Tahoe's Top Attractions
Anyone who grew up with Bonanza, the most popular Western series in television history, will enjoy a nostalgic visit to the Cartwright Ranch to commune with the ghosts of Ben, Hoss, Adam, and Little Joe. This open-air museum and theme park offers guided tours of the original ranch house set where the 1960s series and two recent TV movies were filmed. Situated on a hill above Incline Village, the ranch features a complete Western town with the Silver Dollar Saloon, Ponderosa Museum, and several stores, and there's an extensive collection of authentic wagons and automobiles. You won't see live horses or cattle, but there are free pony rides for the kids and a handful of animals at a petting zoo.
The morning haywagon breakfast ride (wagons pulled by a tractor) offers a meal of flapjacks and bacon on a hill overlooking Lake Tahoe. There's no gourmet restaurant, but you can order a Hoss Burger in Hop Sing's Kitchen. An authentic 19th-century church is popular for weddings, and both the saloon and the barbecue area can be booked for large groups. Ponderosa Ranch isn't exactly Knott's Berry Farm in scope or activities, but you never know where or when a gunfight will break out. Open daily, 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (May through October). Admission: Adults and seniors, $11.50; children 5 to 11, $6.50; tots under 4, free. Off Highway 28, 100 Ponderosa Ranch Road, Incline Village, NV. Information: (775) 831-0691.
With its crystalline beauty and polished circular rock formations, this mile of white-sand beaches, Jeffrey pines, and protected coves is a real stand out. Set in 14,000-acre Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park (which also includes Spooner Lake and the famous Flume Trail for mountain bikes), Sand Harbor is arguably the most picturesque piece of public real estate on the lake. Fine white sand and gently sloping contours create vivid turquoise hues in the shallows, giving the area a distinctly South Pacific flavor, although the water is quite cold. Photographers, sunbathers, and boaters frequent the rocky shoreline both north and south of here, and, in July and August, Sand Harbor is the site of an annual Shakespeare festival.
A boat-launching area, picnic grounds, paved walkways, restrooms, and a snack bar are located at the park. Because of Sand Harbor's popularity, the small parking lot is often filled between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekends. Admission: $5 per car for parking ($2 in winter), $1 for walk-ins and bicyclists, and $7 for boat-launching in summer. On Highway 28 four miles south of Incline Village. Information: Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park, (702) 831-0494.
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