Hailed as one of the nation's top outdoor playgrounds, South Lake Tahoe packs more nature than you'll know what to do with.
South Lake Tahoe at a Glance
South Lake Tahoe is a freshwater lake that rests in the valley of the Sierra Nevada mountain range on the border between California and Nevada. The lake itself formed 2 million years ago during the Ice Age and is the second-deepest lake in the U.S., bottoming out at 1,645 feet. Beside it sits the city of South Lake Tahoe, home an endless array of outdoor recreation. When the mountain slopes are covered in snow, winter lovers make their way here for skiing and snowboarding. When the summer sun is out, hiking and swimming become some of the go-to activities.
Ski and Snowboard: There's no question that skiing and snowboarding are Lake Tahoe's bread and butter. With 40 feet of snow and 300 days of sunshine a year, this region couldn't get any better for winter sports. At Hope Valley Outdoors Cross-Country Ski Center, you'll find 60 miles of groomed and ungroomed trails. Nearby, Heavenly Mountain Resort's hills feature a variety of terrain, including rolling glades, terrain parks and black diamonds. Kirkwood Mountain Resort ranks as one of the nation's top year-round family destinations, complete with a base elevation of 7,800 feet that allows more annual snowfall than any other resort in the U.S. You'll be up to your neck in snow and faced with the difficult decision of which pristine run to choose.
If you don't want to schlep your board or skis, no worries. There are plenty of rental options that offer quality equipment. Lessons are offered too, but be prepared to pay for it.
Mountain Biking: Since Tahoe South has been designated as a Bike Friendly Community, the bike paths spread far and wide. Take the adrenaline-filled downhill at Saxon Creek, which has been nicknamed Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, or cruise down Flue Trail. Between the range of trails, there are rides for every experience level. The famous loop around Lake Tahoe is 72 miles long and one of the most stunning with mountain vistas, deep blue water and Emerald Bay. For the fearless, you can even connect trails and take on the challenge of seven summits in one day.
Hiking and Running: In Lake Tahoe, you don't need to be a dedicated jogger to get runner's high - simply soaking in the vistas yields a contact euphoria. There is a network of trails for hiking meant for the beginner, hardcore and everyone in between. A crowd favorite is Mount Tallac Trail, rising 3,000 feet in elevation for 5 miles where novice hikers thrive. Along other trails, you can discover waterfalls, alpine meadows and glacier-carved granite slopes. In the winter, strap on some snowshoes and endeavor up the same trails. Snowy Lake Tahoe is beyond serene.
Golfing: Try to concentrate as the snow-capped mountains and gorgeous pines in the distance keep distracting your swing. The Tahoe South region has six unique golf courses. Bijou Municipal is the oldest course around, with nine holes perfect for families and beginners. If grandma and grandpa come during the week, check for senior discounts. Six minutes northeast lies Edgewood Tahoe, which is regarded as one of the most breathtaking courses in the country. It has well-manicured fairways that border Lake Tahoe. Besides being home to the American Century Championship, it is also one of Golf Digest's top 25 public U.S. courses. Tahoe Paradise and Lake Tahoe Golf Course make for other popular options.
On the Water
Fishing: Lake Tahoe is so clear that you can see 75 feet below its surface. Makes fishing easier, right? Come find out. Depending on the season, anglers can expect to catch lake trout, rainbow trout and kokanee salmon. The good news is that lake trout season is open year-round. If you don't want to venture alone, there are a number of fishing charters and knowledgeable guides to show you the ropes.
Action Watersports: When the kids' patience runs thin, opt for the high-powered thrill of jet skis, waverunners, power boats and water skis. Many visitors enjoy seeing Emerald Bay from the privacy of their own boats. There are also sailing cruises that will help you leave the heckling world of cell phones and engines behind. You can rent everything here.
Out and About
Local Culture: Tahoe South is home to a flourishing arts scene, full of exhibiting galleries and working studios. On Lake Tahoe Boulevard you'll find Marcus Ashley Fine Art Gallery, one of the region's biggest hot spots. The venue houses a variety of works from American and international artists. Pacific Crest Gallery showcases fine art, jewelry and gifts. When the weather is warm, live performances take the stage at the annual Valhalla Arts, Music and Theatre Festival.
Nightlife: After a busy day of shredding the slopes, paint the town red with South Lake Tahoe's vibrant nightlife. Between hipster dive bars to bumping nightclubs, every type of personality will find be able to find their niche. There are also casinos, pubs and karaoke hotspots that will sure to put a smile on your face.