Are you ready for an outdoor adventure in one of the most beautiful places on earth? South Lake Tahoe is the perfect destination for outdoor fun and relaxation alike. From skiing down the beautiful slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains to exploring the crystal-clear waters of Emerald Bay, there is no shortage of activities to do in South Lake Tahoe.
In this article, we’ll explore what to do in South Lake Tahoe, from the best eats to thrilling and exciting outdoor activities. So, lace up your boots, grab your swimsuit, and get ready to discover the many wonders of this fantastic destination.
What to Do in South Lake Tahoe: Best Eats and Activities
How To Get To South Lake Tahoe
The South Lake Tahoe region straddles both the states of California and Nevada, and it is about an hour away from Reno, NV, and a little over two hours away from Sacramento, CA.
Driving would be the best option if you’re traveling from Northern California. For travelers who fly to South Lake Tahoe, Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) is the closest airport. It is about an hour’s drive from the airport to South Lake Tahoe.
How To Get Around South Lake Tahoe
I’d highly recommend using Reno Tahoe Rental Car if you want to rent a car. They have an incredible fleet of luxury and electric cars and offer many four-wheel drive options for all of your Lake Tahoe travel needs.
What I loved about Reno Tahoe Rental Car is that you get to skip all of the lines at the rental car counters, and they have a complimentary shuttle service that will meet you right at baggage claim and bring you to their lot. The process was quick and easy, and their staff was amiable and professional. Plus, we loved driving the Audi S5 Convertible around town!
Lake Tahoe also has a free microtransit option: Lake Link. To use it, you can download the app from the App Store or Google Play, follow the signup instructions, book a ride, and choose the best option.
I would advise against relying on Uber and Lyft, as the area’s rideshare options are limited.
Where To Stay In South Lake Tahoe
For lodging in the area, here are a couple of options at different price points:
- Black Bear Lodge: If you’re looking for a cozy, boutique property, look no further than the Black Bear Lodge. We loved our stay here and cannot say enough good things about this property. The Black Bear Lodge offers a mix of cabins, lodge rooms, and suites, and they have a hot tub and wine bar on-site, board games, a reading selection and DVDs for entertainment, and fast Wi-Fi if, unfortunately, you need to connect back to reality. The rooms felt modern yet charming, and the service was excellent.
- Edgewood Tahoe: We only had lunch here, but I would 100% go back for a stay. For the luxe traveler, the Edgewood Tahoe should be on your list. This impressive resort has incredible dining, a spa, and golf courses on-site and sits right on the lake.
Top Things To Do In South Lake Tahoe
If you’re a winter or water sports enthusiast, this region is right up your alley. While I have not had the opportunity to visit the area in the winter yet, you can view an incredibly detailed guide of things to do each season here!
Here are some activities that I’d recommend:
- Clear Bottom Kayaking with Clearly Tahoe. This was easily one of the highlights of my experience! Lake Tahoe is incredibly clear, and you can see the bottom of the lake when you’re kayaking. With clear bottom kayaking by Clearly Tahoe, you can get a 360° view and take in all of the beauty that the lake has to offer.
- Hiking at either Van Sickle Bi-State Park or Rabe Meadow to Nevada Beach. From May to October, you can enjoy some breathtaking trails. I loved Van Sickle Bi-State Park, and I’d love to try the Rabe Meadow to Nevada Beach hike when I go back to the area.
- Explore Heavenly Village. We ended up at Heavenly Village several times during our stay — it is jam-packed with shops and restaurants, and there’s also a movie theater if you want spend some time indoors. They also host several events throughout the year — for example, when we visited, there was a vintage car show happening!
- Shop Locally Owned Businesses at Wildwood Market. If you want to take the Lake Link to the middle of town, off of Harrison Ave, you’ll find the Wildwood Makers Market, where you can shop small and purchase products crafted by local artisans.
- Practice Mindfulness with Bliss Experiences. Starting my day off with mindfulness at Bliss Experiences was another highlight of my trip. Bliss Experiences offers yoga on the beach when the weather permits, but they also have a studio where you can take indoor yoga classes and host guided tours, retreats, and more.
- Tour Historic Homes at Valhalla Estates. Another seasonal activity you can enjoy is touring historic homes in the area. I didn’t get the chance to do it on my latest trip, but it’s on my list for the next visit.
- Go Wine Tasting on a Boat with Tahoe Tastings. The locals raved over this wine tasting experience — and I know I want to give it a try when I return to the area! You can jump aboard a vintage water taxi, cruise, and taste premium wines here. Go with a small group or rent the entire boat out.
Best Restaurants & Dining Experiences in South Lake Tahoe
- The Getaway Cafe: We enjoyed our breakfast here! This cozy restaurant serves meals made from scratch and offers all your favorite breakfast classics with a bit of a twist. Some things that I enjoyed here were the unexpected Coconut French Toast and the Boba Mimosas.
- Noel’s Coffee & Apothecary: We didn’t have a chance to dine here, but we will be making a stop next time — this was highly recommended. Noel’s serves craft coffee during the day and craft cocktails at night. If you want to visit the cocktail bar, make a reservation, as walk-in availability is limited.
- The Bistro @ Edgewood: I didn’t want my lunch at The Bistro to end. The atmosphere was incredible, the service was excellent, and I loved the selection here — they had something for everyone on the menu!
- Shedcat Distillery & Kitchen: Shedcat is one of the town’s newer restaurants, and we enjoyed ourselves here! They produce handmade, small-batch spirits, and the cocktails were excellent here. I also really enjoyed lunch — the salads were very hearty, and the tacos were solid.
- Azul Latin Kitchen: I know I will return to Azul during my next Tahoe visit. The food is divine, the location is great, and they offer specials almost every night of the week. Plus, they have an extensive tequila and mezcal menu!
- Fox ‘n Hound: As seen on the Cooking Channel’s Man V. Food, Fox ‘n Hound is well known for their BBQ and pizza. Now, I always feel a little biased because I grew up in the South, and does it compare to Carolina-style BBQ? No. But is it good BBQ for the West Coast? Yes.
- Friday’s Station: For a classic, upscale steakhouse, Friday’s Station is the perfect dinner option. This restaurant is located atop Harrah’s, and you can enjoy panoramic views of the lake while dining here. The service was exceptional, and the food was great.
I didn’t get a chance to try any of these breweries personally, but they came highly recommended!
Why You Should Visit
If you want to enjoy the great outdoors, a visit to South Lake Tahoe is right up your alley. With seemingly endless outdoor activities to enjoy, a breathtaking natural landscape, and an idealistic lakeside atmosphere, this region should be on your travel list.
There are plenty of activities to keep you busy, and the scenery is something you won’t find anywhere else. From camping on the lake’s shore to hiking up to the top of mountain peaks, South Lake Tahoe is the perfect place for anyone looking for outdoor adventure and recreation.
As the famous author, John Muir, says, “The mountains are calling, and I must go.”
Thank you to Visit Lake Tahoe for hosting me on a media trip! All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Photos by Tom McGovern