This post on what to do in Lake Tahoe is in collaboration with Visit Lake Tahoe. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
The babes are at it again! After taking the summer off, the Babes That Wander (minus Iesha), traveled to South Lake Tahoe at the end of September for a few days of Tahoe area fun. I’ve been to Lake Tahoe a few times, once in November and the other time in the summer. Going to the end of September right on the cusp of fall was an interesting time weather-wise. The afternoons felt like a Lake Tahoe summer but the mornings and evenings were a tad chilly. We didn’t go into North Lake Tahoe any and stayed in the south Lake Tahoe area. So, with that in mind, I’m going to share it with you in today’s post!
What to Do in Lake Tahoe: Girl’s Trip Guide
Getting to Lake Tahoe
Most of the babes, except for Elise who drove from San Francisco, flew into Reno Airport. I flew Southwest to Reno. Once you land in Reno you have about an hour/hour and a half drive into South Lake Tahoe. To get to South Lake Tahoe, you can rent a car, take a taxi or take an Uber/Lyft. An Uber and Lyft can be $80+ since it’s such a far distance and if they don’t want to take you that far they can be hard to come by.
For this trip, I took a shuttle that I didn’t know about, the South Tahoe Airporter. This shuttle picked me up at the airport outside door D and dropped me off in South Lake Tahoe at Harvey’s. There are a few drop-off locations in South Lake Tahoe, usually at casinos. On the way into Tahoe, the drive is an hour but it’s almost two hours on the way to the airport since you make more stops. This affordable option is about $50 round trip and tickets can be purchased through their website.
Utilize Lake Link
If you get to Tahoe and still don’t have a vehicle to get around, try Lake Link. Lake Link is Tahoe’s free micro transit. You just download the app, enter your pickup and drop-off and choose the option that works best for you. Then you check the app to see where to meet the driver and meet them there for pickup. We didn’t utilize Lake Link since Elise drove her car down but I had the app downloaded and ready just in case.
Once you’re in Tahoe and getting around, Uber and Lyft are available but can be hard to come by at times. A lot of people recommended taxis to get around and they’re more reliable and affordable since there are no surge charges.
That’s to Say…
I still recommend renting a car to get around. Unless you’re staying on the main strip, all the other things we mention are a little further away and it’s nice having a way to get around without racking up a lot of Lyft and Uber charges.
Where to Stay
If you have a larger party visiting Lake Tahoe and want a cozier lodging vibe, consider Lake Tahoe Accommodations. Our cabin had three bedrooms, slept 4-5, and had a pool table, hot tub, living room, and full kitchen. On our first night, we had pizza and instacart delivered so we had coffee, some snacks, and a few odds and ends on hand. Lake Tahoe Accommodations has several different properties that fit several different party options so consider the cabins on their website.
Desolation Hotel is new to Lake Tahoe (it just opened a few months ago) and is the most stunning property. We stayed in the Alpine Suite and Granite Suite which had a small kitchenette, king-sized bed, pull-out couch, full bathroom with a tub and walk-in shower, and a bathtub on the patio. It’s so luxe and really brings in the elements of Tahoe in a chic, minimalistic way
The rooms are so simple but beautifully done with high ceilings, natural woods and elements, and photos of the current season in Tahoe. There was coffee in the room so we would sit on the balcony in our robes and enjoy the crisp Tahoe morning.
The Desolation also has a gym with Peloton bicycles, a sauna, a heated pool, a hot tub, and cozy fires you can sit around and enjoy a glass of wine with your girlfriends or significant other. In addition to their suites and regular rooms, they also have townhomes to rent. They’re three stories with the bedroom on the top floor, the pull-out bed and kitchen on the second floor, and a garage complete with Tesla and electric car chargers. Elise drove her Tesla so it was nice to be able to charge her Tessie there! The property is also pet friendly, I got to pet so many dogs during our stay.
