Ahhh...what a way to beat the Sacramento Valley/Foothills 100+ degrees than to pack up the pop-up and head to the Sierras with some friends. There is a little jewel where the traffic backs up on Highway 89 after it departs South Lake Tahoe and starts winding it's way to Emerald Bay, Camp Richardson Historic Resort & Marina.
We made our reservations about a month prior to our visit so site pickings amongst it 100 full hook-up sites were very limited. We wound up in #33, but having looked around would have preferred #43, #44, #48, #49. Well, anything that follows my general rules on staying on the outside of any loops/rings. The inner located sites were very cramped, but luckily there is so much to do here we were hardly at our camper anyhow.
After popping everything up we fixed dinner of spaghetti (noodles already cooked al dente), veggie platter, and bread. Then we ventured out on our first explore before bedtime...the Ice Cream Parlor which was located on our side, the south side of the resort. The scoops were extremely generous. The kids could have easily shared a kids scoop and the adults could have had a kid-sized scoop. With probably 15+ flavors to choose from, waffle cones, etc it was wonderful. From opening to closing at 10PM this place has bodies strewn all over it's lawn and on it's picnic tables indulging the calories they may have just taken off on the bike trail, hike, kayak, or swim. We also hit up the general store for a couple of forgotten items and it had it all from souvenirs to sundries...and a deli counter. Again more tables inside as well as a lawn and picnic tables out. These places were always bustling, but well staffed.
Saturday morning we were up bright and early. And after a french toast and fruit breakfast we were energized to hit the bike trail with our tag-along and bike seat. Located on the North/Lake side of the road is the incredible Tahoe bike trail. Well, paved with well-mannered riders and incredible vistas it is a must do. And if you don't have or forgot your bikes the Resort's Mountain Sports Center nestled between the RV check-in and the coffee shop on the South side of 89 has everything you might want to rent...road bikes, mountain, tag-alongs, trailers, kids, etc.. They are also a wealth of knowledge on where to go...as well as very kind to help with simple repairs of your own ride if needed.
Back for lunch we packed up coolers, chairs, and beach play toys and headed again to the south side of the road and the beach. With little kids we didn't want to try to trek it, but we learned it was $7 for parking even if we were staying at the resort. So we asked them for a drop-off pass and unloaded everyone & everything then one adult re-parked the car at our site and made the 7min walk/3min run back over. We set-up right in front of the Beacon restaurant which proved wonderful in the afternoon when a band started playing. We tried to get close to the water so the kids had easy access to us & the water without dragging sand and their wet bodies through other people's areas. The beach did get fairly crowded, but everyone was friendly and the kids did the usual toy swap all day. BTW...my tip to not losing your sand toys...take a permanent marker and put your last name on everything. Really helps at the end of the day when everyone has the shovel and bucket set from the dollar bin at Target. I walked our 2.5yo back to the camper for a nap while my husband & nearly 5yo rented sea kayaks and went for a tour of the area. Sea Kayaks, Paddle Boats, SeaDoos, Ski Boats...and on and on...you name it and it is available at the Marina.
Lots of sun and everyone was exhausted we spent the evening having your traditional hot dog & brat picnic style dinner with samores for dessert. After everyone was good and gooey we took to the free hot showers to de-dirtify. And all the kids nestled to watch a movie on the portable DVD player before heading to sleep. Which btw was quickly interrupted by a family of bears meandering through the campground. No bear lockers here, but you were advised to bring your food in every night. We opted to put it in the car. We'd rather have a broken car window than an attack on our pop-up with us in it. Apparently we did have a cub under our trailer for a bit until the park ranger with his truck's flashing lights and flash light moved him on to the back of the campground and eventually out all together.
Sunday morning was pack-up time and we squeezed in one more bike ride..this time to the east. We enjoyed a stop at Pope Beach and definitely agreed this is one we will return too. No music close by, but the longest beach in Lake Tahoe, clean, and a lot less crowded.
And even if you are coming to Tahoe to visit and are not a local with all the camping gear they offer cabins and a hotel. Child will definitely be going to Camp Richardson again....