Featured Photo: Courtesy of AllTrails
Everything you need to know about visiting Tahoe.
About 200 miles northeast of San Francisco is Lake Tahoe, North America’s largest alpine lake with cool, cobalt-blue water.
This 22-mile long, 12-mile wide area is surrounded by 16 small communities, acting as a magnet for visitors and locals for a winter wonderland and a year-round playground.
There are 15 ski and snowboarding areas with nearly 150 lifts in California and Nevada resorts, with altitudes between 5,000 and 10,000 feet. The largest is Squaw Valley, the 1960 Winter Olympics host, soon to be linked to Alpine Meadows with a gondola system. Heavenly Valley is the highest, straddling both states. Lift tickets are costly, but treat skiers to views of snow-capped mountains and the deep blue lake. Prices range from $40 to over $200 per day, with substantial discounts when buying online.
There’s plenty to do, around or in the lake. With 71 miles of shoreline, hiking and biking trails abound. Sunset dinner cruises and trips to the gorgeous Emerald Bay are available via the M.S. Dixie paddlewheel boat. You can rent motor boats, fishing boats, jet skis, kayaks, even the Tahoe Bleu Wave luxury yacht. If you’re altitude-certified, you can even go SCUBA diving, but bring your dry suit — this lake’s fed by snow melt.
You have a wide choice of accommodations and restaurants. At South Lake Tahoe on the Nevada side, you can stay at Harrah’s, Harvey’s, Montbleu, or the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Lake Tahoe, with vast dining and entertainment choices. Small hotels dot the area, especially at King’s Beach, while the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe at Northstar offers ski-in, ski-out rooms.
The Washoe Native Americans first lived in this high-altitude alpine area. More than half of the ill-fated Donner Party perished in an 1846 blizzard. The discovery of gold near Sacramento in 1848 was a pivotal moment for all of Northern California, bringing tens of thousands of “49ers” west, followed by the Comstock Lode silver deposit in 1848 in Virginia City, 15 miles away, then a booming lumber industry. Today, Tahoe is a thriving area with nearly twice as many summer residents (about 100,000) as winter (50,000).
- Gambling is legal on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe.
- Lake Tahoe is deep enough to cover the Empire State Building.
- The water is almost as pure as drinking water.
What to Do in Tahoe
Tahoe's Annual Events
FEBRUARY: Lake Tahoe skiing is in full swing, so the majority of events in Lake Tahoe are going to be in and around the South Lake Tahoe casinos. Most of these are comprised of concerts and shows — see some of them here.
MARCH: Come out to Snowfest, North Lake Tahoe’s 10-day winter carnival with numerous events and activities celebrating the Lake Tahoe winter scene.
APRIL: In front of sold-out crowds, WinterWonderGrass takes place in a comfortable venue at the base of the ski mountain and features over 20 different artists.
MAY: The birds are chirping, the sun is warming and the snow is melting. Spring is here and there are a ton of Tahoe events to check out — see some of them here.
JUNE: Aside from amazing events and activities, Tahoe City’s Solstice Festival attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy convenient lake access, award-winning artists, wonderful restaurants, charming shops, and galleries.
JULY: Somewhere between 75,000 and 100,000 people will visit Tahoe South to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day with Lights on the Lake Fireworks, the largest synchronized fireworks display west of the Mississippi.
AUGUST: The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival brings the bard to life on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Performing a series of Shakespeare classics and introducing more contemporary works, audience members take their seats on the beach overlooking the gorgeous.
SEPTEMBER: The Lake Tahoe Autumn Food & Wine Festival is the premier 3-day food and wine event in the region. Expect cooking classes, wine tastings, outdoor adventures, and the finale Grand Tasting.
OCTOBER: Celebrating Halloween in North Lake Tahoe, California can be a spooky yet exciting time to vacation with your family. Here’s a list of amusing things to do in North Lake Tahoe during Halloween.
NOVEMBER: Ideally located in the heart of Lake Tahoe’s South Shore in the Heavenly Village, the Heavenly Village ice skating rink is perfect for the entire family. Kids can ice skate while parents go shopping or enjoy great restaurants.
DECEMBER: Many of the celebrations are kid-friendly, so bring the whole family to Lake Tahoe for New Year’s fun. Note: local guidelines vary depending on if you’re on the California side of the border or the Nevada side.
*Things change, so please check in with the organizers of these events for details.