Paddleboarders on Lake Tahoe with snow-capped mountains in the background

Lake Tahoe Guide

(Credit: topseller/Shutterstock)

Why you should visit Lake Tahoe

Surrounded by the towering Sierra Nevada mountains on the California-Nevada border, Lake Tahoe makes for a year-round outdoor playground with a dozen ski resorts, a collection of beaches, hundreds of hiking and biking trails, and the largest alpine lake in North America.

There are two distinct regions in Lake Tahoe, the north shore, where one may come for a peaceful getaway, and then the south shore which buzzes of a nightlife. No matter where you are in Tahoe you will never go hungry as the dining options are varied and plentiful. From luxurious to down-home, artsy to historical, romantic to family-friendly, each neighborhood within Lake Tahoe offers up something for everyone making it a sought-after destination.

Ski Resorts Near Lake Tahoe

What to do in Lake Tahoe

The north side of Lake Tahoe, or Tahoe North, is the place to go if you want a quieter escape. When visiting Tahoe North in the summer, you can horseback ride, rock climb, or venture on the downhill hiking and biking trails. In the winter, people come here for the eclectic mix of downhill ski terrain at top-notch resorts like Northstar, Palisades Tahoe and Sugarbowl, not to mention the expansive cross-country skiing areas.

If you are looking for a night out on the town, you will want to make your way to Lake Tahoe’s south shore. There, you will find a bustling nightlife of clubs, casinos, bars, restaurants and music festivals running late into the night. In the winter, you can take advantage of the powder at Heavenly, Kirkwood and Sierra-at-Tahoe.

Where to stay in Lake Tahoe

If your vacation to Lake Tahoe will solely revolve around skiing, you will want to stay on the south side of the lake at the Heavenly Ski Resort , one of the largest ski resorts in North America. The Village at Palisades Tahoe is a wonderful option when visiting Lake Tahoe in either the summer or winter months with its close proximity to the The Links Golf Course and the ski-in/ski-out accessibility. The Beach Retreat & Lodge at Tahoe in the town of South Lake Tahoe makes for a great getaway as it is located on the lake while also being in close proximity to the beach.

Stateline, a town directly above South Lake Tahoe on the border of California and Nevada, is the perfect area to stay for those looking to test their luck at the gaming tables. The Golden Nugget Lake Tahoe and Harrah’s Lake Tahoe are great options to choose from in Stateline.

With a variety of trails to choose from, you will want to stay on the north side of the lake, hosting 12 different ski resorts. With ski-in/ski-out accessibility, Northstar California Resort makes for a great spot to stay on the north side. Outside of the ski resorts, in the town of Truckee, you will find a luxurious mountain getaway at The Ritz Carlton, Lake Tahoe .

Meanwhile, you can find comfortable accommodation at a lower price point in Carson City, from the Courtyard by Marriott Carson City located in the heart of the city to the historic Gold Dust West Carson City with its bustling casino and bowling alley.

Where to eat in Lake Tahoe

There is an eclectic array of restaurants all throughout the Lake Tahoe area. No matter the cuisine, there is something for everyone.

On the south shore of Lake Tahoe, you will find the culinary world at your feet, and within minutes from the slopes, from Bavarian dishes at Himmel Haus, to Italian fare at Cafe Fiore . While you can find cheap eats on the southern shore, once you hit Stateline it isn’t unusual to come across more expensive meal prices, especially at restaurants housed within the casinos.

With Napa and Sonoma only hours away, North Tahoe is known for its fine dining (and somewhat high prices). You will find some basic menu items, like a burger at a casual restaurant, to cost at least $10. However, you can expect to be impressed at the quality of service and ambiance in North Tahoe restaurants like Manzanita in Northstar and Big Water Grille in Diamond Peak, which may make the price pill a bit easier to swallow.

Family-friendly activities in Lake Tahoe

When traveling with the family you will want to explore the north end of Lake Tahoe, specifically Truckee. Here you will find kid-friendly museums like the KidZone Museum , an indoor and outdoor playground. You will also find a few parks in town like the Truckee River Regional Park and the Truckee Bike Park . Tubing down the Truckee River is another fun activity to enjoy with the family during the summer. When visiting during the wintertime make sure to check out the ice skating rink at Northstar Village Ice Skating Rink .

Squaw Valley is another town up north that caters to families. During the summer, kids can play and take part in various activities like arts and crafts and swimming at the Palisades Tahoe Kids Adventure Camp .

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