Where to Stay in South Lake Tahoe
Head southside with our guide to the southern shores of Lake Tahoe.
Casinos, ski slopes and beaches would make for a pretty varied holiday, although you’re unlikely to combine all three. Look, we’ve got no problem with North Lake Tahoe. It’s fine. It’s a good place; good people. It’s just that today is a South Lake Tahoe kind of day. Right on the border between Nevada (and its casinos, where you’ll almost certainly become a millionaire) and California. Cue lots of jokes about stereotypes and clichés of people from each side of the state line. But, you don’t have time for all that, because you’re busy booking your holiday and need to know where to stay.
The first thing to think about is that this lake was the setting and film location of the assassination of Fredo (not a chocolate) in The Godfather Part II. You should also be aware it was where Frank Sinatra Jr. was kidnapped (and released unharmed, so don’t get too worried). So, you’re in a pretty historic area, wherever you choose. In terms of choice, you’ve got the secluded Lake Valley district, the town centre of South Lake Tahoe and several of the bays creeping further into utter seclusion on the lake. Here are Plum Guide’s thoughts on where to stay in South Lake Tahoe.
The town centre
So, South Lake Tahoe isn’t just a vague direction; it’s a city, and option number one when it comes to where to stay in South Lake Tahoe. Stay at an apartment here and you'll find there's plenty to do in South Lake Tahoe: restaurants, bars, cafés and resorts stretch as far as the eye can see. Hang out at one of the spas and wander along the coast for stunning views of the lake, where if you strain your eyes hard enough, you can actually see the ghost of the fictional Fredo. Walk out along the pier of the Ski Run Marina and enjoy the views of the snow-capped mountains surrounding the lake. Relax and work on your tan at the Lakeside Beach and rent equipment for your kids at Action Watersports at Lakeside Marina.
Head into the forests and hills of the Van Sickle Bi-State Park. Nearby, you’ll find the Heavenly Gondola that’ll take you up into the clouds for stunning views of the lake (unless you actually do go above the clouds, then you won't be seeing much of anything). You’ll reach the Heavenly Ski Resort, with its mountain-top roller coaster and countless ski runs of varying difficulty. Make sure to stay for the après ski setting, with its bars and restaurants in the snow.
Back in the centre of town, and away from the snow, you’ll find Bijou. It’s just southwest of the town centre we wrote about just above, overlooking the water. You can practice your swing at the Bijou Municipal Golf Course, set up a picnic in the Bijou Community Park and hang out at Bijou Creek. Play tennis or go swimming in the pool at the Tahoe Beach & Ski Club or take the family out for a meal at Heidi’s Pancake House. The Boathouse on the Pier is another highlight, offering you the chance to eat where you would typically swim – the water. Watch the sunset and, as evening falls, knock back a few drinks at the Brewery at Lake Tahoe. As you move further inland from the lake, you’ll find schools, residential and community stuff and churches. Maybe stick to the shore area.
It may sound like you’re asking a restaurant very quickly for take-away (all to go), but it’s actually a district of South Lake Tahoe. And it’s here that you’ll find one of the natural treasures of the region in the form of the Regan Beach. This place is a local favourite, so if you'd like a community vibe when searching for where to stay in South Lake Tahoe, you'll love it here. Forget all that sand that gets in your ears and hair: this place is all about the grass. Sit at a picnic table or lean against the railings for excellent views of the water. Launch your kayak (you have a kayak, right? What? OK, rent one from one of the many tour operators in the area). Kids will love the playground here, and you can join a game of volleyball on the sandy (OK, there is some sand, we admit it) court. Go skating in the South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena, sunbathe on the Lakeview Commons and take out a boat at the Tahoe Keys Marina & Yacht Club.
Some ski info
Winter in Lake Tahoe is all about skiing, so we wanted to make sure we included a little more information about other ski resorts. Ski season tends to last here from mid-November to mid-April, with season passes available. Kirkwood Mountain Resort is known for getting the most snow (although you’d have thought that all of them get enough, as that’s what ski resorts are for… it’s no good if your hill’s getting bald patches). Homewood Tahoe Resort is another highlight for skiing and all those snow-related activities you like so much, in the southwestern corner of the lake. And who could forget the Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort in the Eldorado National Forest. You’re spoilt for choice on the southern flank of Lake Tahoe.