The jury is still out on whether Lake Tahoe is more beautiful in the winter or the summer, but if you've only admired its cobalt blue waters from atop one of the surrounding ski areas, you owe it to yourself to take a closer look. Summer is the time to inch up to the water's edge or even jump in. No matter the season, Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful bodies of water between the Pacific and Atlantic.
Access: From San Francisco, drive east on the Capital City Freeway through Sacramento to US-50, which will carry you the rest of the way to the town of South Lake Tahoe. Alternately, if you’re coming from Reno or Salt Lake City, take I-80 west to US-50. Stay in any of the small surrounding towns, including Tahoe City, Truckee or South Lake and take your pick from the many beaches and entry points to the lake, from the popular Emerald Bay to smaller east-shore locations like Chimney Beach.
What to do: Kayak, boat, golf, swim, water-ski, sun-tan, hike, mountain bike, visit the charming lake towns, or nearby Genoa, the oldest permanent settlement in Nevada. When to go: Though Tahoe is lovely year-round, it’s a prime location for those who want to visit the mountains and the beach in one trip in summer.