Bordering California and Nevada is the iconic town of South Lake Tahoe. The destination seamlessly blends natural splendor with vibrant urban life. Surrounded by the majestic Sierra Nevada, this charming city is a year-round haven for outdoor enthusiasts, adventure seekers, and those looking for a retreat into nature's embrace.
Lake Tahoe enjoys a prime location on the shores of the largest alpine lake in North America. The city is surrounded by towering mountain peaks creating a stunning backdrop for every activity and adding an extra layer of allure to the area. The lake itself, with its crystal-clear waters and breathtaking panoramas, serves as the centerpiece of the region's natural beauty, making it a great destination to visit year-round.
Boasting a plethora of outdoor activities during the warmer months, the lake becomes a playground for water sports enthusiasts, offering opportunities for kayaking, paddleboarding, jet skiing, and sailing. Miles of hiking and biking trails wind through the surrounding mountains, providing stunning views of the lake and the surrounding wilderness.
Come winter, the city transforms into a winter wonderland, attracting skiers and snowboarders to its world-class ski resorts. The city is in close proximity to popular resorts like Heavenly Mountain Resort and Sierra-at-Tahoe, providing access to pristine slopes and top-notch amenities. The crisp mountain air, snow-covered landscapes, and vibrant après-ski scene make Lake Tahoe a premier destination for winter sports enthusiasts.
Beyond its natural wonders, Lake Tahoe offers a vibrant entertainment and nightlife scene. The city is home to numerous restaurants, bars, and cafes catering to a variety of tastes. The bustling Heavenly Village is a hub for shopping, dining, and entertainment, featuring a range of boutiques, art galleries, and live entertainment venues. One of my favorite venues in Heavenly Village is The Loft, a combination of a restaurant and theater featuring upscale tapas and fabulous cocktails.
On my visit to The Loft, I enjoyed the Ahi Tuna ceviche which was complimented with mango and avocado ceviche as well as the Roasted Tomato Bisque with lump crabmeat. I try to eat healthy when I travel, but I couldn’t resist the White Chocolate bread pudding. I hiked earlier in the day, so I wasn’t that worried about the calories. After dinner, I caught the magic show by Chipper Lowell. With an unusual blend of stand-up, improvisation, and magic, Chipper has twice been honored with the Merlin award for “Comedy Magician of the Year” by the International Magicians Society. He was also named as one of the “Top Funniest Magicians” performing today by Magic Magazine.
For those feeling lucky, the famed casinos on the Nevada side of the border add a touch of excitement to the Lake Tahoe experience. Try your hand at the tables or enjoy a show, making for a lively evening in town. If gambling isn’t your thing, head to Flatstick Pub for indoor mini-golf and drinks.
Lake Tahoe also boasts cultural and historical attractions that provide insight into the area's rich past. The Tallac Historic Site offers a glimpse into the region's pioneer days, with well-preserved estates and museums showcasing the history of the destination. The area's Native American heritage is celebrated at the Valhalla Tahoe Heritage and Arts Center.
The region places a strong emphasis on environmental conservation and sustainable tourism. Efforts to protect the lake's clarity and preserve its natural beauty involve community initiatives, responsible development practices, and ongoing partnerships between local businesses and environmental organizations such as the Lake Tahoe Destination Stewardship Council, a lake-wide collaborative effort to protect the lake.
I stayed at two different properties during my visit. The first is Coachman Hotel, which is located within blocks of Heavenly Village. The multi-building property was originally built in 1960 as two separate motels but was combined in the 1980’s. The hotel offers comfortable rooms, complimentary Stumptown coffee and nightly s’mores if your heart desires. The property features a fitness center, pool, hot tub, multiple fire pits and occasionally you may spot a ‘friendly’ black bear. I happened to cross paths with her on the first night of my stay. It was quite dark, and I couldn’t tell if the figure I was seeing was a statue…until it started walking. She walked past me and once my heart started beating again, I slowly made my way to the lobby. Only in Lake Tahoe!
The is a chance of spotting a black bear during your trip to Lake Tahoe. If you do, it is best to keep your distance. Visitors should not approach the bears nor feed them. For more information on what you should do if you encounter a bear, visit Bear League’s website.
After a wonderful night’s sleep, I woke up early the next morning and headed to the lobby for breakfast. The reception desk doubles as a bar where guests can enjoy breakfast in the morning and cocktails later in the day, unless you’d like a mimosa with breakfast. I decided to try the overnight oats with berries. It was so good, I had it on both mornings of my stay at Coachman Hotel. After my healthy breakfast, I had some time to kill, so I took a leisurely walk to Lakeside Beach where I got my first glimpse of the glistening lake.
If you’re looking to keep up with your yoga practice, head to Bliss Experiences and take one of their Sustainable Stability classes. It was exactly what I needed to work out all the stiffness from traveling the day before. During the warmer months, Bliss offers a variety of outdoor yoga experiences, including paddle yoga and beach yoga. I also had the chance to have an oracle reading, which turned out to be fairly accurate and echoed what a psychic told me the following day.
For lunch, head to Sidellis, an LGBTQ-owned restaurant/bar which serves a great selection of pub fare including a delicious French Dip. The owner was slinging drinks on the day I visited and told me about his vision for the establishment. Sidellis offers diners a selection of Barrel Aged beers, seasonal beers as well as ciders.
If you have time, hop on the Sunset Champagne Cruise to Emerald Bay organized by Tahoe Cruises. The two-hour voyage takes guests to picturesque Emerald Bay which is one of the most photographed locations in Lake Tahoe. You’ll come up close to Vikingsholm mansion which was built in 1928 by Lora Knight and is considered one of the grandest homes in the region. Knight built the Scandinavian-inspired home because Emerald Bay reminded her of the fjords of Norway. Be sure to bring a jacket as the temperature drops dramatically as the sun goes down. Luckily, there is a full bar offering a variety of beverages including hot cider and spiked hot chocolate if you decide not to drink the endless champagne.
I spent the last night of my stay at Black Bear Lodge, a beautiful property surrounded by mature trees and a picturesque setting. It is a bit further from the hustle and bustle, but there are still a variety of restaurants within walking distance.
My room at Black Bear Lodge came complete with a gas fireplace, comfortable sitting area, and essential oil diffuser, perfect for a relaxing evening. Guests can also gather at the quaint wine bar located just off the lobby or grab a glass of wine and mingle with other guests in the hot tub.
Getting to and from Lake Tahoe is quite simple. Most people fly into Reno-Tahoe airport and jump on the South Tahoe shuttle which takes a little over an hour. Once in town, the Lake Link is a free shuttle service which guests can use. All you need to do is download the app. Lake Link is a very convenient service and a great substitute for Uber if you are looking to save money but be sure to schedule your trip about 30-minutes in advance. I found that to be the average wait time.
The late fall season was the perfect time to visit. It was busy but not overly crowded and the weather was absolutely perfect. Cool mornings gave way to comfortable afternoons when you only needed a light sweater. The evenings were a bit chilly, but nothing too extreme.
Whether you seek adventure on the slopes, relaxation by the lake, or a taste of the local culture, South Lake Tahoe has something for everyone. This captivating destination invites visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature while enjoying the warmth and hospitality of a mountain town that truly has it all.
Enjoy the Journey!