Blessed with sparkling natural beauty, Lake Tahoe is considered the jewel of the Sierra Nevada and has been named one of the best adventure vacations in the United States by the U.S. News & World Report. Tahoe is known for the clarity of its water and the panoramic views of the surrounding mountains on all sides. At 6,229 feet above sea level, Lake Tahoe is the highest lake of its size in the United States, measuring 22 miles long by 12 miles wide, with a surface area of 191 square miles and 72 miles of shoreline. Lake Tahoe is the second deepest lake in the United States, with a maximum depth of 1,645 feet, trailing only Oregon’s Crater Lake.
In addition to its awe-inspiring size, Lake Tahoe features unique dining experiences, local art galleries, and a broad selection of boutiques and shops.
Conveniently located just 30 minutes from downtown Reno, Lake Tahoe and all it has to offer is just a short drive, whether you want to grab lunch, see a concert or spend the day exploring hiking and biking trails. Looking to pay a visit? Discover where to stay in Reno Tahoe.
Things to do in Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe Outdoor Activities
The best way to see Lake Tahoe is to get out there and experience it! Offering countless opportunities to venture to the highest peaks or dive deep below the water, it’ll be hard to just choose one.
During the winter months, visitors flock from around the globe to experience world-class skiing and snowboarding. A handful of lakeside towns are spread along the shores of the lake including Incline Village, Kings Beach, South Lake Tahoe, Truckee and Tahoe City.
During the summer months, there is everything to do from hiking and kayaking to whitewater rafting, to lounging on the beach or even backpacking the Sierras. Popular beaches in Lake Tahoe include Kings Beach, Chimney Beach, Hidden Beach and Sand Harbor State Park. Sand Harbor, in particular, is a favorite among visitors and locals, offering a boat launch, picnic areas and a beautiful beach. During July and August, the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival at Sand Harbor offers plays set against the breathtaking backdrop of Lake Tahoe. If you are looking for other ways to explore the lake from the water, there are several shops in the area to rent stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and other water toys.
Another fantastic way to experience Lake Tahoe is by foot. There are a number of trailheads around the Lake, offering hikes for beginners to advanced. A fun one to check out is Spooner Lake trail, a family-friendly hike where you can really appreciate the flora and fauna of the area. Another local favorite that offers one of the best views you can get of the Lake is the Mount Rose Trail. Not for the faint of heart, this 9.5-mile round trip hike climbs 2,444 feet in elevation to awe-inspiring 360° views of Reno and Lake Tahoe.
These are just some of the limitless amazing outdoor activities that the Lake Tahoe area offers, check out more Lake Tahoe Outdoor Activities.
Lake Tahoe Arts and Culture
What better way to experience the lake, than to see it through someone else’s eyes? Lake Tahoe’s selection of local art galleries and performing arts centersallow visitors to see art in its many forms. Dramatic photography and print, impressive sculpture and interpretive performance are just some of the ways that the lake inspires locals and non-locals alike.
Lake Tahoe Shopping
There is nothing like taking in the fresh mountain air while window shopping in Northstar Village, picking up some new snow gear at the Village at Palisades Tahoe or strolling through Truckee or Tahoe City for a unique Tahoe souvenir. The various Lake Tahoe shopping selections are as unique as the areas in which they reside. You won’t find big box stores or large shopping malls here, but what you will find is a cool selection of locally-owned shops, thrift stores and outdoor marketplaces.
Lake Tahoe Dining
Lake Tahoe has a dining option for everyone’s taste buds, ranging from fine dining to cheap eats. If you have the chance, lead your own food tour by eating your way around the lake. Start with a cup of locally-brewed coffee in Reno and take a short drive over Mount Rose Highway to get lunch at T’s Mesquite in Incline Village, a favorite among locals. No day exploring Lake Tahoe is complete without a refreshing Wet Woody at Gar Woods Grill & Pier in Carnelian Bay with views overlooking the lake. Cozy up next to a beachside fire pit for a cocktail and s’mores at Lone Eagle Grille in Incline Village.
Places to Visit at Lake Tahoe
Incline Village is named for the Great Incline Tramway, built by loggers in the late 1870’s. Incline’s proximity to Sand Harbor and Diamond Peak, both known for their stunning views of Lake Tahoe, means you can soak up the lake views year-round from the slopes or the shoreline.
In summer, theatergoers flock to see the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival at nearby Sand Harbor State Park. Mountain bikers and hikers can explore perfect trails, such as the Flume trail, which ends near Sand Harbor, just south of Incline Village. Winter sees snowboarders and skiers making turns at Diamond Peak and Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe. Additionally, Reno casino gaming is only a short drive away.
