area of sotuh lake tahoe in a scenic state park with blue water

Your Perfect Weekend in Lake Tahoe Itinerary: 2 Days of Alpine Bliss

A weekend in Tahoe is a great opportunity for adventure and relaxation. What a wonderful opportunity for magnificent landscapes and happy memory-making!

Nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe spans across 2 states, California and Nevada. It is 22 miles long, 12 miles wide, and has 72 miles of shoreline. It is the deepest lake in California and the 2nd deepest in the country, after Crater Lake in Oregon.

It was the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and is home to some of the richest Pioneer history in America.

Nearby you will find Donner Pass, named for the infamous Donner Party, as well as remnants of early estates of the area as well as numerous historical sites and museums to visit.

When planning a two day weekend in Tahoe, choosing your adventure is not an easy feat. This Lake Tahoe itinerary for a two-day trip will hopefully point you in the right direction, no matter what season it is when you decide to visit the region!

Day One of Your Weekend in Lake Tahoe Itinerary

Start the morning at a Tahoe cafe

Start your day off right and head to one of many cozy coffee shops in Tahoe.

We suggest Clyde’s Coffee Roasting Company in Stateline, Nevada. It is hard to beat delicious fresh-roasted coffee! Plus they serve pastries from Schat’s Bakery in nearby Carson City!

This shop is on the Nevada side of the lake but definitely worth a visit!

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Pastel manicured hands holding a paper cup of coffee wearing a denim jacket and a flower print colorful dress.

Drive towards Squaw Valley

Note: Squaw Valley is, finally, moving towards the 21st century and removing the offensive term ‘Squaw’ from its name. Work towards finding a new name for the resort is currently being done and a new name is expected to be unveiled in 2021.

Until it is changed, I will be using the current name as it is an important place in Tahoe’s landscape and history, and I still think it’s worth a visit.

After energizing with coffee or indulging in hot cocoa, head to Squaw Valley for a tram ride. It takes about an hour from Stateline, NV to reach Squaw Valley.

It is a great opportunity to sight-see while driving out to Squaw. You will pass Emerald Bay State Park on the way, don’t skip it!

The view of Emerald Bay from above - lots of pine trees surrounding a turquoise blue lake with a small island in the center.

Stop in Emerald Bay State Park

We suggest making a quick stop in Emerald Bay on the way to Squaw for a little hike — it’s absolutely deserving of a spot on your Lake Tahoe itinerary!

Vikingsholm Castle is a great short hike in the park. You can easily spend only an hour here. They give tours in the warmer months as well.

If you are wanting a little more hiking on the way,  check out the 4.4 mile Emerald Point Trail.

Castle made of stone with a Scandinavian inspired design in the middle of a pine forest.

Soar above the resort via the Aerial Tram

No matter the detour length, you will find your way to Squaw Valley for an excellent experience when you ride the tram above the ski resort.

Heading 2000 feet up the mountain to High Camp at 8200 feet above sea level, you’ll enjoy scenic views over all of Tahoe.

Granite Bistro is at the top of the mountain, which makes for a great lunchtime treat.

Aerial tramway car hoving over an alpine landscape of rocks, mountains, and pine trees.

Head out for a hike

From High Camp, there are numerous hiking trails to check out, varying in length and difficulty.

For a taste of history, check out the hike to the top of the Emigrant Chair Lift. Here you will find the Watson Monument, which sits along the old Emigrant Road that was used by pioneers for travel and supplies. Robert Montgomery Watson built the monument you will see here during the summer of 1931.

Those that frequented this road built trail markers, many of which still standing. Plus there are 360-degree panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains here!

You can choose this hike or any others at High Camp depending on your interest and energy level.

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Hiking from High Camp to Shirley Lake with a beautiful view on the hike of the pine trees, mountains, and blue sky dotted with small clouds.

Have a drink or snack at Tram Car Bar

In addition to hiking or skiing, there are lots of places to shop and eat.

One of our favorites is the Tram Car Bar, a great little happy hour or snack spot in an old tram from the 1970s which has been renovated to be a cute little bar.

Or if you’re in the mood for something more hearty, try Fireside Pizza Company.

Plus there is some nice shopping at the Village. Duck into Patagonia for eco-friendly outdoor gear or Mindplay for brain-enhancing games perfect to bring back to your cabin!

Art lovers should check out Gallery Keoki for spectacular photography from mountain adventures around the world by Keoki Flagg.

Male and female hand cheering their drink: one a pink drink with grapefruit, the other a mojito drink with mint and lime.

Return to South Lake Tahoe with a stop in Camp Richardson

From here, head back down to South Lake Tahoe for an early evening beer tour and dinner options.

On your way back to South Lake Tahoe, you have the option to stop at Camp Richardson for another stroll (and cross country skiing if you like). It is right near Lake Tahoe for all-season fun!

