Growing up, we went to Lake Tahoe for a few days almost every summer. Hiking, biking, and swimming were always on the itinerary. I was excited to bring Josh up there for the first time and show him one of my favorite places in California, where I had so many great memories and adventures with my family to share.
We took a quick hour long Southwest flight, flying out of LAX and into Reno-Tahoe International Airport (watch-out for bears). From there, we rented a car from Hertz at the airport and drove about an hour up through the mountains to the lake!
Where to Stay
There are a few hotels at the Stateline and a few at the North shore with AirBnBs between! We like staying at the Stateline because it's more lively and city like, but not far from adventures in the wilderness.
Highway 50 at Stateline Avenue, Stateline, NV 89449
Since Lake Tahoe is split on the Stateline of Nevada, most hotels have casinos and our favorite place to stay is Harvey's. It's located on the North side of Lake Tahoe Blvd without another hotel obstructing the view. The rooms are a little dated and need a renovation, but they are very spacious and have spectacular views. There are many restaurants and activities that are walking distance, including Heavenly. It's not bad waking up to this every morning...
What to Do
There are so many different things to do in Tahoe and something for everyone:
- Hiking trails all over
- Biking along the lake
- Kayaking on the lake
- Renting jet ski's
- Paddle boats!
- Horseback Riding in the mountains to great heights and great views
- Gambling in the casinos
Here are a few of our favorite things to do:
During winter these Heavenly gondolas take you up for skiing, but during summer, there is a playground. The base is close to the Stateline taking you up a 2.4 mile ride up in the Heavenly Mountain Gondola with panoramic views of Lake Tahoe. On the way up, there is a stop at the Observation Deck where we took photos and breathed in that fresh mountain air.
At the very top, there are a few adventures you can embark on:
- Tubing down a thrilling 500ft-long hill
- Zip-line 1,000ft-long zip line at top speeds of 40 MPH
- Ridge Rider Mountain Coaster - a single rider coasting down a 3,400' track, descends 300 vertical feet, and accelerate around two lateral loops
- Ropes course
If you have never been to Tahoe, the gondola is a must-do. Because it is a little pricey, I don't think it's something you have to do every time you go, but it was really fun to play like a kid for a day!
The Tamarack Lodge at the top has overpriced average theme park type food, setup commissary style.
The Ms Dixie is a large paddlewheel boat that cruises across the lake to Emerald Bay and back. A recording plays throughout the 2 hour tour, giving the history of Lake Tahoe and fun facts. Lunch and complete bar service are available for purchase.
The sites were spectacular! It was nice being on the water and not in the freezing lake. I also learned new things about Tahoe that I never knew! For instance, "The center of the Lake can appear cobalt blue, as blue light is absorbed further, leaving visible violet light as the predominant light color. In shallow areas, the water can appear emerald or turquoise in color since green is the predominant light color at shallow depths." Cool, right?
Within Emerald Bay is the only island in Lake Tahoe, Fannette Island, where the lady of Vikingsholm would go to have tea in the afternoon in the little castle built on top. So jealous.
They also offer a Dinner sunset cruise as well.
3. Emerald Bay Area
Along the Southwest shore off Route 89, is Emerald Bay. It's about 45 mins (22 miles) from Tahoe City, and we usually park along the highway (or there is a parking lot for $10) and then hike down the Rubicon trail to the Vikingsholm, a 38-room mansion that is recognized as some of the best Scandinavian architecture in the US.
The architect who built and designed this incredible mansion, was Leonard Palme, who was hired by his aunt Laura Knight. See more info on the CA Parks and Rec site.
Where to Eat
There are so many delectable restaurants with stunning lake views. Let's start with my favorites, shall we?:
869 Tahoe Blvd, Incline Village, NV 89451
This cute little ice cream store is located in Incline Village and attached to the toy shop, Village Toys! Inside the walls are pink with ice cream lights and decorations everywhere like an old fashioned ice cream shop. I wanted to live there. ;-)
They offer 28 flavors made locally as well as frozen yogurt, smoothies, shaved ice (18 flavors), shakes & malts (any flavors), floats, hand-dipped waffle cones, specialty sundaes, pints to go, & ice cream cakes! EVERYTHING ICE CREAM! Exceptional flavors: Peppermint, Mud pie and Peanut Butter Cup ice cream.
100 Lake Pkwy, Stateline, NV 89449
Located on the Edgewood golf course right on the lake, its the perfect spot for lunch on the patio or dinner at sunset. We enjoy burgers on the patio for lunch and steaks in the lodge with gorgeous lake views at sunset.
Make a reservation ahead of time! They are on OpenTable.com
19 Kitchen & Bar - Harvey's Lake Tahoe
18 US-50, Stateline, NV 89449
This restaurant is located atop of the Harvey's Hotel with great steaks and amazing birds eye views of the lake. We usually go right around sunset and request a table by the window. Also, don't miss out on their cotton candy for dessert!
900 Ski Run Blvd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
For lunch and cocktails, you must go to Riva Grill on the Lake and try a Wet Woody. Yes, I just said that. They are famous for these rum drinks and these woody's sure pack a punch!
Lunch options are great, ask for a table on the patio.
Friday’s Station Steak & Seafood Grill
Harrah's Hotel - 19-29 Lincoln Hwy, Stateline, NV 89449
Located on the top floor of Harrah's, this Lake Tahoe fine dining gem features a dramatic entrance, a 1,000-bottle display wine cellar and magnificent views from every table.
Montbleu Resort Casino & Spa - 55 US-50, Stateline, NV 89449
I'd put them in the Top 10 best steak dinners I've ever had! This fabulous 4 Diamond Steak and Chophouse has an exquisite variety of steaks and chops to go along with their extensive 300 bottle wine list. The sides were amazing, we ordered all potatoes (the White Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes Gratinée were my fave) and the white truffle mac and cheese. These paired well with my mouth watering Cowboy Ribeye.
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Also, check out these great things to do in Southern California!