Planning Your First Trip to Lake Tahoe!

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If you read my last travel post here, you know my husband and I have somewhat different views on what makes a good vacation. He likes to do all the things, with lots of organized activities and experiences, while I prefer to rest, read a good book and see where the wind takes us.

I think we’re learning that the best vacations are a balance of both, and I can’t think of a better example than Lake Tahoe! We heard from multiple people locally that winter is their most popular season because of the ski resorts, but I have to say we’re so glad we went in the summer. The weather was perfect, y’all. I didn’t know humidity that low even existed, and the temperature never got above 85 degrees. What is that?! We didn’t want to leave! In fact, everyone in our group was looking at real estate listings as we were driving out, HA!

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Do your homework

There is SO MUCH to do in and around Lake Tahoe, whether you’re visiting in the summer or winter, and there are multiple locations and outfitters to choose from. From horseback riding and hiking to kayaking and white-water rafting. Give yourself time to research all the options, so you can pick the best one for you and your group.

We use Yelp to read reviews and share ideas with our friends. It has the best information in my opinion, and the ratings are pretty darn accurate. Four stars or more never fails!

For reviews on hiking and biking trails, we use All Trails. I love this app because it shows you all the trails in your search area, with reviews and difficulty ratings to help you find one that fits your level of experience. And the pictures people post are beautiful! I think we could book a vacation just to explore all of the trails we’ve found on this app alone.

After doing our research, these are some of the outfitters we used:

Room with a view

The scenery around Lake Tahoe is absolutely stunning, especially of course as you get higher up the mountains. I would highly recommend staying somewhere with a wide view of the lake, even if it means sacrificing on other things like amenities or location.

We picked our VRBO because of the truly amazing lake views with floor to ceiling windows in every room. Even though it didn’t have a hot tub, which I really wanted, it was worth the sacrifice to wake up to the magical view every morning!

Also I have to say that everyone in Lake Tahoe is SO friendly! Our VRBO was off the beaten path in a residential area, and we all agreed it was the perfect place because we got to meet so many nice people who live there and we could relax away from the busyness of the more populated areas.

Challenge yourself!

This was the most pleasant surprise for me from our vacation in Lake Tahoe. I’m a pretty risk averse person, and I find myself getting more timid as I get older. So when Dennis said he wanted to go white-water rafting, I was a little hesitant. Would you believe we not only spent the whole day on the river, we even jumped into Class II rapids ON PURPOSE?! Such a cool experience! (Literally… brrr!)

I was blown away by our amazing guide with Tahoe Whitewater Tours. He was super professional and also fun and personable at the same time. It takes a lot of talent to safely maneuver a group of 20- and 30-something office workers down a white-water river and keep them relaxed and having fun the whole time! We did the full-day South Fork American River – Chili Bar Run. I’m so glad I sucked it up and went because this was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. Make sure you wear lots of sunscreen, or if you prefer to wear a long-sleeve shirt like I do, to protect yourself from the sun. It’s easy to burn quickly without realizing it because you’re at a higher altitude and the air is so cool and pleasant.

Besides jumping in a river, Dennis also convinced me to go on an 10+ mile hike up the side of a mountain. After some research on All Trails and asking the locals for their recommendations, we decided on the Mount Tallac Trail. Hiking isn’t the hard part for me, it’s the altitude. Whew! It took us seven hours to get to the top and back, with a short break for lunch at the summit. I wanted to quit a few times (OK, a lot of times!), but I was so proud when we finally made it back to the trail head.

I’m kind of cheap, so I’ve never really bought the right gear for hiking because it’s pretty expensive. But I’m so glad Dennis encouraged me to buy these hiking boots because I don’t think I could have completed the rocky and uneven trail without them. I’ve always heard that ankle support and grip are really important when hiking, and these shoes proved that for me. Also, wool socks are a hiker’s best friend. Definitely make sure you have the right gear before hitting the trails, and your body will thank you later.

Eat local

There are so many good locally-owned restaurants in Lake Tahoe and surrounding areas that it feels like a crime to eat at the chain restaurants while you’re there! Eating good food is one of my favorite parts about traveling, and Lake Tahoe did not disappoint. Some of our favorite places are:

  • Base Camp Pizza – delicious pizza in the heart of Heavenly, lots of people-watching, live bands, totally worth the long-ish wait times
  • Fire Sign Cafe – big menu, awesome breakfast and brunch, huge portions, fantastic service
  • Pick 6 Sports Bar – very casual, lots of TV screens to watch multiple games, you HAVE to try the sourdough cheese loaf *drooling*
  • Bistro at Edgewood Tahoe – for a nice meal at a resort with gorgeous lake views, make reservations in advance

Lake Tahoe wasn’t even on my radar before, and now I can’t wait to go back! I highly recommend this area for anyone looking for a new adventure or a beautiful place to relax and recharge. There is definitely something for everyone, and I’m not a bit surprised that so many people we talked to there said they came to visit and just never left!

Have you been to Lake Tahoe? Share your favorite places to go and things to do in the comments section below!

Until next time,

Christi

P.S. Thanks to our friends Evan and Amber for an amazing vacay together and sharing this awesome pic! Love y’all!

P.P.S. Don’t feed the chipmunks! 😉

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