On the 3rd floor of Desolation, is their restaurant, Maggie’s. We had drinks and apps at Maggie’s our first time there and then dinner our last night. They have cocktails named after dogs of the employees as well as a great wine list. We enjoyed filet mignon, truffle fries, flatbread, stuffed arancini, prosciutto-wrapped scallops, and salmon confit. The dessert looked amazing too but we were so stuffed we couldn’t fit anything else!
We also met with one of the owners and he told us the history behind the hotel. The design is inspired by Tahoe architecture. They also hired women to do a lot of interior design and architecture, making it that much more special to the babes.
What to Do – Lake Tahoe Summer Activities
We got up early one morning and hiked Van Sickle up the falls. You can stand on the California/Nevada line (be in two places at once), and see some breathtaking scenery. It was an easy hike, I’m not an experienced hiker so if I can do it, you can too! Van Sickle is a 725-acre park where you can hike, cross-country ski, and snowshoe. I’ve been here in the snow and when it’s warm and the views are stunning either way. It’s one of the most accessible parks in the Tahoe Basin and the Rim Trail Connector is a tie-in to the Tahoe Rim Trail and was named one of the nation’s top ten trails by National Geographic. Entry is free so go anytime from sunrise to sunset.
Another great hiking trail is Rabe Meadow to Nevada Beach. It’s for all hiking levels and is another beautiful hike to take all the views Tahoe South offers. It begins at the intersection of Highway 50 and Kahle Blvd in Stateline. During the hike, you can stop and learn about the early Washoe Tribe families that settled there.
On the Water
Clear Kayak with Clearly Tahoe
One thing that was at the top of our list for this trip was the Clear Kayak excursion with Clearly Tahoe. We did a 1 p.m. tour and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. You check in at the marina and load up in a boat. The boat has water, sodas, and snacks to enjoy and it’s about an hour’s ride to the destination. Bring a jacket because it gets chilly and they also have blankets on board.
Once you reach the destination, you take your shoes off and get into either a single or double kayak. We got doubles, Megan and Jessica on one, Elise and I on the other. When you’re on your kayak, you don’t do a whole lot of rowing. You float and listen to the guide give facts about the lake and the area and you float along the shoreline. The views are spectacular and you can look down and see the bottom of the lake. It was nice and warm on the water and such a surreal moment. It’s a moment you look around in such wonder and awe and can’t believe that places like this are real!
After an hour on the water, you get back on the boat and ride back to the marina. I can’t recommend this excursion enough!
Another excursion at the marina is the Tahoe Tastings Wine Cruise. Our cruise was at 11 a.m. on the Rubicon dock. You can sit on the back of the boat and enjoy the views under the shade or sit inside the boat at small round tables. We sat inside and enjoyed six different wines and for an additional fee they provide a yummy charcuterie board. After you sample all the wines, you can purchase a glass or bottle of your favorite wine for purchase.
Pro Tip: Bring Dramamine or sea sickness bands to wear on the cruise. We got seasick and I didn’t drink much wine because I felt sick. So just something to keep in mind!
You can find this beach at Zephyr Cove at the Highway 50 intersection that’s ¼ of a mile north of Elks Point Road. It’s located on National Forest land with views of Mt. Tallac, Emerald Bay, and the West Shore. The hike is one-half mile long and it’s a family-friendly beach.
One thing that I’m so bummed we didn’t get to do was a hot air balloon tour. We saw it over the water on our gondola ride and when we reached out the company said the weather conditions wouldn’t be good for the rest of our trip. But I highly recommend considering it and experiencing it for yourself!
Located in Heavenly Village, we all got on the gondola for a scenic ride. It’s 2.4 miles to the top and while you sit you get perfect panoramic views of Lake Tahoe. The first stop is the observation deck where you can walk around a find the perfect place for a photo or get a hot chocolate at the café. There are also several hiking trails for you to take advantage of. The scenic gondola is available Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and recommend getting tickets beforehand.
