Lake Tahoe's statistics top the charts: It’s North America's largest alpine lake and third deepest, bottoming out at 1,645 feet. The waters of this ancient, fault-formed basin are remarkably blue and 99.994% pure. You'll need most of a day just to drive around its 72 miles of shoreline, so plan to stay a while. With South Lake Tahoe as home base, you'll enjoy easy access to outdoor adventures plus upscale urban comforts. Join the throngs of ski bums, mountain bikers, hikers, and paddlers recreating by the lake and on the slopes, then kick back at South Lake's enticing bistros and breweries.
Hike to lakes and peaks
The sparkling waters of Emerald Bay, punctuated by rugged Fannette Island, lie just a few miles north of town. Snap selfies from Inspiration Point, then hike the eye-candy Rubicon Trail along Emerald Bay State Park's conifer-clad shoreline. Or walk an easy mile downhill toVikingsholm, a stone-and-timber castle perched at the head of Emerald Bay. Dip your toes in the lake from its white sand beach, or tour the magnificent 38-room Viking-style mansion built by a Chicago widow in 1929 (summers only).
For a more challenging journey, hike west from the lake's edge into 64,000-acre Desolation Wilderness, a stunning glacier-sculpted landscape of towering firs, granite-bound lakes, and flower-filled meadows. Trek to Granite Lake, the Velma Lakes, or Dicks Lake for chilly swimming, or huff to the 9,735-foot summit of Mount Tallac for a jaw-dropping perspective on the Tahoe basin.
Ski or play in the snow
In the winter months, carve up the slopes at Heavenly Ski Resort, a mega-mountain with Tahoe’s most skiable acreage (4,800 acres), highest summit elevation (10,067 feet), and longest vertical drop (3,500 feet). When your quads beg for mercy, switch out your skis for snowshoes at Camp Richardson Resort (rentals are available). Other popular snowshoe routes include Emerald Bay to Cascade Falls or Eagle Lake.
Sip craft beer
South Lake's burgeoning craft beer scene will lure you back from outdoor adventures. Try a few of 16 beers on tap at South Lake Brewing Company's lofty warehouse. Join the biergarten fun atThe Hangar, a playground of picnic tables, string lights, and food trucks. Play cornhole, ping-pong, and board games atSouth of North Brewing. Pull your own pints while you hang by the patio fire pits atLake Tahoe AleWorx, or dip into house-made beer cheese and artisan brews atSidellis.
Savor global cuisine
South Lake Tahoe chefs cook up diverse menus that push way beyond ski-town fondue. Near Heavenly's gondola, snag a table by the fire pits and dine on Thai curry tacos atAzul Latin Kitchen. Head toTaste at The Loft for American tapas and an entertainingmagic show. Off Ski Run Boulevard, intimate Cafe Fiore serves pitch-perfect Italian classics, Artemis offers Mediterranean mezze platters and zesty lamb gyros, and Shangrila Himalayan delivers Nepalese chicken momo and lamb biryani. Prefer take-out? No-frills Empanash bakes flavorful Argentine empanadas, and Yugen can send you home with nigiri and sashimi platters.