Until about 3 months ago, South Lake Tahoe was not a place on my radar. I didn’t know what part of the country it was in, I had no idea what it looked like, and I really didn’t know what to expect when I woke up on my
Bryan and I’s trip up to South Lake Tahoe was nothing short of incredible. For only having 1 full day to spend in the city, we did so much, and I’m here to tell you how you can make the most of an incredibly short trip.
If you have more than one day to stay in South Lake Tahoe, you have to do it. There are so many hiking trails and views that you will want to discover, But, if you’re up for a whirlwind trip, you’ve come to the right place. I can show you how we made the most of it.
Getting to South Lake Tahoe
Bryan and I flew out of Houston Hobby (on our favorite – Southwest Airlines) with a short layover at LAX. Being from Texas, I have had very
I wish I had pictures of the drive to Lake Tahoe, but we’ll cover that later in the blog. Since it was after 9:00 p.m. when we arrived, everything was pitch black. The moon was incredible, and it lent its light for a nice outline of what we were driving into, but we really had no idea what we were getting into until the way back.
By the way, the lake is huge – about 191 square miles. Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, straddling the border of California and Nevada, depending on where you stay, you definitely straddle the lines of both states pretty frequently on your trip.
When we woke up in the morning, we finally figured out where we were.
The Coachman Hotel, South Lake Tahoe
One of the things that I adore about Lake Tahoe is how quaint everything is. Aside from the humongous Harrah’s Hotel on the Nevada side, the hotels are boutique and cozy. The Coachman was a perfect place for Bryan and I to stay.
The Hotel itself is centrally located, close to a beach and walking distance to some things. When Bryan and I wanted to some snacks, he just walked over to a corner store near by to get us some things to munch on.
The Coachman is really spacious in terms of room size, and has great modern amenities. I loved that we could log into our Netflix account before bed and watch a few episodes of The office before we dozed off.
I also really loved the on-site cafe, where breakfast options were available for free for hotel guests, and espresso drinks were available for purchase.
Another feature of the hotel that I found so cool was a wall in the cafe filled with postcards of where people came from, and what they liked best about South Lake Tahoe. It also included cute pups that have enjoyed their stay at The Coachman.
There’s so much more to do at the hotel, which I’ll touch on later! I promise you’ll love the surprise.
Even if you’re traveling for just a couple of days, you want the place you stay to feel like a home away from home. I honestly felt that from our stay at the coachman. Everything about the place is both simple and wonderful. It makes you not want to be on your phone all the time!
What to do once the sun is up
South Lake Tahoe is a small area, but there is much to do and see. As I mentioned, Bryan and I only had 1 full day there to do everything we came for. We didn’t get to do everything we wanted (which is why I advise you make a longer trip out of it than we did), but you can really get a sense of the area and what it feels like.
The Lakeside beach was our first stop that morning in South Lake Tahoe. The weather was cold but breezy, and the beach was fairly empty in the morning. We walked along the beach for a while, and just looked at the mountains.
The water is unbelievably blue and the tranquil, and quiet nature of the beach completely beats the hum of big city life. I like my life in a big city a lot, but I could definitely trade it for Tahoe. The views here were incredible. I wish we’d brought our coffee. We found a picnic table and watched seagulls land – it would have been nice to do so with coffee in hand.
Van Sicle Bi-State Park
Our next stop was Van Sicle Bi-State Park. Van Sicle was a really neat place to stop because the California-Nevada border runs right through it. There’s a place in the park where you can take pictures with one foot in each state. (which as you’ll see makes for fun pictures) . As we got there, rain clouds started to form, so we had little time to explore. Right as we parked, Bryan saw the opportunity to climb some rocks, so we did, and boy were the photos epic.
I’m also a bit melodramatic, and very afraid of heights. As I was climbing down from this rock I started crying because I was afraid to jump down. Bryan captured that just to show you how ridiculous it was. Just a reminder to never put yourself in a dangerous situation, even if the photos will look really cool!
Like I mentioned, You can find a marker for the border between California and Nevada. If no cars are coming, stop there and take a photo. It’s really fun!
The park itself just has a beautiful natural environment. I wish we would have gotten to explore more, but it just gives us a reason to come back!
Sample the Sierra
Next up in our day was the Sample the Sierra event that draws a huge crowd in South Lake Tahoe. This foodie event is the best way to understand the local cuisine and taste all of the best bites and wines that South Lake Tahoe has to offer. If you’re here in the fall, I recommend coming to this event first, and then eating your way around Tahoe – you’ll find out what you love, and it will give you excellent guidance on what to eat while you’re in town.
