Discovering South Lake Tahoe, California: A Personal Bucket List

Lake Tahoe California
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This is a guest post from Jordan Fuller.

There is so much to do in California. You could explore some of the Unique Things To Do In San Francisco, enjoy some classic hiking trails, or much more. But think “classic American holiday”, and your mind is likely to wander towards the much written-about, once-in-a-lifetime experiences at South Lake Tahoe. Even the most jaded travelers – myself included – will marvel at its sapphire-blue waters, snow-capped mountains, and flora-adorned pine forests. 

Straddling the California and Nevada borders, South Lake Tahoe offers something for everyone. As an avid nature chaser, I couldn’t have been more satisfied with my recent excursions to its alpine ski resorts and coastal accommodation. Here are a few reasons why I recommend South Lake Tahoe as your next holiday destination.

Overnight Outdoor Excursions

For first-time Tahoe travelers who appreciate action-packed weekends, I always recommend Vikingsholm. Not only is it the sight of the stunning – and slightly eerie – Vikingsholm castle, but it is also central to my two favorite campgrounds: the Boat-In Camp and Eagle Point Campground. I always appreciate Eagle Point’s secluded beaches, which are just a few treks away from Inspiration Point if you love a photo-op.

Lodges by a lakside surrounded by tall trees
Lakeside lodges at Lake Tahoe (Image by Egor Shitikov from Pixabay)

I thoroughly enjoyed Cascade Falls Trail, which is a perfect beginner-friendly hike, and ideal if you’re traveling with family. However, if your older kids don’t mind taking on a rugged trail and some rugged terrain, the Rubicon Trail might pose a more enjoyable challenge. 

Snowed-In Weekend

I have traveled to South Lake Tahoe in the early spring often enough to know that it is a must for adventurers who love alpine skiing. As a seasoned traveler – as I like to think – I don’t believe many places can compare to Squaw Valley, which once hosted the early Winter Olympics. 

If you’re not afraid of heights, you’ll surely enjoy a 2-and-a-half mile ride down the Heavenly Gondola, which provides some awe-inspiring views.

Are you craving a little more adrenaline on your winter or spring holiday? I definitely recommend a snowmobile tour by the Zephyr Cove Resort. There isn’t anything quite like ascending 9,000 feet above sea level on an unfamiliar vehicle, and the panoramic views are well worth the ride.

Luxury Boat Cruises

You can’t visit South Lake Tahoe and not take a boat tour. My favorite is the one on Emerald Bay, where you’ll get the most stunning views of the lake. But, while you can depart from Camp Richardson or the Timber Cove Marina, nothing quite beats getting on the MS Dixie II

Large passenger boat on the lake with tree covered hills ahead
Enjoying a boat trip on Lake Tahoe (Image by mfgpa from Pixabay)

On this tour you’ll enjoy spectacular views of some of South Lake Tahoe’s most stunning falls, and you’ll even get to enjoy a delicious lunch by the shore. 

Underwater Adventures

While I’m not too much of a beach bum myself, I have to commend South Lake Tahoe’s stunning beaches. I have never seen such emerald-clear water as that by the Sand Harbor State Park. 

Home to hidden coves and pine forests, Sand Harbor isn’t your typical beach. If you love water sports, there isn’t much you can’t do here. You can rent a kayak, go sailing, or even scuba dive. 

Towards the end of my mid-July trip, I caught a glimpse of the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. If you consider yourself a literary type, I thoroughly recommend this – I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like this outdoor theater experience.

Legendary Golf Courses

I’ll admit, I have traveled out of state in pursuit of some of the country’s best golf courses – it was my career for decades! While I’ve seen plenty of award-winning courses, nothing can quite compete with the ambiance and challenge of Tahoe South’s Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. Not only is it the only course that exists on the actual lake, but it’s also the recurring site of the American Century Golf Championship. 

Rocky lakeside shore with mountains and trees in the distance
Lake Tahoe is a place to get away from it all (Image by Anne-Ed C. from Pixabay)

Fishing Hotspots

By no means am I a skilled angler, but I have had my fair share of impressive catches. If you’re better than I am (which you probably are), the Tahoe Trout Farm will have a lot in store for you and your kids. For decades, the trout farm has been a hotspot for budding young anglers who want a shot at sustainable fishing. 

If you’re traveling solo and want an opportunity to hook your catch of the day, book your calendar for the Fall Fish Fest hosted by the Taylor Creek Visitor Center. For salmon enthusiasts, this 72-mile shoreline is one of the biggest spawning destinations in America.

Spectacular Views

There are so many ways to catch a glimpse of South Lake Tahoe. My personal favorite (if heights don’t make you nauseous) is through a hot air balloon ride. If you don’t mind getting up before the sunrise, you won’t regret the view you’ll see from 10,000 feet above the ground. 

Trees reflected in the water of South Lake Tahoe
The beautiful scenery of Lake Tahoe (Image by Leehu Zysberg from Pixabay)

Your bucket list should also consist of a hike up Mount Tallac, a 10-mile round-trip hike with unique photo opportunities.

For adrenaline junkies, you won’t get a view quite like the one on Heavenly’s Ridge Rider Mountain Coaster. This gravity-powered coaster zips around natural rock formations and provides breathtaking views of the lake below. Just brace yourself for this ride’s jarring drops!

South Lake Tahoe: The Bottom Line

South Lake Tahoe is one of my favorite destinations for more reasons than I can list. First, it’s undeniably picture-perfect. Second, you’re pretty much bound to experience the best of what America has to offer from a single destination. 

Whether you’re an aspiring photographer, thrill-seeker, or just looking to escape the city with your family, South Lake Tahoe is a place that deserves to be on your bucket list. 

Author bio: Jordan Fuller is a retired golf professional and mentor with a passion for fueling young golfers’ enthusiasm. Through his website, Golf Influence, he provides tips and tricks for improving your game, as well as reviews on the best golf products on the market.


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I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), and I’ve visited every continent except Antarctica. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…


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