Follow the South Lake Tahoe Beer Trail

Try the South Lake Tahoe Beer Trail for a pub crawl and dinner options. It features 9 of Tahoe’s best eateries, taprooms, and breweries.

Enjoy Cold Water Brewery and Grill for their handmade brews and seasonal menu.

Head to The Hangar, a taproom complete with bocce, corn hole, a patio and even a dog park!

South of North Brewing Co. has fire pits to cozy up around while enjoying their brats and sausages.

Four different kinds of beer in different colors arranged in a square on a tasting flight block of wood.

For a less casual dinner experience, try Riva Grill or The Idle Hour Lake Tahoe.

The Idle Hour Lake Tahoe features a wine bar, fireside outdoor dining, and beautiful views of Lake Tahoe.

Heavenly Resort is also a nice option. The Loft at Heavenly Village has cozy ski resort charm and table-side make-your-own s’mores!

Enjoy rest at your place of stay and prepare for day 2 of your Lake Tahoe weekend adventure!

Day Two of Your Weekend in Lake Tahoe Itinerary

Start the day with a delicious breakfast

You’ve got a busy day on this Lake Tahoe itinerary — after all, we’ve got only two days in Tahoe to fit everything in!

Begin the day in South Lake Tahoe. The Gateway Cafe or Heidi’s Pancake House are two great breakfast options.

For quick food and coffee, instead of a sit-down place, check out Free Bird Cafe. They have some delicious organic food and smoothies plus great coffee.

For a less healthy, but still scrumptious quick option, try out Heavenly Donuts in Heavenly Village.

Hand holding a donut with strawberry frosting with white sprinkles and chocolate frosted donuts below it.

Head out to the lake — winter or summer!

From here, spend the rest of your morning kayaking or paddleboarding on the water or ice skating, depending on the season.

In summer, there are many places to rent a kayak or paddleboard. Kayak Tahoe is a great option with multiple put-in locations available.

In the winter, Heavenly Village Ice Skating Rink is a nice option for outdoor skating. Either option brings hours of fun.

Don’t forget to drink water no matter the season — all that activity will wear you out!

A yellow kayak contrasting with the turquoise blue waters of Lake Tahoe which are crystal clear near the beach edge

Have a delicious lunch one of three ways

Lunch is your next consideration. Empanash is a great option with a selection of sweet and savory Argentine empanadas.

Tamarack Lodge is also a nice option to warm up in and have a drink. They have a sky deck too, perfect for enjoying food and drinks outside.

For lunch with a view, try Artemis Lakefront Cafe for Mediterranean food on Lake Tahoe.

Empanadas (wheat pastries stuffed with filling) with beef and hard boiled egg served with salad.

Take an afternoon hike or X-country ski

For the afternoon, we suggest taking in all the sights of Lake Tahoe with an afternoon hike or cross country skiing.

This will give you the opportunity to connect with the land and enjoy the awe-inspiring beauty of Tahoe.

Or enjoy other afternoon activities in Tahoe

For those not super keen on hiking there are other great options to finish off your weekend in Tahoe on the right foot. Choose your own adventure to tailor this Lake Tahoe itinerary to your specific preferences.

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For relaxation lovers, hit the spa at Walley’s Resort for mineral hot tubs and eucalyptus steam rooms.

For history fans, check out Tallac Historic Site to see the estates built between 1894 and 1930. There are tours available in summer.

Old wood cabin with a wooden chair in the center of the photo next to a lake with some light snow on the ground.

You can also visit Donner Memorial State Park to learn about the Donner Party and check out the Native American History exhibits at the Emigrant Trail Museum.

For people who love to shop, The Shops at Heavenly Village are also a nice option for shopping, live music and more.

Heavenly also has a gondola ride for more fun suspended in the sky, with views and a snack bar at the top!

Finish off your day with an epic sunset

Enjoy the evening with a view of the sunset.

Some suggestions for easy access sunset viewing in Tahoe would be Cave Rock. It requires a short hike to the vantage point, which has wonderful views.

Alternately, you can try Trout Creek Meadow and Lily Beach for a less crowded option.

You can also head to Zephyr Cove on the east side of the lake for another spectacular sunset viewing option.

View of the Tahoe sunset from Cave Rock, the perfect way to end your weekend in Lake Tahoe itinerary

End your weekend in Tahoe with a tasty meal

Finally, finish the day with one last meal. Any of the previous recommendations would do. Here are some final suggestions, too!

Beacon Bar and Grill is a popular option with beachside dining, open year-round. Plus, they have live music!

Jimmy’s at the landing also has great views and the option to sit next to your own private fire while enjoying brews and great food.

