Denise's Travel Pages

Luxury Vacation Rentals

My Lake Tahoe Travel File

We go to Tahoe 2 or 3 times a year, so I put this file together to help others who would like to visit Tahoe.  I hope you find it helpful.  Lake Tahoe is beautiful and has the resorts, nightlife and casinos in addition to the beautiful lake and mountains, outdoor activities and historical sites.  Lake Tahoe Live Video Web Cam

Tahoe is very high in the Sierras - the mountain roads are good, but curvy and steep - not for inexperienced or nervous drivers.   During the winter they can get a lot of snow - Lake Tahoe is the most likely city in the U.S. to have snow at Christmas.  Be sure you take chains in the winter - they are required at times and the highway patrol won't let you through without them.   Rental Car companies will not provide them, but you can often also rent them along side the road at the location where the Hwy. Patrol has their check point set up. An alternative is to rent a 4WD with snow rated tires.  You can also fly into Lake Tahoe via the Reno/Tahoe Airport : RNO and there are frequent and inexpensive buses, with a variety of packages available from most major cities in northern California. 

Driving Directions & Map 

Weather - Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Lake Tahoe

Click for Lake Tahoe, California Forecast

Transportation
Lake Tahoe Transportation

Reno-Tahoe Airport
  Reno/Tahoe International Airport : RNO

Things to Do - There are many day trips from Lake Tahoe - driving all around the lake itself with a stop for lunch along the North Shore is a beautiful trip and there are several restaurants that are right on the lake.  (It is 72 miles around the lake!) 

You can also easily drive to Reno, or the state capitol -
Carson City  - Carson City has a great museum and their Nevada Days Celebration and parade at the end of October each year is a huge event.  

Historic
Virginia City was large and thriving during the gold and silver booms and had a larger population than LA at the time.  Lots to see and do - mansions, shopping, mine tour, train, museums, historical buildings and much of the town still intact.

We have enjoyed cruises on Lake Tahoe on the M.S. Dixie II, a paddle wheeler, with a variety of cruises available, including a dinner cruise.  The cruise gives  you a breath taking view of Lake Tahoe, but the food is only average, and you can't see much on the evening cruises either, so I think you are better off to take an afternoon cruise, and have dinner on shore. 

Historic
 Vikingsholm Estate on Emerald Bay is one of the sights you will see on a lake cruise and it is also accessible from land.  It is about 20 Min. or so out of South Shore on the west side of the lake.  Vickingsholm is a historic, turn of the century, Scandinavian style estate on the shores of Emerald Bay, that is now a state park.  There is a 1 mi. hike in and out that is a bit steep, but other arrangements can be made for disabled visitors (see the website). 

There are all kinds of other activities on Lake Tahoe:  water craft rentals, water skiing, fishing, guided fishing trips and charters, hiking camping, parasailing, and of course half a dozen ski resorts right around the lake. 

The Heavenly Gondola is a popular trip year round, with fabulous views of the whole Tahoe area.  It leaves from downtown South Shore, right next to Embassy Suites.  It is a bit pricey, but absolutely worth it - the views are breath-taking and there are several short hikes at the top, a bar, and casual food.  You can easily spend a whole afternoon on this trip.  Lakeside Inn has discount coupons at the registration desk - if they ask you if you are a guest, just say yes.

Just outside South Shore (west side of the lake, just past Camp Richardson) you will find the Tallac Historic Site which has 3 old estates and the remains of the original Lake Tahoe Casino.  This park closes for the winter.  Tallac Historic Site

Bike Paths - Biking in Lake Tahoe  Tahoe has many bike paths for all ability levels.  Our favorite is the 4 mile Truckee River Path from Tahoe City to River Ranch.   It is a relatively flat, paved bike path, right along the river, with no motorized traffic, and even a young child, with good riding skills, can do it.  (You can also skate or walk on this paved trail.)  We like to rent bikes in Tahoe City, ride to the River Ranch (near Squaw Valley) for lunch, and ride back.  The bike rental place is right on the river, next to Fanny Bridge, in Tahoe City. 
 
Picture of the Truckee River Trail here - (It looks like a road in this picture, but this is the bike trail.)  Bike Trail Picture
 
The route marked #3, on this map is the Truckee River Bike Trail (The first part with small dots from Tahoe City to just before Squaw Valley) - Tahoe Bike Map
 
Rafting the Truckee River is a blast in warm weather!  During the summer, you can rent a raft, for the same trip down the river ( from Fanny Bridge in Tahoe City to River Ranch Lodge.)  This is a gentle float, suitable for all ages.  You drive to the parking lot across from River Ranch, leave your car, and they bus you back to Fanny Bridge.  Then you float down the river, back to River Ranch, where you can have a casual river-side meal or drink, before picking up your car, across the street.  Truckee River Raft.com
 
Within the last year, the historic Thunderbird Lodge has been open to the public for tours.  This estate was built buy an eccentric millionaire who was once the largest land owner on Lake Tahoe.  This is a fascinating, guided tour - http://www.thunderbirdlodge.org

More ideas - Tahoe Tessie's 101 Fun Things To Do In Lake Tahoe?
(Tahoe Tessie is Lake Tahoe's version of the Loch Ness Monster.  Lake Tahoe is very deep and they have even searched for Tessie with a mini submarine.)  If you see her let me know!

