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Going to South Lake Tahoe September 2013. What to do?

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Minneapolis, MN
posts: 56
reviews: 3
Going to South Lake Tahoe September 2013. What to do?

I am planning a trip to South Lake Tahoe probably from Sept 14 - 21, 2013. I will be driving (rental car) from the Reno airport with a stop at Carson City Wal-Mart to pick up groceries and other things. Any comments on the drive from Reno/Carson City/South Lake Tahoe?

I like to drive so going to see places is on my list.

I will be staying at the Tahoe Beach & Ski Club (a timeshare we have).

I have never been to this area so I have a lot of questions.

I will be 71 then and I have degenerative arthritis. I can walk but not far (sometimes use a walker). Anyplace I can rent an electric scooter? My nephew who is coming with me will be 57 and has a bad back. So I am looking for senior citizen type of pursuits that are not too spendy as I am paying for everything on a limited senior citizen budget.

Any comments on the boat cruise? Our timeshare is next door to the Tahoe Queen. Is it boring like I have read?

I'm thinking about taking the gondola ride to Heavenly Mountain as i like to take pictures and I read the view is great from there. Any comments?

Any comments on the train tour? Is it far from S. Lake Tahoe?

We will be going on a tour bus to Yosemite. (I once wanted to be a geologist). I know this isn't enough time to see the entire Yosemite area but I planned a trip there a year ago (May) and snow canceled my plans. So I still want to see Yosemite and a bus tour with someone else driving is best for me especially since the drive down 395 doesn't look very scenic from South Lake Tahoe. Any comments on Yosemite?

Any comments on the buffets in town. I read that Harrah's had a good, but expensive $30 buffet - is it worth it? Not interested in gambling.

We plan on going to the Picchetti Winery Tasting Room. Any comments?

Are there any events going on in September? I would like to avoid excessive crowds so I thought September would be a good month plus the timeshare "Quiet " - least amount of points - season runs from the middle of September to beginning of December (too much snow especially for driving).

Any other comments?

Manhattan Beach...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach
posts: 14,562
reviews: 3
1. Re: Going to South Lake Tahoe September 2013. What to do?

We have not taken the Queen, but have taken the MS Dixie from Zephyr Cove over to Emerald Bay. We didn't think the ride was boring. We learned much about the lake on the way over, and Emerald Bay is gorgeous from the water. For someone with arthritis there are plenty of seats to choose from, without having to climb stairs.

There is a great grocery store called Raley's in the middle of town you will see after you pass the casinos at Stateline. We went to Harrah's Forest Buffet last summer. I don't remember it being that expensive but it was pretty good and the sunset view is pretty.

A great place also to take photos is Sand Harbor. It's really a nice drive on the east side of the lake, about 25 minutes.

Are you talking about the train in Virginia City, NV? That might be an hour+ drive from where you are staying.

We love the drive down 395 from SLT to Yosemite, but perhaps taking the bus tour for the day is best.

Have a nice trip.

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 47,602
reviews: 42
2. Re: Going to South Lake Tahoe September 2013. What to do?

Who told you the drive on 395 isn't scenic? It's fantastic! Bodie Ghoststown, Mono Lake and Tioga Pass into Yosemite. But Bodie will require walking through the streets who are as the were in the old days, unpaved. Also to south tufas at Mono Lake is via a short unpaved stroll. The train ride in Virginia City was a fun thing to do and so is a visit to Virginia City itself. Looks like a very long daytrip from SLT to Yosemite and back.

posts: 26,217
reviews: 708
3. Re: Going to South Lake Tahoe September 2013. What to do?

MS Dixie does a very nice ride around the lake and yes the buffet at Harrah's is worth it! Have fun! :)

Near Yosemite...
posts: 3,107
reviews: 6
4. Re: Going to South Lake Tahoe September 2013. What to do?

I have never heard anybody say that the lake tour was boring. The Tahoe Queen and MS Dixie II are owned by the same company and are very similar boats. I believe the Queen was refurbished two years ago and should be a little nicer. You may be able to find discount coupons at the casinos near the hotel check in racks?

A more scenic drive to Lake Tahoe from Reno would be to take the Mt. Rose Highway and then drive along the east side of the Lake to your lodging. I am sure there are Wal Marts in Reno for your supplies.

The drive on 395 is scenic.

Yosemite is great, I am not sure what information you are looking for, but if you are on a tour you probably have to go along with the program.

Buffets? I avoid those if possible, but I have had a few of them at the casinos, and never thought any of them were worth the money. However, I am not a big eater, so I am biased as I can not pack in the food to get maximum benefit.

Lassen National...
posts: 2,628
reviews: 11
5. Re: Going to South Lake Tahoe September 2013. What to do?

I recommend the gondola at Squaw (in addition, not in place of the Heavenly gondola). I think you'd love the geology there. There are a lot of Aspens there as well that may be turning yellow by then.

Manhattan Beach...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach
posts: 14,562
reviews: 3
6. Re: Going to South Lake Tahoe September 2013. What to do?

I agree the drive over the Mt. Rose Hwy. Is much better. There are turn offs to stop and view the lake and take some photos. I thought going to Walmart in Carson City was important to you, but if there is one in Reno I'd go there first for your staples.

When you get to the bottom at Incline Village, it will just be a few miles to Sand Harbor on the 28, on your way to SLT.

Minneapolis, MN
posts: 56
reviews: 3
7. Re: Going to South Lake Tahoe September 2013. What to do?

Thank all of you for your wonderful comments and suggestions. Now I have to mull these over especially the suggestions about a Reno Wal-Mart vs the one in Carson City and the other suggestions about taking the Mt Rose Highway. Thanks again for your help.

Santa Cruz...
Destination Expert
for Santa Cruz
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reviews: 5
8. Re: Going to South Lake Tahoe September 2013. What to do?

I also agree that you would enjoy the Mt Rose Highway from Reno to Lake Tahoe. It is a lovely drive. It does get you to NORTH Lake Tahoe, so you will need to drive down the east side of the Lake to get to South Tahoe, but this is a lovely drive, as well, and is only about 25 miles. I would definitely find another Walmart than Carson City and take this route.

Minneapolis, MN
posts: 56
reviews: 3
9. Re: Going to South Lake Tahoe September 2013. What to do?

Have any of you been on the heavenly Gondola for a ride? I was thinking about going and then getting off at the halfway point to take pictures. However, I can't find any pictures of the stop itself. So I am wondering if there are a lot of steps to climb (I have arthritis in my ankle and a knee problem)?

Minneapolis, MN
posts: 56
reviews: 3
10. Re: Going to South Lake Tahoe September 2013. What to do?

I "drove" the Mount Rose Hwy using Google Maps. Since I am the one doing the driving, I am wondering how much scenery I will be able to look at with all those winding roads? I am pretty sure we won't be stopping at any scenery overlooks along the way.

Also, our Delta flights get in at either 4:28 pm or 5:30 pm. Sunset in September is about 7 pm. Wondering if I will be driving into the setting sun on the Mount Rose Hwy?

Upon thinking, it looks as if I will have to fly in a day early and stay overnight in Reno so that I can drive during the day to South Lake Tahoe. There is also the Wal-Mart stop I want to do which would put me even later into the night to drive down unfamiliar roads.

So two questions:

(1) As the driver, how much scenery can I take in while driving the winding roads on the Mount Rose Hwy?

(2) Do you know of any cheap motels close to the airport or even somewhat further away? We just need somewhere to rest our heads but still be able to get a good meal that night.