** Long Post Alert**
Wait, scratch that… Instead let me say…
** Super Duper Long Post Alert**
The crystal-clear surface of Lake Tahoe sits 6,225 feet above sea level, and the fun, well what do I say?! It only gets bigger from here. A year-round destination, the area is especially popular during ski seasons when it becomes a winter wonderland boarding the highest concentration of ski resorts in North America.
So needless to say, this is where we headed for our 5th anniversary celebrations, Thanksgiving of 2016! And I got to check off “Go someplace snowy”off my Fall/Winter bucket list – win win in my books!!
Our trip was for 5 days and I would say that is enough to do justice to all that Tahoe has to offer.
How to get there:
Reno International Airport serves as the closest airport to Tahoe with the drive to North Lake Tahoe being only 45 minutes and South Lake Tahoe being about 1 hour 15 mins. The drive is through mountains and the picturesque views will leave you wanting more!
I would suggest you arrive during the morning hours so your drive is not stressful. Steep drops and night time tend to peak my anxiety levels, much to the hubby’s annoyance! LOL!!
Renting a car from the Reno Airport is the best option as it gives you mobility around the Lake Tahoe area. If visiting in the winter, definitely rent a 4 wheel drive, preferably an SUV, coz you’ll need it with all the snow around!!
Where to Stay:
While there are many hotels around South Lake Tahoe as well as good casino hotels across the state line, we preferred to stay at the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel.
We wanted to say in a hotel true to Lake Tahoe vibes and not a popular chain that you find numerous of across the country. This choice was also based on its location! It’s known for its proximity to nature’s playground. Just outside its front door, the gondola awaits to whisk you skyward to snowy peaks and breathtaking views of the Lake. After a fun day out, we returned to the lodge for a nightcap and also swam in the heated indoor pool before retiring to bed a couple of nights. The Heavenly village and the Lake itself is a short walk away and the casinos are just across the state line!
If you are visiting in the summer, The Landing Lake Tahoe Resort and Spa is a cute option as is right infront of the South Beach, on Stateline Avenue, about a 10 minute walk from the casinos and a 15 minute walk from the Heavely Village.
Things to do:
As I always suggest, google things to do, so you can decide what tickles your fancy, but here’s my list, in no particular order:
Stops on the way:
– Mount Rose
On our way from Reno to South Lake Tahoe, we stopped at the Mount Rose summit and did snow sledding.
– Incline Village
This is in North Lake Tahoe, we visited the Diamond Peak for some more sledding and snow fun. After that, we had lunch at the cafe in Hyatt and checked out the Ski beach in North Lake Tahoe.
– The drive from North Lake Tahoe to South Lake Tahoe, is by the lake and provides serene views of the lake! Drive during the day so you are able to enjoy the views.
– On our way back from South Lake Tahoe to Reno Airport, we stopped at Carson City, Virginia City and Reno. I’ll be talking about this destinations in another post, so stay tuned for that.
South Lake Tahoe:
– Heavenly Village
This is the main highlight of South Lake Tahoe and rightly so. There is something here for everyone!!
The Heavenly Donuts and Heavens Little Cafe are a must stop for some donuts and hot chocolate!! I’ll be talking about food options below.
A quick stop at the Urban Trailhead will help you understand a lot more of Lake Tahoe and it’s unique features.
Here’s a link for more information on the area:
– Heavenly Gondola / Observation Deck and Heavenly Mountain
An absolute must!!! You have to do this!!! The Gondola ride up to the mountain is fun and the views of the lake are spectacular. On the way up, get off at the 1st stop which is the observation deck and provides picturesque views of the lake all around!! Get back on the Gondola and continue up to the peaks for some fun in the snow.
– Art galleries
There are many art galleries around Heavenly Village that we stopped at to check out the local artists. I don’t remember particular names (blogger fail!) but when you walk around you’ll spot plenty to choose from!!
– Sunset at the beach
Around Lake Tahoe there are many beaches that have been made especially to be enjoyed in the summer time, but these do provide nice sunset views as well as star gazing opportunities, so don’t give it a miss even if you are going in the winter time.
– Skiing / Snow Boarding
Among many other winter activities you can do in South Lake Tahoe (like Snowmobiling etc.) definitely ski and snow board as the slopes here are plenty and provide beautiful views of the lake all the way from up top! If you are skiing down closer to the time of sunset – the views cannot be expressed in words, you will have to experience them on your own to understand what I mean.
– MS Dixie Sunset and Dinner Cruise
This was supposed to be a nice dinner cruise, that takes you to the Emerald Bay and provides stunning views – BUT – do not take this in the winter time as the cruise ship leaves dock at 5:30-6pm well after the sun has sent and there is nothing to view coz it gets dark very quickly after sunset, especially in the winter.
I believe this cruise would have totally worth every penny had we boarded and left an hour and half earlier or else if taken in the summer time so as to be able to see and enjoy the view.
Since a part of South Lake Tahoe is in Nevada, there are ample of casinos available for you to gamble away!
– Adventure Mountain Lake Tahoe/ Sierra at Tahoe / Carson Pass Sno-Park
A good stop to enjoy a variety of snow activities.
– Hope Valley
A good spot for wildlife viewing.
– Emerald Bay State Park
Emerald Bay State Park is a state park centered on Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay and its features include Eagle Falls and Vikingsholm, a 38-room mansion that is considered one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the United States. This is an absolute must stop.
There is plenty of options available just around the Heavenly Village and a couple of good options are also available at 15-20 mins drive from Heavenly Village. You have the usual suspects like Subway, Pizza Hut, Dominoes, McDonalds as well as Applebee’s etc. but for a more local taste I am listing some options below.
Restaurants we absolutely loved:
– Base Camp Pizza Co.
This is in the heart of Heavenly Village and the area is such a good one, with live music and Gondola views, absolutely lovely ambiance.
Everything, I repeat everything on their menu was finger licking good!! We ate there 2 times in a row and even did a to-go once! Sorry, not sorry 😉
– Artemis Lakefront Cafe
Breathtaking views of the lake and a fun area to roam around along with yummiest gyros I have ever had in the US (and coming from someone who grew up in the Middle East, this means a lot!!)
– Nikki’s Chat (this place was bad, don’t go! Bad food and horrible service! Wish we had tried the other one instead)
– Curry & Grill
– The Heavenly Donughts
– Heavens Little Cafe
– California Burger Co.
– Sugar Pine Bakery
– Ernie’s Coffee Shop
– Lake Tahoe Pizza
– Key’s Cafe
– Edgewood Restaurant
– The Cork & more
– Alpina Coffee
– Zephyr Cove Restaurant
– Big Daddy’s Burger
– Fire Break Kitchen & Bar
– Margarita’s Mexican
– Getaway Cafe
– Jalisco Grill
– Scusa Italian
All in all Lake Tahoe should definitely be on your must visit list, preferably in the winter time as I personally feel that in the summer time, it would be just like any other lake, prettier for sure, but the snow-covered peaks adds to the beauty of this area. In my opinion that is!
Have you been to Lake Tahoe already?! I’d love to hear what all you enjoyed and what was your favorite?! And if you haven’t, then I hope this post of my will help you plan a trip to paradise!!
Happy Monday and have a great week ahead!