Tallac Historic Site
It sounds like something to do with Native American culture, but in fact the Tallac Historic Site (Hwy. 89, 3.1 miles north of Hwy. 50 intersection, South Lake Tahoe, 530/541-5227) pays homage to the lavish mansions built by white men in the early 20th century around Lake Tahoe.
True, the centerpiece of the complex, the Tallac Museum (June 15–Labor Day, Tues.–Sun. 10 a.m.–4 p.m., free) in the Baldwin Estate, does include an exhibition focusing on the life and times of the local Washoe tribe. But most of this complex of 33 different buildings, including three major mansions, are all about wealth and privilege.
In the Baldwin Estate, you’ll find featured the importance of Lucky Baldwin and his family to the history of California. Walk the grounds of the Pope and Heller Estates, checking out the attractive gardens and many small cottages and outbuildings. If you make reservations in advance, you can take a tour of the interior of the Pope Mansion (Tues., Thurs., Fri. 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., $1.50).
The Heller Estate has been set aside to showcase the arts and music of the Tahoe region. The smaller cabins spend each summer acting as galleries for photographers, fiber artists, and other local craftspeople. Check into children’s workshops when you’re in town.
Out on the grounds, summer concerts rule the weekends, so you might hear jazz, bluegrass, or even classical music with the crystalline lake as your backdrop.
In addition to the history and grandeur, you’ll find the Pope-Baldwin Recreation Area, a number of easy-to-walk nature trails, a picnic ground, and beach access with swimming permitted. It seems only proper, as these were beach resorts/retreats, after all!
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition