Lake Tahoe keeps a promise only few places in the world can—365 days of pure adventure. But for locals, one season reigns supreme. Here’s your guide to South Lake Tahoe in the fall.
In the summer, families flock to Tahoe’s sun-tinged lake shores to enjoy the crisp, clear waters of North America’s largest alpine lake. Come winter, the lake’s resting place at 6,200 feet in elevation wins over skiers and snowboarders looking for fresh powder served with epic lake views.
And then there’s autumn. A precious slice of time wedged between the packed beaches of summer and bundled up crowds of winter. This is the time to visit Lake Tahoe. (Just don’t let the locals know we’re the ones who told you.)
While the many casinos that dot Lake Tahoe’s Nevada borders might be a glimmering distraction, make no mistake; any proper trip to Lake Tahoe is all about the outdoors. Between the locale’s lakefront beaches and hovering mountaintops, you’ll find a thousand layers of outdoor adventure and plenty of mental breathing room to discover what appeals to you most.
In the fall, you’ll want to tow hiking boots and mountain bikes, kayaks and SUPs, or simply a pocket of change to rent the gear you need.
There’s plenty of options for rentals on the south shore. Both Anderson’s Bicycle Rental and South Shore Bikes are easy-to-access, and back up to one of the lake’s most popular bike paths. Wind down past Camp Richardson to D.L. Bliss State Park, where you can park the wheels and head out on two feet.
The parking lot here is home to a nest of trailheads, including the famous Rubicon Trail and the more mild Lighthouse Trail, a 1.5 mile loop that shows off the iconic Rubicon Point Lighthouse. Tire yourself out, then turn your gaze east towards either Calawee Cove or Lester Beach.
It’s time to lay your soul bare to the wonders of Lake Tahoe. Shed down for an icy dip in the waters, then find a sun-bathed boulder to warm up against.
After a quick loop back to the bike shop, load up the car and plug Angora Lakes into the GPS. Albeit a 30-minute drive, the wandering, winding loop only runs a few short miles before you put the car in park and reap the big reward.
It’s autumn, so you’ll be able to glide into a parking spot rather than hauling down the foot trail towards the lake. You’ll still have to manage a brief hike—uphill—but the end of the path brings a secluded mountain oasis with not one but two glassy lakes.
Slip right in from the pine-lined beaches, or head a few hundred yards back to the second lake and scale 60-feet up to enjoy the area’s most-loved cliff jumping spot.
Cool off after all that adrenaline with a dip in the lake, a quick boulder up the mountainside or a slow unwinding on the beach nearby.
Eat + Drink
Adventure makes you thirsty. That’s an unwritten law. And luckily, no place knows it better than Lake Tahoe. Head over to the local’s corner of South Lake Tahoe, a crossing called the “Y”, to visit Lake Tahoe Aleworx. A mellow hangout with an achingly long list of self-serve craft beer options, wood-fired pizzas and nightly live-music, this is the spot to relive the day’s adventures.
Sharing the patio, you’ll find Tahoe Pourhouse, a similarly attractive self-serve option that focuses on wine and heaping charcuterie platters. Bring your dog, enjoy a brew and don’t mind the ‘Beware of Bears’ signs that line the outdoor patio. Bears aren’t into beer, anyway.
Another refreshingly nondescript hangout dedicated to the best of craft beer is The Hangar, a beer garden just a few blocks down the road. A mellow spot that lends itself to patio games and freestyle picnicking, this is the perfect place for anyone focused on cold beer, good vibes and not much else.
If the playground of the Sierras has really stoked your hunger, there’s no better place to visit than Sushi Pier, just over the Nevada stateline. The attraction here is all-you-can-eat sushi for $30 a person. That’s right, we said it. Now grab a few of your hungriest friends, saddle up to the sushi bar and indulge.
There’s a trend with Tahoe. It’s abundantly overflowing with just about everything you need. When it comes to finding an awesome place to lay your head, it’s no different. Hotels, vacation home rentals and our personal favorite, campgrounds, abound. You should have no trouble finding your dream spot.
But if you’re looking for a place at the crossroads of location and social gathering, check out the Basecamp Hotel at stateline. Nestled in a suburban corner of the casino zone, Basecamp pairs the thrill of being in the eye-of-the-storm with a chill ‘Tahoe’ vibe.
It’s the definition of mountain chic, complete with a spacious outdoor beer garden, cozy firepits and s’mores menu. Even better, there’s a brother Basecamp on Tahoe’s north shore, so you’ll know just where to hang your hat when you visit that side too.
Insider Tip: Between seasons, you can find a lot of great deals if you hunt around. Check the websites of any restaurants, bars or shops you visit to see if they’re offering off-season bargains.