The way the event works is that you walk along a path and grab bite sized plates from different vendors, and sample wine from each booth. At the end, you give your token to the restaurant or winery you love most, and the booth with the most tokens is the most loved! The event is put on by the Tahoe Chamber and benefits the chamber, which promotes a prosperous and sustainable economy that supports business as a foundation for positive change, embraces environmental stewardship, and strengthens the community.
People really show up for this event! We arrived 15 minutes or so before the event started, and there was a line a quarter mile long of people waiting to get in. It’s THAT popular.
It also helped that it was a gorgeous day – clear blue skies and perfectly cool! I’m telling you – South Lake Tahoe couldn’t be more incredible.
One tip that I learned is that the air is DRY up there. Like really dry, so you have to bring your best lotions, and body butters, and you have to drink way more water than you’re used to. A local gave me the tip and I was grateful for that because I got dehydrated much more quickly than I’m used to down here in the swampy south.
The extra water was helpful because the wine hit me hard!
Back to the Coachman for S’mores
After we were done with Sample the Sierra, we headed back to The Coachman for a little R&R. This was the fun activity I was talking about – we got to make s’mores!
They have a cute little set up with everything you need to make your perfect s’more. The patio has little blankets you can wrap up in, and a fire going. Bryan and I just sat and talked, and he learned how to make a s’more for the first time (I’m a great teacher!) it was a nice way to unwind, and we didn’t spoil our dinner either!
This had to be one of the most magical nights there. Between the twinkly lights, and the crackle of the fire, there was no denying that we were just going to have a night to relax, and enjoy each other’s company.
Dinner at Edgewood
After we were sufficiently stuffed and fully recovered with naps and lots of water, we did what we do in every city.
Though we are semi-broke millennials, Bryan and I occasionally treat ourselves to the finer things in life because we both work hard, and we earned it.
Our anniversary was just a few days later, so we wanted to dress up, and go have dinner together somewhere nice to celebrate our marriage and the last night of our awesome trip.
We found South Lake Tahoe’s fanciest restaurant, begged for a reservation, and got ourselves in. Edgewood was one of the finest dining experiences I’ve ever had – and eat a whole lot.
Edgewood sits right on the lake with beautiful views of the mountains. We, of course, had a late reservation, so we looked at a reflection of ourselves in the window, but just imagining the lake was enough.
We had a funny, French waiter named Guy, who told amazing jokes, and took care of us well – I will never forget him. He brought us ice cream an chocolates to help us celebrate our anniversary, and his recommendations for food and wine were excellent. He took photos of us, which was really sweet and made sure we were loving our time there.
I had the sea bass (pictured) and Bryan went with the filet mignon. My sea bass was perfectly cooked, and the portion was much larger than I expected it to be. The fresh veggies were a nice complement to the fish, and my glasses of prosecco were a perfect pair.
Other fun things to do in South Lake Tahoe
We had so many things
Hiking Trails: Emerald Bay and Angora Lakes were both on our list. They both have beautiful, expansive views, and you’ll get some exercise while you’re at it. The reward is what your eyes get to see once the hike is done.
Casinos: Harrah’s on the Nevada side is one attraction. If you want to try you
Restaurant Recommendations: We, of course, loved Edgewood ($$$$), I would also suggest California Burger Company if you’re a fan of bourbons because they have a ton – and their burgers (and sweet potato tots) are very tasty. There are tons of places to dine in the Heavenly Village Area.
The Drive Back to Reno
Remember earlier how I mentioned that when we drove in, we couldn’t see anything, but we knew something grand was among us? Well, our flight left at 9:00 a.m., so to be safe we woke up before sunrise to get packed up and headed back to Reno. When we did, we were stunned.
Everything we had driven among was finally lit, and in full-view. Our jaw were on the ground for the rest of the ride.
Everything we drove through was stunning. The windy roads, the blue skies, the change from lush forest to rocky desert. Our last images of Tahoe, and then Reno made us wish the trip had been just a little longer.
We packed up, turned in our rental, got through security and waited to board our plane.
Except, that never happened.
But that’s a story for another day.
Saw this & thought of you! CJ
Loved this! I am from CA, Tahoe is my happy place, and moved to Texas 20 years ago (north Texas). To hear a Texans perspective was awesome.
Thanks, Cyndie! I love Texas, but I was so infatuated with Tahoe! I’m so glad I got to experience it! Thanks for leaving a comment!
I definitely want to visit Lake Tahoe after reading this!
excellent, excellent excellent travel blog! I can’t wait for chicago round 2 and nyc!!!