It’s tough to go more than a block or two in South Lake Tahoe, Tahoe City, or even Truckee without tripping over some sort of day spa or massage parlor (the real kind, not the other kind). If you’re staying at one of the big ski resorts  or casinos , you’re likely to find a spa attached to your accommodations, and perhaps even the option of in-room spa services.
Campers and motel-goers can choose from the resort spas or pick out an independent provider for massages, facials, scrubs, and mani-pedis.
On the north side, one of the most popular day spas is the Lighthouse Spa (850 N. Lake Blvd. #20A, Tahoe City, 530/583-8100, www.lighthousespa.com , daily 9 a.m.–8 p.m.). Just look behind the Safeway (perhaps an unlikely spot for a spa). Inside, you can choose from Swedish, deep tissue, and hot stone massages, or get a special prenatal massage for your favorite expectant mom.
Lighthouse also offers facials, body wraps, luxurious foot treatments, and aesthetic services including manicures, pedicures, and waxing. While they don’t have the biggest spa menu ever, the services offered exemplify the heart of good California day spa care. Late appointments, up until 8 p.m., are available for those in desperate need of après-ski TLC.
Tired feet after a day of hiking, skiing, or snowshoeing? Walk them over to Wish Hair & Skin Salon (12030 Donner Pass Rd. Ste. 2, Truckee, 530/550-1319, www.wishsalon.com ). You can also bring your tired hair, hands, face, and skin to this salon that doubles as a minimum-services day spa. Wish offers a full range of aesthetic services, including their signature four-hour mani-pedi with facial that creates a fabulous half-day of pampering. Book an appointment to get your hair done, your legs waxed, your face buffed and peeled, or even a full-body scrub. The website includes a full menu of services and prices, as well as an online appointment scheduler.
Among the wealth of day spas in South Lake Tahoe, Shannon’s Day Spa (3600 Lake Tahoe Blvd., South Lake Tahoe, 530/542-4095, www.shannonsdayspa.com ) stands out. You’ll get plenty of personal attention here, plus a massage, facial, or luxurious body treatment that will leave you feeling refreshed and ready for another day out on the lake or up on the slopes. For the best experience at Shannon’s, go for one of the packages that puts several treatments together for a full day of pleasure and well-being. Shannon’s really is a spa, so don’t expect to find waxing or nail services here.
So if you do want your nails done, head for Tahoe Nail Spa (2176 Lake Tahoe Blvd., #8, South Lake Tahoe, 530/541-1230). Be aware that it’s a tough one to ferret out in the strip mall/plaza complex it’s part of, but don’t give up! The aestheticians at this small salon will give you great attention as they work on your feet and hands, clipping, buffing, and polishing to perfection.