The Lake Tahoe neighborhood of Crystal Bay serves its namesake and sits upon a magnificent granite boulder spread peninsula straddling the California and Nevada border. This area caters to everyone from the outdoor enthusiast to the low-key vacationer with a handful of outdoor rental companies, lively casinos, and many delicious dining options. One of the newest additions to this area, the Border House at Crystal Bay Casino offers luxury lodging, a world-class entertainment venue, and a high-end steakhouse.
If you are looking to get out during the day for a one-of-a-kind outdoor adventure, visit Tahoe Adventure Company in Crystal Bay for your anything from kayak and SUP rentals, to hiking and backpacking tours.
Boating is to Carnelian Bay what blue is to Lake Tahoe. In summer, it is life. The Sierra Boat Company, considered a premier U.S. wooden boat builder, opened here in the early 1950s, annually draws boat fanatics from around the world to see their classic wooden boats at the Concours d’Elegance wooden boat show for a weekend of nostalgic cruising and flair.
The town was christened Carnelian Bay in 1860 because of the semi-precious yellow and red stones sprinkling the shoreline. Today, a plentiful prize of vacation rentals contour the bay as well. Carnelian Bay is also considered the place where big, hungry Mackinaw trout can be found lurking in the depths.
Tahoe City is perched on the north shore of Lake Tahoe at the headwaters of the Truckee River (the only river outlet for Lake Tahoe). A concoction of lively year-round activities awaits every visitor. Bike, walk, jog or skate the unspoiled trail system along the lake, across the historic Lake Tahoe dam and down the river. Soak up the summer sun with a host of challenging water sports, family fun, outdoor concerts, art shows, movies at the beach, farmers markets, lakeside camping, backcountry hiking and mountain biking. Also, don’t forget to feed the colossal trout from Fanny Bridge!
Lake Tahoe Weather
The mean annual precipitation ranges from more than 55 inches in watersheds on the west side of the Lake Tahoe basin to about 26 inches near the lake on the east side of the basin. Most of the precipitation falls as snow between November and April. There is a pronounced annual runoff of snowmelt in late spring and early summer, the timing of which varies from year to year.
The National Weather Service reports that August in the Lake Tahoe area is normally the warmest month with an average maximum of 78.7 °F (29.5 °C) and an average minimum of 39.8 °F (4.3 °C). January is the coolest month with an average maximum of 41.0 °F (5.0 °C) and an average minimum of 15.1 °F (-9.4 °C). No matter what type of weather you prefer, it’s always a great time to visit Lake Tahoe.
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Lake Tahoe FAQ
Got a question? We’ve got the answers. Check out the most frequently asked questions below about Lake Tahoe.
What Is the Best Time of Year To Go to Lake Tahoe?
The best time to visit Lake Tahoe depends on what you want to do while you’re there. During the warmer months of June through August, there are plenty of summer activities, and December through April are usually best if you are a winter sports enthusiast. Spring and fall are also great times to visit, since the weather is mild and there are fewer crowds. There really is no “bad” time to visit Lake Tahoe.
From snow capped mountains surrounding the clear water of the lake in the winter to warmer weather and lots of sunshine in the summer, you will enjoy your trip to Lake Tahoe no matter what time of year it is. Visiting the area in the fall? The Lake is one of our fall favorites in Reno Tahoe, with patches of aspens turning brilliant gold, making hikes here a breathtakingly beautiful experience.
What Can You Do in Lake Tahoe in One Day?
There are plenty of things to do in Lake Tahoe in one day. Here are some ideas:
- Visit Crystal Bay, Sand Harbor or Kings Beach
- Check out ski resorts like Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, Northstar California Resort, Diamond Peak and more
- Discover Lake Tahoe hiking trails like the Tahoe Rim Trail, Mount Rose Trail, Tunnel Creek Trail or Tahoe East Shore Trail
- Visit Truckee, Incline Village or Tahoe City and enjoy local shops and restaurants
- Hit up local breweries, including Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company, Alibi Ale Works or Bear Belly Brewing Company. Check out the Reno Tahoe Brewery Map for more information
- Fish for brown trout and Kokanee salmon at a depth of 1,645 ft on a Lake Tahoe fishing charter
Can You Go Swimming in Lake Tahoe?
In the summer months, swimming in Lake Tahoe will certainly leave you refreshed and cooled off. Since Lake Tahoe gets its water from snow run-off from the surrounding mountains, the water is clear and very cold. While that first jump in may leave you catching your breath, swimming in Lake Tahoe is an unforgettable experience.
Is Lake Tahoe a Natural Lake?
