How to have the best Lake Tahoe vacation ever
Make the most of your lakeside holiday
Know the difference between North and South Lake Tahoe
Know what to pack — Lake Tahoe has special weather conditions.
Plan strategically to get the most bang for your buck, and have the most fun, too.
For those that live on the west coast, Lake Tahoe is a well-known destination for nature lovers. Its name conjures images of picturesque landscapes, snowy ski mountains, and sunny beaches all at the same time. Because it’s so big (about 21 miles long) and in such a beautiful part of the country (on the border of Nevada and California) Lake Tahoe has a diverse array of activities that can suit anyone’s taste.
Fine dining, luxury lodging, rustic camping, and glitzy gambling are just a sample of the activities you can find here. So if you’re thinking about booking a weekend away, do it right with these Lake Tahoe travel tips.
Get your hands on a map
The first step in having a successful Lake Tahoe vacation is getting to know the area. This big body of water is not as simple as it seems — generally, people break it up into North and South Lake Tahoe.
While both halves share plenty of similarities, North Lake Tahoe is known for being the quieter, more secluded part of the lake, while South Lake Tahoe is where people go to experience bustling nightlife. Which is more your cup of tea: an escape into nature, or an exciting social adventure?
Once you decide which half is best for you, a good map will show you the locations of ski spots, hiking trails, camping sites, casinos, etc. Mark the things that interest you, and then locate a hotel somewhere in the middle of it all; you don’t want to be too far away from your destinations. Sure, some people prefer to fly by the seat of their pants, but in a huge place like Lake Tahoe that might mean hours wasted getting lost in the hills!
Read up on the conditions
Even during summer, Lake Tahoe can get chilly at night. Make sure you are packing the right clothes so that you don’t get caught shivering in the evenings.
It’s also important to know that Lake Tahoe and its surrounding mountains are at a relatively high elevation. This means that conditions are harsher than normal for your body. To prepare, bring along things like moisturizer, eye drops, and extra-strength sunscreen (yes, even in winter!) Drink plenty of water and don’t over-exert yourself during activities. After all, exercise is harder in higher elevations.
If you’re heading up for a wintery getaway, you must also check road conditions before departure. You can find up-to-date information here and here. If roads are icy, or an accident has occurred on a certain highway, checking beforehand can save you time and potentially a weather-related accident.
Plan strategically and check the events calendar
It’s no secret that Lake Tahoe is a popular travel destination. Because of this, hotels and resorts fill to capacity in the summer months, and winter sports pack the area during the snowy season. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds plan to book your vacation during spring or fall, and during the week versus over the weekend. Not only will you escape hoards of tourists, but you’ll save on costs, too.
That being said, it’s never a bad idea to make reservations for dinner even if you’re there in the off-season. Friday and Saturday nights can be busy no matter what time of year.
Don’t forget to check a calendar, either! You can find a wide variety of events at Lake Tahoe, like trail races, live music, or fall festivals. See some events happening on the north side here. By doing your research and planning ahead, you’ll be able to take advantage of the best things Lake Tahoe has to offer.
Whether you’re looking to relax in a beach chair, hike through the mountains, or take some risks at the casino, Lake Tahoe is the place for you. So jump in a car and head on over! With these travel tips, you’ll be prepared for anything, and be able to make the most out of your vacation.
A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:
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