Getting Around Lake Tahoe

This CD guide gets you around Tahoe with places to see, history and legend, and great entertainment.

The largest alpine lake in North America, Lake Tahoe has legions of fans—from skiers to hikers to gamblers to boaters. With a wealth of activities and history, it can be difficult to cover the entire 72-mile shoreline and come away feeling like you know the mighty lake. On your next trip, why not try a self-guided tour that covers places to see, history and legend, as well as some great entertainment? 

by Darin Talbot. Darin Talbot Entertainment, 2009; $17.98.

One of Lake Tahoe’s biggest enthusiasts is Darin Talbot, a musician known to many as Mr. Tahoe. Talbot says his dream has been “to be the guy who’s connected with a place, like Don Ho or Jimmy Buffett.” His desire to “create a greater consciousness for Lake Tahoe” led him to develop this tour CD, which includes a map, 19 stories and legends, 20 songs about the lake and the Tahoe lifestyle, eight tracks highlighting “cool spots” (such as museums, state parks and restaurants and other Lake Tahoe attractions), and GPS coordinates for each spot of interest. With the variety of topics, you’re bound to find a few favorites.


Talbot is an enjoyable tour guide, switching seamlessly from storyteller to entertainer to trusted local with all the inside info. With more than two hours of content (48 tracks), everything is presented at the perfect pace for a drive around Lake Tahoe, with appropriate spots to stop the CD when you want to get out of the car and explore.

From stories about local legends (Snowshoe Thompson and Captain Dick), to the more famous (Frank Sinatra and Mark Twain), to film and TV history (Bonanza and The Godfather), to the Donner Party and the 1960 Winter Olympics—there’s something for everyone. Even the Lake Tahoe water monster, Tahoe Tessie, is included.

The pull-out map is especially helpful to pinpoint your progress around the lake and how it matches up with the CD tracks.

Great Tips

I appreciated the insider “Cool Spots” suggestions, because I like to get the local perspective when I travel—to discover great spots that not all tourists would know about. Talbot included plenty to keep you busy, but also held a few favorite places back, “like a good local.”

I also liked that Talbot notes dog-friendly beaches around Lake Tahoe, so I can bring my dog (Marley!) on my next trip there.

The bits of history woven into the tour make me want to get a history book on the area to learn more. I often forget how much I appreciate the historical background of a place until I hear someone tell me a story about it.


It’s helpful that Talbot notes which stories are true and which are legend—except the story about Jacques Cousteau’s expedition. “It was a miscue on my part,” says Talbot. “Many people believe it happened, but that his son was involved and not Jacques himself.” If I’d known upfront that it was a myth, it would have saved me about five minutes of research on the Web. But then, the stories I found about the “expedition” were extremely entertaining.

Worth Buying?

Absolutely, if you’re planning a trip to Tahoe. If you’re not going soon, it may still be worth it—for the history and entertainment factors alone. It certainly cheered me up on my daily commute!

Ski and snowboard enthusiasts should look forward to Talbot’s upcoming skiing and snowboarding guide, due for release this winter. Keep up on news at

Want to catch Mr. Tahoe live? From June 15 to Sept. 9, 2009, he performs on two cruises a day to Emerald Bay on the M.S. Dixie II.

Destinations: Lake Tahoe

Themes: Mountain Vacations

Activities: Sightseeing