This scenic, recreational haven nestled within California’s Sierra Nevadas is renown for its access to unparalleled outdoor pursuits, whether your preferred skis are alpine, cross country, or water. Beautiful mountain scenes and tales of adventure—and gangsters—await with our picks for what to read and watch before you visit Lake Tahoe.

Read: Tahoe Beneath the Surface: The Hidden Stories of America’s Largest Mountain Lake by Scott Lankford

Dig deep into what makes Tahoe so special with this comprehensive history of the area, beginning all the way back in the Ice Age. From inspiring John Steinbeck novels to allegedly aiding the launch of the Republican party, Tahoe’s played an underappreciated role in American history for centuries. We recommend jumping around to the parts that interest you most; it’s a little more fun and easier to digest than reading it cover to cover.

Read: Tahoe: A Visual History, Edited by Ann M. Wolfe

This comprehensive survey of art surrounding Tahoe spans centuries, featuring more than 350 works portraying the beauty of the lake, the Sierra Nevadas, and the surrounding landscape. Page through lush landscapes from 19th-century artists to stunning photographs from Ansel Adams. It’s much more than a coffee table book (though we think it’d look pretty good on one, too).

Watch: The Godfather Pt. II

Many argue that this second iteration of the Godfather trilogy is even better than the first—and we’d be inclined to agree, especially with the addition of the stunning Tahoe backdrop. This sequel follows the life of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), while intermittently flashing back to contrast with his father’s (Robert De Niro) introduction to a life of crime. Fleur de Lac estate, a sprawling property tucked along Tahoe’s lakeshore, plays host to some of the film’s most memorable scenes.

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