Moody’s Bistro and Bar and Beats, both located in Truckee, have outdoor dining and live jazz on some evenings!

Most of these options assume you are sticking to the popular South Lake Tahoe area. These options will be convenient and give you a well-rounded experience of Lake Tahoe.

Clear water in Lake Tahoe that is turquoise, almost green, with rocks and pine trees on shore and snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Last Words on Visiting Tahoe for the Weekend

When visiting such a wonderful place, remember to be responsible and socially conscious. It is imperative that you practice “Leave No Trace” principles.

This means, clean up after yourself, stay on trails, and respect the land. Always be reverent to the beauty and privilege you have to visit such amazing locations.

In addition, bring a day pack when going on hikes and bring water and snacks. Plus, check the weather and make sure you are well-prepared for the seasonal conditions you may experience.

You will find yourself energized by the clear blue and green waters of Lake Tahoe. Find yourself on a dock taking in the sights or suspended in air on the Aerial Tram. Indulge in a mouth-watering meal or in one of many brewery options for a high alpine buzz. Anything you choose will not fail to disappoint.

It is a blessing to travel. When it comes to Tahoe, you are traveling to one of the best destinations in the world. It is the largest high alpine lake in North America, after all.

What an amazing mountain adventure awaits! The Sierra Nevada Mountains will take you in and bring you inspiration in a renewed respect for the earth. Lake Tahoe will excite and delight you!

Where to Stay in Tahoe

This Tahoe weekend itinerary has you based in South Lake Tahoe for convenience, but there are several incredible places in Tahoe you could also opt to stay in.

Here are two great choices in South Lake Tahoe, both available on Airbnb (my preferred way to travel in Tahoe!), and then I’ll give you a few other options in the Tahoe area.

And if you’re on a budget, you can also opt to stay in a Lake Tahoe campsite if visiting in the summer!

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South Lake Tahoe Airbnbs

Lake Tahoe House with Hot Tub

A wooden Tahoe Airbnb with a picnic table, grill, and hot tub available for use in the backyard.
Image provided by Airbnb

The main living area is open-floor, spacious, and homely, and it comes equipped with a fireplace for added winter comfort. The windows extend from one end of the living area wall to the other, giving you a beautiful panoramic view of your surroundings. You can step out on the patio and enjoy yourself in the hot tub, or gather around the grill for a delicious barbecue.

Book this South Lake Tahoe cabin on Airbnb!

Dog-Friendly Cabin

A charming pet friendly cabin in Tahoe with wood detailing, a green door, a BBQ grill in front and a small grassy area.
Image provided by Airbnb

The Prospector Cabin is a great resort surrounded by nature, where man’s best friend is welcomed with open arms. The two-floor cabin has a beautiful wooden design and a lot of character, largely thanks to its vintage furniture.

The bedroom on the second floor soaks in a lot of sunlight and has a nice view of the garden area, and positioned in the living area is the always-welcome fireplace for guaranteed warmth no matter the season.

Book this dog-friendly Tahoe cabin on Airbnb!

If you’d rather be on the north side of Lake Tahoe, close to Donner Lake and Truckee, here are two choices, one in Carnelian Bay and one in Crystal Bay, Nevada.

However, do note that it will add about an hour of drive time to your day to and from your accommodations, so consider that before booking.

Charming A-Frame (Carnelian Bay, CA)

An A-Frame wooden cabin in Tahoe with chairs on an outdoor deck in the forest.
Image provided by Airbnb

With its old-school wood design and homey interior, this beautiful A-frame epitomizes coziness. The entire house oozes with personality – just about everything apart from the kitchenware, fireplace, and bathroom tiles is made of wood.

The front wall of the house is essentially just glass, giving you a full view of the local greenery, as well as a lot of natural light to offset the darker colors of the interior. The house has two decks, and one of them comes equipped with a gas grill, making it the perfect cookout spot for a larger group of people. In addition, the outdoor hot tub is available throughout the year.

Book this cute Tahoe cabin on Airbnb!

Stargazer (Crystal Bay, NV)

A small studio Airbnb in Tahoe with nearly floor to ceiling windows looking onto the brilliant blue waters of Lake Tahoe.
Image provided by Airbnb

The Stargazer is a lakeside retreat for two by Lake Tahoe that truly lives up to its name – the view of the night sky from the balcony is breathtaking, as is the daytime view of the crystal-clear lake water, the surrounding forest, and the mountains off in the distance.

The balcony is also a perfect spot to catch some sun rays and fire up the grill for a nice barbecue. In addition, you’ll have access to a fireplace and heater if you’re visiting in the winter. Thanks to the window-covered walls, you also get a great view of the outside from virtually anywhere in the studio, and all the natural light makes the wooden interior that much more lively.

Book this Lake Tahoe cabin on Airbnb!

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