With nearly 8,000 miles of coastline, lofty ranges of snow-capped peaks, and countless rivers, lakes and charming towns in between, California and the Northwest hold a continent’s worth of summer getaways. The delightful difficulty is deciding which one’s for you.
Lake Tahoe — California and Nevada
Poised at an elevation of 6,223 feet and ringed by Sierra Nevada peaks, North America’s largest alpine lake has beckoned summer visitors for well over a century. The city of South Lake Tahoe has its own small airport and abundant lodgings, but many visitors arrive via Reno-Tahoe International Airport and stay in smaller towns like Tahoe City (the Cottage Inn, Basecamp Tahoe City), on the north shore. The lake's upper layer warms to about 65 degrees by July, great for a plunge when the air temp reaches into the 80s and the smell of pine wafts across golden sand beaches. Tour Tahoe’s sapphire waters by sailboat, vintage motor yacht or paddle-wheel boat, and hike the forested ridges of its basin for incomparable views. For a glimpse at how the fine folk once summered here, check out the imposing 19th- and early-20th-century lodges at Tallac Historic Site in South Lake Tahoe.
Sun Valley, Idaho
Established as North America’s first destination ski resort in 1936, Sun Valley in recent years has blossomed into a prime center for outdoorsy summer fun. Flying into Friedman Memorial Airport and lodging at the resort can be pricey, but many visitors pare expenses by catching a flight to Boise, making a roughly three-hour drive, and staying in neighboring Big Wood River communities like Ketchum, an old mining town. The region offers an impressively diverse menu of activities — golfing on an alpine links-style course, river rafting and riding horses along mountain trails, or hiking down Bald Mountain after a panoramic gondola ride to the top. But you can also slow it down with an Olympic-caliber ice show, free top-notch outdoor symphony concerts and one of the Northwest’s premier arts and crafts festivals every August.