Hike the highest peaks, paddle a kayak, put pedal to the metal, then reward your athletic endeavors with some good eats.
Trip time: 5 Days
Truckee. Golf the greens (May–Sep) at the Resort at Squaw Creek , where no pesticides touch the grass. Pair organic cuisine with biodynamic wine at Pacific Crest Grill & Bar of America .
Tahoma/D.L. Bliss State Park (23 mi/38 km: 41 min). From late May to September, follow surprisingly level paths for stunning views of the Lake Tahoe basin, then head down to the beach for a dip into the lake’s sapphire blue waters—bluer now thanks to major environmental efforts.
South Lake Tahoe (20 mi/33 km: 35 min). Peruse Grass Roots Natural Foods for picnic supplies, then head to Regan Beach for beaches and grassy play spaces. Swing your clubs May through October at Lake Tahoe Golf Course .
Markleeville/Grover Hot Springs State Park (32 mi/51 km: 53 min). Rub shoulders with locals at Wolf Creek Restaurant’s historic bar, then relax in the geothermally heated pools of Grover Hot Springs State Park . For great views, consider an all-day hike to Burnside Lake—a steep 10 miles round-trip (May–Nov).
Monitor Pass (8 mi/13 km: 16 min). View the geologic upheaval that built the Sierra Nevada as you drive this stunning pass mid-May through November: high peaks to the west, Carson Valley’s high-desert basin below.
Bridgeport (90 mi/145 km: 1 hr 57 min). Rent float tubes from Ken’s Sporting Goods and play in the waters of Bridgeport Reservoir (mid-Apr to Oct). Hang onto that rod; monster trout here can top 20 pounds.
Lee Vining/Mono Lake (27 mi/43 km: 31 min). Take your own watery tour by renting a kayak (try Caldera Kayaks ) to discover the otherworldly tufa towers bordering this saline lake. In Lee Vining, dig into classic American fare at Nicely’s (year-round).
June Lake Loop (11 mi/18 km: 13 min). Scarf down a brawny breakfast at Silver Lake Resort Cafe (late Apr to mid-Oct) before hitting the trail. Try the trail to Walker Lake, a moderate, 3-mile round-trip hike.
Yosemite Valley (84 mi/135 km: 2 hr 2 min). Ditch the crowds for the paved bike paths of Yosemite Valley. Afterward, recount the day over cocktails at the Ahwahnee Hotel .
Groveland (50 mi/80 km: 56 min). Browse for souvenirs, then unwind with lunch at the Cross Country Café and a latte at Mountain Sage coffeehouse. Jump and splash in the Tuolumne River at Rainbow Pool.
Free & Easy
Stare from Fanny Bridge in Tahoe City at trout in the Truckee River. Stretch out on the lawn at Groveland’s Mary Laveroni Community Park for an outdoor movie, Saturday evenings in summer. Peruse the Mono Lake Committee Information Center in Lee Vining to learn about this remnant of an inland sea.