You know how you see pictures of a place before you visit, and you think it must be photoshopped? This was my idea of Lake Tahoe before arriving when I was doing research on the best things to do in Lake Tahoe. But oh my gosh, it is actually just that stunning in real life! Here’s my 3 days in Lake Tahoe Itinerary from a wonderful visit in Late April.
Land Acknowledgement: Washoe Lands. Find what Native Land you are visiting by using the app Native Land! I encourage you to read the history and culture of the Indigenous people who’s land you are visiting!
- About Lake Tahoe
- Where is Lake Tahoe?
- Best Things to Do in Lake Tahoe
- Lake Tahoe Itinerary for a Weekend
- Best Things to do in Lake Tahoe: Itinerary for Next Time
- When is the Best Time to Go to Lake Tahoe?
- Where to Stay in Lake Tahoe?
All photos in collaboration with Johnathon DeSoto.
About Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is a popular vacation destination year round. With sparkling blue water and sandy beaches in the summer and pristine ski slopes in the winter.
I came for the beaches and viewpoints! Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains that is 1000 ft deep in some areas. The water is incredibly clear with unique rocks, and I was lucky enough to see it from a paddle board.
Where is Lake Tahoe?
Lake Tahoe is located partially in California and Nevada. It is pretty much split down the middle. It is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and is the Nation’s second deepest lake.
- Less than 1 hour from Reno-Tahoe Airport
- 2 hours from Sacramento
- 3 hours from the Bay Area
Best Things to Do in Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe has a ridiculous amount activities to offer, depending on if you’re visiting in the summer or winter!
Here are some of the summer activities at Lake Tahoe:
- Hiking Trails/ Backpacking
- Mountain Biking
- Paddle-Boarding or Kayaking
- Boat Tours
- Rock Climb
- Boating/ Jet Skiing
I’m going to break down my Lake Tahoe Itinerary and then also include activities I want to do next time I’m there!
Lake Tahoe Itinerary for a Weekend
We started our morning getting breakfast at the Wylder Hotel Cabins we were staying at and then headed out towards South Lake Tahoe.
Emerald Bay Lookout
Emerald Bay State Park was our first stop about 20 minutes west of South Lake Tahoe. It is a gorgeous cove off of Lake Tahoe that has views of a small island named Fannette Island that is only accessible by boat/kayak.
We chose to check out Emerald Bay Lookout which has a small parking lot right off of the main road and is a short walk up to the viewpoint. This can be found on google maps.
Other Nearby Activities
- Visit Vikingsholm Mansion a 38 room mansion built in 1929 along the Vikingsholm Trail that is 1.7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail.
- Note: Dogs are not allowed in Emerald Bay State Park and there are Parking Fees at Vikingsholm Parking lot
- Take a boat tour to Fannette Island
El Dorado Beach South Lake
We then drove 20 minutes back to South Lake Tahoe, grabbed Lunch to go at Bert’s Cafe and ate our food at the picnic tables at El Dorado Beach. I really enjoyed the views of the mountains here.
A lot of places in Lake Tahoe require pretty steep hikes down to go kayaking, but this is one of the nice beaches to hang out at or use to start your paddle boarding or kayaking adventure.
There is also a roped off swimming area if you’re there on a hot day, this would be an excellent place to swim as the sand is smooth and mostly rock free here.
Sand Harbor Beach
Our next stop was Sand Harbor Beach on the Nevada side of the lake. This was a 35 minute drive from El Dorado beach but definitely a scenic drive in parts where you are winding along the lake.
If I had to choose my favorite spot on this Lake Tahoe Itinerary it would be Sand Harbor Beach. The water here is a stunning aqua blue with unique rocks that look like they’ve tumbled into the water years ago.
We took a nap on the beach here and then as the sun began to set I decided to go for another round on the paddle board. It was stunning. I could not believe how clear the water was in the really deep sections of this lake. *I unfortunately saw some beer cans at the bottom. PLEASE do not take any beverages or food out with you unless they are secured to your kayak or paddle board.
- $10 for in state Vehicles as this is a State Park
- $15 for out of state Vehicles
- Large Parking lot
- Busy on Weekends
After an incredible sunset at Sand Harbor Beach, we were SO hungry. We found MacDuff’s Pub that is open late and has cute heated outdoor greenhouse seating that is private! We relaxed and enjoyed our food and beer before heading back to our cabin.
Best Things to do in Lake Tahoe: Itinerary for Next Time
With this being such a short trip, there were things I REALLY wanted to check out but didn’t get the chance. So here’s what’s on my list for next time!
- Zephyr Cove
- Mountain Biking the Flume Trail
- Rubicon Trail
- Paddle Board from Sand Harbor Beach to Secret Cove
When is the Best Time to Go to Lake Tahoe?
This Lake Tahoe Itinerary that we did was in the last week of April. We definitely got lucky with the weather as it was snowing just a few days before our arrival.
I also want to note that a lot of things are closed until end of May (bike rentals, kayak rentals, certain areas of State Parks have limited use). The things we did on this itinerary were open when we went during the last week of April.
- January/ February: 45/26 degrees F
- March/ April: 54/30 degrees F
- May/ June: 73/45 degrees F
- July/ August: 80/50 degrees F
- September/October: 70/40 degrees F
- November/ December: 45/27 degrees F
Where to Stay in Lake Tahoe?
I’m probably biased, but I had SUCH a great time staying at Wylder Hotel Hope Valley. They have over 30 unique cabin rentals and yurts and also camping.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve been to Lake Tahoe before or if you’re wanting to go now!