Lake Tahoe – Tips and Recommendations
- Lake Tahoe is one of the largest freshwater lakes and is the second deepest lake in the United States. It is located on the border of both California and Nevada and has become popular for outdoor recreation. The nearby Sierra Nevada mountain range features stunning views of the peaks and brilliant blue water.
- Notoriously bright with 250 to 300 sunny days annually, humidity is low even in the summer and temperatures are relatively mild. Winters bring plenty of snow and blizzards. At over 6,000 feet in elevation, this unique area is perfect for outdoor recreation year-round.
- The Lake Tahoe area is ideal for a family vacation, whether it’s summer holidays, Spring Break, or Christmas in the mountains. Cozy hotels, cabins, and lodges dot the edges of the lake so you’re sure to find an idyllic place to stay while you enjoy all the area has to offer.
Where is Lake Tahoe?
Lake Tahoe is a freshwater lake that lies right on the border between California and Nevada. It’s about 30 miles west of Reno, Nevada and 118 miles east of Sacramento, California.
As the largest alpine lake in North America, it is a tourist attraction year round with ski resorts popular in the winter and outdoor recreation in summer. A drive around the entire lake is 72 miles, and most activities are centered at the North or South side of the lake, though there are activities at many locations.
Most people stay at either North Lake Tahoe or South Lake Tahoe. North Lake Tahoe is located mostly in California and isn’t as developed as the south shore, but it is close to two ski resorts, Northstar and Squaw Valley. South Lake Tahoe is split between the two states and has more hotels and other amenities than North Lake Tahoe, including casinos on the Nevada side.
Truckee, California is a small town on the Northside about 16 miles from the lake, and there are many lodging options located here. Carson City, Nevada lies 20 miles east of the lake and is another option for accommodations.
How to get to Lake Tahoe?
Although Lake Tahoe is a major tourist destination, there is no major airport nearby. The closest airport is Reno-Tahoe International Airport which is 59 miles north of South Lake Tahoe. Another major airport is Sacramento International Airport, which is located 115 miles from South Lake Tahoe.
Those who want to include time in the Bay Area in their vacation itinerary can also fly into three nearby California airports. These include Oakland International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, and Mineta San Jose International Airport.
When is the best time to visit Lake Tahoe?
The best times to visit are May to June or September to October if you plan to enjoy summer water activities, camping, or swimming. There are activities year-round and the hottest, and busiest, months are July and August.
November through March are the coldest months but these times are ideal for winter recreation so will also see more visitors. For those interested in skiing, resorts will be busiest on the weekends so plan your vacation during the week if possible.
It’s also important to make lodging reservations as far in advance as possible. Many hotels and resorts book quickly, especially those located closest to the lake in summer and ski resorts in winter.
What to do in Lake Tahoe?
Lake Tahoe is popular primarily for outdoor recreation. In the winter, take advantage of over ten nearby ski resorts to ski or snowboard. Snowshoeing, snowmobiling, snow tubing, sledding, and ice skating are also popular in the winter.
Summer activities take place primarily on the lake or its many beaches and nearby parks. Water sports include boating and kayaking as well as cruises and boating events such as sailboat races. Jet skiing, parasailing, paddle boarding, fishing, and swimming are also popular. SCUBA diving is also commonly done at the lake because it reaches depths of over 1,500 feet.
Near the lake, there are many hiking and mountain biking trails to enjoy as well as camping in either a tent or RV. Golfing, shopping, and gambling round out some of the more common tourist attractions.
Numerous annual festivals and events are happening at Lake Tahoe or in Reno and nearby cities. The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, American Century Championship celebrity charity golf tournament, and the Eldorado Great Italian Festival are some of the most well-known. The iconic Burning Man festival also takes places just north of Reno, not far from Lake Tahoe.
Is Lake Tahoe family-friendly?
Like most tourist destinations centered around outdoor recreation, Lake Tahoe and surrounding cities are incredibly family-friendly. There is an abundance of activities that cater to children of all ages, and outdoor fun is always on offer. Many annual events include unique opportunities to get kids involved and make celebrations accessible to everyone.
Because many activities take place on the water, it’s important to be cautious of children when swimming or boating. Make sure they are wearing a life vest that is suitable for their size and never leave children unattended.
What are the best events for kids in Lake Tahoe?
In addition to outdoor activities, there are plenty of other things for kids to enjoy while visiting Lake Tahoe. Some of these include:
● Year-round Camps
● Ski school
● Mini golf
● Climbing Wall
● Ropes Challenge
● KidZone Museum
● Epic Discovery
● Sawmill Pond
● Zip Lines
● Mountain Coaster
February – Chevy Trucks Family Fest
June to August – Movies on the Beach
August – Paddleboard Festival
September – Lake in the Sky Air Show
December – Festival of Trees and Lights
New Year’s Eve – Tahoe Donner Torchlight Parade