Tahoe “On A Dime”

OK, here is the info that is really going to save you some money, whether you stay in our condo or somewhere else.

Vacations are expensive!  Not only is there lodging and meals, there is also the huge cost of recreational activities, like ski lift tickets and boat rentals.  Did you know just the cost of the Heavenly Tram (in summer) is an incredible $29 for adults?  Lets not even mention the cost of ski lift tickets in winter until later in this blog.

Lets start out with savings on food. Having your own condo means huge savings on meals. If you stay in a motel room, or at the casinos, you are caught in the trap of eating in restaurants at least twice per day.  At our condo you can stay in and cook two or more meals per day and enjoy morning coffee on our balcony on summer mornings. You can also prepare snacks for day trips. If you stay one week or more the savings on meals can easily equal the price of one night’s lodging!

How to save on food  

Buy your food before you arrive “on the hill” (that is what locals call Tahoe). We are not the biggest fans of Walmart……..BUT when driving to Tahoe from any direction make your first food stop there!  You can save an estimated 25-30% on your food by stocking up before you get to the Lake!  If you come into Tahoe from the west stop at the Walmart in Placerville.  If driving from Los Angeles, or thru Reno from the northeast, there are Walmarts in Carson City and Gardnerville. There is a brand-new Walmart in Gardenerville located just north of Golf Course Road off of Hwy. 395. Stop here before you head east to Nevada SR 207 (Kingsbury Grade) up to the Lake.

Shop at the Costco located on Hwy. 395 just south of the Hwy 50 junction in Carson City for mass quantities of food you probably won’t consume.

When at the Lake, for resupplies, visit Safeway, just three blocks west of our condo and use your Safeway card.  Buy your meals in bulk, if your stay is longer than three nights, this Safeway has a great deli, as well as sundry supplies. We stock up on brand names like the cheaper, generic soft drinks. Buying market brands will save you a ton of money.

Savings on Gas

The same rule applies. Fill up before you go up the hill.  The Walmart in Gardnerville has it’s own gas station. The gas there is even cheaper that the 7-11 on the corner of Golf Course Road and 395. Heading to the Lake on 395 south from (Reno), from the northeast, look for gas before you head up Hwy. 50 in Carson City.  There is an Arco with cheap gas just north of the Hwy. 50/395 junction.

Amazingly enough, the cheapest gas at the Lake is right on the Safeway property! Yes, the Safeway in South Lake Tahoe has their own gas station! Use your Safeway card to get gas and you will find prices up to 15 cents per gallon cheaper! There are a few other independent gas stations in SLT that offer cheaper gas prices but I found the Safeway, about six blocks west of Ski Run Blvd. is the lowest.

Savings on Activities

Look for activity guides wherever you shop in Lake Tahoe. You can easily find guides like, “1001 Things To Do In lake Tahoe”. They are full of discount coupons to save you significant amounts of money. Never pay full price for restaurants, cruises, bike, or boat rentals!  That even goes for summer tram tickets to the top of Heavenly!

We love “free” activities like hiking and biking!  State or national parks charge fees but many hikes in or near SLT are, of course, free!  Try the “Powerline Trail”. Turn right at the top of Ski Run Blvd. on Saddle Road. The trailhead is a couple blocks west.  Another great hike is in Van Sickle Park, just east of the stateline casinos. Entrance is free and the hiking trails are about 1/4 mile on the right. great place for picnics too! Be sure to park legally at all venues as a parking ticket will ruin your day.

Ready for a more challenging hike? The trail is moderate to strenuous but the views and rewards at the top of the trail are stunning. It is called “Round Hill” and there is a trail leading to the top.  Round Hill can be seen from the casino area when looking to the east. It is located just to the north of  Nevada State Beach. The South Lake Tahoe bike path, heading north, stops at the beach, and right next to the beach is Round Hill.  Park near the County fires station and go around the condo complex to find the trail.  Bring plenty of water as the hike gets steep near the top.  And then the views………….

Round Hill hike.

Round Hill hike.


Biking! All these activities are free and a great way to “wear out the kids” so they won’t bug you the rest of the day. The bikes aren’t free to rent but using the bike paths are.  We recommend “Tahoe Ski And Cycle” just three blocks west of our condo on Hwy. 50. Tell the owner, Gary Bell, “Greg and Penny” sent you and maybe he will give you a discount :).  Further savings on gas can be had if you ride you bikes to some of the venues like restaurants.  We do that and “ride off” some of the calories we eat during our meals. Tahoe is also great for bike riding out to brekafast.

Summer Picnics

There are fantastic picnic areas all around South Lake Tahoe. Picnic with a view of the lake at Regan Beach 1/2 mile west of the Ripke Condo on Hwy. 50. There are also picnic tables in Van Sickle State park just steps from the hiking trailhead as mentioned above. Another great place is Bijou Park on the corner of Johnson Blvd. and Al Tahoe Blvd. Bring your frisbee.

And the best place to picnic? Right in front of our condo! Feel free to use our shared barbecue and picnic table. Enjoy your hamburgers and hot dogs while looking through the pines!

Bal. Vw. 2

Saving on Casino Meals.

OK I admit “the house always comes out ahead”, but go ahead and use your “Total Rewards” card when at the table or machines. Accumulate points as you lose to use for meal credits.  I should have enough credits for at least 300 free meals by now. Just kidding. In a later blog I will review our favorite places to eat. There are dozens of great places to eat on the south shore and even a few places we love on the north shore like “Jason’s”!

Ski Heavenly For Less.

They used to offer discounted lift tickets to lodging properties……..but that was long ago. However, you can ski multiple days at Heavenly for less. You can find the link for their discounted lift ticket program on the Heavenly web site. It is called Peaks and the link can be found at


Check the internet for other ski discount programs at other resorts. Cheaper left tickets can also be found at Sierra-At-Tahoe and Homewood Ski Area.  Homewood will surprise you. Fewer lifts but some of them have similar lake views as Heavenly.










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