Where to Eat, Stay & Play in Lake Tahoe
This summer was our seventh time visiting Lake Tahoe, yet every time we are left feeling blown away by its beauty. The turquoise color of the lake set amongst the backdrop of the snow capped Sierra Mountains is nothing short of breathtaking.
Below you can find a travel guide, for those of you who might be interested in visiting one day. Even though we have been many times, we still discover new things with each trip. There is just so much to see and do.
Most of my recommendations are based on our preferences for healthy plant-based food and lots of physical activity so if that’s up your alley, then I think you’ll definitely find something to suit you!
Where to Eat
1. Freshies Restaurant-this place has a laid back Hawaiian vibe with an open air deck and gorgeous views of the lake. They pride themselves on sourcing the majority of their ingredients locally and organic (when possible) and they specialize in vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. Grab a table on the deck at sunset and be sure to try a platter of their delicious tacos!
2. Sprouts Café– I will never be able to visit Tahoe again without stopping to eat at Sprouts. Everything is super fresh and healthy and the tempeh burger is to-die-for. We usually eat here multiple times with every visit to Tahoe.
3. Mountain High Sandwich Co.– Julia took us here for the first time after our hike together and it’s kind of a hidden gem. The house smoked bbq tofu sandwich is our favorite and they have locally brewed kombucha. My kinda place.
4. Ernies Coffee Shop– I have no doubt that Ernie’s offers up one of the best breakfasts in Tahoe. The options are endless and include a bangin’ tofu scramble plus vegan banana french toast.
5. Maria’s Mexican Restaurant– Located in South Lake Tahoe, Maria’s has an impressive selection of vegan options. The restaurant is small but cozy, and the food is incredible. I would go here again in a heartbeat!
6. Cuppa Tahoe– This super cute coffee shop is located inside of a bookstore with plenty of little nooks to sit down and enjoy a quick breakfast or lunch. With several vegan options on the menu, you’re sure to find something for everyone.
8. Watermans Landing– this is a great spot on the lake for breakfast or lunch. They cater to vegan, gluten-free and paleo diets and their food is super fresh.
7. Bite American Tapas– We went here for dinner one night and even though it’s tucked away in a shopping plaza, it was actually a really fun experience. The portions are small enough that you can sample lots of different things and we loved everything we tried. Especially the mini ice cream sandwiches. Side note: now that we eat mostly vegan, the options are somewhat limited for us.
8. The Lone Eagle Grille– if you’re looking for a dinner to splurge on, this is the perfect place! The tables by the windows have beautiful views of the lake, the service is incredible and they even have a separate vegetarian menu. Highly recommend.
9. Susie Scoops– Although the dairy-free options are limited they do offer sorbets and dole whip to help you cool off!
Other vegan-friendly options that we didn’t get a chance to try:
- Sage Leaf Cafe (serves brunch, lunch & dinner)
- Artemis Lakefront Cafe (Mediterranean food. serves breakfast, lunch & dinner)
- Off the Hook Sushi (sushi spot with udon noodles. serves dinner)
- Shangri La Himalayan Kitchen (Indian/Nepalese cuisine. serves lunch & dinner)
- Burger Lounge (serves lunch & dinner)
- Thania’s Juice Bar (smoothies and light eats. open for breakfast & lunch)
- Freebird’s Tahoe (organic juices and smoothies plus bagels. open for breakfast & lunch)
Where to Stay
Should You Stay on the North, West or South side of Lake Tahoe?
This is a tough call, as there is so much to do and see in each location. I personally prefer the north for it’s natural beauty but the south has a lot more food and lodging options. The west side is also great but there are more hiking options on the north and the south side.
Overall, you can’t go wrong. If you like a quieter experience and can find lodging that suits you in the north, then I would recommend staying there. Otherwise, if you prefer a more happening nightlife and want a wider array of food and lodging, then the south may better for you. I can assure that you will enjoy your time no matter which side you are on.
1. Edgewood Tahoe– Nestled on the southeast portion of the lake, Edgewood is conveniently located within 15 minutes of all that South Lake Tahoe has to offer. The five star property features a private beach, golf course, heated pool (although not quite hot enough, in my opinion), and stunning lakefront views. The service and food left room for some improvement but the property itself is gorgeous. Pro tip: for the best rates, room upgrades and a daily breakfast credit, book a room well in advance through their preferred partner site.
2. Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe– Another upscale option located on the north side of the lake, The Hyatt in Incline Village offers modern rooms, an indoor/outdoor pool and a nice stretch of lakefront beach. If you’re traveling with your pup, they even have pet-friendly rooms with sliding glass doors that open up directly to a walking path. We have stayed here in the past and would definitely consider staying here again.
3. Cedar Glen Lodge– Located in Tahoe Vista (on the northeast side of Lake Tahoe), Cedar Glen Lodge offers highly rated mid-range lodging. Even though it’s not located directly on the lake, it’s a short walk away and they still have amenities like a heated pool and on-site restaurant. We haven’t stayed here but it looks like a great place, especially if you’re traveling with kiddos or pups.
4. Black Bear Lodge– This modern rustic lodge includes cabins and rooms that looks like the perfect retreat from a cold winter day on the slopes. It would be a great mid-range option if you want to stay on the south side of the lake.
5. Emerald Bay Village– These cabins located on the north side of the lake look modern, comfortable, and affordably priced, considering they are big enough to fit families.
Where to Play
1. Eagle Falls to Eagle Lake Trail– Located on the south side of the lake, this 1.9-mile-out-and-back trail is relatively short but challenging. It starts by going up steep rocky steps and traverses a bridge over Eagle Falls to eventually reach Eagle Lake. This was definitely one of the busiest trails we did so start early if you can. The views are spectacular and the lake at the end is worth all of the huffing and puffing you’ll do on the way to get there.
2. Fallen Leaf Lake– Another activity we did in the south was rent e-bikes from South Lake E-Bikes to ride the 4-mile-out-and-back trail to Fallen Leaf Lake. The South Lake Tahoe Bike Trail is scenic and mostly shaded. You can stop by Kiva Beach on the way to take a dip in Lake Tahoe, or hold out for Fallen Leaf Lake which is absolutely stunning.
3. Bayview Trail– this trail is located right across from Inspiration Point which is a great place to stop and take pictures of Emerald Bay. If you’re short on time, there’s a beautiful one mile hike to Cascade Falls. It’s easy enough for children and the views are spectacular.
3. Vikingsholm/Emerald Bay– the parking area for this spot is notorious for filling up fast so I would recommend getting there early! We arrived at 8:30am and didn’t have any trouble but we were there in late summer so it wasn’t as busy. The views from the parking lot are incredible and the hike down to Vikingsholm is about one mile. It’s a steep incline on the way back up but the views at the bottom are worth it.
4. Rubicon Trail– if you’re up for a hike after touring Vikingsholm you can take the Nifty 50 Trolley to D.L. Bliss State Park and hike 4 miles along the Rubicon trail back to Vikingsholm, where you parked. This trail is really easy and is mostly shaded by the trees. It takes you right along the lake and there are even a few nice beaches to stop for a picnic or a swim, if you have time.
5. Tunnel Creek to Flume Trail (aka Monkey Rock)– this is one of my favorite trails we’ve hiked in Tahoe. It’s a steep incline in direct sunlight so it’s not the easiest, but the views are vast and stunningly beautiful. It’s really popular with mountain bikers so if that’s something you enjoy then this is the trail to do it. Otherwise, if you’re on foot, keep an eye out for them speeding down the hill!
6. Tahoe East Shore Trail– One of the newest additions to Tahoe is this beautiful 2.6-mile point-to-point bike path that runs right along the lake. We rented bikes in Incline Village and biked to Sand Harbor to kayak for a few hours. Wether you walk or bike it, it’s a must-do!
7. Sand Harbor– Sand Harbor is a popular place and it’s not hard to see why. It’s stunning! You can either come here super early by car to claim your spot in the sand or you can kayak/paddleboard/bike in at your leisure.
8. Hidden Beach– Another gorgeous beach to enjoy on the north side, you can get here directly from the Tahoe East Shore Trail.
9. Kings Beach– This is a great beach on the west side to hang out or rent SUPs from so that you can paddle along Crystal Bay and admire the beautiful homes perched along the lake.
More hikes and things to do on our list for future visits:
- The Best Desolation Wilderness Trails (located on southwest side of the lake)
- Glen Alpine Falls (this was just south of Fallen Leaf Lake and easy to access but you will need a 4WD due to the conditions of the road)
- Best Hikes in Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park (located on east or Nevada side of the lake)
- Cave Rock Trail (a short but steep incline to the top of Cave Rock. Offers sweeping views of the lake)
- Truckee (north west of Lake Tahoe. A great little city with good food and plenty of nearby outdoor activities)
Previous Posts from our Time in Lake Tahoe:
- Cedar House Sport Hotel Truckee
- Truckee Downtown Shopping and Dinner at Trokay
- Coffee Bar, Donner State Park and Dinner at Cottonwood
- Winter Vacation in Squaw Valley, California I
- Winter Vacation in Squaw Valley, California II
- Winter Vacation in Squaw Valley, California III
- Winter Vacation in Squaw Valley, California IV