Lake Tahoe is a vast blue bowl of snowmelt ringed by the Sierra Nevada mountains. The lake and surrounding Washoe Indian territory were first seen by the explorer John C. Fremont in 1844, and swarmed with silver prospectors just a few decades later. Affluent San Francisco families soon began building summer lodges, and the postwar boom brought highways, casinos on the Nevada side (poor Fredo took his last fishing trip here in The Godfather Part II) and the 1960 Winter Olympics. The popular Village at Northstar has a relatively new retail-pedestrian complex and is excellent for shopping and ice skating, but less so for dining. For that, I recommend the nearby north shore town of Truckee.