A Weekend Guide to South Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is one of my favorite places to visit since moving to San Francisco. I LOVE Mammoth Lakes, but it is a five hour drive for us, and Lake Tahoe is just under three. So when Tom, Bailey, and I need a quick weekend away we tend to head northeast to beautiful South Lake Tahoe.

South Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is split into four main areas: Truckee (north), Squaw Valley / Tahoe City / Tahoma (west), South Lake Tahoe (south), and the Nevada side (east). Lake Tahoe has something for everyone all seasons of the year. There are the big hotels and casinos on the Nevada side, ski hills all around, hiking in every corner, and oh, did I mention the awesome lake smack in the middle of everything?

Fallen Leaf Lake

Tom, Bailey, and I are definitely outdoorsy folks who try to avoid the big hotels and casinos at all cost. We happenstanced on South Lake Tahoe when we moved to San Francisco and needed a quick weekend of camping. I did a search on recreation.gov for available campgrounds in the Lake Tahoe area and we found the last available site at Fallen Leaf Lake. I think mother nature was guiding us because since that one trip a few years ago we've returned to Fallen Leaf Lake several times a year.

Fallen Leaf Lake

I have to give the secret away, Fallen Leaf Lake is a beautiful lake practically across the street from Lake Tahoe. You can walk from the campground across Emerald Bay Road through the Tallac Creek Visitor Center and end up right on Baldwin Beach - a haven for dogs.

Lake Tahoe with impending storm clouds on the horizon. We've experienced a couple cracking thunderstorms while camping here!

But the real secret is Fallen Leaf Lake. It is quiet, clear, and absolutely beautiful. The campground sits around the edge of the north side of the lake and private homes and a resort sit down a very tight and winding road on the south side of the lake. The campground is HUGE, and very respectful and happy campers fill the sites each year. I've been to many campgrounds where campers blare music, have loud parties, and make noise in the early hours of the day. Fallen Leaf Lake is always quiet - even when its full. So please be a respectful camper when you come!

Here's a short video of our time at Fallen Leaf Lake in August 2014.

Lake Tahoe is home to lots of great events all times of the year, but my two favorite are the Wanderlust Festival in Squaw Valley and the Big Blue Adventure races.

Wanderlust

The Wanderlust Festival is held in several cities around the US, but the one in Tahoe happens in Squaw Valley. 

We bring together a remarkable group of yoga and meditation instructors, musical performers, speakers, artists, and chefs for a transformational retreat in one of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural resorts.
Squaw Valley - home of the Wanderlust Festival in July.

Squaw Valley - home of the Wanderlust Festival in July.

We discovered the festival when we were driving into Tahoe and wanted to go see Squaw Valley. As we pulled up to the main village a huge festival with vendors, food trucks, yoga workshops, music, families, dogs, and kids. I had the best Falafel I think I've ever had in my life and it inspired me to make my own Falafel Salad:

Here's a great video all about their festival:

Big Blue Adventure

Big Blue Adventure is the group that puts on the 1.2 mile swim I did last year. It was AWESOME. They also put on a .5 mile swim, 2.4 mile swim, sprint, and olympic distance triathlons all during the same weekend among other events all summer long. I loved the vibe these events gave off. Sometimes the races in the bigger cities bring out more serious racers who are there for a time goal or a win and not just there to enjoy the event. That's fine and I totally get that, but it was really fun to be part of a much more laid back event. Being surrounded by incredible nature and easy going people really made it my kind of event.

Sprouts Cafe

When Tom and I camp we tend to bring our own food (see Traveling on A Plant Based Diet), but sometimes we also like to explore restaurants around town. South Lake Tahoe has a ton to offer, but our favorite place is Sprouts Cafe. Sprouts has something for everyone on their menu, INCLUDING vegans and vegetarians. They have amazing fresh juices, including my favorite: The Spinach Cocktail: spinach, cucumber, celery, parsley, apple, and carrot. Here are just a few of their vegan friendly options: 

  • Vegetable Crunch: cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, red onion, sprouts, avocado, and honey mustard on whole wheat multi-grain bread
  • California Crunch (sans cream cheese): cucumber, tomato, red onion, black olives, romaine lettuce and avocado with balsamic vinaigrette on whole wheat
  • Mexican Volcano: sesame tortilla chips, spinach, brown rice, beans, carrots, red cabbage, red onion, tomato, sprouts, salsa, honey mustard dressing, guacamole, and green onions

They also have burritos, tempeh (and regular) burgers, smoothies, juices, breakfast options, bagels, and hot drinks. Definitely give Sprouts Cafe a try when you're in town!

3123 Harrison Avenue

South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

530-541-6969

8am - 9pm Every Day

Cash and local checks only

Tahoe Rim Trail

The Tahoe Rim Trail is on my bucket list for Summer 2015. The Tahoe Rim Trail is a trail that spans the entire circumference of Lake Tahoe for hikers and overnight campers and is dog and horse friendly!

You can plan your hike using the Tahoe Rim Trail website, find trail conditions, point to point hike lengths, and other information. As soon as Tom, Bailey, and I try out the trail you'll be the first to know about it so stay tuned!

Come to Lake Tahoe!

If you're in the area please come to Lake Tahoe! It is a gem of California and you won't be disappointed!

Lake Tahoe