Adult (ages 19-64) = $63
Child (ages 5-12) = $32 **Please note children the age of 4 and under are free on the gondola ride only
Teen (13-18) & Senior (65+) = $49
Heavenly Village is an area in South Lake Tahoe where you can wander around art galleries and boutiques while listening to live music and getting good food from one of the many restaurants. There’s also an ice skating rink in the colder months to enjoy. I’ll share more on some restaurants there below. I loved grabbing some ice cream at Coldstone and wandering in and out of shops before dinner one night. It’s so quaint and outdoor fire pits make it so cozy.
Lake Tahoe Yoga with Bliss Experiences
While you’re out hiking, and enjoying the outdoors, take a yoga class with Bliss Experiences. You can check out their schedule for a yoga class that will help you connect with nature and relax in your body, mind, and spirit. The outdoor classes have such a stunning view, it’s the perfect spot to practice your yoga and center yourself.
Let’s hit the trail! Beer trail that is. There are 9 different breweries on the South Tahoe Beer Trail. Kick back after a day on the lake with a frosty pint or a local craft beer. See the map below or the website to see where the stops are located.
Where to Eat
If you’re looking for a spot with some healthy food options, Sprouts Cafe is the place to go! We came here for a late breakfast/early lunch and dined on salads, smoothies, coffee, and more. You can tell this is a popular spot in South Tahoe because the line was out the door the entire time we were there. You order at the front, take a seat and they bring your food to you when it’s ready. The weather was gorgeous so we sat on the patio, enjoyed the sunshine, and petted all the dogs who came our way. Sprouts Cafe is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Who doesn’t love a top-secret speakeasy? We got the scoop before we arrived that this was the best place to go for a nightcap. Head back to Heavenly Village and go to the restaurant Social House. From there you tell the bartender you want to head to the speakeasy and they’ll put you on the waitlist. While you wait you can enjoy a drink at the bar in Social House or wander around Heavenly Village.
Once your table is ready, they’ll contact you and you’ll head to the freezer. Behind the door is something like the Great Gatsby. It’s a small dimly lit space that’s bathed in candlelight. Groups of people sit and enjoy their drinks or listen to live music. The two bartenders were from Brazil and were so fun to watch as they crafted cocktails. All of their cocktails were amazing and this spot is worth a late-night stop!
Another great dinner spot in South Lake Tahoe is Lakeview Social. We came here around sunset and drank wine and craft beer around the fire while listening to live music. Then if you want food you walk up to the food truck outside. It’s very family friendly with corn hole and other outdoor activities set up. There’s nothing I love more than drinking red wine around a fire so I’d put this on your Tahoe to-do list.
You wouldn’t think to find New Orleans-inspired dishes around Lake Tahoe, but Toulouse is quite the spot! They’re gearing up for a big remodel soon but their outdoor patio area will still be available. While we ate, the cutest French Bulldog was running around and it’s extremely dog friendly. Reserve a table to experience their delicious food for yourself. I recommend ordering the New Orleans Style Gumbo, Blackened Salmon, Crispy Cauliflower Bites, and Bread Pudding. You won’t be sorry!
From breakfast to dinner, The Bistro serves homemade classics and favorites inspired by the Tahoe region. We started with the Roasted Bone Marrow, Napoletana Flatbread, Short Rib, and the Lodge Salad. The Edgewood property is stunning and right off the lake so you can sit in the Adirondack chairs and watch the sunset or enjoy the sunshine.
The Landing is another great hotel option in Tahoe. While we didn’t stay here we did enjoy a divine breakfast at Jimmy’s. We decided to do a family-style breakfast with pancakes, fruit, Smashed Avocado Toast, and Chilaquiles. It was the best breakfast to start a day of hiking and exploring the beer trail. We also loved the cool vintage jeep and bikes outside the restaurant.
What to Pack
As I said above the morning and evenings are chilly and the days are warm so wear lots of layers. Tahoe also has a very casual vibe. I didn’t see many dresses and everyone was wearing sneakers or boots and jeans. Bring lots of sunscreens if you’re outside hiking or on the lake and sunglasses since the water deflects. It’s also nice to have cash on hand for tipping!