“To breathe the air of the angels, one must visit Tahoe.” –Mark Twain
We all know that planning a vacation is not easy. Often times, you are going somewhere new and Google doesn’t have all the answers to your questions. The last thing you want is to show up to a new city and not know anything about it. Where to go? Which places to see? Where is everything? These are all questions you may end up asking yourself, and more than likely, you’re dreading the research.
At the end of the day or at the beginning of your trip, you may find yourself wishing that there was some kind of local knowledge that you could have access to, something to help make planning easier. As a former local, and avid Tahoe-goer, I am compiling guides for each of the regions on vaycayhero.com to help with the planning process. First stop, South Lake Tahoe.
1. Get your sushi on at Naked Fish!
I hate sushi. Never have I ever liked it, so I never thought that I would. I was wrong. There is something about eating something called the Maui Wowi and the Tahoe Crunch Roll that just screams yum. This local eatery has a modern vibe, funny sushi chefs, a decent drink list, and killer sushi. If you sit at the sushi bar, be prepared for the chefs to poke fun at you while eating his “poke.” Favorites: Garlic Edamame, Tahoe Crunch Roll, Sunburn Roll, Homemade Key Lime Pie (yum)
Best. Baked. Goods. Period. From a quick croissant in the morning to a fabulous traditional birthday cake, Sugar Pine (named for the pine tree that smells of sweet butterscotch) is the best of the best. Quite literally one of my favorite bakeries, not just in South Lake, but in all of the world. Traditional, delicious, and perfect for a breakfast on the go, especially if you are rushing off to the slopes. Favorites: Almond Croissant, Apple Turnover, and anything chocolate!
Big family breakfast? Hurting from the night before? Or, are you craving a traditional old-school diner? Heidi’s is a local favorite! Great service, great food, and great location! Healthy and hearty portions no matter what you order. Favorites: Anything pancake, anything scrambled, or, just anything.
4. Don’t feel like dressing up? Go to Whiskey Dicks!
Feel like a good ole fashioned hole in the wall? Don’t want to dress up or try to look better than you feel? Still want to have a good night out but your crew is feeling low maintenance? It’s always hard when you are in a new town and you don’t know the low-key spots. Whiskey Dicks is a great place to hang out with your friends, grab a stiff drink, and not feel judged. They welcome all different walks of life, have a pool table and a shuffle board, and they even have live music! (Check their calendar.) They are heavy on the pour and light on the wallet. Favorites: Hot chocolate with Baileys, Beer on tap, and all the usual suspects.
5. Feeling fancy? Friday Station!
If you are trying to impress a special someone or if you won it big at the craps table, getting that surf and turf that you have always dreamed of should be done at Friday Station Steak and Seafood Grill. Located at the top of Harrah’s Casino, this high rollers restaurant has quite the view and good food to boot. The wine list is stellar, since it has over 1,000 bottles on display, and so is the service. When they ask, “Would you like to take a look at the dessert menu,” say yes, just do it. Afterward, if you haven’t already, you can take a little pit stop in the casino to try your chances with lady luck! Favorites: Filet Mignon with Blackened Prawns, Escargot, anything on the dessert menu.
6. Feeling not so fancy? Orchids Thai Restaurant!
Thai food in a mountain town? Yes, yes please! This spot has great prices and great curries! Craving something a little spicy to warm you up after a day of playing in the snow? This is the place to go. Awesome fish tank! Awesome servers! Traditional food that tastes fabulous! I have never been to this place when the wait to be seated is long and the food always comes out quickly. Highly recommend going Thai in Tahoe! Favorites: Pad See Ew with any meat, Tom Kha Gai soup, and any curry!
7. Summer Fun in Zephyr Cove!
Number one question for summer travel….where is the beach? This by far is my favorite beach in the summer. If you are a family, this is the place for you. Up for the weekend and want to day drink with your friends? This is the place for you. Want to swim…stand up paddle board…kayak…volleyball…ride the Tahoe Queen? This beach has it all. The bar on the sand has by far the best Pina Colada in the world, and plenty of space to get your tan on and people watch. There is a roped off swimming hole to keep the kids safe, and plenty of jet ski/boat rentals for the more ambitious lake-goer. Favorites: Public Volleyball courts, Tahoe Queen booze I mean boat cruise, and again…Pina Colada—blended.
8. Shop till’ you drop at Heavenly Village!
Was your first day on the slopes not so successful? Do you want to get a day of shopping in with your girls? Or, do you just want to have a day to spend with the family? Heavenly Village is a great outdoor shopping venue. Located at the base of Heavenly Mountain at the pickup center for the Heavenly Gondola, this open-aired shopping center has everything from chocolate shops to mini golf. Enjoy shopping for fine jewelry, souvenirs, or throw on a pair of ice skates with the kids. Often a center for art fairs, car shows, or local musicians, this village is always bustling. Favorites: Ice skating rink (winter only), Mini Golf Course (summer only), horse carriage rides (year round), The Brewery, and Nestlé Chocolate house
9. Adventure time at Heavenly!
If you have ever seen a picture of Lake Tahoe, there is a 50% chance that the picture is from the top of Heavenly Mountain. This is one of the world’s most awesome mountain resorts. There is plenty to do in the winter with skiing or sledding, and the summer boasts a high ropes course and scenic gondola rides. A home of world class skiers like Glen Plake, you may just see some of the best athletes while riding the lift. There is a bar at the top so even if you are no ski buff, there is a prize for you at the end of the gondola ride. Favorites: Ropes course/zip line, picture taking, and moguls on “Gun Barrel”
10. Feeling nostalgic, get a pic of Emerald Bay!
So, Heavenly Mountain gets 50% of all Tahoe pics, and this place gets the other half. Emerald Bay, supposedly the most photographed bay in the world, is simply astounding! With vistas located all along highway 89 heading toward Tahoe’s West Shore, this bay can be seen from the road and photographers know it. Need a Christmas card pic with the family? This is the spot. Locals also mention this bay may be home to the lake monster “Tahoe Tessie,” so if you pull over for this great shot, keep your eyes peeled for the little bugger. Favorites: Photos, hiking trails close by, and monster watching.
Of course, there is plenty more to do and more to see than just these ten attractions so stay posted for more South Lake Tahoe tips for next season. When the time comes again to visit the land of angel air, lake monsters, and the stunning Sierra Nevada, we will have you covered.
Cheers and safe travels!
Ang, Lead Travel Concierge