Lake Tahoe Travel Guide

Photo by CSNafzger/Shutterstock

share this article

why you should visit Lake Tahoe now

The alpine waters of Lake Tahoe rest at 6,225 feet above sea level among the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The combination of crystalline lake and crowning mountain peaks creates gorgeous vistas from every angle, stunning sunsets, and marvelous star-gazing. Tahoe is as loved in its snowy winter as in its brilliant summer. With each season, the area beckons nature lovers, adventurers, and those in need of a retreat. Skiers, snowboarders, and snow aficionados flock to Tahoe each winter, while hikers, mountain bikers, and lake devotees return every summer.

What to know before you go to Lake Tahoe

Can't Miss things to do in Lake Tahoe

The true treasure of Tahoe is in its kaleidoscope of natural beauty and the unique possibilities to experience these marvels. Lingering over a lake view at sunset is essential to any visit, as is discovering the vistas of a mountain peak. Visitors enjoy breathtaking views along Sierra Nevada ridges by gondola, sky tram, hot air balloon, or their own two feet. Kayaks, sail boats, and paddleboat cruises allow a more intimate experience of the lake. Interactions with Tahoe's natural wonders can come in many forms, from snowshoeing treks under a full moon to a soak in natural hot springs.

Food and Drink to try in Lake Tahoe

Tahoe serves up fresh local ingredients with culinary creativity. At West Shore Café & Inn, everything down to the marshmallows is handmade. PlumpJack at Squaw Valley has a menu that changes with the local harvest, as well as special seasonal events. The traditional Zephyr Cove Restaurant is a South Lake classic dedicated to all things local, sustainable, and delicious. The local drinking scene is similarly alluring, with wine bars such as Uncorked and Picchetti Winery's tasting room, brew houses such as Mellow Fellow and Stateline Brewery, and artisanal cafés for those who need a caffeine fix.


Tahoe has multiple options for those who love to shop or meander through local markets. In the summer, there are weekly farmers' markets on both the north and south shores, brimming with regional produce, local art, and the spirit of the mountain communities. While these markets hibernate for the colder months there is a winter farmers' market (open every other Sunday) in nearby Reno. Truckee and Tahoe City welcome visitors in any season to stroll their streets and browse antique stores, artist galleries, mountain furniture stores, and local shops that create everything from soaps to olive oil. For those that wish to stay closer to the comforts of a ski resort, Northstar, Squaw Valley, and Heavenly all have shopping complexes.

Practical Information

The mountain setting that makes Tahoe so beautiful also creates a need for caution. Keep an eye on the weather in winter, especially when driving. Roads can close for a time, and you should always have a full tank of gas and carry snow chains; pay attention to the road signs and listen out for radio advisories; drive slowly and never brake suddenly. Finally, watch out for snow plows! Summers are hot and bring beautiful rain storms and possibly cool nights, so pack appropriate attire. Keep in mind that you are at an elevation of 6,000–10,000 feet, so if you are undertaking strenuous outdoor activities you need to pace yourself, bring water, and always tell someone where you are going and what you are doing.

share this article

Updated: 08/29/16

Guide Editor