How to get there
Flying in? Reno-Tahoe International Airport is the closest commercial airport being only a 45-minute drive away from North Lake Tahoe. Sacramento International Airport is a 2-hour drive away while San Francisco is about 3.5 hours away. We made the drive from LA which would’ve taken around 7 hours, but we made a stop at Sequoia National Park for a few days.
About Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is the clearest lake in the U.S. straddling the California and Nevada state border! Stretching all the way down to 1,645 feet deep and at an elevation of 6,225 feet above sea level, the water clarity rivals some tropical destinations I’ve visited around the world. The Sierra Nevada region is categorized into north and south Lake Tahoe, with the 72-mile drive around the lake taking about 3 hours if you don’t stop (impossible in my opinion – too many photo ops!). This destination continues to be one of my very favorites in all of the United States. I’ve been twice in the summertime and twice in winter, and that’ll never suffice 🙂
Favorite Things To Do
Alex and I visited Lake Tahoe towards the end of August, about the time we were trying to choose our next home. A large part of me wondered why I hadn’t considered Lake Tahoe before this time. It’s close to an international airport, nature surrounds the area, the food is good, the people are friendly, and the list goes on and on. I’ve definitely put it in my back pocket for Places To Live One Day. Here are my favorite Tahoe takeaways…
Emerald Bay (south lake, CA)
This is known for a great sunrise spot, although I’ve been for sunset as well, and it’s beautiful just the same! It’s right off the road with a few parking areas nearby while many cars park on the shoulder. Choose a rock and bask in the beauty. I live for a good view. The kind that makes you actually sit down and breathe it all in. The kind that also makes you break out your drone, fly across the bay, and lose track of how much battery power you have left. Yes, I crashed my drone on the aggro crag of south Lake Tahoe because I was having too much fun capturing the surrounding views. I spent a good hour searching long and hard for it, and right about the time I gave up, I spotted my battered friend – memory card still intact!
I love how the universe works. Cut to two years later when my drone pilot fiancé and I visited the exact same spot 🙂 Needless to say, I let him do the flying.
Sand Harbor (north lake, NV)
We parked for $10 in the designated lot out front and then staked our claim in the sand before heading to Sand Harbor Rental tent for two paddleboards. We rented two of them for three hours with dry bags (highly recommend for keeping your personal belongings safe!) and headed south. We could see straight down to the massive boulders beneath us due to the water clarity – so epic!
Bonsai Rock (north lake, NV)
After about 30 minutes of paddling, we came across Bonsai Rock. You can’t miss its unique shape, plus there should be a few people surrounding it, jumping off it, relaxing nearby, etc. It was the perfect spot to stop and hang out for an hour or so before heading back to Sand Harbor.
Secret Cove (north lake, NV)
If you’re up for a more regimented workout, might I suggest paddling all the way south to Secret Cove. A round trip full of paddling will take about 3 hours (give or take, depending on how regimented those stokes are!). This spot isn’t so “secret” and if you’re driving instead of paddling, parking does provide a challenge for visitors. There’s a dedicated parking lot and once that’s full, people do park along the highway. It’s about a mile round trip to the cove and back. The beach itself is small, and note that this is also a nude beach. Don’t be alarmed if you see a little (or a lot of) skin!
Incline Village (north lake, NV)
After a day on the water, I was so hungry. We headed to Inclined Burgers and Brews for fried chicken afterward with zero regrets. The village is full of restaurants, tour operators, rentals, and hotels.
Cave Rock or Logan Shoal’s Vista for Sunset (southeastern shore, NV)
If you’re looking for epic sunset spots, Cave Rock offers a .8 mile out and back trail that goes to the top of the tunnel over hwy 50. The view is stunning for a picnic, photo op, and especially sunset. Note that there’s a little rock scramble at the end. A pullover to Logan Shoal’s Vista isn’t far from Cave Rock. It offers another beautiful viewpoint after a very short walk.
Wishlist for next time: bike Flume Trail and hike Castle Rock
Favorite Places to Stay
Wishlist: Edgewood Lake Tahoe
Continue reading: Lake Tahoe: Winter Edition
My very first visit to Lake Tahoe was during winter. One of the largest ski areas in the U.S., Tahoe attracts people from all over the world. To be able to ski in two states in the same day and have beautiful Lake Tahoe as a backdrop down the mountain is hard to beat. I’ve stayed at Heavenly Mountain Resort, Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows, and Northstar California – some of the best ski resorts in the area.