I’ve been living in San Francisco for over four years, but can you believe it when I say that I only just visited Lake Tahoe for the first time!
I knew I would love it – Mountains and alpine lakes are one of my favorite things! So, when a got the opportunity to go for a long weekend, which was also my birthday weekend, I jumped at the chance. And in typical fashion, I started to plan my trip early.
So, what are things to do in Lake Tahoe?
I knew for sure that I wanted to go hiking. After doing some research on the hikes near South Lake Tahoe, I decided that I wanted to do the Rubicon Trail that goes around beautiful Emerald Bay.
If you like the Lake Tahoe image above, you can buy the digital print from my travel photos Etsy shop.
From South Lake Tahoe, it’s just a 27-minute drive into Emerald Bay Stake Park and up into the Sierra mountains. You’ll want to find the lot that goes down to Vikingholm.
I’d definitely recommend stopping at the hidden Scandinavian castle before hitting up the Rubicon Trail. It’s a beautiful 38-room mansion sitting front and center on Emerald Bay. The island in the middle of the bay even has an old tea house, where the owners let their children play. How cute is that?
You can take tours in the summer. But it was closed when I was there. However, you can still walk around the castle’s square, where you’ll be charmed by the colorful stained glass windows and houses covered with grass.
Once you’ve had your dose of this whimsical Scandinavian wonder, just follow the signs to start on the Rubicon Trail. I opted for the route that started at Vikingholm and made its way north towards D.L. Bliss State Park.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for a longer route, you can start the trailhead at D.L. Bliss, head south past Vikingsholm, and take the trail around Emerald Bay all the way to Eagle Point Campground. But note: It’s an out-and-back trail, so unless you’ve set up a pickup transfer (there’s a shuttle!), you’ll have to make the hike back to D.L. Bliss. So just be prepared to spend a good chunk of your day on the trail.
Back to my route: From Vikingholm, once you’re on the Rubicon Trail, you’ll start by following the lakeside trail for a bit.
You’ll go in and out of woods, which then open up to fantastic spots to take photos of the lake and the shoreline across the way.
And then at some point, you’ll start climbing. This was probably my favorite part because you’ll get amazing vantage points of Tahoe’s beautiful blue waters.
One of my favorite parts of the trail was around this quiet inlet that had the loveliest hues of blues, greens, and yellows in the water. The pictures do not do it justice!
I loved how the water seemed to magically change from a yellow-green to that true Tahoe blue.
I would have loved to park here for a bit, grab a bite to eat, and dip my toes in the cold water. But alas, I was on a mission to finish my hike before a certain time. Plus, I wanted to get to views like this:
I really loved exploring the Rubicon Trail and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a great hike while in Lake Tahoe. Other hikes that you should also check out:
Eagle Falls Trail – This could be an option before or after you do Rubicon Trail. If you want to check out Eagle Falls, it’s a short hike (about 15 minutes) up. But you can make the trail as long as you want – If you keep going, you can make your way to the Destination Wilderness! I really wanted to do this while I was in Tahoe, but the wind/rain picked up right as I finished my hike, so I decided to check it out next time.
Glen Alpine Falls – If you’re chasing waterfalls, this is another short trail that you can actually drive right up to. From the lot, it’s a quick walk to the falls, which is a great alternative if you didn’t make Eagle Falls happen.
Other things to do in South Lake Tahoe:
Well, I was there in the spring (mid-April), and there was still a bit of snow, so skiing could absolutely be an option. Otherwise, during the summer, there’s a lot of beach options, boating (check out the Safari Rose), or biking around the lakeside trails at Camp Richardson.
Oh, and if you’re looking for a great sunset spot, head to Lakeview Commons in South Lake Tahoe, or drive out to Cave Rock, Secret Habor, or Chimney Beach on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe to get some great views of the sun setting over the Sierras.
As far as places to eat, I was in South Lake Tahoe, so I’d suggest checking out Cold Water Brewery + Grill, Chimayo if you’re craving tacos, Base Camp Pizza Co., or the South Lake Brewing Company if you want to try some local beers.
And I was surprised by how many things there are to do in and around South Lake Tahoe. You could head to Nevada and do the casino thing. Otherwise, there’s a city center with a movie theater that I would have never guessed would be there!
Places to stay in Tahoe:
If you’re looking for Lake Tahoe lodging, and especially if you’re in South Lake Tahoe, I’d recommend checking out the Black Bear Lodge. It’s the perfect spot for a weekend getaway if you’re planning a trip to Tahoe. Plus, it’s centrally located, to a lot of points of interest that I mentioned in this post, AND it’s walkable to the lake and city center. Score!
While I was there, I also thought it would make a great lodging option for a bachelor/bachelorette party, or better yet, it’s a wonderful option if you’re looking for a wedding venue in Lake Tahoe.
The place can easily be exclusively yours for the weekend, as you gather family and friends in the 5 rooms that make up the main lodge and the four cozy cabins that are on the property. Bonus: You’ll have a hot tub all to yourself!
Plus, the Great Room in the lodge is the perfect gathering place for a celebration, with a beautiful stone fireplace, a cozy seating area, all kinds of games, and a mini bar!
This is also the spot where you’ll be served breakfast in the morning, which includes an assortment of bread (I had the best banana bread!), scones, yogurt, fruit, orange juice, and coffee from Refuge, a local roaster in South Lake Tahoe.
So, if you’re already loving this idea of Black Bear Lodge as your Tahoe wedding venue, then make sure you check out their open house coming up on June 3rd. This is where you’ll really get to see how your wedding in Tahoe can come to life. You’ll get a tour of the Black Bear Lodge property and meet some of their favorite wedding vendors.
Get more details about the open house here.
Oh, and I suppose you’ll want a peek inside of the rooms, huh? I stayed in a lodge room that included a King-sized bed, gas fireplace, a large shower, and balcony. I especially loved the beams on the wall.
The balcony, in particular, was extra special for me as I woke up on my last day in Tahoe to a beautiful winter wonderland.
And I think that’s one of the things I loved the most about Tahoe. You can go from a beautiful, sunny day that’s perfect for hiking, and the next day you’ll find yourself in a snow globe that only makes you want to cozy up and stay longer.
Until next time, Tahoe.
Let’s go places,
All photos on this blog are mine. Feel free to share but please credit me with a link back to the blog. Much appreciated and thank you for your support!
I have collaborated with the Black Bear Lodge for this post, but all opinions are mine.
Want blog post updates? Subscribe to my email newsletter or follow me on Instagram!