As a longtime (14 years! Whew!) opinionated local, I have no shortage of suggestions for where to eat, drink, play and explore in Lake Tahoe. I love where I live and I love showing it off even more. After many years of just sharing this info via email, I figured that a nice pandemic slowdown was the perfect time to share some love to my favorite Tahoe haunts. As such, here is my official Local’s Guide to Lake Tahoe!
This is by no means an exhaustive list of where I like to frequent, but it’s a pretty good start. Feel free to share this blog post with your wedding guests, friends and family members if they will find it helpful.
The best kind of day starts with breakfast, or, as I prefer, second breakfast. You’ll find me most often on the patio at Artemis Lakefront Cafe, where they offer up a platter called the Greek Breakfast that is fucking nothing short of perfect: gyro meat, eggs, pita, crispy potatoes, and tzatziki. If you’re into pancakes or waffles, I’d head to one of the Red Hut’s many locations in town. If you love good coffee and quality ingredients, hit up Black Cabin Coffee near Stateline. For a cozy experience in the winter or an amazing outdoor lawn, head to the Getaway Cafe in Meyers, where they serve up breakfast every day until 2 PM. Bert’s is where you’ll find me when I’m hungover.
The views in town can be found at The Edgewood Bistro in the Lodge, which I’m somewhat loath to recommend because they have the absolute worst service on the history of the planet, but the best view. Solid backups for great views include the Riva Grill or Jimmy’s at the Landing Resort and Spa, which has the best wine list in town.
For a fancy or romantic dinner, look no farther than Cafe Fiore on Ski Run Blvd. They dish up rustic Italic dining in the coziest most romantic cabin in town. Reservations required. When I don’t want to go all out but I want Italian (which is basically always), then I head to Primo’s Italian Bistro. It’s incredibly cozy, the pasta is made in house and the staff is SO incredibly kind to locals that I just can’t get enough of my time there.
When I’m craving tacos I head to Taqueria Jalisco (cash only), but when I’m craving margaritas, I head to Azul Latin Kitchen, which serves up street tacos, a great happy hour and a fun atmosphere in the Village.
When I have a big group and we don’t want to deal with separate checks AND you want beer and pizza, then your place is AleworX at the Y.
For sushi, you want to head to either the Naked Fish (make sure to get the BBQ Albacore!) or Kalani’s in the Village, which also has the best happy hour in town, in my opinion. They offer great happy hour prices on two rolls and a number of apps and great deals on beer, wine and well drinks. If happy hour sushi is what you’re looking for, then look no further than Off the Hook Sushi. Off the Hook offers inventive California twists and traditional rolls and the size of their happy hour sushi menu, along with the prices can’t be beat.
HIKE AND TOUR
The hike to Eagle Lake past eagle falls out of Emerald Bay isn’t that long and the lake is pristine, high above Emerald Bay and beautiful. Speaking of Emerald Bay, the best way to save the parking nightmare headache and get there on the Nifty Fifty Trolley, which is part of the Tahoe Public Transportation System.
For those looking for something more strenuous, I love sending people to the hike up Van Sickle Trail in Van Sickle Bi State Park behind the casinos. It’s 8 miles up if you go all the way, but you can hike up as far as one mile and get epic views of the lake.
Thunderbird Lodge is expensive but worth it. It’s one of the oldest estates on the lake and the original owner was eccentric, to put it mildly. The estate is one of a kind, both in story and physical presence. You will need to make a reservation ahead of time for this. My favorite way to tour it is via vintage boat cruise from Zephyr Cove to the lodge. Lunch is included and adult beverages are available.
For the cheapskates, you’ll want to go tour Valhalla Estate or Sugar Pine Point State Park’s Hellman-Ehrman Mansion. The first is self-guided and free, the latter is overseen by forest service guides and fairly inexpensive.
BOAT AND SWIM
My favorite wine cruise is Tahoe Tastings: it’s an intimate wine tasting cruise of awesome local wines run by two of my friends, Diondra and Shane, on a vintage wooden Chris Craft Venetian water taxi. Make reservations ahead of time, this will sell out. I personally prefer the day time cruise, but you can’t go wrong with either time slot!
Lake Tahoe Boat Rides is owned by my friends Lyndsay and Steve and perfect for all your speedboat, waterskiing, wakeboarding and pontoon boat needs.
For a swim sans boat, head up to Angora Lakes. Situated on the ridge line overlooking the Tahoe basin is a short (1/2 mile-ish) hike from the parking lot to a beautiful alpine lake that is hardly ever crowded because only so many cars fit in the parking lot. It’s an awesome place to swim, relax and spend the afternoon. The general store sells homemade lemonade and you can rent paddle boards and canoes on the lake from them.
Nevada Beach, Pope Beach and Baldwin Beach are all great choices for beach days. Nevada Beach is just north of Stateline on the east shore of the lake, while Pope and Baldwin are out HWY 89 towards Emerald Bay. $10 parking fees per car – cash only.
Live at Lakeview, our free summer concert series usually starts the last Thursday in June and runs through the summer. The free concert series happens every Thursday at Lakeview Commons from 430-830 PM.
You can rent paddle boards all summer long at Lakeview Commons as well and my friend Jenay with Lake Tahoe Yoga does morning paddle board yoga out of there every day during the summer.
Lauren Lindley is the opinionated Lake Tahoe wedding photographer responsible for this Local’s Guide to Lake Tahoe. She is also available for elopements and family portraits in the greater Northern CA Area. She services New Orleans, LA, Dallas, TX, and Austin, TX, and more! Have camera: will travel. Lauren specializes in capturing artistic portraits paired with unique storytelling moments to produce photojournalism based wedding photography with classic, clean and vibrant images. Lauren Lindley is currently booking weddings from 2020 and 2021 in Lake Tahoe, CA and other destinations worldwide.
Looking for wedding planning resources instead of vacation resources? I was recently quoted in a blog from Milk Photobooks where 85 Wedding Photographers shared their suggestions for wedding planning. You can also find other wedding planning tips and resources on my blog.