Lake Tahoe is a huge freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains that’s ringed with charming little towns and villages. A destination acclaimed for its great skiing and plentiful ski resorts in the winter, as well as its beaches and water sports in the summer, travellers from all over the world love visiting Lake Tahoe on a regular basis for these types of activities and adventures.

    When planning your visit, you’ll have lots of options when it comes to picking where to stay. To help narrow down the wealth of choices, we’ve picked out the top towns and villages to visit around Lake Tahoe. As the lake itself straddles the California-Nevada border, so too does our selection.

    1

    South Lake Tahoe

    Explore the finest outdoor adventures from this traveller-centric locale

    South Lake Tahoe is one of the more populous towns in the Lake Tahoe area. It is geared toward travellers, with a wealth of hotels, restaurants and shopping. During the winter, travellers will find a pristine ski destination in Heavenly Mountain Resort, with its nearly 100 runs that extend across the mountains and even into adjacent Nevada.

    In the summer, the resort’s lifts provide stellar views of the surrounding landscape and tranquil waters of Lake Tahoe. Other popular summertime spots include Van Sickle Bi-State Park for hiking, Emerald Bay State Park for its beach, and Vikingsholm, a historic, Scandinavian mansion.

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    2

    Tahoe City

    Find spectacular views and near-endless sunshine

    Tahoe City is a small mountain town on the north side of Lake Tahoe and near the Truckee River which awaits adventurers of all types. Summertime visitors enjoy the nearby hiking and kayaking, while wintertime explorers are just a short distance away from the slopes.

    The nature-heavy destination receives 300 days of annual sunshine on average, so you can just about rely on good weather during your stay. Not an outdoor type? Stroll downtown Tahoe City for shopping, dining, drinks and galleries, as well as the Tahoe Maritime Museum.

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    3

    Truckee

    Explore the rich history and culture of this 1800s mountain town

    Truckee is a gateway destination for much of Lake Tahoe’s best attractions, from slopes to sands, but it’s certainly not a place that you merely stay and never explore on its own. Truckee offers historic appeal as an 1800s mountain town and a rich culture cultivated by locals who are passionate about where they live.

    Find tons of local businesses in the downtown, including boutiques and restaurants, and be sure to check the Truckee calendar before your visit to make plans to attend one of the annual events or festivals. Self-guided historic walking tours are available via the Truckee tourism board; popular historic sites include the Donner Memorial State Museum. There are also multiple golf courses in the area.

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    4

    Homewood

    A ski-focused village with great views of Lake Tahoe

    Tiny Homewood, with just a few hundred residents, sits on the west bank of Lake Tahoe. Homewood Mountain Resort is arguably the village’s most popular attraction, with its 2 mountains and excellent views of the lake (as well as its affordable lift passes). 

    Even for those not into skiing, a ride up the Madden Lift is a must, due to the stellar views. Don’t miss the area’s restaurants, which range from down-home diners to internationally-inspired and elegant eateries.

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    5

    Incline Village

    A broad range of fun activities beyond the lake and slopes

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    • Nightlife

    Incline Village on Crystal Bay in Nevada offers something for travellers of every age. In addition to ski trails, hiking and water sports, which are all abundant across the entire Lake Tahoe region, Incline Village further offers golf courses, tennis courts, cycling trails, disc golf, spas, casinos, a theme park and even a nude beach.

    Annual events add to the fun, such as The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival; Red, White and Tahoe Blue on July 4; and the Ullr Fest, a wintertime event that’s a nod to the Norse god of snow and the patron saint of skiers.

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    6

    Kings Beach

    Gear up with everything you need for a great time on the water

    Kings Beach, as you might expect from the name, really shines in the summer. The beach is the place to be, regardless of if you’re a visitor or a local. But, after you put away the bathing suit, there’s still plenty more to enjoy in this charming town, with its old-school, vintage appeal.

    Small hotels, shops and restaurants line the main thoroughfare and it’s easy to get around on foot, as well as on a bike. Speaking of which, bicycle rentals are popular, as are paddleboard, kayak and sailboat rentals.

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    7

    Olympic Valley

    Join the many pro skiers who flock here

    Olympic Valley (sometimes also called Squaw Valley) is a former Olympic site, host to the 1960 Winter Olympics. But beyond this, Olympic Valley has further Olympic ties, as the town has an impressive track record of producing Olympic athletes for every single winter event since 1964. As such, it’s no surprise that Olympic Valley has a huge snow sports culture.

    The place in town to go for your ski or snowboarding fix? Squaw Valley Ski Resort. However, once the snow has thawed for the year, Olympic Valley hosts fun annual events, including music and yoga festivals, and a writers’ conference.

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    8

    Zephyr Cove

    Kick back and relax in this low-key locale

    Zephyr Cove in Nevada is home to fewer than 1,000 residents, but travellers descend on the small village in droves for both family vacations and romantic retreats on the water. The village’s laid-back vibe makes relaxation easy, but adrenaline-pumping fun isn’t far away either.

    Walks along the Lake Tahoe shore, sunbathing on the beach, lake cruises, camping, horseback riding and fishing are all popular. In the winter, snowmobile tours give visitors a contrasting view of the area, without the need for skis.

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    9

    Genoa

    Discover a historic settlement on Lake Tahoe’s eastern shore

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    • History
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    Genoa, the oldest town in Nevada, was founded by Mormons who established a trading post here in the 1850s. Now, the town on the eastern portion of Lake Tahoe offers award-winning dining, quaint inns and historic appeal.

    Nature lovers will want to hike through the Tahoe Range foothills, while history buffs will want to be sure to visit the Mormon Station Museum, which details the town’s history. For relaxation, a hot spring resort, David Walley’s, is the place to go.

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    10

    Stateline

    Take a chance in this gambling and casino-heavy destination

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    • Nightlife

    Stateline is a tourist-centric destination that is filled with casinos, theatres, resorts, spas and restaurants. If South Lake Tahoe is the most popular stop for travellers visiting the California side of Lake Tahoe, the same could be said for Stateline on the Nevada side. 

    To ski, you do have to cross the state line to go into California, but if you primarily want to gamble and enjoy the nightlife, you’ll have everything you need in Stateline. You’ll also find that many of the resorts in the town offer guest rooms with fantastic views of the lake and mountains.

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    Holly Riddle | Contributing Writer

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