Incline Village & Crystal Bay


Following the mining boom on the Comstock Lode, lakefront summer homes began popping up around Lake Tahoe. George Whittell, an independently wealthy man, took the opportunity to purchase 40,000 acres of land along the East Shore of Lake Tahoe including 27 miles of shoreline from the California border to Zephyr Cove. Around the same time, gambling was legalized in Nevada and the Cal-Neva lodge was one of the first casinos to open in Crystal Bay, which attracted even more people to the North Shore.

As the area grew in popularity Whittell began selling small parcels along the lakeshore including a 9,000-acre parcel that would became Incline Village. The town grew to be a summer home destination with the casino under the ownership of Frank Sinatra, attracting some big names to the area, but the majority of Whittell’s property remains undeveloped to this day preserving the beautiful eastern shoreline of Lake Tahoe. More information on Incline Village’s history can be found at the Incline Village and Crystal Bay Historical Society’s exhibit in the Starbucks building.

Local coffee shop locals’ hub
Matt and Allison Thralls opened I.V. Coffee Lab last fall 2012 with the hopes of becoming a community hub. In the short year that they’ve been open, they have achieved their goal through supporting local schools and have grown to be a favorite meeting spot before a hike or day on the beach. Their specialties include espressos and pour overs. Stop by for a cup of coffee and a bagel from Truckee Bagels before heading out to explore Incline Village.


Learn about Lake Tahoe
Head over to Sierra Nevada College and check out the LEED platinum-certified Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences. Located around the building are Green Points of Interest, which explain various methods of sustainable construction used in the building including recycled insulation materials and water conservation methods. Also located in the TCES is the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, which features several exhibits focused on the water shed in the Tahoe Region.

The Virtual Research Vessel gives participants and idea of how scientists measure water quality in Lake Tahoe and the 3-D visualization theater shows the lake beneath the surface and the surrounding watershed. New this year, the center has added a Shaping Watersheds Interactive Sandbox, which is a hands-on exhibit where participants can change the topography of the sandbox and watch how it affects where water moves.


Water fun
After learning a bit about the lake, head down to the beach and experience it for yourself. Incline Village General Improvement District operates three beaches right off Lakeshore Drive. The beaches are free to Incline Village residents and cost $12 per person for non-residents and come with plenty of amenities including a lifeguard on patrol, beach chairs, and food and beverages from Incline Spirits Barefoot Beach Bar. Burnt Cedar beach also offers a pool for those who seek warmer waters.

For those who would rather spend the day on the lake, Action Water Sports at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort offers 2-hour cruises on its 55-foot catamaran, “The Sierra Cloud.” Action Water Sports also offers parasailing, jet skis, kayaks and boats for rent.

Enjoy sandy beaches, historic estate
A short drive east on State Route 28 offers even more beach options beginning with Hidden Beach, just outside of town. Sand Harbor is one of the more popular beaches in the area and is home to the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival in July and August. Further east offers many coves and spots along the shore, but beware of parking restrictions. Feeling ready to bare it all? Head to the local nude beach – Secret Cove is located south of Sand Harbor. Parking is available in the lots near Chimney Beach.

While exploring the area, don’t forget to take a tour of the former home of George Whittell. The Thunderbird Lodge is open for tours from Tuesday to Saturday until Oct. 12. The tour is full of tales from Whittell’s past and Incline Village history, including late-night poker games in the Card House during Crystal Bay’s gambling hey days and the lion that Whittell kept as a pet. The “Thunderbird Yacht” is another must see. Both the Lodge and the Yacht are available to rent for private parties and events including weddings with packages including catering available. Tours are available by kayak, shuttle bus or boat.

Lunch and a round of golf
For a big lunch on a small budget, stop by T’s Mesquite Rotisserie. T’s serves its freshly cooked tri tip, chicken and pork in sandwiches or as a meal on its own, but they are best known by locals for the burritos. While the restaurant’s main focus is on the meat, the vegetarian burritos are equally popular. Be aware that it’s cash only at T’s.