Night Life - The night life in Tahoe is great and you can gamble or see nationally known entertainers in the showrooms.    Most showrooms have the big names on the weekends and cabaret type shows all the time.  There are several night clubs with dancing and a Hard Rock Cafe.  Note that children are not allowed in the Casino areas of the hotels, and they are strict about this, but they can be in the restaurants and some shows.  They bigger hotel/casinos have children's arcades and the Horizon has a movie theatre right in the hotel.  You can get tickets for most shows in advance by calling the hotel directly.  (See hotel/casino links below.)

Gambling - I am not a high-roller, but all the casinos have lots of Info. about it on their websites.  (See links below.)  They have everything from penny slots to high stakes poker, craps, Blackjack, Sports betting and everything else you can think of.  Our favorite place to gamble is Lakeside Inn - www.lakesideinn.com  They have lower table minimums, better payouts, and a more laid-back atmosphere than the big casinoes.  Be sure you apply for a players card, because you will get some freebies, and if you are 50+ you will get a free breakfast every other month.  I also like Bill's Casino, because it is the only non-smoking casino in Tahoe.  It is right next to Harrah's.

Hotels - South Lake Tahoe is the largest area and has the most night life and 5 or 6 big casinos.  Beautiful setting with a bit of a Las Vegas feel.  North Lake Tahoe - about a 30 mile drive around the lake, is a little more laid back, with just a few casinos and more beaches and ski resorts.

South Shore - You can get the Horizon Hotel & Casino on Priceline for about $70 a night, depending on the season. 
Our favorite non-priceline South Shore hotel is
Lakeside Inn and Casino.   It is a little smaller, more laid back and not so "Las Vegas".  Dining is good and very inexpensive.  It is right on the main drag, next to the golf course. 

For a rustic-cabin-on-the-beach type experience (in the summer) it is fun to stay at
Camp Richardson.   They also have a lodge with recently renovated hotel type rooms, but they are pretty cramped.  We love to eat outdoors just a few feet from the lake at the Beacon Bar and Grill at Camp Richardson.  (It is in the Entertainment book too.)

North Shore - They have just opened a Hyatt Regency in Incline Village that is beautiful and includes a resort/restaurant/bar right on their private beach.  We always use priceline.com and the Hyatt is going for $150 a night on Priceline. 

Also on North Shore, you can get the historic
Cal Neva Resort (once owned by Frank Sinatra) on Priceline for about half the price.  They have a fun tour for a few dollars that takes you through the historic hotel and the the hidden tunnels that were once used by the mafia and celebraties like President Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe.  In fact, there is a tunnel connecting their 2 bungalows...convenient, huh?

Priceline.com - Last I checked, there were 9 hotels in Tahoe available on Priceline.com.  It takes a little know-how to use Priceline - for all the inside Info. go to BiddingForTravel.com and read:  1) the FAQ's, 2) the Nevada-Tahoe Posts and 3) the hotel list at the top of the posts.  We have used Priceline in 6 states, so feel free to ask if you have questions.  The savings are tremendous, but you have to know what you are doing.  We are usually able to get a 3 Star hotel for about $70 on Priceline, but check Bidding for Travel for the most current Info.

Here are the Priceline hotels in Tahoe - Tahoe on Priceline
 
Dining - If you are going to be in Tahoe for more than a day or two, you might want to consider buying a Tahoe Entertainment book.  It has 2-for-1 coupons for Tahoe and Reno area dining and activities that can save you a lot of money.  The dining ranges from McDonalds to fine dining.  To preview the book go to www.entertainment.com, click on see all books, and choose Tahoe/Reno from the menu.  You can use up to 3 discounts per party of 6, (1 per 2 people) so you might want to consider buying more than one book for a family.  The Entertainment Books go on sale after the first of the year, and are on clearance for $10 by May, so if your trip is later in the year, wait to buy your book.  The books expire Nov. 1st each year.

www.restaurant.com also has good coupons for Tahoe restaurants, sometimes.
 
The big hotels also have the Las Vegas style buffets.  The most reasonable places to eat are the casinos which encourage people to stay and gamble by offering low cost dining.  Most lake view dining is high atop the bigger hotels or on North Shore. 

For lakeside dining in South Shore we like the Beacon Bar & Grill that I mentioned earlier - it usually has a $20 - $25 coupon in the Entertainment Book. 

Lakeside Inn, next to the golf course at the intersection of 50 and Kingsbury Grade is also a great place to eat and a local favorite.  They offer their famous prime rib dinner every night for $10.50, their Mexican restaurant is quite good, and all drinks are $3, all the time.

More links:
SF Gate: Bay Area Traveler: Reno-Tahoe Guide: A?
A Directory Guide to Lake Tahoe South Shore - V?
Reno/Tahoe entertainment
Go to Reno-Tahoe.com

Large Hotel/Casinos:

South Shore

Harrah's Lake Tahoe
Montbleu Casino & Resort
Harveys Lake Tahoe
Horizon Hotel & Casino
North Shore
Hyatt Regency
Cal Neva Resort

Feel free to email any questions.
Have fun!
Denise


Sailing on Lake Tahoe

Thunderbird Lodge

Thunderbird Lodge Harbor

Truckee River Bike Trail



Our favorite place to bike in the Tahoe area is on this paved bike trail along the Truckee River from Tahoe City to the River Ranch.