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Lake Tahoe On a Budget: The Beach Retreat & Lodge

Hammock awaits visitor to Lake Tahoe
Hammock awaits visitor to Lake Tahoe

By Allison Tibaldi

Taking the Kids correspondent

Lake Tahoe is one of the largest alpine lakes in the world, with a full menu of recreational options to match its grand size. Combine the cobalt blue water with miles of pristine nature trails and you’ve got a perfect match for lovers of the great outdoors.

The lake straddles Nevada and California, with the south shore being slightly more developed. The Nevada side offers glitzy casinos, but if gambling is not your bag, it’s easy to avoid the sound of slot machines and focus on the sound of birds chirping.

Winter is a paradise for skiers, with an array of alpine and Nordic slopes, from bunny hills to double black-diamond trails.

For my family, summer is a favorite time to visit. It’s just over three hours from San Francisco, so it’s a playground for many Bay Area residents. We live on the East Coast, but booked the new JetBlue nonstop from JFK to Reno-Tahoe. They are offering some very low introductory fares. We spent a recent June weekend in South Lake Tahoe that was both restorative and budget friendly.

Cycling at Camp Richardson
Cycling at Camp Richardson

Our room at the Beach Retreat & Lodge was just what we needed. This low-key and inexpensive property is located directly on the lake. Our room had a majestic view from its small balcony. The room was not fancy, just roomy, clean and comfy. There are 262 rooms in all, but it somehow manages to feel intimate and serene. The décor blends in with the natural surroundings, with lots of knotty pine touches.

Step outside your door and you’ll find hammocks strategically placed under shady trees, the perfect spot to get lost in a good book. There’s an indoor restaurant as well the Boathouse if you prefer to dine on the pier.

Water-worthy vessels can be rented right at the pier, so you may kayak, paddle board or Jet Ski without leaving the property. Even in summer, the lake waters are a tad too chilly for some visitors to take the plunge, so the outdoor pool is a nice touch. Dogs and kids are warmly welcomed, so expect to see plenty of both. There’s a fitness center for those who want to keep up with their regular exercise routine. With summer rates starting at $129 for a family-sized room, we found it to be an excellent value.

As appealing as it was to relax and stay put at the Beach Retreat & Lodge, we did eventually leave the property. We had a glorious time pedaling the pine-scented trails at Camp Richardson. This historic lakefront resort is a wonderful place to commune with nature. It offers many recreational and lodging options, including simple cabins and a campsite.

Red Hut Cafe
Red Hut Cafe

Any visit to South Lake Tahoe merits eating breakfast at the Red Hut Cafe. This family-owned diner is decorated with ski memorabilia including a chair lift, but it’s the food that keeps them coming back. Waffles are the house specialty and they haven’t tweaked with the delicious recipe in over 50 years. There’s an old-fashioned ice cream parlor and soda fountain that serves luscious frozen dairy treats. Everything is inexpensive and portions are very large, so consider sharing.

For helpful trip planning information, go to www.tahoesouth.com

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