Your Guide to Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, straddling the border of California and Nevada. It’s known for its beaches and ski resorts. On the southwest shore, Emerald Bay State Park contains the 1929 Nordic-style mansion Vikingsholm. Along the lake’s northeast side, Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park includes Sand Harbor Beach and Spooner Lake, a gateway to the long-distance Tahoe Rim Trail.
Top 10 Fun Things To Do
Cascade Falls Trail | Hiking
The short hike to Cascade Falls is the perfect trail for many reasons. The mountainside path is scenic the entire way, the falls are stunning, and the view over Cascade Lake to Lake Tahoe in behind is quite possibly the highlight. The towering mountain behind the falls gives the trail a sense of remoteness.
This is only a two-mile round-trip hike with very little elevation gain, making it a good option for families with children. The trail takes you right up to the edge of the falls, but the surrounding area is mostly smooth, exposed rock, perfect for exploring or enjoying a picnic lunch.
Eagle Rock Trailhead | Birding, Camping, Hiking
The Eagle Rock Hiking Trail is a spectacular hiking trail on Lake Tahoe’s west shore, just four miles away from Tahoe City. Eagle Rock is a dramatic volcanic outcrop, perched at an elevation of more than 6,000 feet, which is a few hundred feet above Lake Tahoe.
This short, easy hike is about a half-mile long and can be completed in 20 minutes, however it rewards with magnificent views.
Northstar California Resort | Swimming, Ice Skating (Roller Skating in summer) and Snowshoeing
Although it’s significantly smaller than Palisades Tahoe or Heavenly Resort – boasting a mere 3,170 acres and almost 100 runs – Northstar California Resort is often rated among the top ski resorts in the West. In fact, Northstar had to construct an “express gondola” to accommodate the number of people who couldn’t wait to hit the slopes.
Aside from skiing and snowboarding, other Northstar activities include swimming, ice skating (roller skating in summer) and snowshoeing. Also, youngsters can have the time of their lives on the kid-friendly slopes and the rides found at the Kids Adventure Zones. After a long day on the slopes (or the trails or the rink or the pool), catch up on your rest and relaxation with some time at the spa. There is also a movie theater on the property, as well as several shops and eateries. Recent visitors extolled the resort’s awesome trails and family-friendly activities, but admit it is quite expensive.
M.S. Dixie II | Lake Tahoe Boat Cruise
A boat cruise on Lake Tahoe is a breathtaking and relaxing experience. While gliding through the glistening azure waters, passengers will admire glorious scenery of refreshing pine forests and snowcapped Sierra Nevada mountain peaks.
A recommended boat ride is the M.S. Dixie II cruise around Emerald Bay. This sightseeing cruise features up-close views of the waterfalls, Fannette Island, and Vikingsholm Castle with commentary along the way. Lunch and snacks are available.
Sand Harbor State Park | Scuba diving & Kayaking
In North Lake Tahoe on the Nevada side, Sand Harbor State Park offers miles of sandy beaches, as well as hidden coves and shady pine forests. The majestic scenery provides an awe-inspiring backdrop for summertime outdoor activities.
The 55-acre park offers opportunities for swimming, scuba diving, and kayaking in the translucent waters of Lake Tahoe. Lifeguards are on duty from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Sailing, kayaking, and boating enthusiasts appreciate the docks at the boat launch.
Harrah’s Casino | Casino
Sitting just over the border from South Lake Tahoe in Stateline, Nevada, Harrah’s Casino offers a lively counterpoint to Lake Tahoe’s natural peacefulness. There are plenty of gambling options, including table games and slot machines, as well as in-house concert venues and nightclubs. Harrah’s is also home to a spa and several upscale and casual dining options.
