Summer Kickoff In Lake Tahoe, California
Updated: Jun 7, 2018
My son finishes 7th grade this Friday (June 1st) and we thought a great way to kick off the summer would be to take a small weekend trip. Lake Tahoe was a good choice for this because we have been wanting to check out the historic part of Truckee. It also gives us the opportunity to visit three lighthouses that we had yet to experience.
We also wanted to check out the new Ritz Carlton at North Star. We visited it about 3 months after its grand opening but we have yet to stay there.
Onward to Lake Tahoe!
Day 1: Drive to Tahoe
We began our Lake Tahoe adventure on our son’s last day of school, which meant we departed Palo Alto at about 12:20. With our bags in our car, we headed to our first stop, the Relief Lightship in Oakland.
The Relief Lightship is located on the upscale historic waterfront district of Jack London Square. On the way to the ship, we walked past a variety of shops, restaurants, and hotels.
Sadly, the Relief Lightship is rarely open and the people who run it are difficult to contact, but you can easily access it by walking north from the main parking structure. It marks one end of Jack London Square. This lightship served at many locations along the west coast.
After departing the Relief Lightship, we headed on to Carquinez Strait Lighthouse, located in Vallejo, CA. The lighthouse had an unusual history; it was a replacement to the demolished Mare Island Lighthouse. The new lighthouse was located out in Carquinez Strait until it was moved to Glen Cove marina, roughly a mile away. During the move, the lighthouse tower was destroyed, but the rest of the main building remained.
The lighthouse can now be rented out for private venues, such as weddings. We got the stamp and continued all the way to Tahoe.
On the way we stopped at the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield for a quick pitstop (one can never have enough jelly beans).
We did not have time for the tour but, fear not! We have already had the tour on previous trips. One of the things anyone who visits should do is go to the gift shop. All things Jelly Belly await!
Afterwards we had dinner at In And Out. We continued for about 3 more hours until we reached our hotel in Lake Tahoe.
Day 2: Exploring Truckee and Lake Tahoe
After we woke up, we decide to eat a simple breakfast at the Starbucks in Northstar Village. Then we drove about 45 minutes to Sugar Pine Point State Park, where we would take a hike to see a small (emphasis on small) lighthouse.
Upon arriving, we walked over to the restrooms. We discovered that nearby lay a variety of old buildings, including a beautiful lodge.
We walked for about 35 minutes through beautiful Pine forests, past magnificent views of the lake and the surrounding mountains, until we reached the lighthouse. Suspended over shallow water by 4 concrete pillars, the light is the replacement to Rubicon Point lighthouse, which we visited on a previous trip to Lake Tahoe. We took some time to enjoy the small light, and then hiked back to the buildings by the water.
We relaxed by the beautiful crystal clear lake and the magnificent buildings. We headed back to our car.
We drove about 40 minutes to historic Truckee. Once a hub for rail traffic, this town now boasts many great restaurants and shops to enjoy. After eating at a great Mexican Restaurant, we took some time to walk through the main street. Afterwards, we headed back to our hotel to relax for a few hours.
We completed the day by taking a gondola down the mountain to Northstar, where we ate at Rubicon Pizza Co. We were very happy with our meal, and not only did they have delicious gluten-free pizza but also some of our favorite gluten-free brownies!
We wrapped up our day by walking around Northstar (almost everything was closed because it was off season), and then took a gondola back to our hotel. It was a relaxing way to finish the day.
Day 3: Our Drive Home
We woke up pretty early on our last day and decided to eat breakfast at the Ritz Carlton. I did not think to take a picture of our breakfast but I wanted to say something about it. For the most part, it was a very expensive meal without the food to match. I would say that Alicia's and mine at best, just "OK". For Andy, however, it was a very different story. He ordered the Huevos Rancheros which came as a layered mountain of beans, slow cooked pork and eggs. It was amazing enough to say; "If you are at the Ritz Carlton in Truckee, order the Huevos Rancheros!" :)
The rest of our day was spent on the slow drive home. This was a great weekend for the family.
One additional thing I should mention. If you are interested, I left some 360 photos up on facebook. They work great for VR if you want to feel like you were there. I left images of Sugar Pine Point State Park, Carquinez Strait Lighthouse and Relief Lightship. I used this trip to kick off capturing 360 photos of key trip highlights so we could venture back when we wanted to (virtually).