Where to Eat, Stay & Play in Lake Tahoe
A guide for the best places to eat, stay, and play in Lake Tahoe
This summer was our fourth time visitng Lake Tahoe yet every time we go, we leave feeling blown away by it’s beauty. The Sierra Mountains are nothing short of stunning and the rich blue color of the lake is absolutely breathtaking.
In a perfect world, we would retire here, enjoying white snowy winters by the fire and warm summers on the beach. But seeing how that’s a long way off for us and California real estate continues to sky rocket with every passing second, for now all we can do is soak up every minute that we’re fortunate to enjoy when we stay there.
I’d thought it would be fun to put together a travel guide for those of you who might be interested in visiting one day. Most of my recommendations are based on my personal preferences for healthy plant-based food and lots of 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 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!
3. Blue Angel Café– this is a casual spot with nice outdoor tables and a creative menu that offers several vegetarian options. I personally love the marinated portabellas with gorgonzola sauce. YUM.
4. Simple Bliss Vegan Café– I should preface this recommendation by warning you that this place is not cheap. It’s more like ridiculously expensive. But if you believe that your dollar counts as your vote then it’s a great place to support. Everything on the menu is entirely vegan and we thought the lentil burgers were spot-on!
5. Mountain High Sandwich Co.– Julia took us here after our hike together and it’s a total gem! Brandon raved about his smoked tofu sandwich and my veggie sandwich was amazing. Plus they have locally brewed kombucha! My kinda place.
6. 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.
7. 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.
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.
Where to Stay
1. Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe– we’ve stayed in a few different locations in the Tahoe area but this time we chose to stay in Incline Village and it was by far my favorite. The Hyatt is in a great location, directly on the lake and the hotel is super clean and nice. What we loved the most is that they have sliding glass doors in their pet friendly rooms that open up directly to a walking path. It made it so easy to let Coco in and out to use the bathroom.
I managed to find a great deal by booking a room at the end of summer, when everyone is back in school. The room included the breakfast buffet at the Sierra Café which offered a great selection and quality. I would highly recommend staying here, if it suits your budget!
2. Cedar Glen Lodge– this was our second choice for a place to stay only because it’s not directly on the lake. It is right across the street from the lake, however, and it looks really nice. Plus they have top rated restaurant on site that looks delicious!
3. Black Bear Inn– we spent one night in South Lake Tahoe (at a hotel that was not worth mentioning) so we could do some hiking but overall, I prefer to stay on the north side. That said, if I were to stay in the south again, I would choose this cozy B&B.
4. The Cottage Inn– I initially wanted to stay here because of how cute the cabins are but unfortunately they’re not dog friendly. If you’re not traveling with a pet, then I would definitely check this place out!
Where to Play
1. 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 stunning!
2. 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.
3. Rubicon Trail– if you’re up for a hike after touring Vikingsholm you can take the Nifty 50 Trolley ($2 cash per person) 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.
4. Tunnel Creek to Flume Trail– this is hands down my favorite trail we’ve hiked in Tahoe so far. 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!
5. Sand Harbor– Sand Harbor is a popular place and it’s not hard to see why. It’s simply gorgeous! You can either come here super early by car to claim your spot in the sand or you can kayak/paddleboard in at your leisure. Pack a lunch to bring with you or take advantage of their restaurant on site that serves chocolate & vanilla soft serve, aka my weakness.
6. Crystal Bay– If you’re up for paddle boarding or kayaking, be sure to stop by Crystal Bay and admire the beautiful homes perched along the lake. That’s right where I’ve got my retirement home picked out!
How have I never eaten at Watermans Landing or Blue Angel Cafe?? Now I’m inspired to go rediscover Tahoe, ha! There’s just so much to do and see! It was so nice being a part of your adventure and I can’t wait to see you too lovebugs soon!
I remember your pictures from your last visit and thinking how gorgeous Lake Tahoe looks. I’ve never been, but I would love to go sometime!
I’ve never been to Tahoe but would really love to go – I just went to the English Lake District and I feel like Tahoe could be a slightly warmer and more Californian version, which I think I’d really enjoy :)
Love, love, love! I always love your travel updates.
GAH take me back to our honeymoon!! Did you ever see the old Postoffice Cafe restauraunt right across from King’s Beach? Or maybe it’s just down from there. Either way, they have the BESSSSTTTT breakfasts!!