Yes, Lake Tahoe is a natural lake. The water level of the lake is regulated by Lake Tahoe Dam in Tahoe City, where the Truckee River begins.
Is September a Good Time To Visit Lake Tahoe?
Looking for a less crowded time to visit Lake Tahoe? While Tahoe doesn’t technically have an “off season,” September is a great time to visit because summer crowds have left and you’re more likely to have trails and beaches to yourself. For those looking for a relaxing trip to Lake Tahoe, visiting in September might be right for you, with fewer crowds and lower room rates.
Emerald Bay is the most enchanting part of Lake Tahoe. It is near the southern end of the lake and there are vista points along hwy 89 to look at the beautiful island in the middle of the bay.How far apart are Reno and Lake Tahoe? ›
Conveniently located just 30 minutes from downtown Reno, Lake Tahoe and all it has to offer is just a short drive, whether you want to grab lunch, see a concert or spend the day exploring hiking and biking trails. Looking to pay a visit?What makes Lake Tahoe so special? ›
Lake Tahoe is the largest freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada and the largest alpine lake in North America. At 122,160,280 acre feet, only the five Great Lakes are larger by volume. Lake Tahoe's deepest point is 1,645 feet, making it the second-deepest in the United States after Crater Lake in Oregon.What is the best month to go to Lake Tahoe? ›
The best times to visit Lake Tahoe are from March to May and from September to November, but the area welcomes visitors throughout the year thanks to the wide variety of attractions and activities.Which side of Lake Tahoe is most scenic? ›
Emerald Bay is definitely worth a visit. That is most scenic. After seeing Emerald Bay, then the views on the East Side of the lake are more scenic from the road with several places to turn off and get good pictures.What is there to see between Lake Tahoe and Reno? ›
The top stops along the way from Reno to South Lake Tahoe (with short detours) are Heavenly Mountain Resort, National Automobile Museum, and Sand Harbor. Other popular stops include Truckee Riv Walk, Harveys Lake Tahoe, and Casino Fandango.Which side of Tahoe is closest to Reno? ›
Reno is about 50 miles / 80 km from Tahoe City and 58 miles / 94 km from South Lake Tahoe. The Reno-Sparks metro area has over 100 hotels, motels, and casino resorts with something to suit every budget.What part of Tahoe is closest to Reno? ›
Reno is less than an hour's drive away from North Lake Tahoe, so you can be sunbathing at the beach by day and experiencing the sights of downtown Reno by night.What celebrities live in Lake Tahoe? ›
Musicians young and not so young call Tahoe home, finding the clear melted snow cradled in mountains inspiring enough to put down their own roots. Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Cher, Liza Minelli, Alanis Morissette, Mike Love and James Hetfield are just a few of those musicians.Is it better to stay in South or North Lake Tahoe? ›
Overall, South Lake Tahoe is the ideal destination for those seeking vibrant nightlife and social scene, while North Lake Tahoe is better suited for families or travelers who want to have a relaxing getaway with some exciting activities nearby!
Lake Tahoe can be visited in 2 days if you are running out of time, or you can spend 4 days in Lake Tahoe, ideally. However, I will recommend spending at least 3 days in Lake Tahoe to enjoy the best of this place.Why do people like Lake Tahoe so much? ›
Lake Tahoe is a popular summer destination thanks to its beaches and a popular winter vacation spot thanks to its slopes. Lake Tahoe is a popular summer destination thanks to its beaches and a popular winter vacation spot thanks to its slopes.Is it worth it to go to Lake Tahoe? ›
Lake Tahoe is incredibly popular, attracting 15 million people every year! It's no secret why; this stunning area is home to an array of San-Francisco-inspired boutiques, numerous dining options, and cozy travel accommodations. Most strikingly, Lake Tahoe is known for its breathtaking views and connection to nature.What was Tahoe originally called? ›
Explorer John C. Fremont first saw Lake Tahoe in 1844 from the top of Red Lake Peak, which is located south of the basin and what is now Carson Pass. He named it Lake Bonpland after a botanist, but then changed it to Mountain Lake. Subsequently it was named Lake Bigler after a California Governor.What months does it snow in Tahoe? ›
The first snowfall of autumn for South Lake Tahoe arrives as early as September or as late as November. The season's last snowfall typically happens in June, although about one in four years gets no new snow after May. The resort city is normally free of snow every year during July and August.What is the busiest season in Lake Tahoe? ›
The busiest time for crowds is during the summer. If you're planning on visiting some of Tahoe's most popular sites like Emerald Bay on a weekend between June and August, you'll need to arrive very early in the morning to get a parking spot. Expect all hotels, restaurants, and beaches to be packed.Is Sand Harbor cash only? ›
Cash only from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. - Please be advised that walk-ins and parking along Hwy 28 near Sand Harbor State Park are prohibited. - Pets are not allowed except for the off-season, October 15 through April 15. Pet owners should bring their own poop bags.How long is the loop around Lake Tahoe? ›
Driving around Lake Tahoe is a 72-mile drive and will take you about three hours to complete without any stops, but scenic drives are better when you take your time and stop to take in the views, so read up on the most beautiful stops around Lake Tahoe, and don't forget to snap a few pictures.How long does it take to walk the Tahoe Rim Trail? ›
A thru-hike of the Tahoe Rim Trail typically takes 10 to 15 days, but if you want to take your time there are plenty of side trails and a few towns to stop in. Allow yourself more time when there's snow and ice on the trail.Which side of Lake Tahoe is best for families? ›
One may think of world-renowned ski and board resorts like Squaw Valley, Northstar California or Sugar Bowl and images to the likes of Jonny Moseley and Shaun White tearing up the mountain. However, North Lake Tahoe isn't just for the pros. North Lake Tahoe is for families.
