Originally inhabited by members of the Native American Washoe tribe, Lake Tahoe – which, at 1,600 feet deep, is the second-deepest in the United States – was discovered by Western people in the 1840s. Soon thereafter, mining operations brought increasing numbers of people to the shores of this majestic lake, which is surrounded by impossibly high mountain peaks. The mountains that ring this freshwater lake are 8,000 to 10,000 feet high, creating some of the most unforgettable scenery in the world. When you come to Lake Tahoe, you can enjoy a plethora of exciting outdoor opportunities – and plenty of other fun activities. As popular as it is, there are still plenty of low-key ways to enjoy this delightful area between California and Nevada.
Sightseeing and Attractions: Lake Tahoe’s Best Kept Secrets
Considering that people have been flocking to the shores of Lake Tahoe – and its surrounding area – since the turn of the 20th century, it’s impressive that there are still so many lesser-known ways to enjoy the region. A few of the best examples include:
North Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay
The vast majority of people who come to Lake Tahoe stay over in South Lake Tahoe, which is very developed and can get quite congested. To get away from the crowds – and to catch a glimpse of what Lake Tahoe was like back in the time of the Washoe people – scoot over to Emerald Bay in North Lake Tahoe. Pristine wilderness awaits you, as do plenty of prime hiking, biking and camping opportunities.
Mining was a very important part of the early history of the Lake Tahoe region. By heading over to nearby Virginia City, you can see for yourself what a true mining town was like. Virginia City’s heyday was during the 1860’s and the 1870’s, and much of it has been very well preserved. It’s only a thirty mile drive to get there, so take a quick day trip and be sure to check it out.
Cruise Lake Tahoe
There’s plenty of fun to be had on dry land, but you can enjoy a truly unique perspective of this massive lake by cruising around on it. Whether you’re headquartered in South Lake Tahoe, Incline Village, Tahoe City or any of the other popular spots around the lake, you’re never too far from a chance to explore this gorgeous body of water by boat. Put such a cruise on the top of your priority list, since it’s an truly unforgettable experience.
Stateline Fire Overlook
Many scenic overlooks get lots of attention from guidebooks and tourists, but one of the best ones – Stateline Fire Overlook – tends to get, well, overlooked. A phenomenal view of Lake Tahoe is yours for the asking when you head over to this lesser-known spot.
Best Kept Secrets For Families & Couples
There’s plenty of adult-oriented fun to be had in and around Lake Tahoe, and families with children will also be pleased by the large number of kid-friendly attractions and activities. Try a few of these ones on for size:
Gondola Ride Up To Heavenly Village
Heavenly Village is a popular ski resort, but anyone can take the Heavenly Gondola to the top to enjoy amazing shore-to-shore views of Lake Tahoe. Whether you plan to ski or not, the kids will get a kick out of being transported smoothly and easily up to this lofty height.
Try Your Luck
There are several casinos for adults to enjoy in and around Lake Tahoe. One of the most unique ones is definitely the Mont Bleu Casino. This casino has an interesting personality and flair that will help you remember that you are in Lake Tahoe and not in Las Vegas. Shows and dining options are also abundant at Mont Bleu, so plan a day around it if you’d like.
Grover Hot Springs State Park
Adults and children alike will love taking a soak in the wonderful hot springs at Grover Hot Springs State Park. There are also many prime hiking trails to take advantage of here, so more active types will be able to get their fun in as well.
Eating - Sample the Local Cuisine
Traditional American fare – think burgers, fries and steak – is par for the course in Lake Tahoe. If you’d like to dig in to more gourmet dishes, visit Tahoe City or Squaw Valley. Both cities boast a pleasant range of choices, and each offers a decent lineup of bars and clubs for those who want to enjoy a bit of the nightlife. All around the lake, there are plenty of dining options; even the finickiest eaters will find something to crow about.
When To Go & How to Get There
The most popular gateway into the Lake Tahoe region is definitely the Reno/Tahoe International Airport, where most of the major airlines are represented. From there, it’s only about an hour’s drive along Interstate 80 into the Lake Tahoe region. If traveling by car during the winter, be aware that road conditions can become quite dangerous; take your time.
The best time to visit Lake Tahoe depends on what you’re going there to do. If skiing is in order, then you’re going to want to visit during the winter months. However, if outdoor activities like hiking and swimming are on your mind, then the summer is definitely best. Many people prefer September and October for their cooler temperatures, but any time is a great one to come to Lake Tahoe.