Lake Tahoe

The view of Lake Tahoe from historic Thunderbird Lodge on the eastern shore in Nevada. (McClatchy-Tribune)

Go to India, not Nepal, for the best mountain experience, and to South Georgia Island, not Antarctica, for the best polar trip. And to Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada because it's "freakishly perfect for just about every pursuit."

So says Outside magazine, which recently announced 2014 Travel Awards that focus on places with a big adrenaline kick — and outfitters that will take you there.

The list is compiled by editors and writers, not readers, in a "best of" format that distills winners and runners-up into a neat, tantalizing paragraph each.

Best desert trip goes to the 1,000-mile Atlantic coast of Namibia. Best beach goes to South Water Caye, Belize (TripAdvisor users voted the country's Ambergris Caye as the best island in the world). And the top "certified SUP boomtown" (SUP is stand-up paddle-boarding) is Bend, Ore.

Outdoors gave Tahoe (best lake) high marks for its mountain bike routes (14-mile Flume Trail), kayak and SUP quotient, and high-altitude hiking potential — as well as its proximity to gambling. Other U.S. destinations that came in tops:

— Bicycling through the Blue Ridge Mountains;
— Ramble along the Seafood Sensation route of southern Louisiana;
— Walking in the "warm arroyos and alpine trails" of Santa Fe, N.M.;
— Fly-casting, mountain biking and wolf-watching at Yellowstone National Park (near Bozeman, Mont.);
— Having an old-school camp experience at Squam Lake, N.H.

Along with Belize, top international adventures include:

— Cycling around Flanders and Wallonia in Belgium;
— Wilderness hiking trek in the Grand St. Bernard Pass, Switzerland;
— Hut hopping amid alpine valleys and high peaks in northern Italy's Dolomites.

Mary.Forgione@latimes.com
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