Relatively close to some of the best spots in California, and of course, the stunning Lake Tahoe – Reno is a great anchor point for a little city break as part of a wider road trip through Nevada or California. It's even got Burning Man that happens in Black Rock City each year around the end of August.Is Pyramid Lake Worth Visiting? ›
Pyramid Lake in Jasper National Park is one of the best places to visit in Jasper. This lake is a wonderful kidney-shaped lake right at the foot of the iconic Pyramid Mountain. It's a local's favorite and also a sight to see for all visitors to Jasper.Is Las Vegas close to Lake Tahoe? ›
The route from Las Vegas to Lake Tahoe covers about 480 miles, which equates to about 8 hours of driving, before adding on stops and breaks.Is it better to stay on the California or Nevada side of Lake Tahoe? ›
The Bottom Line:
If you're looking for a getaway with a lively social atmosphere (think: all night parties, gambling, daytime golf, shopping galore), then go to the Nevada side. If you're seeking a more quiet, relaxed, back-to-nature experience, the California side may be your best bet.
Lake Tahoe California vs. Lake Tahoe Nevada 2020 - YouTubeIs there a shuttle from Reno to Lake Tahoe? ›
Is There a Shuttle From Reno to Lake Tahoe? Yes! There are several shuttles available from Reno to Lake Tahoe. Whether you're looking to reach one of the area's many ski resorts, or you're simply looking to take a relaxing day trip to the lake, there is a shuttle service that can get you there.What city is closest to Lake Tahoe? ›
- 42 miles to Reno, NV.
- 85 miles to Sacramento, CA.
- 97 miles to Stockton, CA.
- 105 miles to Modesto, CA.
- 144 miles to Fremont, CA.
- 146 miles to Oakland, CA.
- 150 miles to San Jose, CA.
- 152 miles to Fresno, CA.
Lake TahoeDoes Lake Tahoe have a downtown? ›
Perched on Lake Tahoe's north shore and at the head of the Truckee River, our small mountain town of Tahoe City is a walkable downtown community with a vibrant mix of recreation, lively culture, and natural beauty in every season.Where is Mark Zuckerberg's house in Tahoe? ›
Where does Mark Zuckerberg live in Lake Tahoe? The address of the property owned by Mark Zuckerberg is 2360 Sunnyside Ln, Tahoe City, CA 96145.
Mark Zuckerberg's Brushwood Estate in North Lake Tahoe sits on 6.2 acres with 400 feet of lake ... [+] “The lenient tax climate and sand beaches of the Nevada side provide a distinct draw to that side of the lake for the super rich,” he adds.Who owns Lake Tahoe? ›
Beneath the low-water line, the states — Nevada and California — own the land, meaning this area is public. Pluto notes that because the water level is currently low, some shallow beaches now have exposed public areas that stretch out toward the lake 60 feet or more, even as signs warn “trespassers” away.What is the hottest month in Lake Tahoe? ›
The hottest month of the year in South Lake Tahoe is July, with an average high of 79°F and low of 42°F. The cold season lasts for 4.1 months, from November 17 to March 22, with an average daily high temperature below 49°F.How do I get from Reno to Lake Tahoe without a car? ›
Ditch the car and fly to Reno-Tahoe International Airport, which has more than 120 daily nonstop flights. From there, you can hop on one of two buses — the South Tahoe Airporter or the North Lake Tahoe Express — depending on your destination. These services will drop you off directly at your hotel of choice.Which part of Lake Tahoe has the clearest water? ›
Bliss State Park. Many claim that D.L. Bliss boasts the clearest water in all of Lake Tahoe. On a calm day, you can see up to 75 feet in its deep, azure waters — and with the sun piercing through, snorkelers don't need to see much more to enjoy a day out on the lake near the park's Rubicon Point.Can you do Lake Tahoe in a day? ›
The visit can also be done in one day, but to enjoy the vacation, in my opinion, you need to give yourself 2-3 days, with overnight stays in Kings Beach or Incline Village (North Lake Tahoe) and South Lake Tahoe.How do I spend a day in Lake Tahoe? ›
- Start the morning at a Tahoe cafe.