Recent visitors praised the cleanliness of this casino and its friendly staff, though some griped about the age of some of the machines. Despite reviewers’ comments about the need for a casino face-lift, they still said it was a fun escape after a few days enjoying Lake Tahoe’s outdoor pursuits. The casino is open to gamers 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Lake Tahoe Balloons | Hot Air Balloon Flight
Lift off! The hot air balloon gently lifts off from the upper deck of the Tahoe Flyer taking our guests high above Lake Tahoe into the fresh alpine air. From lake level to magnificent panoramic views, your experienced and knowledgeable pilot acts as your guide and welcomes questions from you and fellow adventurers while pointing out local points of interest and Tahoe’s extraordinary beauty.
The hot air balloon flight concludes with an impressive landing on the upper deck of the Tahoe Flyer where our crew catches and deflates the balloon. To celebrate this once in a lifetime experience in Lake Tahoe the pilot, crew and our guests enjoy a traditional champagne toast with plenty of champagne, mimosas and snacks while cruising back to the Marina. Please allow approximately 4 hours for the entire experience.
Tahoe Adventure Company | Hiking, Recreation, Tours, Sightseeing
Tahoe Adventure Company leads high quality adventure travel trips and tours with a focus on experiencing the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains, trails and brilliant waters of Lake Tahoe. Our goal is to offer the highest quality, most enlightening adventure tours in the Lake Tahoe area. Our knowledgeable, safe, and friendly guides offer exceptional service and strive to help create a memorable adventure for your group. Whether you decide on Kayaking Lake Tahoe, Mountain Biking or Hiking local trails, our many adventure activities allow us to share with you a side of Lake Tahoe few people ever experience. Located 3-4 hours northeast of the Bay Area, lying at 6,229 ft., surrounded by peaks upward of 10,881 ft. and bisected by the California and Nevada state lines, Lake Tahoe is truly one of the jewels of the Sierra Nevada.
Angora Lakes – South Lake Tahoe | Cliff Diving
For the more adventurous types who want to do some cliff diving, hike up to Angora Lakes above Fallen Leaf Lake. These two large lakes have a small store that serves snacks and rents out kayaks and canoes.
This clear and green swimming hole is known for its tall cliffs where daredevils can practice some mean jumps and dives. The highest ledge is about 60 feet. Please check the water depth and submerged objects before jumping.
Lester Beach – West Shore | Kayaking
Located in the D.L. Bliss State Park on the West Shore of the lake, Lester Beach is also one of the best beaches on the lake. The water is Caribbean blue and full of soft white sand. Since the bay around Lester Beach is protected from the winds, this is also a great place for kayaking.
Lester Beach and the parking lot fill up fast on summer days, so get there early to claim your spot. You can also pick up the Rubicon Trail to Emerald Bay at Lester Beach.
Top 10 Best Spots
Emerald Bay State Park
A small sheltered section on Lake Tahoe’s western shore, the Emerald Bay State Park is surrounded by forested hillsides of glacier-carved granite and dotted with a tiny islet at its center. Because the bay is slightly shallower than the rest of Lake Tahoe, the waters take on a striking blue-green color.
A surprising Scandinavian-style castle overlooks the glimmering waters of Emerald Bay. In this idyllic location, Vikingsholm is a unique example of a historic Lake Tahoe summer-vacation home. Access to Vikingsholm is via a steep one-mile pedestrian trail. Visitors can take a tour of the castle’s interior during the summer season, from Memorial Day weekend through September.
Emerald Bay State Park, a National Natural Landmark, has two campsites: the Boat-In Camp, only accessible by boat or foot, and the Eagle Point Campground, which is steps away from the lake and has a secluded beach.
A must-see attraction in the area is Inspiration Point, appreciated for its bird’s-eye views of Emerald Bay from 600 feet above, perfect for photo ops.
Granite Lake and South Maggie’s Peak
The rewards are the views over Lake Tahoe as you make your way up to Granite Lake, a peaceful and scenic spot for relaxing.
The hike to Granite Lake is just under one mile (two miles return), with slightly less than 900 feet in elevation gain.
If you choose to go all the way to the top, you’ll be treated to outstanding views over Lake Tahoe and the entire area. To the top of South Maggie’s Peak, the total elevation gain is 1,900 feet. The trail to the very top is steep and demanding, and will add another mile round-trip to the entire hike.
