Happy Hoofers Service trundles history buffs and nostalgia lovers through Virginia City on a half-hour horse-drawn carriage tour of the famed silver and gold mining town. Cart along your three roommates or the rest of your barbershop quartet as you clip-clop through the Victorian-era burg renowned for its mansions, opera house, and red-light district identifiable by the crimson-hued sun perched directly in the middle of the street.
Sequestered in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, 1862 David Walley’s centers around its seven natural, hot mineral springs and pools. During winter months, guests lounge in the bubbling pools and take in panoramic views of snowcapped peaks. David Walley’s is also home to its eponymous restaurant, with menu of casual fine-dining dishes that complement a wine list noted for earning Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence in 2012. Entrees include grilled swordfish on horseradish mashed potatoes, and braised lamb shank on saffron-orzo pasta. Around the resort, world-class skiing routes host dozens of snowboarders and skiers, with hundreds of miles of snowmobiling, hiking and mountain bike trails. In summer, hot-air ballooning, wakeboarding, and water skiing are favorite pastimes while guides lead horseback sojourns through the many nearby trails.
Breezes swirl down a corridor made by trees standing up to 100 feet and perched atop levees, which form the banks of the 200-year-old Bear River. Above rustling branches and the calls of nearby eagles, the hum of an engine cuts through the tranquil air. Dave Jewell of Blue Sky Powered Paragliding takes thrill-seekers—some as old as 80 years of age—soaring up to 500 feet above rolling, farm-dappled country and between Bear River's banks on propeller-powered parachutes. Though currently surveying Californian skies, Dave has led flights and organized clubs in Japan, Nigeria, Mexico, Germany, and France, and he continues to draw on knowledge of flight mechanics from extensive Air Force parachute training. Today, Dave takes off from 24 acres of campground, where a paragliding club meets occasionally to heckle poorly shaped clouds.
A sweeping bonfire pit, rustic picnic tables, and grassy swathes for RVs welcome campers waiting their turn to fly. Dave also mans a parachute and equipment shop where he conducts repairs and reanimates the corpses of dead kites. Dave insists that he never tires of his sport, as the weather and surrounding terrain are always changing, making his higher-altitude experiences "terrifying without being terrifying.” With a small wingspan, the motorized parachutes can also approach wildlife more closely than other aircraft; on one flight Dave found himself flanked by two bald eagles, beating their powerful wings just 20 feet away.
Adrift Tahoe transforms Lake Tahoe into one giant playground, all the way from its sandy shores out into its glistening waters. In the morning?with the sun rising over the Sierra Nevada mountains?standup-paddleboard instructors lead groups out on tours of the lake, floating atop serene waters and along tree-lined banks. Similar journeys happen midday, at sunset, and at night, when the stars guide paddlers across the water and the moon looks on enviously, wishing it had water of its own.
Other members of Adrift Tahoe's team lead paddleboard fitness, while more still stay on the shore to teach yoga. Beyond these guided activities, Adrift Tahoe sells and rents aquatic gear, including paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes.
Smack dab in the middle of the Sierra mountains, the amenity-packed grounds of Squaw Valley resort sprawl across the pine-speckled lowlands surrounding Lake Tahoe and extend to summits rising 8,200 feet above sea level. Filling their lungs with brisk mountain air, visitors can hike the many trails, meander through The Village's picturesque plazas lined with shops and restaurants, garner panoramic glimpses of the gorgeous landscape on an aerial tram ride, or traverse the ropes course in the activity-packed base area. Guests never have to worry about boredom hunting them down, as they can swim or hike at a moment's notice.
Nestled on the banks of scenic Lake Tahoe, family-owned Tahoe Mountain Sports outfits adventurers for any outdoor excursion in gear and accessories from top brands such as The North Face, Merrell, K2, and Mountain Hardwear. Fight wintry flurries with Mountain Hardwear's Nitrous hooded jacket ($149.97), and prepare for strenuous hikes up homemade water slides on the side of the garage with Sorel’s Joan of Arctic boots ($118.95). Winter-sport fanatics can protect vision orbs with the boutique’s selection of goggles ($21.95+), whereas aquatic adventurers and castle architects can suit up with beach accessories ($6.95+). In hopes of protecting the outdoor space that sustains its business, Tahoe Mountain Sports also supports eco-friendly practices by supporting Leave No Trace and stocking products from environmentally conscious businesses.