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Lake Tahoe - North Shore Versus South Shore

Feb 7, 2008
So, you have narrowed down your vacation plans to Lake Tahoe... but now, you have to make the most important decision of all! Will it be North Shore or South Shore? South Shore or North Shore? This choice has plagued Tahoe visitors for years. The answer is not easy, you have to look at yourself, your fellow traveling companions, and decide what kind of experience you are seeking. Then, take that list and compare it against the Tahoe shores and hope for the best!

The simple facts, no matter where you go, North Shore or South Shore, you are going to experience the 396 inches of annual snowfall, the 300 days of sunshine, have somewhat close access to the 18 excellent ski and snowboarding resorts, golf courses, casinos, and the breathtaking Lake Tahoe. Mark Twain called Lake Tahoe "the fairest picture the whole earth affords." However, you still need to pick a side!

Now, for those of you who have not been to Lake Tahoe before, just a little history. The North Shore is in California and South Shore is in Nevada. The California portion of Tahoe contains Alpine Meadows, Northstar, and Squaw Valley ski resorts. It also has the popular towns of Tahoe City, Truckee, Kings Beach, and Agate and Carnelian Bay. South Shore has Heavenly, Kirkwood, and Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resorts, and the towns of Incline Village, Zypher Cove, and Stateline to visit and enjoy. But this is all the technical side of things, the part that really needs to be investigated is the energy, the atmosphere, the "je nas sais quoi" of the shores. And both North and South Shores have that in spades!

South Shore, the Nevada side, brings the carefree, have fun and forget yourself attitude that the state is famous for. With plenty of casinos, liquor stores, restaurants, arcades, shows and entertainment easily found. South Shore invites those who want to have a lot to do and a lot of excitement. The casinos make South Shore to be a 24-hour vacation destination. After you get off the slopes, or out of a spa, you can hit the town for dinner, then a show, then dancing, then some gambling before doing it all again the next morning! This atmosphere means you will probably have a very busy, non-stop vacation. Skiing, shopping, gambling, dancing, and eating to your heart's content. Many of the casinos and ski resorts (Heavenly and Sierra at Tahoe) have licensed day cares that you can leave you children with, while you get a little extra adult time in...Many first timers to Tahoe find the plethora of activities and shuttles and day care the perfect option to get to know Tahoe and the surroundings. The South Shore towns also seem to have more young families, and ski bums hanging out just to meet new people and get their ski on. So, if you are up for an active escape from the humdrum of your everyday life, maybe South Shore is for you!

North Shore on the other hand, is all about calm and relaxation. Not as many first timers stay in North Shore, they may venture over on a day trip or on one of the shuttle's buses, but North Shore is all about keeping calm and enjoying the solitude the lake has to offer. Many Californians and long time vacation homeowners visit North Shore and soak up the lack of the excitement and lights present just down the street. The two Marriot resorts built on the California side of Stateline are gleaming examples of this attitude for calm and tranquility. They have top rate spas within the resorts as well shuttles to and from the ski resorts, laundry service, and room service, everything to make your stay nearly effortless for the vacationer. The peaceful nature of Lake Tahoe is capitalized on and the residents and visitors of North Shore seem more relaxed, more like people recharging and recomposing themselves. This does not mean that there are not a wide array of different activities to explore and enjoy, North Shore still offers first class ski resorts, shuttles to and from, fine dining restaurants, spa packages, outlet shopping, and quaint historical walks and museums, it just asks that you take them at your own pace. Travelers will not be overwhelmed by the multitude of places to go and things to see, but can select things that look of interest to them, that day. Plus, you can always cross over the Nevada side for an evening out or two!

As you can see, whether you visit North Shore or South Shore really depends on what type of experience you are seeking... this time around--you can always come back next year!
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