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Having thoroughly enjoyed our two weeks there, it’s easy to see why millions transcend upon beautiful Lake Tahoe every year. With spectacular weather, stunning scenery and loads of recreation activities to choose from, we were never short of things to see and and do during our summer stay.
We’ve shared the highlights in this short video where we showcase 14 days of fun in 3 minutes. We’ve also covered the 12 things we loved most about our time in Tahoe below. Enjoy and feel free to share this and add your comments below. We’d love to hear your thoughts.
12 things we love about Lake Tahoe
1. The 72 mile shoreline drive around the lake they call ‘Big Blue’
has been touted as “the most beautiful drive in America” so we set off one afternoon to discover it for ourselves. With the top down in our MINI, we embraced the winding curves and changing elevation while drinking in the gorgeous views all around us, ranging from towering pines to mountains to boats bobbing in the still, deep blue lake. With numerous places to stop for photos or side trips along the way, the drive can take anywhere from 2 hours to a whole day, depending on how often and long you stop.
We found the south-west, south and south-east parts of the lake to be the most scenic, and we plan to visit Tahoe City in the north next time. While we agree it’s a beautiful drive, the jury is still out on whether it’s “the” most beautiful drive in the nation. We’ll keep you posted as we continue to drive and explore more of the country.
2. The views over Emerald Bay and Fannette Island
can be seen from Inspiration Point and especially up high from the road and many hiking trails. Simply breathtaking.
3. The 40 mile road bike ride
Marc did solo from South Lake Tahoe to Tahoma and back. You can click the map to explore the area. We’ve shared more on the road conditions for cyclists in our “Tips” section below.
4. The scenic bike ride along South Lake Tahoe paved bike path
on our tandem bike – with Coda in tow in her chariot – was a lovely, relaxing way to get from our campground to the Tallac Historic Site. We rode around 9 miles and, being a weekend, we were often moving faster than the cars heading the same direction on the crowded Highway 89!
5. Tallac Historic Site
features the historic estates of California’s early rich and famous, who built elaborate summer estates in the late 1800s and early 1900s. We loved exploring the historic Pope and Baldwin Estates, Valhalla, Baldwin museum and boathouse. It was fascinating to learn about the opulence of those times, and the lengths and expense they went to in building their summer retreats in a heavily wooded environment that was mainly accessible only by boat.
Society ladies used to change their outfits up to 6 times a day and walk the promenade as a display of status. I suspect they would likely be horrified to see how casually people dress there now. While still naturally beautiful, the Tahoe of today is more of a laid back beach/ski town and lacks the elegance and grandeur of that era. The Tallac Historic Site is a must-see during your summer Tahoe visit.
6. The hike down Vikingsholm Trail
is relatively easy, around a mile (down, then back up!) and one of many hiking trails in the area. We headed down to explore the beach and grounds of the 38 room Vikingsholm Castle, possibly the most opulent summer estate of them all. The mansion was constructed by 200 workers during 1928-29 and is nestled among towering pines and cedars right on the beach. Vikingsholm was the summer home of Mrs Lora Josephine Knight, who said the Lake reminded her of the Norwegian fjords. She commissioned her Swedish architect nephew to design and build the castle, reproducing specific features of ancient Scandinavian buildings.
7. Taking Coda out for a fun time swimming and catching ball
at dog-friendly Kiva Beach. It was Coda’s first swim since we left Colorado and she just didn’t want to stop, despite shivering every time she came back to shore!
8. A sunset dinner and lovely views on the outdoor patio
at Brooks’ Bar & Deck at Edgewood Tahoe, Stateline, right at the border of Nevada and California. Quality bar food, decent prices, friendly and attentive service, beautiful view of the lake and golf course, outdoor gas fireplace, blankets for guests dining on the deck and a gorgeous sunset. It was the perfect place to finish up our fun drive around the Lake.
9. Being surrounded by thousands of towering gorgeous, green pine trees
that line the lake, hiking trails and campgrounds, including Tahoe Valley RV Resort and Campground, where we stayed.
10. Tahoe’s magnificent sunsets
are picture perfect and can be seen almost every night. Even Coda loves them!
11. The double kayak we rented from Lakeside
so we could paddle way out to truly experience the beauty and clarity of the lake and its crystal blue water on their busiest day of the year – July 4th! The SUP (stand up paddle) boards were also popular, maybe we’ll try those next time.
12. Fireworks on July 4th
which we watched from the beach at Lakeside.
Our tips for Tahoe visitors
There’s a strict zero tolerance policy on dogs on Vikingholm Trail/Beach and many Lake Tahoe State Parks, beaches and trails in general. We learned this after getting our hands metaphorically smacked by a park ranger at Vikingsholm for hiking down there with our dog Coda (we didn’t see the signs until we got down to the beach). Be sure to check ahead of time whether you can bring your furry friend out along for your recreation activities. Dogs are allowed on Kiva Beach, near the Tallac Historic Site.
Avoid busy times and weekends if you’re planning to bike on the roads and you prefer a quiet, relaxing, safer ride. There aren’t as many bike paths as you might expect, the bike lanes and shoulder tend to be narrow, traffic can be heavy, and road condition are not always great – there were roadworks on the day Marc rode to Tahoma.
If you’re in Tahoe to celebrate the 4th of July holiday and watch the fireworks, there are quite a number of places to view them from. Many people watch the fireworks from the beaches at and around Lakeside, but they seemed a little too far in the distance for us. We think you’ll likely get a better view if you head closer to Stateline and the Casinos, as that’s where they are fired from. It’s the Casinos that mostly pay for the fireworks show. (Disclaimer: Julie is from Sydney so has pretty high standards for fireworks. If you’re really serious about them, save up and head to Sydney for their New Year’s Eve show sometime.)
If you’re a digital nomad like us or simply someone who likes to stay connected, know that cell signal and internet can be patchy, especially on weekends and at peak times when the population spikes – see #15 in our 15 Fun Facts blog post. Verizon is generally the strongest carrier in the area.
Want to know more?
We discovered so many interesting facts and stats that they deserve a post of their own. Click here to discover 15 fun facts about Lake Tahoe.