monthly cover
Senior Spectrum Newspaper
July 2018
Current Golden Pages Cover
Golden Pages
Current Generation Boomer cover
Generation Boomer

Senior Spectrum Publications

Eclectic Observer
by Janet Ross
top of page

 

Janet Ross
Janet Ross

You don't need to be a beach fan to enjoy a day trip to the Tahoe- Donner region. A pair of newer museums and a lakeside lunch easily provide a perfect week-day outing. (Weekends are okay, too, if you don't mind lots of other folks and heavy traffic.)

Traveling West on I-80 to California, you can exit the freeway to Donner Memorial State Park. A true gem in the collection of California's State Parks, Donner Memorial boasts a long history beginning with the Native American Washoe people who have claimed the area around the glacial lake as their homeland for 9,000 years. Donner Lake was later invaded (there is no nice way to say it) by emigrants on their way to the opportunities and gold fields of California in 1844. The railroad, with its Chinese laborers, arrived in 1863, followed by clear-cutting lumber firms in 1867, and ice harvesting for the mines and East coast in the same years.

The attractions of Donner Memorial State Park are many: fishing, boating, camping, swimming, hiking and picnicking. The Pioneer Monument, a larger-than-life sculpture dedicated to early emigrants, was installed on the site of Donner Party Breen's cabin at the north end of the Lake in 1918. (It's a brief walk from the enlarged Visitor Center, opened a few years ago, in a new location.)

Included in the Visitor Center is an inter-active museum with displays and videos about the lengthy history of the area, with the expected emphasis on the tragedy of the Donner Party emigrants. There is a large gift shop in the Center, with an attractive selection of the expected items (reasonably priced) along with Native American cosmetics and remedies.

The Center is open daily from 10-5 p.m., the Park itself from sunrise to sunset. A parking fee is required for day visits; it's $10 during summer months with a discount to $9 for seniors. More information is available at www.parks.ca.gov or you can call 530/582-7982.

After your Donner Lake State Park visit, it's probably time for lunch at The Lake (that being Tahoe, of course). One of our favorite spots is the Sunnyside Resort, just South of Tahoe City. Lakeside dining is also on offer in Tahoe City, Homewood and King's Beach, and ranges from casual to upscale, but who can put a price on the view?

After your Donner Lake State Park visit, it's probably time for lunch at The Lake (that being Tahoe, of course). One of our favorite spots is the Sunnyside Resort, just South of Tahoe City. Lakeside dining is also on offer in Tahoe City, Homewood and King's Beach, and ranges from casual to upscale, but who can put a price on the view?

The Museum is meant to preserve Tahoe's maritime history and does so in many ways – through special exhibitions (the current one is “The T-Files: The Search for Tessie”, a lake monster), educational programs, lecture series, and restoration of those magnificent wood-hulled speed boats.

You can get up-close and personal with several of those spectacular boats inside the museum, learn about Tessie, Nessie and other lake monsters, and check out the small but selective gift shop (I regret not buying a booklet about a couple's rowing around the entire lake, back at the turn of the century). Best of all for some, you can (with advance reservations) have a half-hour Lake ride in the 1934 Chris- Craft runabout, Star Dust. (Boat rides are Saturdays in July, the cost is $25 per person, children 12 and under are $15. Call 503/538-9238 ext 103, during open hours.)

If you're feeling flush, you may want to attend the Museum's fundraiser, the Steamer Ball, on Saturday, July 28th from 5-9:30 p.m. Tickets include a catered dinner and music for $200 per person; it's expected they will sell out. Details are on the website at www.tahoemaritime.org.

The Museum is closed Wednesdays, open other days from 10-4:30 p.m. Admission is $5. The Street address is 401 West Lake Boulevard, Tahoe City. Parking in front is free.

If you're in the mood to get out of town, try a trip to Tahoe-Donner.