South Lake Tahoe is far from Edwards. It's really far. But if you've got a long weekend and want to escape Edwards in every sense of the notion, go! The 380 mile trek up Rt 395 should take you 6-7 hours and you'll probably consider stopping short when you pass the exit for Mammoth Lakes. But for those who make the drive, the scenery and outdoor activity opportunities are boundless.
On our recent trip, we stayed at the eco-friendly 968 Park Hotel in South Lake Tahoe (check website for deals). This was a perfect launching point because the Heavenly ski resort is across the street from 968 Park and all of the town's amenities are nearby.
We spent our first day with a driving tour from South Lake Tahoe NW to Tahoe City. En route, we stopped at Vikingsholm State Park (at Emerald Bay). There, we strapped on our snowshoes for a 2-mile roundtrip romp to a Scandinavian themed summer home. Edwards Outdoor Recreation rents good snowshoes ($4/day). Then we caught an excellent lunch at the Bridgetender in Tahoe City. Share the garlic fries appetizer.
We were lucky enough to be in South Lake Tahoe for the town's Christmas Tree lighting. It was a charming event, but their 150' tall tree was lit by only a handful of lights and looked pretty sparse. Then we crossed from CA to NV to see a mediocre improv comedy show at Harvey's casino. Look for coupons before going.
On day 2, we headed straight to Hansen's Resort, where for $10/hour you can tube down their hill. I was a skeptic, but after an hour I was both exhausted and satisfied with the cost. Just down the street, we found lunch at a Wolfgang Puck Express. After Mass, we found a solid local restaurant at the Red Hut Cafe.
We also went ice skating at the local ice rink. Ideally, we were going to skate under the night sky at the Heavenly resort, but $20 was no way to attract business. Plus, the town's ice rink was 3-4x larger. But, they did turn off the lights and turn on the disco ball halfway thru the skating session. And for anyone not comfortable on the ice, moving lights don't help.
There are a handful of ski resorts around Lake Tahoe - some offer free or reduced lift tickets to active duty folks. And if we get another chance to make our way to Tahoe, we'll definitely stop at the Donner Memorial State Park.
En route home along Rt 395, we stopped to see the Upside Down House in Lee Vining. Special Note: the Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining is closed in the winter!