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Gabriella Viola blog
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15 things to do in South Lake Tahoe: The Ultimate Outdoor Guide!

Updated: May 21, 2023

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 hike in Lake Tahoe Nevada
The top of Cave Rock
Cave Rock Tunnel hike in Lake Tahoe Nevada

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

Zephyr Cove in Lake Tahoe
Sunset at Zephyr Cove
Zephyr Cove in Lake Tahoe Nevada

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

Casinos in Stateline South Lake Tahoe

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 Lake Tahoe

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

Sunrise at Valhalla Pier in South Lake Tahoe California
Sunrise at Valhalla Pier
Sunrise at Valhalla Pier in South Lake Tahoe California

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 California
Views of Mt. Tallac from Fallen Leaf Lake
Fallen Leaf Lake in South Lake Tahoe California

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

Glen Alpine Falls in the spring in South Lake Tahoe CaLifornia
Glen Alpine Falls in the spring
Glen Alpine Falls in the spring in South Lake Tahoe CaLifornia

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 State Park in Lake Tahoe California

Emerald Bay State Park in Lake Tahoe California

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 in Lake tahoe California
Lower Eagle Falls in May
Lower Eagle Falls in South Lake Tahoe

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

Upper Eagle Falls in lake Tahoe California

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

Eagle Lake in Lake Tahoe California

Eagle Lake in Lake Tahoe California

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

Calawee Cove at D.L. Bliss State park in lake tahoe california
Gorgeous views of Calawee Cove
D.L. Bliss State Park in lake Tahoe california
Lester Beach at D.L. Bliss

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

Rubicon Trail in Lake Tahoe California
Rubicon Trail starting from D.L. Bliss State Park
Rubicon Trail in Lake Tahoe California

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)

Spooner Lake in Lake Tahoe in the fall
North Canyon Road Trail at Spooner Lake
Spooner Lake in Lake Tahoe 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!

You can check out more adventures on Instagram and Youtube!




Please enjoy Lake Tahoe responsibly.

Always practice the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace.


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gabriella viola lake tahoe

Hi, I'm Gabriella, an outdoor photographer living in Lake Tahoe, California. 
I'm originally from New York and moved to Los Angeles in 2013 to try out living somewhere new and different.  I found myself loving the adventurous lifestyle and dramatic scenery on the west side of the country.  Eventually, I moved to Lake Tahoe in 2019 after falling in love with its natural beauty and outdoor lifestyle. 
On this site, I share adventure tips and destination guides to help you explore the beauty of Lake Tahoe, the Sierras, Northern California, and beyond...

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Tahoe Blues is a curated collection of  9 pieces that showcase part of what makes Lake Tahoe so incredibly special- that crystal clear, brilliantly turquoise-colored water.  The selected images capture unique conditions and perspectives of Lake Tahoe during the day and represent calmness, joy, and awe.

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