South Lake Tahoe travel guide

South Lake Tahoe Tourism | South Lake Tahoe Guide

You're Going to Love South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is the largest city in El Dorado County, California. It's also a stone's throw from Nevada and attracts thousands of tourists each year.

The area is the perfect destination for those who want to have access to the kind of casinos and entertainment for which Nevada is well known. You can also enjoy the wild landscapes and climate that make California one of the most pleasant vacation destinations.

South Lake Tahoe is home to a few resorts that combine luxurious hotels and casinos. Between the casinos, the ski slopes, and the lake, your itinerary will be packed!

Top 5 Reasons to Visit South Lake Tahoe

1. Enjoy the Lake

Lake Tahoe is the perfect spot if you enjoy fishing and boating. Even if these activities aren't on your schedule, you can still enjoy Lakeside Beach or Pope Beach or go on a sightseeing tour.

2. Go Skiing or Snowboarding

The Heavenly Mountain Resort, Squaw Valley Ski Resort, and Homewood Mountain Resort are the perfect destinations if you enjoy skiing, snowboarding, or other winter sports.

3. Try Your Luck at the Casinos

South Lake Tahoe is located right next to Stateline, Nevada where you will find many casinos. You can stay at Harrah's Lake Tahoe or at Harveys Lake Tahoe, partake in gambling or catch one of the extravagant shows staged there.

4. Explore the State Parks

There are plenty of outdoors activities and state parks to explore if you like camping and hiking. Check out Fallen Leaf Lake, the Donner Memorial State Park, Emerald Bay State Park, or Van Sickle Bi-State Park.

5. Go Out

The casinos have a lot to offer but you will find that South Lake Tahoe is a vibrant town all year round. There are plenty of spas, dance clubs, grills, and bars on the south shore of the lake. This is the perfect place if you want to find a balance between sports, outdoors activities, and entertainment.

What to do in South Lake Tahoe

1. Lake Tahoe: The Best Lake in America

This deep blue alpine lake was officially named the greatest lake in the United States, and it's no wonder why the vast coastline is dotted with the greatest of activities, host to all water sports from lazy to extreme. The freshwater that fills the depths of Lake Tahoe is also of the purest quality, beckoning visitors to swim their hearts out beneath the stunning peaks of surrounding mountains.

2. Emerald Bay State Park: The Forest of Oz

Surrounding the crystal blue waters of Lake Tahoe are some of the most spectacular National Parks in the United States, and Emerald Bay State Park is a true gem. This unique inlet of the massive alpine lake is surrounded by lush lands flowing with rivers and falls, and teeming with hiking trails and campsites. Discover Vikingsholm Castle for yourself, a mystical viking-style construction based on 9th-century Scandinavian architecture, with striking views over the bay.

3. Squaw Valley Resort: Take to the Peaks

In the winter, visitors to South Lake Tahoe set their sights on the idyllic peaks high above the water for world-class skiing and snowboarding opportunities. A scenic aerial tramway bears visitors to great heights at Squaw Valley Resort, where the High Camp village offers rest and recreation. Not only are the slopes right at your ski-tips, but after a long day of cruising downhill the resort village offers poolside relief and shopping galore.

4. Stateline: Gaming at the Border

Lake Tahoe sits at the border between California and Nevada, and Stateline holds surprising contrasts - many activities allowed in one state, are not allowed in the other. Nevada is the motherland for gambling in the United States, and visitors to South Lake Tahoe can enjoy a break from the remarkable natural world in this geographical loophole, which allows 24-hour gaming centers just minutes away. This Vegas in miniature is a sight to see whether you're one for the poker tables or not.

5. Kings Beach: "North Lake Tahoe"

A scenic waterside drive along the expansive Lake Tahoe brings you to South Lake Tahoe's sister town Kings Beach, known for its incomparable restaurants, cafés, shops and views. Lake Tahoe never gets old, and a trip to this town across the way brings a serene perspective shift over the cobalt blue waters. Hit the beach without a care in the world, and let the royal treatment whisk you away.

1. Lake Tahoe: The Best Lake in America

This deep blue alpine lake was officially named the greatest lake in the United States, and it's no wonder why the vast coastline is dotted with the greatest of activities, host to all water sports from lazy to extreme. The freshwater that fills the depths of Lake Tahoe is also of the purest quality, beckoning visitors to swim their hearts out beneath the stunning peaks of surrounding mountains.

2. Emerald Bay State Park: The Forest of Oz

Surrounding the crystal blue waters of Lake Tahoe are some of the most spectacular National Parks in the United States, and Emerald Bay State Park is a true gem. This unique inlet of the massive alpine lake is surrounded by lush lands flowing with rivers and falls, and teeming with hiking trails and campsites. Discover Vikingsholm Castle for yourself, a mystical viking-style construction based on 9th-century Scandinavian architecture, with striking views over the bay.

3. Squaw Valley Resort: Take to the Peaks

In the winter, visitors to South Lake Tahoe set their sights on the idyllic peaks high above the water for world-class skiing and snowboarding opportunities. A scenic aerial tramway bears visitors to great heights at Squaw Valley Resort, where the High Camp village offers rest and recreation. Not only are the slopes right at your ski-tips, but after a long day of cruising downhill the resort village offers poolside relief and shopping galore.

4. Stateline: Gaming at the Border

Lake Tahoe sits at the border between California and Nevada, and Stateline holds surprising contrasts - many activities allowed in one state, are not allowed in the other. Nevada is the motherland for gambling in the United States, and visitors to South Lake Tahoe can enjoy a break from the remarkable natural world in this geographical loophole, which allows 24-hour gaming centers just minutes away. This Vegas in miniature is a sight to see whether you're one for the poker tables or not.

5. Kings Beach: "North Lake Tahoe"

A scenic waterside drive along the expansive Lake Tahoe brings you to South Lake Tahoe's sister town Kings Beach, known for its incomparable restaurants, cafés, shops and views. Lake Tahoe never gets old, and a trip to this town across the way brings a serene perspective shift over the cobalt blue waters. Hit the beach without a care in the world, and let the royal treatment whisk you away.

Where to Eat in South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is primarily known for offering an upscale traditional American dining experience. Your hotel or resort will probably have its own dining spot, but make sure you check out Nephele's, Evan's American Gourmet Cafe, and LewMarNel's Steaks & Spirits. An upscale meal should cost at least $40 to $50. There are many more affordable dining options in the area if you are not looking for a luxury experience. Make sure you stop by Sprouts Cafe for an original take on healthy food, Jalisco Grill if you enjoy Mexican fast food, and Dough Custom Pizza. You should be able to find fast-food meals between $10 and $20.

When to visit South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe in May
Estimated hotel price
€133
1 night at 3-star hotel
South Lake Tahoe in May
Estimated hotel price
€133
1 night at 3-star hotel

The winters can be cold, but the warm and dry summers are characteristic of the weather you will find in California. Traveling to South Lake Tahoe during the winter is ideal if you are into skiing, but there are more outdoors activities in the summer if you are more interested in the lake and state parks.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Celcius (°C)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to South Lake Tahoe

Plane

Lake Tahoe Airport (TVL) is three miles south of South Lake Tahoe but this airport is fairly small. It will probably be easier to fly to Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO). Taking a taxi between this airport and South Lake Tahoe should cost $115.00, but there are different shuttles available with more affordable prices.

Train

There are a few different Amtrak lines that will get you close to South Lake Tahoe but you will have to drive for the last leg of your trip. You can take the California Zephyr line from San Francisco or the Capitol Corridor from Sacramento or San Francisco.

Car

South Lake Tahoe can be easily accessed via US Route 50 and 89 if you are already located in California or in Nevada. If you are planning a longer road trip, you will probably have to follow US Route 80 that goes through Nevada.

Bus

There are hotel and resort shuttles from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport to South Lake Tahoe. You can also take the South Tahoe Airporter if your hotel does not offer a shuttle service. The nearest Greyhound bus station is in Carson City, NV and Greyhound has connections from Las Vegas or in Los Angeles.

Airports near South Lake Tahoe

RNOReno

Airlines serving South Lake Tahoe

United Airlines
Good (2,839 reviews)
Lufthansa
Good (2,151 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (4,377 reviews)
KLM
Good (348 reviews)
Air France
Good (399 reviews)
British Airways
Good (1,414 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (3,048 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,324 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (1,208 reviews)
Iberia
Good (915 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (1,412 reviews)
Austrian Airlines
Good (278 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (308 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Excellent (320 reviews)
TAP AIR PORTUGAL
Good (538 reviews)
Brussels Airlines
Good (100 reviews)
Finnair
Good (694 reviews)
LATAM Airlines
Good (777 reviews)
Alaska Airlines
Excellent (2,613 reviews)
Scandinavian Airlines
Good (439 reviews)
Show more

Where to stay in South Lake Tahoe

East South Lake Tahoe - South Lake Tahoe is divided in two main sections. The eastern portion of the town is where you will find most of the hotels and resorts. There are more restaurants and shopping options and you will be able to easily access the casinos across the state line.

Popular Neighborhoods in South Lake Tahoe

West South Lake Tahoe - the western portion of South Lake Tahoe is mostly residential. You will find the marina on the lakeshore and a few cheaper hotels and motels but will be further away from the casinos and restaurants.

Where to stay in popular areas of South Lake Tahoe

Most booked hotels in South Lake Tahoe

Edgewood Tahoe Resort
Excellent (9.2, Excellent reviews)
€537+
The Landing Resort And Spa
Excellent (8.1, Excellent reviews)
€353+
Lakeland Village at Heavenly
Good (7.9, Good reviews)
€172+
Marriott's Timber Lodge, A Marriott Vacation Club Resort
Excellent (8.1, Excellent reviews)
€145+
Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel
Good (7.5, Good reviews)
€165+
Montbleu Resort Casino & Spa
Good (7.3, Good reviews)
€113+
See all hotels

How to Get Around South Lake Tahoe

Public Transportation

There is a very reliable public transportation system that connects South Lake Tahoe with Carson City and the rest of the Carson Valley. You can ride the South Shore Services bus by purchasing a $5 day pass or paying the $2 fare. South Shore Services also offers ski shuttles during the winter and a trolley service to Emerald Bay during the summer.

Taxi

You will find taxis near hotels but you can easily avoid using taxis by staying at one of the main hotels or resorts in the eastern portion of the city, which will put you within walking distance of everything. Taxis should typically cost a base price of $3.00 and an additional $2.50 per mile.

Car

Renting a vehicle typically costs around $100 a day. You can rent a car in South Lake Tahoe at one of the Enterprise and Budget locations or hire one at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport where you will have more options. Renting a car is an ideal option if you want to be able to take scenic drives around the lake.

The Cost of Living in South Lake Tahoe

Shopping Streets

The best place to shop in South Lake Tahoe is the Tahoe Crescent V Shopping Center located on the state line and near the main hotels and resorts. You will find some art galleries inside of the shopping center, sporting goods stores, clothing stores, and a food court. You should also check out the Factory Stores at the Y if you like shopping at outlet stores. Here, you will find Big 5, Van Heusen, TJ Maxx, and other clothing stores.

Groceries and Other

If you stay at one of the main hotels on the state line, you will find a Raley's inside of the Tahoe Crescent V Shopping Center as well as different smaller convenience stores in the area. There is a Kmart located in the western portion of the city. The cost of groceries is slightly above the national average since the cost of living in California tends to be a little higher. You should expect to pay $3.38 for a gallon of milk, $1.78 for a dozen of large eggs, and $6.99 for a pound of ground beef at the local Raley's.