- Drive towards Squaw Valley.
- Stop in Emerald Bay State Park.
- Soar above the resort via the Aerial Tram.
- Head out for a hike.
- Have a drink or snack at Tram Car Bar.
- Return to South Lake Tahoe with a stop in Camp Richardson.
In fact, our state is full of breathtaking wonders and natural beauty. However, Lake Tahoe was recently named the most beautiful place in Nevada by Condé Nast Traveler, and honestly, we have to agree. We may share this breathtaking mountain lake with California, but we don't mind. There's plenty of beauty to go around!How many days should you spend in Lake Tahoe? ›
Lake Tahoe can be visited in 2 days if you are running out of time, or you can spend 4 days in Lake Tahoe, ideally. However, I will recommend spending at least 3 days in Lake Tahoe to enjoy the best of this place.How long does it take to drive around Lake Tahoe? ›
Driving around Lake Tahoe is a 72-mile drive and will take you about three hours to complete without any stops, but scenic drives are better when you take your time and stop to take in the views, so read up on the most beautiful stops around Lake Tahoe, and don't forget to snap a few pictures.
If you're visiting in the warmer months and fancy a day of adventure, you could try some of the boating and water sports on offer during your day in Lake Tahoe. There are parasailing adventures, kayaking tours, kayak rentals, jet ski rentals, and public and private boat tours to explore the lake.Is the drive around Lake Tahoe worth it? ›
As you can see from this diverse list of beaches, historical sites, hiking spots and chillax locations that there is so much to do while driving around Lake Tahoe. It's so worth it to drive the full loop and take in all of the dramatic views from all four compass points of the lake. Enjoy the drive.Can you swim in Lake Tahoe? ›
Here's an oft-asked question: Can you swim in Lake Tahoe? The answer is yes, especially if cool/cold water is your thing! And, if you look at all the water sports outfitters and popular beaches in the area, it's clear that it's absolutely a preferred thing to do in Tahoe for a lot of people.Is Lake Tahoe safe to visit? ›
Is Lake Tahoe safe to visit? Absolutely it is.Is it better to stay in North or South Lake Tahoe? ›
Overall, South Lake Tahoe is the ideal destination for those seeking vibrant nightlife and social scene, while North Lake Tahoe is better suited for families or travelers who want to have a relaxing getaway with some exciting activities nearby!Can you do Lake Tahoe in a day? ›
The visit can also be done in one day, but to enjoy the vacation, in my opinion, you need to give yourself 2-3 days, with overnight stays in Kings Beach or Incline Village (North Lake Tahoe) and South Lake Tahoe.Is there a scenic drive around Lake Tahoe? ›
Lake Tahoe National Scenic Byway is a 28-mile stretch of lakeside highway from Stateline to Crystal Bay that offers motorists strikingly beautiful views of the deep blue alpine lake ringed with tall pines and snow-capped mountain peaks in the majestic Sierra Nevada range.What road goes all the way around Lake Tahoe? ›
The Lake Tahoe Scenic Drive is a beautiful paved drive that makes a 68 mile loop around Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada. The route follows three paved highways: US 50, NV 28 and US 89.How long is the drive from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite? ›
The direct drive from South Lake Tahoe to Yosemite National Park is 155 mi (250 km), and should have a drive time of 3 hrs 44 mins in normal traffic.Is South Lake Tahoe worth visiting? ›
Lake Tahoe is well known for its great ski slopes, but Heavenly Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe is both great to visit in summer and in winter. For a breathtaking view of South Lake Tahoe and the surrounding area, you can take the scenic gondola ride from Heavenly village to the top of Heavenly mountain.
You can reach Lake Tahoe from Reno in a variety of ways, including by car, shuttle, bus or rideshare, such as Uber or Lyft. North Lake Tahoe Express will take you from the Reno International Airport to North Lake Tahoe. If you're looking to reach the south side of the lake, South Tahoe Airporter can get you there.