Where to Stay in Lake Tahoe
If you are planning a visit to the 'Lake of the Sky' and are full of questions about where to stay, you are not alone! Tahoe is a big lake, with over 70 miles of shoreline and many lodging options outside the lake's basin. Tahoe Vision wants to help you sort this place out.
Let's start with the differences between West Shore, North Shore, and South Shore, which we will cover first.
South Shore is where you will find the most action, nightlife, and people! The California/Nevada line runs right through this developed area of the lake at the base of Heavenly Ski Area. On the Nevada side, you will find several high-rise casino hotels with all the entertainment you might expect at such resorts, including all-night dance clubs, gambling, lounges and restaurants, spas, and shopping. This area is known as Stateline, and the party never really stops here. On the California side, you will find the new Heavenly Village, full of shopping, restaurants, and bars. In The Village is a gondola that will take you up to Heavenly Ski Area, which boasts some of the best views you might ever see. The Heavenly ski area is huge, and full of intermediate runs overlooking the lake and the Nevada desert. The down side of South Lake Tahoe is that you will also find plenty of other development to go along with all the people there, including shopping centers and restaurant chains that detract from the alpine atmosphere. Bottom line: if you are looking for a getaway with lots of social action such as all night parties, gambling, daytime golf and/or mellow skiing with great views, pick a place to stay on the south shore.
If you are thinking of coming to Tahoe for the alpine air and a taste of the mountain lifestyle, pick West or North Shore. The West Shore is rustic and quiet, with huge trees, shady evenings and tons of snow in the winter. It's a peaceful, comfortable place to visit, with very few people and quiet evenings. You may recognize it as the setting for Michael Corleone's estate in The Godfather movies. Nearby skiing includes Homewood, Squaw, and Alpine Meadows. During summer, activities include hiking, biking, fishing and boating. There are also several great restaurants tucked away on this charming shoreline. For lodging, choose a small cottage-style hotel or a vacation home rental. Places on the west shore include Meeks Bay, Homewood, and Tahoma. Bottom line: if a quiet mountain getaway is your style, choose West Shore or continue reading for information about North Shore.
Tahoe City - Northwest Shore
On the Northwest shore of Tahoe is Tahoe City, a charming ski town with a small beach and a decent selection of restaurants, bars, and shopping. Tahoe City gets plenty of traffic and visitors, but it still manages to maintain a small mountain town feel. If you are not looking for the South Lake Tahoe chaos but you still want easy access to some Tahoe nightlife, consider Tahoe City or somewhere nearby.
North Shore is your next option, a fairly quiet stretch of shoreline with plenty of vacation home rentals with lake views. North Lake Tahoe is quiet and charming with easy access to restaurants, shopping, and bars in the towns of Tahoe City and Kings Beach. Here's a secret you may not hear anywhere else: North Lake Tahoe has the most sun and the best beaches due to its southwest exposure and the way the waves break. It stays sunny longer, and the snow melts faster so in the spring you may find yourself playing golf, beach volleyball, or even swimming after a day of skiing! Places of interest on the north shore include Dollar Point, Carnelian Bay, Tahoe Vista, and Kings Beach.
North Shore Kings Beach
If a mountain beach-bum life is your style, consider the funky town of Kings Beach. This town has character to go along with its huge, sunny, sandy beach. It's funky, and although there is much 'redevelopment' scheduled, for now it retains a charm that can only be described as "Kings Beach". You can rent vacation homes in what locals call "The Grid" - a small but densely populated community within walking distance of town and the beach. If you are not up for that much character, look for a place for rent on a road like Beaver, Brassie or in upper kings beach, where the houses have lake views but you are still close to town. There are also several bargain motels on the beach to consider. If your apres-ski experience extends past the bar hours of Kings Beach, just a mile from Kings Beach is Crystal Bay, where you are in Nevada and can visit several small casinos to gamble, party, hear live music, and stay up all night long.
North Shore Nevada
In North Shore Nevade, the hotels that need to be mentioned are the Biltmore in Crystal Bay, where you can find bargain rooms, the Cal/Neva in Crystal Bay, which is a quiet resort with a small casino, and the Hyatt in Incline Village. The Hyatt is a good choice in the summer - it's a nice resort with excellent beach access and upscale gaming. During winter in Incline Village, you may wish you were closer to the larger ski areas.
Squaw and Northstar
Outside the basin, but still worth considering are the new villages in Squaw Valley and Northstar. Northstar is a family ski resort with upscale shopping, dining and lodging. The Village at Squaw Valley is the apres-ski destination of choice for the north shore, with plenty of bars and entertainment at the base of the Squaw ski resort. You can rent condos and vacation rentals at both Northstar and Squaw. The downside to Northstar and Squaw is that you will not be at the Lake.
Hotel, Motel, Casino, or Vacation Rental
Next, let's decide what type of lodging interests you. The first, and most obvious choice for many is a room in one of Tahoe's casinos. Half of the lake is in Nevada, and the Nevada side has its share of casino resorts such as Caesars on the south shore and the Hyatt on the north shore. Benefits of these include lower prices and easy access to entertainment. To escape the party scene at night, consider a vacation rental - a group of people can save money and enjoy a lakeview residence for a week by renting a vacant home or condo at the lake. Regarding hotels, there are several nice resorts and some bargain motels along the shores of the Lake to choose from. The following links have more infomation on lodging options.
South Tahoe Hotels
North Lake Tahoe Hotels