Lake Tahoe, you beautiful bitch. I can’t even tell you how many “where are you?!” messages I was getting once I got to posting pictures on social media. It’s one of those places that’s incredibly beautiful, yet slightly under the radar and undetectable at first glance. I basically was the Lake Tahoe ambassador while we were there, trying to convince anyone who would listen to make it their next high priority trip. Please #sponsorme Tahoe, I’m a true believer in your product. As picturesque as it comes across in photos, it’s a million times more striking in real life. The snow cap mountains live beyond the clouds, the water is a hybrid of aqua and turquoise, so crystal clear you can see straight to the bottom (disclaimer: it’s fucking cold but can cure the most atrocious of hangovers...or so I hear), the sunsets are otherworldly, and the sky’s so clear we literally saw Mars from the deck of our Airbnb. You instantaneously feel healthier and happier once you get there. Despite the 6,200 ft elevation I was breathing better, sleeping more soundly, and feeling a sense of clarity I was lacking leading up to the trip. We were only there for four days before heading onto the second part of our NorCal trip, so really tried to put in the legwork to ensure we went to the best spots.
Where we stayed:
We opted to stay in West Shore. It’s laid back, a stone's throw from Tahoe City and packed with restaurants, bars, and cafes. An added perk is that it’s centrally located and equidistant to all the hot spots- a total no brainer. However, if you’re looking to turn up a bit, rumor has it South Lake gets pretty wild. In my opinion, it’s Airbnb or bust for trips like these. It’s totally affordable and there are tons of options. If you don’t like saving money or having privacy and hotels are more your style, I’d recommend The Cottage Inn or Cedar Crest Cottages
Where we ate:
West Shore Market- The true MVP of the trip. There’s nothing this store doesn’t carry and we made at least one stop per day, not based on necessity but just because we never met a well run one stop shop we didn’t love. The gelato here is the dark horse and an absolute must.
Sunnyside Restaurant- Great place for people watching, beers, skipping rocks, and catching sunsets.
Firesign Cafe- Really cute authentic breakfast spot with THE BEST COFFEE. It’s so delicious in fact, that there’s a separate detached cafe for it, like the main dining area isn’t worthy of it’s presence. To make up for the standard wait time- there’s plenty of outdoor seating and they make really good Bloody Mary’s.
Rosie’s Cafe- Kitschy cafe right on the main strip in Tahoe City
Moe’s Original BBQ- I realize people don’t necessarily come to Tahoe for it’s BBQ, but this place came highly recommended and did not disappoint.
West Shore Cafe and Inn- This was by far my favorite meal of the trip. There are tables with heaters and fire pits along the pier giving you that really important extra in Dirty Dancing feel. They served delicious local red wine and if you like fish, get the halibut.
River Ranch Lodge- Solid food set right on the Truckee River
Wolfdale’s- Upscale Asian fusion. For lack of a better word, this place is a tad stuffy by lake life standards but the food is extremely good and this is definitely somewhere you’ll want to go if you have something to celebrate.
Jakes on the Lake- Massive two story, casual restaurant set on the marina with lawn games and Adirondack chairs for your straight chillin’ pleasure.
What we did:
Eagle Rock Hiking Trail- Full transparency: I have an unjustifiable fear of bears, so hiking usually starts off as a struggle for me- this time was no different. On the bright side, the views on this hike take your breath away. The natural waterfalls are unlike anything I’ve seen and presumably will ever see for a while. It’s safe, heavily trafficked, with a lot of attractions like the Vikingsholm Castle.
DL Bliss State Park- The perfect place to take a dip post Eagle Rock Trail. What I found to be the most interesting thing about Tahoe was that none of the beaches looked the same. That being said, this one takes the cake. You feel like you’re in your own private oasis on some remote island, except with pine cones the size of your head on the sand. If you go to Lake Tahoe and don’t come here, you’re making a big mistake. It’s fairly small and parking is tough, so plan accordingly.
Sand Harbor- Sigh. When you google Lake Tahoe, this place undoubtedly will come up first. It’s on the Nevada side of the lake so was a bit of a drive from where we stayed. Everyone warned us that you have to get there early or you’re screwed. We didn’t listen and paid the price. There was absolutely no parking by the time we arrived at 11am...quite devastating but I guess “that’s what you get”. So yea, technically didn’t go here but it looked like everyone was having a great time on their paddle boards when we drove by.
Kings Beach- Where we went after our Sand Harbor fail. Really nice, clean, family friendly spot.
Commons Beach- Ok, beaches that are exclusively grass are a little strange, but for some reason it works at Commons. I’d say this is the most popular spot in West Shore. A lot of events are hosted here, namely the concerts that are free every Sunday all summer long.
Jet ski- Tons of places to do this, all that matters is that you do.