Day Two

Boat to Emerald Bay

WALK across the road to the Fire Sign Café for a big breakfast. This place will have lines out the door if you wait until 10 a.m., so get there early. Try the gouda scramble, or the buckwheat pancakes topped with hot, homemade blueberry-raspberry sauce, or an all-time favorite, the smoked-salmon omelet.

FOR A QUIET MOMENT, stop by the outdoor chapel at the Noel Porter Camp and Retreat Center (, just down the way. You’ll find the Chapel of the Transfiguration in the woods behind the Episcopal camp; it’s so peaceful, even the nonreligious could find God there. On Sundays between Father’s Day and the end of September, there’s a 9 a.m. service, for those who prefer a bit of structure.

RENT a boat (ski or sail) from Tahoe City Marina ( and cruise about ten miles down the lake to Emerald Bay ( This has to be one of the most gorgeous sights in the West: a crystalline bay with a narrow beach and the small, granite-filled Fannette Island, the lake’s only island.

TOUR Vikingsholm (, at the head of the bay. This so-called castle was built in 1929 as a wealthy woman’s summer home. It’s considered one of the best examples of Scandinavian architecture in the United States, with boulders, hand-cut timbers, carved moldings, and a sod roof. The remains of Vikingsholm’s former teahouse are out on Fannette Island.

AN ALTERNATIVE to renting a boat: book a two-and-a-half-hour scenic cruise on the Tahoe Queen (, a twenty-six-year-old paddleboat built on the Mississippi River and moved to Lake Tahoe. The ride includes an exclusive video, The Sunken Treasures of Lake Tahoe, showing underwater canyons, vertical cliffs, ancient petrified forests, and sunken vessels. Cruises launch daily at noon, Tuesday-Sunday, until mid-June, and at 11 a.m. & 2:30 p.m., mid-June through early September.