This hike is a good introduction to the Desolation Wilderness area, which extends into the mountains beyond the southwest shore of Lake Tahoe. All hikers in this area are required to pick up a permit. These are available at the trailhead.
Mt. Tallac Trail
If you want to bag the tallest peak in the Tahoe area, Mt. Tallac is the hike you’re looking for. This roughly 10-mile round-trip hike has more than 3,200 feet of elevation gain, but on a clear day, you’ll be glad you did it.
Views are stunning all along this trail. Some of the highlights include views over Fallen Leaf Lake near the start; Floating Island Lake; Cathedral Lake; and eventually an eye-popping panorama over Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Lake, and the Carson Range.
The trailhead is off Highway 89, on the road towards Camp Shelly. It’s located in the Desolation Wilderness, so you will need to obtain a permit at the trailhead.
Mount Rose Trail
If you want to bag more than one peak on your Lake Tahoe hiking expedition but would like a bit of vertical assistance, give Mount Rose a try. The main benefit of this hike is its starting point at 8,900 feet. From here, you only need to ascend another 1,876 feet to get to the top.
The trail is 10 miles long, so you’ll need to be in decent shape to make it to the summit and back. Overall, it’s a pleasant hike that spends a bit of time in the forest before emerging into lovely meadows that in the spring are a carpet of wildflowers.
You may be lulled into complacency as you stroll along in the meadows, but it’s near the end of the hike where the hard work begins. A series of switchbacks will have your legs burning, and you gasping for breath in the thin mountain air. However, all that discomfort will be quickly forgotten once you reach the summit and start soaking up the views out over the lake and surrounding countryside.
Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park
The Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park extends along Lake Tahoe for nearly two miles, with densely wooded forests of aspen, fir, pine, and juniper trees. The property was built by wealthy financier Isaias W. Hellman in 1903. His daughter, Florence Hellman Ehrman, inherited the estate.
Surrounded by 2,000 acres of woodlands at Sugar Pine Point State Park, the Hellman-Ehrman Mansion features wonderful views of Lake Tahoe. The casual yet elegantly rustic mansion was designed as a summer vacation home and was equipped with the most modern conveniences of the time. The dining rooms feature redwood paneling, and the guest rooms are decorated with Navajo rugs.
D.L. Bliss State Park
Today, visitors can soak up the beauty of this public park, with its attractive picnic spots, pleasant lakeside areas, and lovely sandy beaches. The beaches have a secluded feel because they are tucked away in densely wooded groves and accessed by a steep two-mile hike.
The park’s Lester Beach and Calawee Cove are among the loveliest beaches in Tahoe. Swimmers enjoy the crystal-clear waters; sunbathers delight in basking under the warm summer rays; and water sports enthusiasts relish the perfect conditions for fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding.
Donner Memorial State Park and Emigrant Trail Museum
The Donner Memorial State Park and Emigrant Trail Museum honor one of the darkest moments in American pioneering. Here, you’ll find a great stone pedestal commemorating the Donner Party, the legendary pioneers who fell victim to the harsh Sierra Nevada winter of 1846 to 1847. The party (originally consisting of nearly 90 emigrants) was en route to California when their wagon train encountered a severe snow storm. Only half of the pioneers survived (many by resorting to cannibalism). The stone marker near the Emigrant Trail Museum stands 22 feet tall, marking the immense amount of snowfall from that winter.
Your summer experience starts in the Village at Palisades Tahoe, where you can find shopping, dining, hiking, climbing, and more. Then, embark on a 10-minute Aerial Tram ride and soar 550 feet above a mountainscape of creeks, waterfalls, forests, granite rock, and the iconic Tram Face. With 360 views, panoramic vistas of Lake Tahoe, and an interpretive guide at the helm, your summer at Palisades Tahoe comes to life before you can even reach the top.
Vikingsholm is considered one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the United States.
It is now a part of the Harvey West Unit of the Emerald Bay State Park. The house is open for tours during the summer months and the magnificent scenery may be enjoyed all year around by those wishing to visit this beautiful setting.
