How to Spend a Summer Weekend in South Lake Tahoe
Updated: Sep 8, 2020
There are few places in the world, that boast being a great destination all year-round. One of those destinations is South Lake Tahoe. I have been fortunate enough live here full time for the past three years so in this blog I will share my top tips on how to spend a long weekend here during the summer season!
So you're all checked in to either your hotel or vacation rental, now what!? I know after I fly or take a long road trip, I feel restless and would like to stroll around a bit. If you head to the Heavenly Village, you'll find something for everyone. There is a handful of restaurants and boutiques, as well as a movie theater, miniature golf course and trampolines. If you're in the mood for Mexican food, check out Azul Latin Kitchen. I always order the three taco plate with the sweet potato taco, the carnitas pork taco, and the classic fish taco. In the mood for pizza or Italian? Take a seat at Base Camp Pizza Co. If you're there during happy hour you can get a glass of the house red wine and a personal pizza for about $15. Both of these establishments are great to grab a meal, or even just to have a drink and people watch. Their patios are dog friendly and they have great live music every day.
Afterwards, head over to The Loft and catch a magic show! Sounds corny, I know, but really, it's worth it. The Loft is not only a fun and swanky bar/restaurant, they also host magic shows 7 nights a week. On Fridays and Saturdays, they also host a show called "Magic After Dark". This show is for ages 18 and up, and allows adults to experience a sexier and uncensored version of the show. For late night drinks head over to the Social House. When you walk in, right away you'll be confused because the Social House is in fact a sandwich shop and deli. However, it has a secret speakeasy in the back. Ask for Dee and he'll show you to a big metal door that looks like it could lead to you the walk-in freezer. The speakeasy offers great craft cocktails, some appetizers and a couple selections of wine and beer. It's a pretty small establishment, so if they're busy there might be a wait list. Also, the lighting is pretty dark so as to set that "speakeasy" mood, and camera/cell phone use is strongly discouraged.
If you're coming to Lake Tahoe during the summer season, you have to take advantage of the plethora of hiking trails. To help you research what trails you want to hike you can download the app, AllTrails. What is great about most of the trails here in South Lake Tahoe is you can make them as long or as short as you want them to be. We like to pack a picnic so we can make a day of it. Make sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, I cannot stress this enough. A lot of visitors forget that even though the lake is right there, we are at a very high altitude. You can get dehydrated a lot quicker and you burn a lot easier.
Here are a few of my favorite hiking trails that are not too difficult and offer great views:
Fallen Leaf Lake Road
Echo Lake Trail
Angora Lakes Trail
Lam Watah Nature Trail to Nevada Beach
Van Sickle Rim Trail Connector
top row, left to right: Fallen Leaf Lake, Echo Lake, Horsetail Falls
bottom row, left to right: Angora Lakes, Echo Lake
If you'd rather have a more relaxing day by the water, there are no shortages of public beaches to spend your day. Round Hill Pines Beach Resort is a popular destination that includes a tiki bar on the beach as well as the Beach Bums Bar and Grill. Another public beach (that also has a section that is dog friendly) is Nevada Beach. This public beach how ever does not have a bar or restaurant so best to pack a picnic.
After your hike or beach day you deserve a great meal. Thankfully in South Lake Tahoe there are no shortages of fine dinning. If you're looking for a place with a great view of the lake to watch the sunset, here are a few suggestions. Definitely make reservations ahead of time, these restaurants get pretty busy during sunset, especially on the weekends.
If you're not concerned about the view, here are a few more restaurant suggestions that are lacking in a lake view but certainly don't skimp on their quality of food.
First thing's first, time for breakfast! There are a few places in South Lake Tahoe that offer up some great breakfast food. One popular and casual place is the Red Hut Cafe. There are several locations throughout the Reno and Tahoe area, however the original is at 2723 Lake Tahoe Blvd. I would definitely recommend their waffles (which are their signature dish) and their pancakes. Another popular spot for breakfast is Bert's Cafe. Located at 1146 Emerald Bay Rd., some of their popular dishes include huevos rancheros, eggs benedict, and french toast.
If you're up for taking a little road trip down the mountain, definitely head to Genoa, Nevada's oldest settlement. Not only does this place offer a lot of history, there's also some cute little shops, bars and restaurants to explore.
One of my favorite spots to explore and grab a quick bite is The Pink House. Built in 1855 it is registered on the National Register of Historic Places. Their dog friendly patio offers up a great selection of small plates, soups and sandwiches, baked goods as well as wine, beer and whiskey flights.
While exploring Genoa, you have to step inside the oldest bar in Nevada, properly named Genoa Bar and Saloon. Originally a gentleman's saloon when it opened in 1853, it is now a place where guests can step back in time and enjoy a drink and feel like they are experiencing a little part of history. One of the more noticeable features inside is the giant mirror behind the bar. There are only two of its kind and is in fact a diamond dust mirror. It was made in Glasgow, Scotland in the late 1840's, and when you shine a flashlight on the glass you can see the diamond dust!
One of the biggest reasons people come to South Lake Tahoe during the summer time is for the Outdoor Summer Concert series. Every summer Harvey's Hotel and Casino turns their outdoor parking lot into an outdoor amphitheater. From June to September artists like Tim McGraw, Lionel Richie, and Dave Matthews Band come and perform at this 4,000 seat outdoor theater. At the concert there are booths selling beer, wine and cocktails as well as some snacks like french fries and nachos. Be sure to pack light, concert security is not allowing guests to bring in oversize bags. I just stuffed my jacket pockets with my phone, money and house keys in order not to risk having to put my purse in their "secure" bag check area.
Before the concert head over to Lake Tahoe AleworX for a quick bite. Like I mentioned, the concert venue has some food options but it's more like sub-par fair food. AleworX has great options for everyone, from salads and small bites, to pizzas and sandwiches; not to mention a great drink menu.
Bellow is a list of accommodations in South Lake Tahoe I would recommend.
There are also many vacation rentals in the area that you can find on various home rental sights like airbnb.com and vrbo.com .
I hope this blog post is helpful! Enjoy your weekend in South Lake Tahoe.