Picture a perfectly blue, enormous lake that is surrounded by a beautiful snow-capped mountain range. The gorgeous freshwater lake has a massive surface area of 191 square miles and is situated on the California/Nevada border. As out-of-towners, we always heard about the natural beauty of this place, but never realized how big it was until we visited for the first time.
After exploring, we soon realized the greater Lake Tahoe area stretches into a naturally diverse range that stretches into two western states.
What’s the difference between North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe?
North Lake Tahoe is the cluster of communities, parkland, resorts, and forest land along the north and northwest of Lake Tahoe. North Lake Tahoe is not actually a town name, but rather contains Truckee, Tahoe City, Dollar Point, Ridgewood, Carnelian Bay, Kings Beach, Crystal Bay, and Incline Village.
North Lake Tahoe
North Lake Tahoe is the cluster of communities, parkland, resorts, and forest land along the north and northwest banks of Lake Tahoe. North Lake Tahoe is not actually a town name, but rather contains Truckee, Tahoe City, Dollar Point, Ridgewood, Carnelian Bay, Kings Beach, Crystal Bay, and Incline Village.
Things to do in North Lake Tahoe
- Skiing and snowboarding: Squaw Valley and Northstar are the most popular destinations in North Lake and rightly so with incredible terrain and pleasant villages. Aside from the two most popular resorts, within close proximity of the north side of the lake are also Alpine Meadows, Homewood, Diamond Peak, and Mt. Rose.
- Mountain Biking: The Tahoe area is a widely known hotspot for mountain biking. Don’t worry though, with as many trails as this area boasts, you won’t feel crowded while exploring these mountains. Burton Creek State Park has some seriously awesome trails for bikers of all skill levels.
Where to stay in North Lake Tahoe
North Lake Tahoe exudes a cozy, traditional mountain experience by the Sierra Nevada Range. Less populated than South Lake, you’ll have more of that rural, “Mountain Town” vibe from this area. That doesn’t mean this area lacks amenities though, each town has lots of unique rental options.
Tahoe City: Tahoe City by itself is a cute mountain town right on the lake, so if being on the water is important during the snowy months, then this is your place to search.
Truckee: With a quaint main street of boutiques, bars, cafes, and restaurants, right off the main highway to the region, Truckee will have the rental you are looking for with hosting friends and family.
South Lake Tahoe
On the other end of the lake is the actual town of South Lake Tahoe. While the town serves as the core, South Lake Tahoe can refer to everything from Emerald Bay, a beautiful cove off the southwest corner of the lake, to Glenbrook along the East Shore.
Things to do in South Lake Tahoe
- Also Skiing and Snowboarding: Similar to the north, South Lake Tahoe also has great slopes. Heavenly Ski Resort lies in the south, where the gondola into the mountain is also right at the state line of California and Nevada. To streamline your trip to the mountain, you can even access the lift from downtown! Heavenly is far from the only skiing option in this area, but unlike the other resorts, its village is shared by both South Lake Tahoe and Stateline, Nevada. After skiing, you can just boot walk right into any of the numerous restaurants or bars for apres. Yes, Kirkwood and Sierra-at-Tahoe are considered within reach and are each great mountains to boot, but if you want a Lake Tahoe experience beyond just skiing, then these shouldn’t be high on your radar.
- Gamble: Besides enjoying breathtaking natural views, there is a bunch more to do. One topic that people have different opinions on is gambling. There is a distinct presence of casinos that pop up literally on the border of Nevada and California. Visit Montbleu, Harrah’s, Hard Rock, and Harvey’s casinos, which loom ten stories over Route 50 for ample opportunities for card games, slots, and all the table games you’d expect to find in a casino.
Where to stay in South Lake Tahoe
With two towns sharing a border at the state line, the region of South Lake Tahoe packs a tremendous amount in a small area. So if you’re looking for everything available without the stress of finding an Uber or packing the family into the car, find a vacation rental in South Lake Tahoe, California, or Stateline, Nevada.
South Lake Tahoe: Easily the most recognizable town name in the greater Tahoe area, South Lake will offer you affordable rentals with the easiest possible access to the gondola. This town also has a huge selection of restaurants and bars, and is a great choice for a vacation any time of year.
Stateline: Just steps over the California/Nevada border, Stateline is where you’ll find the nightlife action at all of the casinos, and everything that they bring to the table. Like South Lake Tahoe, Stateline is also right on the lake and has plenty of lake access and related activities available.
East Side and West Side
North and South Lake is not the only way to navigate the lake. West Shore and East Shore are aptly named as they sit along the western and eastern shores of the lake. On the west side there are some very cute communities, and gorgeous homes right at the water’s edge, which contrasts the serenity and vistas found while driving along the East Shore.
Make the Mountains Your Home
You couldn’t possibly go wrong when choosing where to visit in the Lake Tahoe region. Pristine mountains and epic adventures surround the lake in all directions. It’s just a matter of selecting which town suits your needs perfectly.
So, have you decided between North Lake and South Lake? Allow us to help you find the right vacation rental for you!