We didn’t get a chance to make it there because our hotel included breakfast but I definitely want to try it next time we’re there!
Ahh you already know this place is on my bucket list :) I will be in San Francisco at the very end of October/early November for work and Scott was going to fly out and meet me for a long weekend. Do you think the weather would be nice enough to head out to Lake Tahoe then?
I think so! It will definitely be too cold to get in the water but it would still be nice to visit!
Just gorgeous!! I have always wanted to visit Lake Tahoe … someday someday! There are so many places out in California I want to visit! Now if only we actually could book a trip! haha
Wow those views look gorgeous! I’ve always wanted to visit Lake Tahoe. Glad you were able to enjoy some good food too!
All of these photos are so gorgeous you’re making me want to get on a plane right now! I love this little travel guide–so many good eats and plenty to do clearly.
Oh.Wow. That’s absolutely gorgeous. I’ve never been to Lake Tahoe before, but I hear a lot of great things… and now you’ve just made me want to visit even more. And perhaps start looking into real estate of my own :P I can’t get over how crystal clear that water is though… And I could seriously go for some soft serve right about now…
Ah yes, Tahoe is SO BEAUTIFUL! I’ve been to a bunch of the restaurants that you mentioned, and I was pleasantly surprised with all of the veg options in the area. And I loved hiking at Emerald Bay! I haven’t been to Tahoe in the summer, but I’m sure all of the water activities and hiking there is a blast around now.
Oh my word, I want to take ALL of your recommendations for a Tahoe trip next summer.
We didn’t do any hiking this past trip and all those trails look spectacular.
How long did it take to drive from your hotel to all those hikes on the West Side?
You really did you restaurant research beforehand, didn’t you? ;)
I always do my research! ;)
The hikes in the south (Rubicon Trail, Vikingsholm and Cascade Falls) are all about 20 minutes from the hotels in South Lake Tahoe but it would probably be 45 to an hour if you’re staying in the north. The Tunnel Creek/Flume Trail was onlu about 5 minutes from the Hyatt in Incline Village so that was awesome!
Yay! I was hoping you would do a Tahoe recap. So happy to discover new places in North Lake Tahoe (that tends to be more our jam — we can be ruthless isolationists hah!). Have you ever rented a cottage in Tahoe Sarah? We wondered what the chances might be of finding a dog friendly place to take Stella. We have a beautiful fresh water cottage in Ontario but the flight is not really an option for her I’m afraid… love all of your photos – just gorgeous! What a trip you had.
Thanks Kelly! I haven’t rented a cottage yet but I would love to. I think there are probably some great deals but many of the good ones book up almost a year in advance. Your cottage in Ontario sounds amazing!
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I know this is an older post, but we are thinking of making a trip to Lake Tahoe in September. Coming from Ohio so we know nothing about the area. We have a timeshare, so looking into possibly staying in South. Could you tell me any differences between north & south? Which do you recommend ? We aren’t really nightlife people, more so the outdoor & good food kind of people :) Thanks!!
Hey Brittany! That’s so exciting that you are going to Tahoe! You guys are going to love it. :)
I personally prefer the north side as it feels less touristy and has prettier beaches. The south has more casinos and tends to draw a younger (read: drunk) crowd. That said, there are a lot of beautiful hikes and great restaurants in the south so you really can’t go wrong.
I’m not sure if you’ll be renting a car or not but you can always drive to the north on one of the days to see Sand Harbor and do a hike up that way. That way you can get a taste of both.
I hope that helps some. Let me know if you have any other questions! :)
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Thank you for this awesome guide . It is my first time along with my families as well this weekend coming up and I am so excited to go to all these beautiful beaches and lakes
You’re so welcome, Natalie! This is the perfect time of year to go. Have fun!
A really nice post about our beloved Lake Tahoe! There really is an unlimited amount of things to do, places to hike + swim and delicious food around the lake. Thank you for sharing some of your favorites!
Gorgeous photos!! Thank you for sharing. We are renovating our home and the design concept is centered on Tahoe (pics on my instgram for anyone interested at @nikkidelreyyy) and your photos reminded me of why we love Tahoe so much.I’m inspired to make a painting based on one of them. Will keep you posted!!