San Francisco | September 26, 2017 9:00 am

The Four-Hour Rule: Lake Tahoe, NV

Nothing says crisp like autumn on the water

What if there was a nearish place you could hike along a lake so blue it competes with the sky? 

Somewhere you can gamble, while avoiding the melee of Vegas. Somewhere you can soak in a hot tub till it’s time for bed, with only a million stars for company? 

And where you can patronize a recreational dispensary with nothing more than a driver’s license? 

Friends, welcome to Lake Tahoe. The Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. 

Your best bet, of course, is private. Here’s our pick. Lake views? Check. Hot tub? Check. Room for a large number of guests? You betcha. In fact, you’ll get all that plus beach access, which even on a chilly morning — overnight temps will easily slide under freezing — offers a certain balm to the soul. 

We already mentioned that this isn’t Vegas — if you’re looking for glitz, tourists, and Celine Dion, head right back to SFO and jump on that flight. Instead, head to Lakeside. It’s the opposite in every conceivable way: cheap, friendly, low-key, rustic. 

We came to get outside, right? Warm up with the Cave Rock Trail, an easy amble along the lake. You’ll need to do about a mile of the Tahoe Rim Trail to get the Castle Rock Loop — or if you want a sizable adventure, keep going on the rim trail ’til you’re back to where you started. (Snow dependent.) 

Did we mention you only need a driver’s license? Head up to Incline Village to buy from NuLeaf, Tahoe’s first recreational dispensary. (Nevada allowed statewide recreational sales this summer.) All you’ll need is proof of age, so bring your driver’s license. (“Yep, just like buying wine.”)