What to Do and Where to Eat in Lake Tahoe
By: Valeria Ramos
Lake Tahoe is a resort city in the Sierra Nevada mountains shared by two cities—Nevada on the east and California on the west.
Lake Tahoe itself is more than 1600 ft. deep, making it one of the deepest lakes in North America. While the city is best known as a magical ski destination, one of the many pros of visiting in the summer is getting to spend time in and on the lake without freezing your ass off.
After spending a week in Lake Tahoe, California this summer, I gathered some of the best outdoor activities, hiking destinations, breathtaking views, and food recommendations to enjoy while in Tahoe.
Hike Echo Lake
Echo Lake is an underrated Tahoe gem! The trail for this hike begins across the street from a parking area where you will find a lodge offering cabin rentals and a small store with water, snacks, souvenirs, and more.
You’ll embark on the trail just uphill from the edge of the lakes and find yourself in awe of the wind-sculpted trees, stones, and granite boulders that are lodged into the mountainside. It’s also hard to miss the jaw-dropping cabins that adorn the lake’s edge.
Don’t forget to take plenty of water and snacks for your hike. At about 2.25 miles in, a signed trail splits off to a boat dock, where you can take a speed boat back to the trail entrance for $20.
Ride America’s most beautiful bikeway
A trip to Lake Tahoe is not complete without a visit to Incline Village—a northeast town with incredible lake views and beaches. Here, you can rent a bike at Vista Trail Bikes for the ride of a lifetime.
Known as “America’s most beautiful bikeway,” the East Shore Trail has stunning views and direct access to several beaches and coves. You can rent an electric bike for a smoother sail, or take it slow with a traditional bicycle.
Paddleboard and take a dip in the lake
Lake Tahoe is full of paddleboard rentals, so find one near you and get on the water! SUP Tahoe offers two-hour rentals for only $30. If you want to get the lake to yourself, rent your board early in the morning and head out for a peaceful paddle before the summer crowd shuffles in.
Don’t let the cool air and water fool you—be sure to apply SPF and take a water bottle with you or risk leaving the lake with a burn.
Take a sunset cruise to Emerald Bay
With its turquoise waters and majestic mountain backdrop, Emerald Bay is the crown jewel of Tahoe. Located within Emerald Bay State Park, this popular destination is home to Vikingsholm Castle, a 38-room mansion known for its history and architecture.
Vikingsholm Castle was built in 1929 by Mrs. Lora Knight, and still holds some of its original Scandinavian features. This hidden castle offers daily summer tours if you want to take a closer look. Across the castle, a stone structure sits mysteriously on Lake Tahoe’s only island, Fannette Island. This was once Mrs. Knight’s opulent teahouse.
While it’s best to take a cruise around Lake Tahoe and Emerald Bay on a private boat, a more economical option is a sunset dinner cruise on the M.S. Dixie. For $130/person, you can enjoy dinner, drinks, and 360-degree views of Emerald Bay.
Go to a farmer’s market
Enjoy your weekend like the locals and enjoy one of the many farmer’s markets that Lake Tahoe has to offer.
Here is an updated list to find one near you.
From fresh berries and roasted nuts to local art and jewelry, this is a great spot to do a little shopping while supporting small businesses.
Bring your appetite, as most farmer’s markets here also have plenty of food trucks and, if you’re lucky, live music!
Where to Eat & Drink
Going to Bert’s Cafe is a Tahoe classic. Stepping into this quaint diner will take you back in time and the homemade breakfast will keep you coming for more.
Bert’s is family-owned, open seven days a week, and they serve both breakfast and lunch.
You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu—it’s all homemade and delicious. They’re famous for their over-the-top hot chocolate that will make your inner-child smile with glee.
Izabella Ristorante Italiano
Red wine, warm garlic bread with butter, olive oil, creamy pasta, roasted veggies. Need I say more?
Izabella provides a taste of Italy in Tahoe and is loved by locals for this very reason. This cozy restaurant has first-class service and a mouth-watering menu that will fill you up after a long day of hiking. Remember that the best way to adjust to Tahoe’s high elevation is with plenty of water and carbs, so head to Izabella’s for your welcome feast.
Lone Eagle Grille
Take a trip to the northern part of Lake Tahoe and visit Incline Village, Nevada—home to the one percent.
Located in the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, the Lone Eagle Grille is a great place to sip some prosecco and share a charcuterie board on a private beach area that looks straight out of a fairytale. The breathtaking views, cool lake air, and calm scenery are incredibly soothing to all the senses.
The Getaway Cafe
While this cafe is a local favorite for brunch, they’re open for every meal of the day from 7 am – 2 pm.
The Getaway Cafe is owned and operated by a Texas native, but their Mexican-style dishes are more delicious and authentic than Tex-Mex. Good luck browsing their menu without getting hungry.
You’ll definitely want to order some Maple Bacon Glazed French Toast to share with your table!
The Idle Hour
This lakefront wine bar offers a large selection of wines for tasting, plus small bites and desserts. The Idle Hour is a great spot for evening drinks, watching paddle-boarders, and taking in the sunset.
They typically have live music on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 to 8 pm, but it’s worth a visit here any day of the week just to witness the sights and sounds of beautiful Lake Tahoe.
These are just a few must-see sights and bites that Lake Tahoe has to offer. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Tahoe, I hope you take in all its beauty, nature, and fresh air. It’s guaranteed you’ll find yourself itching to go back!