They say it's the journey — and not the destination — that matters.
Apparently they've never driven to Tahoe at 5 P.M. on a winter Friday.
Which is why this year, we're cutting the last leg off the trip, and setting up shop in Truckee.
The railway town claims one of the best restaurants anywhere near Lake Tahoe, plus five-star skiing just around the corner and the loosest, friendliest scene in a 50-mile radius. (Plus it's right next to that little airport. Why drive when you can fly?)
This year, let's make life easy.
THE MEAL: COTTONWOOD RESTAURANT
The views are killer, the light by candles, and the menu hearty Californian, with a Caesar salad so famous that the New York Times mentioned it in a report on Lake Tahoe. Our order: bosc pear salad, bavette steak with bernaise sauce, and a margarita.
THE STAY: THE TRUCKEE HOTEL
For fancy digs, head up the hill, above Northstar, to the mid-mountain Ritz-Carlton. Otherwise, why not try the Truckee Hotel downtown? It's friendly and fun, and there's the kind of live music at Moody's that makes you feel like drinking. We approve.
THE ACTIVITY: WINTER DELIGHTS
Speaking of Northstar: We'd argue it's the most family-friendly resort here. Summer's mountain biking paradise is winter's snowy wonderland, with snowshoeing, telemark skiing, and Fat Bike rentals on cross-country paths, in addition to the downhill skiing, snowboarding and ice skating under the holiday lights in the complex's center. Twelve inches fell last night. Get going.
THE HOLIDAY BONUS: NEW YEAR'S EVE ACTIVITIES
If you're headed out there for New Year's and haven't made plans yet, we suggest Trokay's New Year's Eve event — they had us at "dry-aged Wagyu beef rib-eye." Or go family-friendly with fireworks at Northstar, plus dancing and an actual Journey tribute band. If you're in town early, there's a twilight snoeshowing tour on Dec. 30.