15 things to do in South Lake Tahoe: The Ultimate Outdoor Guide!
Updated: Sep 16, 2021
After living in South LakeTahoe for almost two years, I wanted to put together a list of some of the best things to do in South Lake Tahoe. This post will mostly list outdoor locations and hikes and does not include any paid activities. With that, let's get into it! Here are 15 things to do in South Lake Tahoe: Your Ultimate Outdoor Guide!
1. Cave Rock
Cave Rock Tunnel is located off HWY 50 in South Lake Tahoe. This hike is short and easy, and great to do any time of the year. From the parking area, it takes about 10 minutes to hike to the base of Cave Rock, and then a little bit of rock scrambling to get to the top viewpoint. Once at the top, you'll get to enjoy stunning 180-degree views over South Lake Tahoe.
2. Zephyr Cove
Located off HWY 50 in South Lake Tahoe, Zephyr Cove had shoreline trails, prime views of the mountains, and several secluded little coves. There's quite a large stretch of shoreline, so it's pretty easy to have a section of the beach to yourself.
Zephyr Cove also happens to be one of my favorite locations to photograph the sunset in Lake Tahoe.
3. The Casinos
There are four main casinos located in Stateline South Lake Tahoe. Even if you are like me, and you're not much of a gambler, the casinos are still worth checking out. You can grab a drink at one of the bars and there are quite a few restaurant options located within and around the casinos as well.
4. Heavenly Village
Heavenly Village in South Lake Tahoe is home to restaurants, shops, art galleries, and live music. In the winter, there's an ice skating rink and in the summer, there's miniature golf. This is also where you can take the gondola up Heavenly Mountain. This is something I haven't done yet, because at $60 bucks a ticket, I feel it's way too overpriced.
5. Valhalla Pier
Located off HWY 89, Valhalla Pier is one of the few piers in South Lake Tahoe open to the public. This is a great spot to catch the sunset, and if your an early riser, visiting during sunrise is even better!
6. Fallen Leaf Lake
Fallen Leaf Lake in South Lake Tahoe is a picturesque alpine lake that features numerous hiking trails and stunning views of Mt Tallac in the background. My favorite time to visit this lake is in the spring when the mountains are still snow-capped.
7. Glen Alpine Falls
Located towards the back of Fallen Leaf Lake Road, Glen Alpine Falls is one of the most impressive waterfalls in Lake Tahoe. The best time to visit is in the spring. By late summer, the falls are pretty much down to a trickle.
One of the best things about this waterfall is there is no hike involved. You just park your car and walk right up to the falls! You can get as close to waterfalls as you like, but of course, always use caution as the rocks can be slippery.
Keep in mind that Fallen Leaf Lake Road is a very narrow one-lane road. Be prepared to pull to the side when another car comes by.
8. Cascade Falls
The trail to Cascade Falls is located in the back of the Bayview Campground, which is right across the street from Inspiration Point on HWY 89. The hike is only 1.5 miles round trip, but you will be climbing quite a few sets of stone-cut stairs, and there is very little shade. Make sure to wear sturdy hiking shoes and bring plenty of water. Along with the falls, the trail offers beautiful views of Cascade Lake.
9. Emerald Bay + Vikingsholm Trail
Emerald Bay is one of the most photographed spots in Lake Tahoe, and for good reason, as it has some of the most stunning views of the lake. After you take in the views from the overlook, you can hike down the Vikingsholm Trail to the bottom of Emerald Bay. From here, you can check out the Vikingsholm Castle, pick up the Rubicon Trail, or hike to Lower Eagle Falls.
10. Lower Eagle Falls
Lower Eagle Falls is located in Emerald Bay State Park and can be reached via the Vikingsholm Trail. Once your reach the bottom of Emerald Bay, head towards the Visitor's Center. This is where you can pick up the trail to Lower Eagle Falls. From here, it's a little under half a mile to reach the falls. May and June are the best months to visit the falls.
11. Upper Eagle Falls
If I only had time to do one, I would choose Lower Eagle Falls, but Upper Eagle Falls is still very impressive and definitely deserves a spot on this list.
The trail to Upper Eagle Falls is across the street from Emerald Bay State Park. The hike is very short and involves walking up a set of stone-cut stairs. From the parking lot, it should take about 5 minutes to reach the falls. You can end the hike at the Upper Eagle Falls Bridge or continue on towards Eagle Lake (which I highly recommend).
12. Eagle Lake
I highly recommend hiking Upper Eagle Falls and Eagle Lake on the same day. From the Upper Eagle Falls bridge, the hike to Eagle Lake takes about 15 minutes. Even though the hike is short, you will be climbing quite a few sets of stone-carved stairs. Also, there is a section of the trail that isn't well marked, so it's a good idea to have the trail pulled up on Google Maps while your hiking.
Eagle Lake is located in Desolation Wilderness so you will have to fill out a permit. You can do this in the Eagle Falls parking lot.
13. D.L. Bliss State Park
Just north of Emerald Bay State Park on the southwest shore of Lake Tahoe is D.L. Bliss State Park. This is one of my favorite spots on this list. It’s home to Lester Beach and Calawee Cove, which looks like an Alpine paradise.
If you visit during the off-season, you will have to hike down Lester Beach Road, which adds an extra two miles to reach the beach area, but it's worth it, you'll get a great workout, and you'll get to enjoy the beach without the crowds!
14. Rubicon Trail
The Rubicon Trail is one of the most beautiful trails in Lake Tahoe. It connects D.L. Bliss State Park and Emerald Bay State Park and has stunning views of the shoreline the whole way.
If you choose to hike from D.L.Bliss State Park all the way to Emerald Bay, and then back, it will take 10 miles round trip, which is a lot of hiking. Alternatively, you can start from whichever trailhead you prefer, hike as much as you like, and then turn around.
For more on the Rubicon Trail watch this video!
15. Spooner Lake(in the fall)
If you visiting Lake Tahoe in autumn, and you’re looking for a good spot to see fall colors, then look no further than Spooner Lake. By mid-October, the picturesque walking trails around the Spooner Lake area are lined with brilliant orange and yellow aspens. Spooner Lake is located right off Nevada State Route 28.
I hope you enjoyed this outdoor guide to South Lake Tahoe. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave them in the comments! Also, be sure to subscribe to the blog so that you don’t miss the latest blog posts, videos, and other good stuff!
WATCH THE VIDEO HERE:
Please enjoy Lake Tahoe responsibly.
Always practice the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace.