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Get to know Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is big and deep, and the area around it contains multitudes. Two states (with two very different philosophies) share it, and the cities that hug its shore have their own impressive personalities. There are Old West mountain towns, high-rise party palaces, perfectly rustic ski villages, and ritzy hotels and residence clubs that are cities unto themselves. In the areas that aren’t set aside as nature preserves, great homes — and great second homes — climb up into the forests where their residents relax in some of the world’s most beautiful surrounds. The lake is an unblemished sapphire in the greenest of settings, and each community puts its love and respect for nature first. In the winter, the area can be blanketed by some of the deepest snowfall on the continent, and the summers open up miles of trails, rafting and fishing in the rivers, and a distinctly Tahoe boating culture.
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History & Culture

If you want to understand Lake Tahoe, you start with the lake — big, blue, impossibly beautiful, and surrounded by some of the most scenic mountains and wilderness areas in the world. Though it’s had a rough Wild West history (ask a member of the Donner Party for details), Tahoe is perfectly situated to be a playground for the outdoor-obsessed. It’s the local ski hill for the San Francisco Bay Area, but it’s also an international destination for winter sports enthusiasts staying for weeks or months in condos, second homes, and luxury resorts. In the summer, a similar crowd takes to the rivers, hiking and biking trails, and the waters of that big blue lake for every conceivable kind of outdoor fun. Lake Tahoe is a big place — it’s 72 miles around the lake, and different towns and full-blown cities on that circuit each have their own vibe. On either side of the state line, at every altitude, Lake Tahoe is home to laid-back people who are happy to be in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

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Dine & Shop

Skiers, hikers, and bikers burn a lot of energy, which makes them a very hungry crowd, and that has made for a very healthy dining culture around Tahoe. Every crossroads seems to have some creekside dining venue serving elevated versions of the standards, and the mostly chain-free casual dining here is generally exceptional. But Tahoe is also a vacation wonderland, and people love to eat well when they travel, so you’ll be able to find exceptional cuisine at every price point (though, being in a tourist area, those price points trend high). Here, fine dining blends the best of resort extravagance with California culinary consciousness. Thanks to stunning hotels and gondolas, there are remarkable finds away from the major town centers, often with dazzling views. Of note, the always exceptional Manzanita at the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe (pictured here, courtesy of Ritz-Carlton). Shopping, likewise, caters to the tourist crowd, and that translates into one-of-a-kind boutiques, amazing art and home furnishing galleries, and quirky little shops of all kinds. This isn’t a big-box universe, in general, so you may have a bit of a drive to find domestic items beyond the basics. On the other hand, if you’re looking for outdoor gear, there may be no better place on earth to shop than Tahoe.