Drought encourages Tahoe to focus on year-round activities

WE LOVE CELEBRATING OUR REGION’S year-round lifestyle centered around farm-fresh food, fine dining, local wine and beer, art and music and outdoor recreation — and it’s becoming a bigger draw for vacations, staycations and relocations.

Tahoe and Truckee have deep roots in winter sports, going back to Sugar Bowl in the ’30s and the 1960 Winter Olympics.

The region also is ideal for its warmer weather or “non-snow” activities. Summer has always been significant for Truckee and Tahoe, going back to the days of the S.S. Tahoe passenger steamer and rustically elegant Tahoe Tavern in the early 20th century.

Warmer weather activities are on the upswing too, a result of the drought and climatologists predicting long-term declines in snowfall. “Resorts, hotel owners and others are relying less on snow and putting greater emphasis on entertainment, fine dining and other forms of recreation,” as the Sacramento Bee wrote in a recent front-page story.

Ski areas such as Royal Gorge are upgrading their mountain bike trails. Others are building zip lines, such as the Blue Streak Zip Line at Heavenly. And Boreal Mountain Resort has opened Woodward Tahoe, an indoor facility for snowboarding, skateboarding and BMX.

At Tahoe, Donner and other lakes, the region’s fastest-growing water sports — stand up paddle boarding and kayaking — have a low impact on the marine environment, beneficial during a drought.

The nation’s premier wooden boat show, the 43rd annual Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance, is August 7-8 on Tahoe’s West Shore — the birthplace of wooden boats in the 1920s.

For Tahoe-Truckee food lovers, fine dining is booming with four-star restaurants such as Restaurant Trokay in Truckee, PlumpJack Cafe in Squaw Valley and Evan’s American Gourmet Cafe on the South Shore, among others. The Six Peaks Grille at the Resort at Squaw Creek is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, along with the resort itself.

In addition, more resorts and hotels are promoting culinary adventures, such as the new hands-on cooking classes and spectacular “underground” dinners at the Cedar House Sport Hotel in Truckee.

Food and wine tasting events are growing. They include the Lake Tahoe Autumn Food & Wine Festival on September 11-13 at Northstar California Resort, now in its 30th year; Sample the Sierra on the South Shore; or the Truckee Wine, Walk & Shop, now in its 12th year.

The Truckee River Winery won silver medals for its Pinot Noir and Malbec in the 2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Tasting Competition.

More breweries, brewpubs and gastropubs are opening. Regional pioneer Fifty Fifty Brewing Co., is being joined by Tahoe Mountain Brewery in Tahoe City and Truckee, and Mellow Fellow Gastropub in Kings Beach and Truckee, among others.

For summer entertainment, the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival began modestly in 1972 at Sugar Pine Point State Park on the West Shore. Four years later, it relocated to Sand Harbor State Park at Incline Village, where it continues to entertain theater-goers with a spectacular lakeside setting.

Classical music reigns supreme at the Lake Tahoe SummerFest in Incline Village or the intimate Lake Tahoe Music Festival on the West Shore.

The first annual Truckee Open Art Studios Tour is a 10-day celebration of the arts in Truckee.

(Photos: Rachid Dahnoun, Jeff Dow)

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