It's hard to imagine how captivating Lake Tahoe can be until you see it. Mark Twain declared it "the fairest picture the whole earth affords." Surrounded by the imperious peaks of the Sierra Nevada, its waters soak up the colors of the sky and the mountains, creating a kaleidoscope of sparkling blues, greens, and purples -- a display that will fill your camera with screen-saver moments. The view is only a fraction of Tahoe's enchantments: Nearly every outdoor activity that exists is done here, and the lakeside casinos provide 24-hour indoor entertainment.

Things to Do

Think of Lake Tahoe as the most awesome summer camp for adults ever. Just lounging on a deck under the pines with a book and a warm summer breeze is heaven. Float down serene Truckee River in an inner tube, take a leisurely bike ride along the Truckee River Bike Trail, or soak in the sun on a gold-sand beach.

Active Pursuits

In summer, you can partake of boating and watersports, mountain biking, golf, tennis, hiking, camping, rafting, ballooning, horseback riding, rock climbing, bungee jumping, parasailing, skating, and so on, with seemingly endless possibilities. In winter, Lake Tahoe is one of the nation's premier ski destinations, with 15 downhill ski resorts, snowmobiling, and other snow play.

Nightlife & Entertainment

Nearly half of Lake Tahoe belongs to Nevada, the state that never sleeps. Casinos abound on both north and south sides of the lake, but true night owls will prefer the South Shores's big-name entertainment at Harrahs, Horizon, Harvey's, MontBleu and more. If casino's aren't your thing, there are plenty of pubs lining the lake: micro-brews at The Bridgetender, legendary Rum Runners at The Beacon, and margaritas on the lakeside deck at Sunnyside are just a few of our favorites.

Restaurants & Dining

When San Francisco's chefs need a change of scenery, they often bring their knives to Tahoe: Moroccan tagine and wine-braised short ribs at Manzanita, a juicy grilled rib-eye at Gar Woods Grill & Pier, and Real Tahoe Turkey sandwiches at Sprouts Natural Foods Café. And you would think sushi in the mountains makes no sense, but The Naked Fish in South Lake holds its own with any San Francisco sushi joint. But more important than the food is the view, so beg or bribe for a table overlooking the lake.