Summertime in northern Nevada means it’s Tahoe time. If you aren’t sitting beachside next to some glimmering emerald water, sipping on a cold beverage, I don’t even know who you are. But what about if you could be served wine on the beach, meeting new friends and be endlessly entertained for hours on end with one of the best theatrical performances of your life? It sounds too good to be true, but it does exist. Bag this unicorn of a beach experience at Sand Harbor at the LAKE TAHOE SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL. Do it, but don’t just do it half way. Here are a few tips on how to max out your time at the place. Get it!
RETRAIN YOUR BRAIN WHEN IT COMES TO STRATEGIZING A PARKING SPOT
Try and tame your thespian excitement when it comes to snagging a spot at Sand Harbor State Park. Believe me, I totally get it: you want to find the closest or first available spot and sprint to that spectacular beachside amphitheater. BUT, if you take a small step to ultimately have a long walk, you’ll be thanking yourself later. Here’s the thing: there is only ONE EXIT at this Nevada State Park. This means that you, and the hundreds of other Shakespeare-goers are going to mass exodus after that curtain drops. Park as close as you can to the exit as possible and you can sneak out before the rest of the crowd.
SHOW UP EARLY, IT’S COMPLETELY WORTH IT
I am totally not the type to line up 45 minutes before my flight boards, and typically roll into the movie theater as the previews are already running. Showing up early is not my forte, but hear me when I say this: When attending the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, it’s sooooo worth it to be the early bird. I promise you that there will already be die-hard lifetime attendees forming a line at the entrance before they even start taking tickets, but that line will triple and quadruple in length as it gets closer to 7:30 show time. Show up early, period. The unfathomably friendly and happy volunteer staff will personally usher you to your seat, you can get a lay of the land, and maybe even have enough time to drink in some views of Big Blue with your tandem access to Sand Harbor State Park.
SNAG A SNACK FROM SHAKESPEARE’S KITCHEN
Once you’ve got your bearings, it’s time for some din din. The show and its unrivaled backdrop is top priority, but why not make a well-rounded experience out of the whole thing and snag some grub? In addition to some cushy seating and pathways [BTW, who’s ever even heard of temporary pathways on a sandy beach? I haven’t, but I like it!] there is an entire restaurant on site to meet your dining dreams. This ain’t a frozen hamburger and Cheetos kind of establishment either, oooooh no. Swap Oscar Meyer for crab louie and bud light for fume blanc. It’s bougie. It’s awesome. Embrace it.
…PICNIC WITH THE PROS...
This was my maiden voyage to this legendary Tahoe event, but truth be told, there is a whole gang of experts who have been Shakespearing in style for oooooh…..40 years. These veterans have coined every pro tip from here to Timbuktu, but perhaps the most impressive is their bountiful picnic baskets, overflowing with the most high-end treats you’ve ever seen parading into the amphitheater, one right after the other. If Shakespearing at Tahoe were a sport, these peeps have totally gone pro. The Tom Bradys and David Beckhams of the amphitheater life. While standing in line to get in, I was eyeing one guy’s setup in front of me which included prosciutto, sourdough baguette, Pellegrino, chardonnay, potato chips, fancy crackers, what looked like a Whole Foods inspired cheese plate, homemade cookies, chocolates, a canteen of coffee and a bottle of scotch. Yeah, THAT KIND OF PRO.
…OR TREAT YO’SELF AND TAP INTO THE WAIT STAFF
Stop fooling yourself, you know you want to get fancy and order from the super friendly wait staff. You’ve been flirting with those charcuterie boards and tri tip sandwiches for the past 45 minutes, so rip off that Band-Aid and do it right.
Because it’s totally worth it! Zero in on that cheese plate and delicious house red and tell me you wouldn’t be packing that in your cheeks like a squirrel hunkering down for the winter months. Winning? Oh yes, and in all the right ways.
GET TALKATIVE, YOU NEVER KNOW WHO'S SITTING NEXT TO YOU
You’re most likely headed here for the overall experience, right? The show, the food and drink, music and in this case the scenery are all part of the equation. But don’t discount the people sitting around you, and here’s why. All of these things shape an experience, but what elevates an adventure from good to grand is the people, always. If you’re flying solo for the night or not, get chatty with those around you, seriously. Everyone here is so jacked up on the event that I promise you everyone will be so happy and pleasant you wont know which way is up. And hey, serendipity could strike and you too could be seated next to the head director and choreographer of the very show you’re about to watch. Whoever it is, they’ll be pumped to share the night with you, which only makes the whole outing that much more amazing, am I right?
DURING THESE FEW MINUTES OF DOWNTIME, DON’T FORGET WHERE YOU ARE
Ok, so by now you’ve staked out your spot, had a bite to eat, admired the can’t-believe-its-real scenery, made some new friends, and hopefully have a cocktail in hand waiting for the show to start. You might have a few minutes of downtime. Take it, and hold on to it. Look around you at this unbelievable venue, surrounded by one of the most spectacular alpine lakes on the planet…you’re about to take in a show, nestled in this pocket of performing arts paradise. It’s easy to be distracted by the stage—don’t get me wrong, it too is impressive and beautiful, but don’t lose track of where you are. The show is going to start any minute, and the place is going to be buzzing for certain. Enjoy this minute, you’re in a pretty special place…don’t forget that part.
BECAUSE BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, THE "CURTAIN" IS UP AND YOU’RE OFF TO THE RACES
I am a 29 year-old, hip-hop loving, mountain climbing, trout chasing, hot springing kinda girl. I grew up playing instruments and was very involved in the arts community as a whole, but I don’t know that I’d necessarily choose performing arts over any kind of outdoor recreation. But I’ll tell you what: two minutes into the show and I was a total believer in all the goodness they’re serving up at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. It’s next-level enchanting going on here. I don’t care what show you’re seeing, what genre of music you’re into, your gender, how much you’re in touch with performing arts or whatever else excuse you could drum up. The place flawlessly packages all of it into this magical, trance-inducing experience that should be high on everyone’s summer to do.
USE INTERMISH FOR SOME MUCH NEEDED, REDICULOUSLY COOL SWAG, AND KEY LIME PIE
You’re probably going to be mouth breathing for like 60 minutes straight as you savor the first half, and the only thing that will snap you out of it is intermission. It’s true, now is your perfect window to stretch those gams and snag yourself some fancy loot at the souvenir booth. That, and you’ve gotta ease on in to the second half of the show with some sweets and hot beverage. You’re in the high desert next to a lake, so it’s going to get a little chilly. Get your hands on a hot cider or coffee and take note of this pro tip: I’m still dreaming about that key lime pie…snag a slice if it’s the last thing you do.
AND JUST LIKE THAT, THE WHOLE THING IS OVER
The actors they recruit for this thing are intensely talented, and one of the reasons they can lure them into Incline Village is because of the wildly scenic, world-class setting. I mean come on, it’s TAHOE. One minute you’re there, enjoying these Broadway-level performers act and sing their hearts out in front of you under those dark Nevada skies as you listen to the waves crash ashore while you’re waited on hand over foot. Euphoric is certainly a word I would use to describe it, but in the blink of an eye, it’s over! GAH! The good news: the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival isn’t going anywhere. Aside from lasting for FOUR DECADES, the whole shindig returns to Sand Harbor each summer with new shows that run many, many times a week…that lasts for two whole months. YEW!
BUT BEFORE YOU GO…
Snag a selfie with the cast to commemorate your night at the Lake. A stage and lineup like this is screaming for it, am I right?!