A Perfect Summer Weekend in Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is famously known as a prime ski and snowboard destination, but many people don’t know how lovely Tahoe is in the summer. All the activities I’d recommend are most accessible if you stay in South Lake Tahoe. Check out my destination page on Lake Tahoe for more details and logistics.
Friday Night Pizza
After a long week of work it feels so good to hop in the car and start your weekend escape. I’m based in San Jose, so driving to Tahoe is about a 4 hour journey. By the time I’m arriving, I’m usually hungry and exhausted, so the best option is just to pick up a pizza and head to the Airbnb. Let me clarify – we’re not picking up just any pizza – we’re getting Basecamp Pizza. This pizza is fantastic and definitely one of the best gluten-free crusts I’ve ever had. The only problem is, everyone knows Base Camp is the best, so I recommend calling ahead and getting takeout because the wait to be seated is usually well over an hour.
Saturday Breakfast at Driftwood Cafe
Make sure you get a good night’s sleep and hydrate well as you will be feeling the affects of the higher altitude. It is important to take it easy while your body adjusts, so don’t jump right into hiking or strenuous activity. Instead, enjoy a nice brunch at one of my favorites, Driftwood Cafe. They have wonderful coffee, zesty bloody marys, gluten free bread options, and an online waitlist so you can put your name in before you arrive.
Rent a Boat and Explore
There’s nothing quite like driving a speedboat out into the vast blue waters of Lake Tahoe. There are multiple boat rental options in the area including the one I’ve used, Tahoe Sports. This is best if you have a group to split the cost and you can have yourself a little boat party, just don’t forget the snacks and drinks! I recommend going out on the lake in the morning because the waves pick up in the afternoon and it can get pretty bumpy. Make sure you listen closely to the rental guides on how to navigate the lake and return to the marina – it is surprisingly harder than it appears.
Chill at the Beach
There are tons of great beaches in South Lake Tahoe, but they get notoriously crowded in the peak summer months. I’d recommend heading over to a slightly less popular beach, Nevada beach. Don’t forget your frisbee and a nice blanket to lay out. Enjoy your afternoon soaking up more rays and relaxing on the beach.
Dinner with a View
After your day full of sun and sand, go shower, relax, and get ready for dinner. There are many great restaurants in South Lake Tahoe, but one of my top choices is Artemis Lakefront Cafe. The food is great and reasonably priced, plus you get a great view of the lake!
Paddle in the Picturesque Sand Harbor
I grew up paddle boarding and kayaking, so I always look forward to this activity. Although the lakes in Minnesota are great, Tahoe’s Sand Harbor takes it to a whole new level. If you’ve seen serene photos of Lake Tahoe with big boulders and crystal clear waters, those were probably taken at Sand Harbor. This is another very popular attraction, so make sure you PLAN AHEAD! You will need to get up early in order to arrive to the beach around 7:00 AM to get into the parking at 8:00 AM. I know this sounds crazy, but I walk you through all the details step-by-step on my Lake Tahoe page, and trust me, it is so worth it!
Hike in Emerald Bay State Park
Spend the afternoon exploring the beautiful Emerald Bay State Park. There are two amazing hikes I would recommend – pick one (or both) depending on how much time you have. Parking will be a challenge, so be prepared to walk a bit to the trailheads. Check out Eagle Lake and Falls for an inland hike where you climb up to beautiful views, or Rubicon Trail where you can hike along the shore of Lake Tahoe.
7:00 PM – Dinner at Basecamp Pizza
8:30 AM – Breakfast at Driftwood Cafe
10:00 AM – Rent a boat from Tahoe Sports
3:00 PM – Chill at Nevada Beach
7:00 PM – Dinner at Artemis Lakefront Cafe
7:00 AM – Arrive at Sand Harbor parking area
8:30 AM – Paddle board or kayak in Sand Harbor
12:00 PM – Hike in Emerald Bay State Park
4:00 PM – Head home!