If tacky motels and smoke-filled casinos are the first thing you think of upon hearing “South Lake Tahoe,” it’s time to revisit this magical place. South Lake Tahoe (or “South Shore”) has come a long way in the last decade, notably so in the past few years. Motels converted into design-savvy hotels, nightly live music in a beer garden and a quaint wine bar nestled beside an organic cafe are among my favorites. Of course let’s not forget the outdoor scenery which, thankfully, has changed far less than its progressive surroundings. My husband and I visit at least once every season, as each season is an experience uniquely its own. (For those of you wondering, our favorite is fall, as the summer crowds have died down, the foilage is stunning, and it’s typically still warm enough to cycle or paddle board in the middle of the day). It seems we’re always discovering something new to do, see, eat and drink in this town. See below for our South Shore favorites:
Organic, wholesome food and our constant go to for lunch. Sprout’s offers everything from salads to sandwiches, rice bowls to smoothies. We’re big fans of splitting the Tahoe Turkey sandwich along with the Mexican Volcano burrito.
A robust wine list is usually enough to get me in the door at any given wine bar, but the back patio set in a quaint garden is what keeps us coming back to this one, in particular. We love ordering a flight and sitting below the trees as the wind sweeps through the pines.
Baldwin remains one of our favorite beaches in Tahoe. Not only is it stunning, it’s about a 2-hour round trip paddle from here to one of Tahoe’s most iconic locations, Emerald Bay. Pack a cooler with lunch and a few beers and enjoy time on the shore, and on the water. Tip: Get here early, as the parking lot is small and fills up fast!
A 15-minute hike for 360 views? Say no more. Catch sunrise or sunset at Cave Rock, it’s a quick jaunt to the top and the view is gorgeous.
Our favorite place to stay – always. Why? Well, for starters, the staff’s hospitality makes us feel warm and welcome every single time. The interiors were thoughtfully done by Studio Tack (so you know they’re ahhhh-mazing). Their complementary breakfast consists of Stumptown coffee and waffles, and their food/wine/beer offerings are enough to make you wonder if there’s any reason to explore alternative dining options.
We also love walking from our room at the Coachman over to Basecamp Hotel, where you can find live music 7-days a week, bratwursts, beers, lawn games and a feel-good community vibe. We tend to travel everywhere with our cribbage board and love making our way over here for a beer + a brat, some corn-hole, and a viciously competitive round of cribbage. Locals and tourists alike come here to mingle, and it’s always a guaranteed good time.
If you love yourself a good, spicy chai half as much as I do, brace yourself. Freebird has mastered the art of the homemade chai and even offers variations such as the Roots Chai and the Yerba Mate Chai. They’re also known for their packed-with-goodness smoothies and superfood bowls.
During the chilly months, nothing calls to me more than this local favorite, hole-in-the-wall. If you drive up and think, “This can’t be right. This is an Econolodge Motel”… you’re in the right place. It’s um, unassuming, but pho lovers know it’s ALL about that broth and this. place. knows. broth.
Because sometimes, you feel like dressing up and enjoying a great meal on a beautiful deck overlooking the lake. Jimmy’s is one of our favorite places to do this. Make a reservation in advance during the warmer months, and cozy up in a private dining alcove (each with their own fireplace) during the winter months.
Photography + Post | Stephanie Russo