Lake Tahoe and Reno have heard all of your back-handed jokes about how the two cities are nothing more than Las Vegas’ far less glamorous cousin. And sure, the two stops separated by about an hour do gambling, lavish stage shows and steak dinners on a smaller scale. But these destinations are so much more than mere Sin City spinoffs.
Each offers high-end hotels, outdoor activities and a culinary scene that wows. But don’t just take our word for it. We wrangled the help of two well-known local personalities, U.S. Ski Team member Lila Lapanja and influential business owner Jessica Schneider, to show us sides of the cities that would even make Vegas jealous.
Contrary to what winter skiers and spring breakers have you thinking, Lake Tahoe doesn’t close up shop in the summer. On the contrary, when temperatures start to rise, locals simply pack up the thermal shirts and throw on tank tops. Naturally, Lapanja loves her hometown in the cooler months, but she’s got nothing but warm things to say about the area during the other seasons.
“In the winter and fall,” Lapanja says, “the water and air temperatures are usually chilly. Looking at Tahoe [any time] is a pleasure. But in the summer, when the surface water warms up to about 65 degrees, it feels great to jump in! I think people would enjoy the experience of paddle boarding, kayaking, boating or swimming in the warmer months.”
Keep reading for a few of Lapanja’s other local tips and some of our own takeaways from a recent visit to the area.