How to Visit Lake Tahoe I
One of Northern California’s greatest beauties & only a 3 hour drive from Oakland / San Francisco.
I didn’t spend a ton of time in Tahoe as a kid. Typically people would go up on the weekends and stay at their cabins or with friends. Our friends always had cabins near lakes in the surrounding area so we always used to drive through Lake Tahoe or only spend the day there. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I started going up and spending time on the lake.
Lake Tahoe is massive. It is the biggest fresh water lake in California (Tulare Lake is now only wetlands). The water is beautiful and the scenery is dreamy. It’s a really magical place. There are a million different things to do: boating, jetskiing, parasailing, paddle boarding, kyaking, golf, hiking, you name it they have it. It’s the outdoor persons ultimate playland. In the summer Lake Tahoe is very crowded, especially on weekends. If you are visiting on a holiday weekend: parking, grocery shopping, and driving will be a nightmare. I’ve stopped visiting Lake Tahoe during U.S. holidays because it’s too much unless I’m going to spend the entire week there (which is too much Lake Tahoe for me). So my advice for visiting in the summer: go during the week or a normal weekend. Drive up on a Thursday / Friday morning and leave on Monday. I do not recommend driving up Friday afternoon or leaving on a Sunday because everyone else has the same idea.
Where to stay
Airbnb / Vrbo unless you want to stay in a fancy hotel. ALL accomodations are expensive in Tahoe ($200+ / night). We’ve had to bite the bullet and stay in a hotel when our friends house was overbooked for the weekend! Do not go up there thinking you’ll ‘figure it out when you get there’. You will quickly regret that decision unless you don’t mind sleeping in your car or are okay with pitching a tent… But even then the campgrounds sell out insanely fast! So don’t get left in the dust book those accommodations ahead of time.
There’s nothing more fun that getting a group of people together and staying on the lake for a few days. Some of the cabins for rent on the lake are RIDICULOUS. Some sleep 16+ people so if you are able to get that many people together (you may want to switch careers to party planning….) you should definitely go for it! Groups of 5+ people are better off looking for Airbnb’s than hotels. If you are only 4 people look for a smaller cabin, something walking distance from the lake rather than on the lake, it will be more economical. For couples, you are best going with a hotel, an Airbnb off the lake, or a Bed & Breakfast. So many people forget about Bed & Breakfast’s while traveling and it’s such a shame because they can be super romantic and nestled in the perfect part of town.
As far as what part of town to stay in: this completely depends on what you want to do. Do you want to party or do you want to frollick through the woods and down to the water? If you want to party stay close to Stateline it’s where the big casinos & hotels are located. If you want to goddamn peace and quiet try dollar point, Meeks Bay, or Zephyr cove. North Lake Tahoe is more quiet than South Lake Tahoe. You can get the best of both worlds!
In the Summer it’s hot during the day (84F / 27C) and cold at night (48F / 11C) . It’s the mountains, so there is a very large temperature swing. In the winter it snows, so it does get below freezing, but it doesn’t tend to go into the negatives. The elevation is quite high so if you get altitude sickness beware.
On this particular day the weather was wild, super sunny in the morning and beautiful and then a storm made it’s way through in the afternoon. In the summer it’s usually nothing but sunshine & smiles.