Old trip: The summer playground of the teeming west shore
New trick: Sneak around the corner to Nevada and the lake's pristine emptier side
When you come upon Sand Harbor, just four miles beyond Incline Village, you almost can't believe what you see: untouched Nevada parklands rimming the northeastern corner of the famously magnificent, deep, deep blue lake. It's so quiet here among the rocky inlets—so utterly prehistoric and flawless—with nothing like the clattering traffic and party atmosphere you'd find in Tahoe City or Sunnyside. Hike (or steer a boat) around momentous boulders from cove to tiny cove, and turn one into your private lair for picnicking, reading, and luxuriating in.
STAY: This epic tangle of undeveloped, exotic public shoreline is four miles long. Yet within 15 minutes, you can be back in Incline Village and your roomy, Rockies-influenced lakeside cottage at the Hyatt Regency, looking out at the long dock and the wide, south-facing beach. From the deck, watch the kids play Kick the Can on the lawn below, as the sunset glows and the staff light the two beachside bonfires. It's a postcard setting from any era—right here, right now.
DINE: Every morning, stroll to the Regency for something you wouldn't necessarily expect from a casino-hotel: a really good omelet and some French-press coffee, courtesy of the Sierra Café. At night, join the chatfest inside the Lone Eagle Grille's high-ceilinged bar fronting the beach, where the town's real-estate agents and basketball coaches are cocktail-hour regulars. An elaborate meal at the Grille is a worthwhile splurge: Whether Mark May's kitchen is searing elk or grilling quail, it does rare work with all manner of beast.