Walk off a big lunch with a round of disc golf at the North Tahoe Lion’s Club disc golf course next to the Recreation Center. This 18-hole course winds through the trees and offers a variety of challenges along the way.

Or, hit the breathtaking greens at Incline Village’s two courses – the Championship Course or the Mountain Course. Both courses offer great views and challenging greens. The Mountain Course offers great specials all week including Family Golf Sundays and Six After Six on Wednesdays for women.


Explore the trails
If you’re seeking a day on the mountain instead of by the lake, hiking and biking are always nearby. Mount Rose is a popular option with access to the Tahoe Rim Trail and views of gorgeous waterfalls. The summit offers a breathtaking panoramic view of Reno and Tahoe from 10,778 feet above sea level. The Tahoe Meadows trail is a mellow, interpretive trail loop off of the Tahoe Rim Trail that gives hikers the opportunity to learn about some of the flora and fauna in the area.

Those seeking a two-wheel adventure should check out the Flume Trail, which explores the ridgeline along the East Shore and offers about 14 miles of dirt roads and single-track trails. Flume Trail Bikes offers a shuttle service and a variety of bike rentals at Tunnel Creek Café. Hikers also are welcome on the Flume Trail.

After a ride, swing by the Tunnel Creek Café for a quick bite and a beer or cup of coffee. On Wednesday afternoons, there is a community farmers’ market behind the café featuring local produce, handmade crafts and live music.


Small bites to Southern delights
Incline Village offers a variety of dinner options after a long day outdoors. From the Southern comfort food of Austin’s Restaurant to the small savory treats found at Bite American Tapas there is something for all tastes. Fredrick’s Fusion Bistro is known for its Thursday night half-priced sushi specials at the bar. Lakeside dining can be found at the Lone Eagle Grille, which sits on the beach at the Hyatt.

Those looking to party all night are in luck. Thanks to Nevada’s loose laws regarding last call, many of the bars and casinos stay open all night. Mingle with the locals and college students over a cocktail and a game of darts at the Paddlewheel Saloon then head over to Crystal Bay for a night of gaming and dancing at the casinos. The Cal-Neva Lodge and the Crystal Bay Club host live music most weekends and often the shows are free.

After a long night, the Night Rider will take you as far as the West Shore and Northstar, but you will need to hail a taxi to get back to Incline Village.

The Tahoe Area Regional Transit offers public transportation throughout the area, with the free Night Rider from Tahoe City to Crystal Bay, Nev., the West Shore and Northstar from 7 p.m. to about 1:30 a.m. Visit for a complete schedule. See Events for details on upcoming events.

Story and photos by Jenn Sheridan


Upcoming events

Live music | Entertainment section in this issue

1-5 p.m. | Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences | Sierra Nevada College

Tues.-Sat. (until Oct. 12)
Thunderbird Lodge tours | East Shore

4-7 p.m. | Farmers’ Market | Tunnel Creek Station

Tunnel Tours | Cal Neva Resort

Sept. 12
5 p.m. | Microfinancing talk | Sierra Nevada College
5:30-7:30 p.m. | Nepal talk | Parasol Foundation

Sept. 16
Cooking at the Castle | Thunderbird Lodge

Sept. 19
6 p.m. | Olive oil talk | Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences
6 p.m. | Moonlight hike & social | Incline Village
7-10 p.m. | Full Moon hike | Mount Rose

Sept. 20
4:30-10:30 p.m. | Full Moon hike | Mount Rose
7 p.m. | Spoken Word event | Sierra Nevada College

Sept. 21
11 a.m.-1 p.m. | Dog Days of Fall | Burnt Cedar pool

Sept. 28
Foliage & Birds hike | Spooner Lake
Bowl-A-Thon fundraiser | Bowl Incline


Visitor information | 969 Tahoe Blvd., Incline Village
Public transportation |