A Quick Guide to Visiting South Lake Tahoe for First-Timers

Let’s start our adventures in Northern California with this quick guide to visiting South Lake Tahoe.

Last updated: January 19, 2022

Lake Tahoe, roadsanddestinations.com
A quick guide to visiting the South Lake Tahoe area

How to Visit South Lake Tahoe

Let’s be honest, our planet is full of beautiful, yet secluded destinations that on their own don’t arouse the interest. Their locations, however, completely change the game and entice a steady influx of returning and new visitors all year round.

South Lake Tahoe is a perfect example of such destinations. Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, South Lake Tahoe is a resort city on the southern edge of Lake Tahoe. As a gateway to one of the most beautiful lakes in California, the place promises an easy and relaxing vacation. And if you’re ready to give it a try, check out this first-timer’s guide to visiting South Lake Tahoe before your trip.

Getting to South Lake Tahoe

How to Get: South Lake Tahoe is located about 8 hours away from Los Angeles. Not a short drive, but it’s totally worth it. There are two best ways to reach South Lake Tahoe. You can take either Route 395 South or Interstate 5 South and make sure to stop frequently along the way. With a profusion of incredible places to see, both of these routes can be used for extended California road trips.

Where to Stay: With that said, visiting South Lake Tahoe can be as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be. The place provides ample accommodations for every budget. From luxury hotels to modest motels and lodges, your choices are pretty broad here.

A Guide to Visiting South Lake Tahoe - roadsanddestinations.com
During our first visit to South Lake Tahoe in late spring, the area still looks like a winter wonderland

Visit South Lake Tahoe by car: As it’s the case with the majority of secluded California cities, visiting South Lake Tahoe requires having a car. However, if you plan to stay only within the city limits, you can easily get by without it. Driving, though, greatly expands your territory, allowing you to explore the farthest corners of the Lake Tahoe area.

Places to Visit

South Lake Tahoe is a mecca for beach and water lovers. In fact, its sandy beaches gather hordes of visitors during the warmer and colder months.

TIP: Yet if you visit the South Lake Tahoe beaches in winter, be mindful of really low temperatures and strong wind. So, extra layers come in handy.

Once you’ve packed all the essentials, check out this first-timer’s guide to the most favorite places to stop at while visiting South Lake Tahoe.

El Dorado Beach

El Dorado Beach and Boat Ramp are the largest beach areas in the city. Taking into consideration this size, the place is accustomed to entertain a large amount of people without feeling too overcrowded. El Dorado Beach and Boat Ramp are great for large picnics, kayaking, boating, and simply relaxing by the lake.

Lakeside Beach

Lakeside Beach is a private beach with public access. Apart from panoramic views and the regular beach activities, the place offers a kids playground to keep the little visitors of South Lake Tahoe happy. Allured by the splendid vistas, couples often choose Lakeside Beach for their wedding ceremonies.

A Guide to Visiting South Lake Tahoe_roadsanddestinations.com
First-timer’s guide to visiting South Lake Tahoe: Lakeside Beach

Ski Run Marina

A hub for the outdoor activities, Ski Run Marina, offers great boating, fishing, good shopping, and delicious food. The kids also have lots of fun and plenty of opportunities to practice their art skills here.

South Lake Tahoe Regan Beach

For a more secluded place to enjoy the scenery, head to South Lake Tahoe Regan Beach. With its paved lakeside pathways and the scenic views of the mountains, it’s an ideal destination for walking, jogging, and playing sand volleyball.

Places to Visit near South Lake Tahoe

With all respect to South Lake Tahoe, my heart, however, belongs to the outskirts of the city. As far as I know, many other visitors share the same view.

The Top 20 Things to Do in California - roadsanddestinations.com
First-timer’s guide to visiting South Lake Tahoe: Emerald Bay State Park

Emerald Bay State Park

The first place you absolutely must visit near South Lake Tahoe is Emerald Bay State Park. Even Mark Twain couldn’t resist the beauty of this place. He praised it as “the fairies picture the whole earth affords.”

The easies way to reach Emerald Bay is by following California State Route 89. For a closer look, you can access it via the Rubicon Trail.

Eagle Falls and Vikingsholm

During your first trip to Emerald Bay State Park, make sure to add Eagle Falls, located on the western shore of the lake, and Vikingsholm, a 38-room mansion, to your list of the places to visit near South Lake Tahoe.

Eagle Falls, roadsanddestinations.com
First-timer’s guide to visiting South Lake Tahoe: Eagle Falls
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