. Needless to say, the hubby was frustrated and mad.
Talk about unprofessional! To compound the issues, the communications between the fishing guide and my husband was like pulling teeth. We’d be told he’d call him back or email him information and my husband would continually have to call him back to get information.
Also, Joby gave my husband’s phone number to another local guide without tell him. We received a phone call from the other guide saying that he got his number and wanted to touch base about a trip out on his boat, but he was booked solid and could do a trip for his 5 people. My husband is only 1 person! All the facts relayed were wrong.
Surprisingly, Joby called my husband and said that he could get him on his boat on Wednesday, 07/04 morning with 5 other people. My husband said ok and went. The boat can really only hold 4 fishermen comfortably and he was squished up in an awkward corner of the boat the whole time.
Joby was on his phone the majority of the time and not paying attention to the fish finder. The boat would be “off” the fish schools for upwards of 15 minutes at a time. Joby also kept the boat in a small area of the lake the entire time.
Only 3 of the 6 people on the boat caught fish (those on the back of the boat). For $150 per person you’d think they’d be motivated to make sure people caught at least one fish during the 4 hours on the boat.
The whole experience was underwhelming to say the least. As an avid fisherman, my husband didn’t understand how anyone with this business could charge $150 a head and provide such a poor experience and lack of production for their customers. He will never do this again and would advise the same to anyone.
Heavenly Resort – Gondola and Zip Lining:
Call ahead and make a reservation (775-586-7000) for the activities (time) and purchase your tickets ahead of time. This is a very popular spot in the area and it is quite busy and full.
The Gondola ride was a mind-blowing view and so cool. There is a stop halfway up the mountain you get-off at and there is a platform for viewing and pictures. There are real bathroom at the stop and tables for hanging out.
These pictures are unclear, because of the nearby California fire smoke getting sucked into the Lake Tahoe Area.
At the top of the mountain there is a large lodge with wifi, real bathrooms, food and beverages, including a bar. There are tables inside and outside to sit.
There are a number of activities to do while up there, some geared towards various age children and some towards adults.
- Mountian Coaster
- Ropes Courses
- Zip Line
- Climbing Wall
- Gemstone Panning
From the lodge area, we checked in at the Blue Streak tent, was provided an orientation and then took a ski lift up to the beginning of the zip line and the line ended in the area of the lodge and all the other stuff.
The Blue Streak Zip Line was fun, but is short-lived. I probably wouldn’t do this activity again.
The older lady that runs the office, I’m not sure if she owns the business or not, but she was not friendly. She was brash. I was not a fan.
Super cool experience over this huge lake surrounded by mountains. I’d totally do it again, even though it seemed like an overall short ride. The people who took us out were friendly, professional, and we had confidence in their abilities.
Bonus: On our way back to dock, my cap flew off and they were nice enough to circle back and we fished my cap out of the water. I can’t believe I spotted it in the water! And it was super nice for them to turn around for it. I am still incredibly grateful, since it was one of my most favorite caps.
The Cork & More:
My husband agreed to stop by a shop called The Cork & More, which is an artesian store, deli, wine tasting and shop. I picked up some spices and a new coffee mug! It is a cute little store.
On one of the days that we didn’t have dinner reservations we decided to take a trip to Markleeville, CA, which is approximately a 30 minute drive south of South Lake Tahoe. The drive was purdy.
There is NO cell service nor data signal in this area. We had to stop at the visitor center twice in the short time we were there.
Just outside of town is Grover Hot Springs. We paid $10 per person to enter the pool area (this is a day rate). They have locker rooms to change and rise off in. There are outside cubby holes to put your stuff in by the hot spring pool. We were told to lock all your valuables in your car. While we did remember to pack swim suits and sunscreen, we didn’t remember to bring towels. I drip dried and then changed back into my real clothes, so it was really no big deal.
After about an hour in the hot spring pool, we changed and went back into town to eat at a local spot called Wolf Creek Restaurant and the Cutthroat Saloon. It was one of….I think….three places to eat in town. It is a historic building built in the 1800’s that originally was a hotel and brothel (so we were told by the locals) in Markleeville.
The official restaurant review will be posted at my sister site: Restaurant Reviews – ByCandace. Once the post is up, I’ll link to the post here.
We had no plans to drive to Genoa City, NV that day, but two locals from the Wolf Creek Restaurant and the Cutthroat Saloon told us that instead of going back the same way we came in we should go back through Nevada and Genoa City to hit up the first settlement in NV and the oldest thirst parlor and “gentleman’s saloon” in Nevada. Naturally we couldn’t resist checking it out.
We drove approximately 26 miles and 30 minutes through a beautiful valley with cattle ranches everywhere to get from Markleeville, CA to Genoa, NV. Totally worth the drive. Genoa City is a quaint town with a historic hotel, mom-and-pop shops, and the main attraction Genoa Bar & Saloon. Pretty cool spot! If you are ever near here, I recommend you put this on the to-do list.
To get back to South Lake Tahoe from Genoa was approximately 19 miles and 35 minute drive. It was through a mountain pass which eventually winded down to the Nevada side of South Lake Tahoe.
I chose this spa, because originally my husband was supposed to be off fishing while I went to the spa and this one is within walking distance from our lodging location.
Don’t let the old building and make-shift spa deter you. I was originally disappointed and apprehensive. I was wondering what I had gotten myself into when I first saw the building and spa quarters.
They have private bathrooms with keyed lockers to keep your clothes and valuables. They provide comfy robes. They have a little side room called the tea room, where you can make and sip a variety of teas in between services (if you have time). They offer a variety of product in their main waiting room as well.
The people and their skills were amazing! Everyone was very courteous, friendly, accommodating, and professional.
I’ve had A LOT of massages in my life and honestly it was the best massage I can remember. My massage therapist was Sage Salonga; she was fan-dang-tastic! My husband was able to schedule a last minute massage that morning as well and said that his girl did a really good job too.
My Esthetician was Sandy O’Donnell and again, super great!
When and if I make it back to South Lake Tahoe, I’ll be seeking them both out for services.
Overall South Lake Tahoe Experience
Overall we really enjoyed our time in South Lake Tahoe. It is a beautiful place to visit! I hope one day I am fortunate enough to be able to go back again and do some of the activities we didn’t get to do this time.
Activities for Next Time
- Clearly Tahoe Kayaking Tour
- Heavenly Resort – Mountain Coaster
- Hike: D.L. Bliss State Park
- Hike: Balancing Rock Nature Trail
- Zephyr Cover Resort / Lake Tahoe Cruises
- Wine Tasting on a 1953 Vintage Wooden Boat
If we are able to make it back for another trip, we’d probably go in the off-season to avoid the large numbers of people, in October or late April/early May time frames. We may also consider staying at a more remote location, instead of in the middle of it all….who knows….we’ll see.
I hope you found this series helpful and enjoyable.