How to spend 36 hours in Lake Tahoe, with Forest Suites as your base camp.
4:30 p.m. | Take a Dip in Lake Tahoe
At 191 square miles, stretching nearly 22 miles between California and Nevada, this is the largest alpine lake in North America and a Shangri-la for nearly every imaginable watersport. Start your immersion with a simple swim at Pope Beach, offering incredible views of the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains.
7 p.m. | Paint & Sip Studio
For those who haven’t already found inspiration in the Lake Tahoe scenery, thisstudio pours some extra creative juices. A two-hour session, ranging from $25 to $50, includes all painting supplies for a masterpiece along with a variety of drinks.
9 a.m. | Tour Truckee
This town has a different vibe than South Lake Tahoe and has inspired many visitors to put down roots in the area (it’s home to World Cup skier Daron Rahlves, among others). Start with breakfast at Wild Cherries Coffee House before wandering among the boutiques, home decor shops, and outdoor stores in historic downtown Truckee. There’s a history tourhere, too, if you can swing the time.
12 p.m. | Lunch at Freshies
Back in South Lake Tahoe, enjoy the Hawaiian atmosphere of this organic restaurant, which cooks up island-style plate lunches, curry dishes, and noodle bowls along with sandwiches.
2 p.m. | Cruise Lake Tahoe
Head to Zephyr Cove for a two-and-a-half-hour scenic cruise around Emerald Bay and beyond aboard the Tahoe Queen or the M.S. Dixie, two of the biggest vessels on Lake Tahoe.
7 p.m. | Dinner at Mac Duff’s Pub
There’s shepherd’s pie, then there’s the shepherd’s pie baked at this cottage-like pub, with fresh ground lamb, peas, celery, brown gravy, and a potato crust. Other Scottish fare includes steak and Guinness stew, traditional fish and chips, and chicken pot pie (sorry, no haggis).
9 p.m. | Free Music at Whiskey Dick’s
Every Saturday night, this joint showcases local acts at no cost. It’s a legend among the Tahoe nightlife scene, with inexpensive drinks, pool tables, dart boards, and ping-pong.
10 a.m. | Brunch at Cold Water Brewery
This contemporary space with plank and wood walls features a build-your-own–Bloody Mary bar, filled with everything from capers and Old Bay to pickled green beans and A1 steak sauce – the antidote to a late night at Whiskey Dick’s. Fuel up for your next adventure with the huevos rancheros or the eggs Benedict.
11:30 a.m. | Hike to Horsetail Falls
With an 800-foot drip, this is the largest waterfall in Lake Tahoe and a landmark along Highway 50 for cars approaching Twin Bridges. Pyramid Creek creates the cascade in the Desolation Wilderness.
When simply “seeing” a destination just won’t do.
Fly high above the twinkling waters of Lake Tahoe with two friends by booking a ride with this outfitter, which offers heights of 200, 350, and 500 feet above the lake for $65 to $75 per person
Ready for a self-guided rafting trip of two to three hours? The 1973-founded Truckee River Rafting equips adventurers with rafts that hold up to 10 people and has paddles, vests, and a shuttle bus that will take you back to the start of your journey.
An all-day adventure pass at this ski resort in the summer includes the Ridge Rider Mountain Coaster, tubing, multiple ropes course, a climbing wall, and a gondola ride; there are zip lines and a canopy tour available, as well.
Quirky, under-the-radar highlights only a local could recommend.
FALLEN LEAF WATERFALL
Found right off Highway 89 in the Desolation Wilderness, Fallen Leaf cascades over stair-step-like ancient granite stones for 65 feet. An overlook point allows you to sit and watch the water flow, but for those who are adventurous, you are permitted to scramble down to the small rocks to the water below.
More than 30 imported German and Belgian beers, pretzels and other Bavarian fare, and a Stein Club make this “bierhaus” with long tables and a game room a favorite hangout for Tahoe residents.
STEAMERS BAR & GRILL
Snag a seat on the back patio of this local watering hole, which pours cold pitchers of beer and hot comfort food, such as mushroom balls, fish tacos, and potato skins for sports-loving fans (there are plenty of TVs). But what the locals truly come for: the Monday- and Saturday-night taco bar and Friday-night steak dinner special.
With gigantic, rounded, smooth granite boulders along the teal-blue waters of Lake Tahoe, this secluded beach is North Lake Tahoe’s best-kept secret. Reached by a wooded mile-and-a-half-mile hike on a trail that is peppered with the remains of an old railroad grade, the cove is a beloved destination for sunbathers and swimmers.
The best food artisans, farms, and local markets.
This South Lake Tahoe butcher offers homemade chorizo and homemade free-range beef jerky alongside a smorgasbord of all-natural meats, free-range poultry, and fresh seafood, including live lobster.
Held Friday afternoons from June through August, this farmers’ marketfeatures more than 25 vendors who sell organic heirloom tomatoes, multi-colored carrots, blueberries, jam, and more. There is also a bounce house, beer garden, and live music, too.
Since 1976, this Napa-style market in the heart of Lake Tahoe has been serving gourmet foods and fine wines. Take home a bottle of California wine after treating yourself to a sample of Manchego cheese.
This small bakery hidden off a side street off Lake Tahoe Boulevard is well worth searching for. Go early as the fresh-made pastries – from cinnamon rolls and cheesecakes to macaroons and meringues – sometimes sell out.
Your top-rated places to explore in South Lake Tahoe, CA
Take a refreshing dip in Lake Tahoe, enjoy a leisurely picnic on the sandy beach, or simply reflect on the beauty of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada. The nearby marina offers jet ski, paddleboat, and other watercraft rentals when lounging on the sand isn't enough.
Take the Rim Trail Connector to the famed Tahoe Rim Trail, designated by National Geographic Adventure magazine as one of the nation’s top ten trails. Easy to moderate hiking trails make this one of the most accessible parks in Tahoe Basin.
California's first maritime heritage underwater trail made its debut in 2018. Grab a waterproof interpretive card from the visitor center and explore the historic recreational watercraft and barges that now rest below the surface of Emerald Bay.
Nestled among towering native pine, cedar, fir, and aspen, the 206 campsites (including six yurts) make this a great base for exploring the surrounding area. A short walk to the lake itself rewards campers with reflections of Cathedral Peak and Mount Tallac in the crystal-clear waters.