Pope Beach – South Lake Tahoe
Pope Beach is a typical beach that’s great for families. It’s long and has no rocks or boulders, but the water is great for children and adults who just want to dig in the sand and jump in for a few minutes.
There are some shady areas and a bathroom. There are also some great views of the South Shore and Mount Tallac.
Top 10 Restaurants
The Soule Domain
Extravagant Gourmet Dining at Reasonable Prices…. Our upscale, intimate restaurant deliciously combines style & romance in the cozy dining room.
The Soule Domain proudly uses natural, free range, and organic meats and poultry whenever possible. Our local, seasonal produce offers the highest quality of ingredients in our dishes, which are prepared with love and respect. Chef and owner, Charlie Soule, brings passionate culinary skills to create twists to traditional dishes while infusing them with influences from around the globe.
Christy Hill Lakeside Bistro
The restaurant sits just 100 feet above the shoreline of Lake Tahoe offering diners a panoramic vista. Spectacular sunset colors of the Lake Tahoe Basin can be seen from every table.
Using the freshest and finest seasonal ingredients, Christy Hill offers Modern American cuisine with refined Mediterranean influences. New guests will leave feeling nurtured as friends.
A night out at Christy Hill will certainly be remembered as a highlight of your visit to Lake Tahoe.
Himmel Haus is a German restaurant and bierhaus featuring a wide variety of German and Belgian biers and wines with a simple menu of Bavarian-inspired food. While we will offer some strictly traditional recipes throughout the year, our vision is to take the customary ideas and theories of German Cuisine and give them a contemporary, California twist.
Fire Sign Café
Fire Sign Cafe serves delicious, homemade, fresh food that is prepped daily by our chefs. From handcrafted baked goods, to homemade pesto, you will truly feel the comfort of coming home when you taste a bite.
This is the perfect romantic spot for a special dinner. Decorated with white linens and glimmering candles, this cozy Italian restaurant is furnished with only seven tables for an intimate atmosphere. During the summer, you can enjoy your meal outside beneath the towering pines. For a hearty meal, try the Cappellini Bocconcini made with meatballs, fresh tomato and basil. Bistecca alla Veneziana is medallions of filet mignon a green peppercorn cream sauce. For dessert, try the homemade white chocolate ice cream. The Cafe Fiore has been featured in As featured in- The San Francisco Chronicle, The Sacramento Bee and Best Places To Kiss In Northern California book and has been awarded the “Wine Spectator Award of Excellence” since 1992.
Scusa Italian Ristorante
Benvenuta and welcome to an evening at Scusa Italian Ristorante. We are located at the corner of Hwy 50 and Sierra Boulevard – 2543 Lake Tahoe Blvd in South Lake Tahoe, California. Centrally located in mid-town on the South Shore in one of the oldest freestanding buildings, this local landmark with its upscale, lively atmosphere is a great location for an intimate dinner or large group.
Wood-fired, regional California cuisine pairs perfectly with sleek surroundings and stunning lake views at Jimmy’s Restaurant inside The Landing Lake Tahoe. Sourced seasonally from local growers and producers, we craft fresh flavors that surprise and satisfy.
Jake’s On The Lake
Jake’s On The Lake is the ultimate waterfront dining experience in Lake Tahoe. Soak in spectacular views of the Lake and enjoy a delicious meal while we treat you to our warm “mountain aloha” hospitality.
Nestled in a vintage Tahoe cabin, surrounded by towering pine trees, is Evan’s American Gourmet Cafe. Acclaimed as South Lake Tahoe’s finest restaurant, Evan’s features a blend of cuisine styles from around the world. Top Zagat rated Restaurant in the Sierras!
At Sprouts Cafe in South Lake Tahoe we do our best to serve the cleanest, freshest, most wholesome food available. Many of our ingredients are organic and prepared daily*. Our staff consciously does their best to provide friendly service and cleanliness. We believe our food is healthy and excellent. If you have any comments or suggestions, please let us know!