Placerville & Lake Tahoe, CA
This month, we take you to California's Sierra Nevadas - explore Lake Tahoe's West Shore, and check out historic Placerville in the foothills above Sacramento.
TAHOE WEST SHORE CABIN
AND TAHOE'S IDYLLIC WEST SHORE
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Perched on the western shore of Lake Tahoe, about halfway between gorgeous Emerald Bay and Tahoe City, Homewood is a one-horse town - a charming little general store and a couple of restaurants, and not much more - in other words, the perfect place for a private romantic retreat for two.
We found ourselves in Homewood for our 11th anniversary, in a great cabin with a knockout panoramic view of the lake. This two story cabin sits in a quiet, tree-filled residential area on a hill above the lake. In the winter, there is regular snow plow service (though when it snows as late as it did this year, the snow plow equipment may already be packed up, but more on that later...).
The cabin has three bedrooms downstairs, two with single beds and one with bunk beds, perfect for two, four, or even a family of six or large group of friends. And hey, didn't you always want a bunk bed when you were growing up? Now's your chance to try one out.
All three rooms have TV's with built in video cassette players, so bring along a few movies to watch while you snuggle with your partner.
But the upstairs is where this cabin really shines. Although there are other homes on either side, the angle and height of the cabin gives you virtually complete privacy.
The upstairs is one open Great Room, decorated with a rustic alpine feel - you'll love the couch, especially. The ceilings are also high, goving this room a wide open, airy feel. We spent most of our time up here, basking in the glow of the gas fireplace. There's also a VCR and larger TV up here, and a stereo, so you can put on a little music to get yourself in the mood. This is where the great lake views are, too.
There's a full kitchen, so you can bring food with you to cook (and stop by the little store in Homewood for more supplies - they're a little pricey, but hey, that's part of the experience. :)
There's also a barbecue on the deck - this will be great in the summer time, but when we were there it was a bit snowed under.
The West Shore is the quieter side of the lake - there's a lot of skiing over here in the Winter time, and a lot of hiking and boating opportunities in the Summer. About 8 miles north of Homewood, Tahoe City is a cute little Alpine town. Right on the lake, it offers a number of small shops and restaurants - plan to spend a couple hours walking around town while at the lake.
South about ten miles is Emerald Bay - well worth a look at the least. A vantage point off the Highway will give you some wonderful photo opportunitieson a clear day. If you're in the mood for a hike, a 20-30 minute walk will take you down to the bat to Vikingsholm, a beautiful alpine mansion built right on the water. There's also a hiking trail from here that runs right along the edge of this gorgeous bay - in the very middle of which you can see the remains of the teahouse on a small island outcropping.
A few miles farther south is South Shore - home to both shopping outlets and the Casinos - catch a show down here or gamble away a few bucks. Horizons Casino also has the area's only multiplex theater.
We stayed at the cabin for three nights - we got snowed in for a bit when an unexpectedly heavy winter storm dumped about six inches of snow in the area. The following day we learned the roads just north and just south of us were clear, but ours were snowed over for half the day, until the county found enough snowplows to clear the streets.
For visits to this area, we strongly recommend that you have snow tires or bring chains, and a four wheel drive wouldn't hurt, at least in the Winter and Spring. Also bring enough food for a couple days.
But the views and peace and quiet are well worth the risk of being snowed in for a day or two, and hey, why not enjoy a bit of extra relaxation?
The Tahoe West Shore Cabin is a great getaway for two... or four... or six... in the Summer or Winter time.
SHAFSKY HOUSE B&B AND
HISTORIC PLACERVILLE - "OLD HANGTOWN"
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Halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe's South Shore, Placerville. or Old Hangtown (a name leftover over from its more infamous days) is an old west gold town that's quickly becoming a travelers' mecca.
Placerville has a cute old main street that's visibly changing - just walking down the street, you can sense the new bustle and purpose here.
Storefronts are being renovated, new shops are moving in, all while the town works to maintain its historic charm.
Shafsky House B&B is a Queen Anne Victorian built at the turn of the century, in 1902.
A residence for many years and home to the Shafsky family, the building became a bed and breakfast briefly in the early eighties, and then again from 1995 to the present.
The house is relatively small, at just 2,040 square feet, but has a large feel, and boasts three separate accommodations - two rooms and a suite.
The B&B is filled with beautiful hardwood floors and is beautifully decorated. There's a dining room where the hosts serve daily breakfasts, and a common area sitting room with a warm fire on chilly winter days.
Albert Shafsky's ghost is rumored to live on the premises, and although we didn't see or hear him, he's left his imprint on this beautiful historic house.
The hosts, Rita and Stef, have been running the inn for about a year. Escapees from the Bay Area (just like us), they love the slower pace of life in this rural mountian community.
Shafsky House is just a block away from downtown on the far side of Highway 50 (but don't worry, you can't hear the street noise at all here).
Walk down the street and over the pedestrian bridge and you're on Main Street. There are several used bookstores here (great if you're a bookaholic), a great Gelato place, a hanging dummy, and a tower in the center of town.
For dinner, we tried Cafe Luna, a small but elegant restaurant tucked away at the back of a small group of shops on the south side of town.
There's also the Hangtown Grill, a good place for lunch, and if you have a hankering for chain food, there's a Round Table Pizza and an In-and-Out Burger here too.
There are also quite a few little art galleries and a few museums - Placerville was one of the main centers of the Gold Rush, and there's lots of history here to explore.
Placerville's a great little town to spend the weekend in - or stop here for the night on your way to or from Lake Tahoe.
Shafsky House and its hosts will welcome you - just tell Rita and Steph that the Altraverse guys sent you.