Visiting Lake Tahoe for the First Time?

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Visiting Lake Tahoe for the First Time?

By: Alejandra Jiménez

Cover Photo Credits: Adam Cain

 

Located on the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is one of the favorite destinations in the United States because of its diverse natural landscapes and many activities to enjoy throughout the year, for the whole family. If you’ve never been to the Lake Tahoe area, this guide can help you make the best decision for your first visit.

 

How to get to Lake Tahoe

You can fly to Reno-Tahoe International Airport, which is located 45 minutes from Lake Tahoe, and rent a car at the airport.

If you don’t want to drive, you can use a transport service either to the North Lake Tahoe area or South Lake Tahoe.

The Best Season

In the summer months (June-August), high temperatures average the 75 Fahrenheit degrees (24 Celsius degrees), which is the perfect weather to enjoy the beaches and water activities such as swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking, or sailing.

During the winter (December-February), temperatures drop to freezing and turn the mountains into wonderful places for winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, tubing, or simply snowshoeing the snow-covered forests.

If you are about quietness and calm, the off-season months (March-May and September-November) are an excellent option to enjoy the lake breeze and hike the trails without the crowds and traffic jams of peak seasons. And during these months, the lower prices of accommodations are a bonus.

Kayak Lake Tahoe

Photo Credits: Brooke Lewis

What to do in Lake Tahoe

There are too many things to do around the Big Blue, suitable to all ages and different expertise levels. Depending on what season you pick and how long you want to stay, these are some of the best activities you can enjoy:

Drive around the Lake

If you are visiting for the first time, we recommend you to drive the whole circumference around the lake to explore the area and get an idea of where some interesting places are located at. The loop is 72 miles long (115 kilometers), which is a nice option for a day trip making as many stops as you want.

Enjoy the beaches

From taking a relaxing sunbathe on the sand, to paddling or kayaking on the crystal blue water, or just hiking throughout the pacific lake shore, there are many beautiful beaches around the lake to fulfill everybody’s expectations.

 

Heavenly Mountain Gondola

During the summer, you can’t skip the Scenic Gondola Ride at Heavenly Mountain Resort, which takes you up to the Observation Deck where you will see amazing panoramic views of Lake Tahoe. Once you get to the top and after taking cool photos, you can head to the Tamarack Express chairlift using your ticket to access a series of hiking trails further up the mountain.

Scenic Gondola

Photo Credits: Heavenly Ski Resort

 

Hike the numerous trails

Either in winter or in summer, you will never regret hiking the trails around Lake Tahoe. There are plenty of them with a wide range of difficulty levels. If you enjoy nature and hiking, you should consider spend some time exploring one (or more) of these trails. Remember to bring enough water and snacks for a day-long adventure.

Winter sports

If you love skiing or snowboarding, Lake Tahoe offers around 15 ski resorts to choose from, for all training levels. For those who don’t ski, there are fun activities to enjoy such as ice-skating, tubing, and snowshoeing.

skiing

Photo Credits: Almaty

 

Emerald Bay State Park 

Spend a day visiting Emerald Bay State Park, a protected National Natural Landmark located 12 miles north of South Lake Tahoe. Along with being one of the most photographed areas in the United States, it is also ideal for paddle and kayak lovers. If you enjoy history and culture, consider visiting the magnificent Vikingsholm Castle, a unique blend of nature’s beauty and
man’s architectural ingenuity, and one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the western hemisphere.

Vikingsholm

Photo Credits: California Department of Parks and Recreation

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Top Destinations

From walking to the beach, to finding the nearest ski resort, to taking a day trip to some of the nearby destinations.  Check out the options!

Lake Tahoe is a magical place.  Surrounded by mountains with access to the crystal blue water, excellent trails, world class ski ressorts and more within the Tahoe basin.

Beyond any of the mountain passes lie many additional opportunities that are a relatively easy day trip.  Some are on your way to Lake Tahoe from the San Francisco Bay Area  such as the Sierra Foothills and Gold Country.

Others such as the former mining town of Bodie and the Bodie State Historic Park as well as Carson City, Reno, and even a little farther to Mammoth Lakes and Mono Lake offer plenty of interesting options.  As a day trip or for ideas on where to stop while exploring California and Nevada, check out some of our travel ideas. 

Lake Tahoe SUP View
Garwood's Tahoe side entrance

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