Written by Erin
“Come for the winters, stay for the summer” is what I heard over and over again about Lake Tahoe, California. I had spent 4 winters in North Lake Tahoe before I experienced my first summer, and true to the statement,never wanted to leave. Tahoe is one big outdoor playground. Close to Reno airport and an easy 3.5 hour drive from San Francisco it’s the perfect holiday destination.
Where to stay on a budget?
Tahoe unfortunately is not light on the pocket. For the cheapest accommodation you can stay 45 minutes out in Reno, Nevada at one of their many casinos for under US $50/night. If you want to be closer to the lake and book in advance the Stateline casinos on the Nevada/California border have some great deals. Otherwise get a group of friends together and rent a place around Tahoe City on Airbnb. Brave enough and traveling solo or in a small group? I love Couchsurfing and there are a few hosts in the area.
Where to eat on a budget?
My absolute favourite place is Tahoe House. Located just after the ‘Y’ heading towards the West Shore, you will find the best coffee, baked items and friendly faces at affordable prices. Don’t be turned off by the queue it always moves fast.
A hidden gem known mainly by locals is The Burrito Window. Marked only by an A-frame sign by the Thai restaurant are the fattest, juiciest burritos.
What to do or look at?
Get outside! Visit in the summertime and Tahoe is an adventure lovers paradise. Hiking, biking, rock-climbing, wake-boarding, SUPing you name it, you can do it. Hiking trails range from 10 minutes to overnight backpacking trips. Head to Eagle Rock after Sunnyside for a short 10 minute climb and be met with incredible lake views. Pack the mountain bike and head to the famous Flume Trail or go to Northstar’s Bike Park.
More inclined for some relaxation? Whale beach (pictured) is generally quiet as there is a small hike down involved but well worth every step. Don’t forget your camera and a picnic lunch so you never have to leave.
Keep an eye on pages like Squaw/Alpines and Go Tahoe North to keep up to date on events happening around the lake. A personal favourite is Tuesday Bluesday in Squaw Valley and music on the beach every Sunday at Commons Beach in Tahoe City.
What not to do?
- Unless you have children stay away from Sand Harbour. You need to pay to use the beach and its always super crowded.
- Don’t leave your dog at home! Tahoe is super dog friendly, we love them! There are plenty of dog friendly beaches, many restaurants have outdoor seating with doggy water bowls and what dog doesn’t love a good long hike. Just remember to clean up after them.
- Make sure you know your way in and out of a trail. Don’t stray too far if you don’t know where you’re going. People do get lost in the wilderness – stay safe.
3 fun facts:
- Lake Tahoe is 11.9 miles at its widest and 21.2 miles long and is the 3rd deepest lake in North America. The rate of daily evaporation could serve 3.3 million Americans their daily water needs.
- Each March dress up in your craziest snow gear for the Pain McSchlonkey. A full day event of laughs and activities in support of the Shane McConkey Foundation. Find out more at here!
- The Tahoe area attracts approximately 3 million visitors per year which is comparable to The Grand Canyon National Park!
This great guide was written by Erin Morris. If you are looking for more accommodation then check out Agoda and Hostelworld, I highly recommend them. Travel insurance? Go World Nomads, a trusted and reliable travel insurance company.
Author: I’m Erin Morris, a 26 year old travel blogging Aussie. I moved overseas when I turned 18 to work in the snow fields. I became a ski instructor where I went from Southern Hemisphere to Northern Hemisphere for 7 years without a summer. I then became a paramedic and left my full time job earlier this year to wander the globe.