Lake Tahoe is almost like an Americanised version of our own Lake Taupo in New Zealand. It’s a big, beautiful lake, flanked by gorgeous scenery – including snow-capped mountains, forests, and ski fields.
In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake in the western United States that straddles the state line between California and Nevada, roughly seven hours from Las Vegas (our last destination) and four hours from San Francisco (our next). It’s also one of the deepest and largest freshwater lakes in the world, with a thriving tourist industry that attracts nearly three million people per year.
For us, it was a great opportunity to recharge after a hectic week in Las Vegas.
When is the best time to visit Lake Tahoe?
Well, according to the travel websites I’ve looked at, the best time of year to visit Lake Tahoe is from early June to September (summer) or from late November to mid-May (winter). However, our stay in mid October was perfectly acceptable – it was pleasant and fairly warm during the day (shorts and t-shirt weather) but it could be bitterly cold at night (bring a jacket).
In fact, one evening we watched the sunset at a bar right on the edge of the lake, only to realise once the sun had gone that we were drastically under-dressed. We had to run back to town before we froze to death, temporarily taking shelter in an Applebee’s of all places on our way.
But the rest of the time, the temperature was perfectly reasonable – ideal, actually, after the crazy heat of Las Vegas.
We stayed at a crappy little motor lodge in South Lake Tahoe, which is easily the busiest of the towns and cities based around the lake. Our accommodation was close enough to walk to town, but also within walking distance of the lake.
There are a number of casinos in the town, but we’d had our fill in Vegas, so we avoided them. Instead, we jumped in our hire car and drove around the lake, taking in the lovely scenery and stopping in at all the little villages that we liked the look of. At night, it was mostly too cold to go out anyway (we’d packed for summer because we never thought we’d be going to Lake Tahoe –read why here).
Lake Tahoe is also the place where we had IHOP for the first time. Americans, you can stop reading now because you’ll be well aware of this chain of breakfast restaurants, but to everyone else I’ve just got to say how much I love this restaurant. The food is so cheap and plentiful (too plentiful, if you ask me, but so is all American food). The one in South Lake Tahoe looks like a Swedish ski chalet, too, which is pretty cool.
After two days and nights in Lake Tahoe, we drove on to San Francisco and the Napa Valley.
Now whenever we hear this song by Kiwi band Elemeno P we think of our time there: