Lake Tahoe Travel Guide // Thanksgiving Vacation Recap
Updated: Jan 1
If you know me personally at all then you know I LOVE to travel! I can’t even tell y’all how excited I was to head to Lake Tahoe with my dad’s family for Thanksgiving this year. My parents are divorced and I live a lot closer to my mom than my dad so it was so great to see most of my family on that side in such a beautiful place for the holiday. I realize Thanksgiving was over a month ago, but this trip was too good not to share. Today, I want to give y’all all the details of our trip: where to stay, where to eat, what to do, etc. Everything you need to know before traveling to Lake Tahoe.
Before I start talking about this vacation, I want to make sure it is said that my family and I were VERY safe and aware of COVID-19 restrictions that were in place in all of the places we came from/flew into/ended up. We made the conscious decision to travel knowing that most of us would be traveling on planes, so we were very willing and able to adhere to every rule and restriction in place. None of us were recently exposed to or had recently contracted COVID, so we felt safe and comfortable. We are taking this very seriously and have remained safe as we do not want to put any of our family in danger.
Okay, now that that is out of the way, let’s talk about South Lake Tahoe, California.
Where to Stay
We stayed in an Airbnb when we were in Lake Tahoe which was absolutely beautiful! I’ve linked it here so that you can check it out, however, I definitely think it works better for big families. Our trip was supposed to be around 15-20 people but we ended up having only 12. The house was definitely “excessive” but it had a beautiful fireplace, a huge kitchen for gathering, and a lot of seating areas so that you could always find a cozy place to catch up with your family. We also had a hot tub, pool table, karaoke machine, poker table, and a private drive, so we felt secluded from our neighbors and we were never bored. If you aren’t coming with a huge family and don’t love Airbnbs, I recommend using Expedia to find a place to stay while you’re here.
Where to Eat
If you’ve ever been to California, you know that it is an EXPENSIVE place to visit. Not only that, but South Lake Tahoe is a big tourist city, especially during this time of year. With that in mind, we didn’t want to eat out a ton while we were visiting. However, there were a couple exceptions. First, if you're looking for a local coffee spot, my sister HIGHLY recommends Black Cabin Coffee. She ordered the iced Peanut Brittle Latte and she absolutely loved it. A lot of my family members also got there a day before me and they ordered in Vinny's Pizza + Pasta and they also really enjoyed that as well. Lastly, one night we went shopping in the downtown area and a few of my family members stopped at Gun Barrel Restaurant, where they ordered a few beers and appetizers to enjoy before heading home for dinner. Overall, every place we tried while we were in Tahoe, were all thoroughly enjoyed and raved about by members of my family.
What to Do
Alright, so this is the part that I can offer the most advice. First of all, my family loves to ski. I, unfortunately, do not, due to the incident we will forever refer to as the "yard sale" (if you know, you know), but because my family loves it so much, they purchase the Epic Pass annually. This is basically a pass that gets you into a ton of ski resorts all over the country. I will say that it is INCREDIBLY expensive, so I wouldn't purchase one unless you are planning to ski multiple times a year. This pass DID get them into Heavenly, the most popular ski resort in the Lake Tahoe area.
If you don't like to ski, there is still so much to do! First, I recommend visiting Zephyr Cove. It was right near downtown Tahoe, so it was a super quick drive. They also have dinner cruises on Saturdays and Sundays so you can watch the sunset over the lake, too. It was seriously so beautiful and such an incredible experience. To see the mountains right on the lake was so cool. It was not something I had ever seen before so it was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip.
Next, I would head to Emerald Bay. I actually didn't feel so great on the day that my family went, but even just seeing the pictures immediately made me regret not going. If I ever make it back to Lake Tahoe, this is definitely a must for me. It was about an hour from our Airbnb but my sister says it was VERY well worth the trip. Please enjoy this photo of my sister enjoying Emerald Bay.
We also were able to take a Gondola ride-- not like the kind in Italy, but like a fancy ski lift to the top of a mountain. We were able to stop halfway up the mountain and look out at a viewpoint and stop at a gift shop. Once we got to the top, we were able to get out and there were so many things to do! You could hike, play in the snow, and normally you would be able to play on a playground or ride the mountain coaster, but I'm not sure if they were open due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Lastly, always check out downtown Lake Tahoe. There were a ton of cool shops there. My dad and stepmom went to many art galleries looking for art for their new house, and we all went to Shirt Off My Back which had these really comfortable Lake Tahoe, California sweatshirts that came in all different colors and only cost $20. I think at least four of us got one! I also got a magnet for Dalton's mom and a mug for a Christmas gift for one of our dear friends!
I hope you guys enjoyed my first travel guide! I had so much fun in South Lake Tahoe, and I hope this helps any of you planning to travel there in the near future.
Love you all so big,