6 Tips for Visiting Lake Tahoe for the First Time

Too often we hear about past negative experiences non-locals had while traveling to or visiting Lake Tahoe for the first time. They got stuck in traffic. They had to wait in long lines. They got horribly sunburned on the ski trails. They forgot essential items at home. The list goes on. As a top hotel in Lake Tahoe, we never like hearing stories like these. We love Tahoe (what’s not to love, right?) and we want our guests to have an awesome time — whether it’s their first time here or their hundredth. Thankfully most of these scenarios can be avoided with a little bit of planning. With that in mind, we’ve put together some of our top tips for visiting Lake Tahoe for the first time to help you make the most of your vacation.

1. Pack and wear layers.

Temperatures vary drastically throughout the days and various seasons. Even in the warm summer months, the mornings and evenings can be chilly. If you’re packing for a Tahoe adventure, we recommend layers. That way, you can easily take things on and off as temperatures fluctuate indoors and outside. If you’re planning to do any physical activities, such as skiing or hiking, consider lightweight, breathable fabrics. If you’re planning a skiing or snowboarding trip, don’t miss our packing checklist with clothing recommendations.

2. Plan for high altitude.

Lake Tahoe is located in the Sierra Nevada and South Lake Tahoe has an altitude of about 6,237 feet. However, ski areas like Heavenly Mountain Resort can reach altitudes of 10,000 feet or more. With that in mind, it’s important to be prepared when visiting areas with high elevation to avoid altitude sickness. Check out our tips for handling Lake Tahoe’s high altitude like a pro.

3. Utilize public transportation to avoid traffic.

It can get pretty busy here, especially during peak travel seasons. If you want to avoid getting stuck in traffic jams, consider using alternative transportation options. The South Tahoe Airporter provides year-round transportation from Reno/Tahoe International Airport to Lake Tahoe, including directly to Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel. Once you’re here, there are plenty of shuttles, buses, and trolleys to take you to popular destinations, including ski resorts, beaches, and more. Not only will you be helping to relieve traffic congestion, but you’ll also be helping to protect our natural resources and keep Tahoe blue, which is something we take very seriously.

4. Research and plan for activities ahead of time.

There are so many fun things to do in Lake Tahoe. However, as noted above, it can get crowded. To make the most of your trip, be sure to do some research ahead of time, make reservations, and book tickets when you can. That way you won’t miss out on anything and you’ll be able to schedule for the times that are most convenient for you.

  • Whether you’re driving or taking public transportation, check maps and schedules to plan out the best route and save time.
  • Reserve any athletic equipment, such as skis, and lessons from local experts ahead of time to guarantee availability.
  • Research and find the ski slopes and hiking trails best suited for your skill/experience level.
  • If you have a must-visit restaurant in mind, consider making a reservation — especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. Our knowledgeable local staff is happy to provide recommendations for the best activities, trails, and Tahoe experiences to meet your needs.

5. Hit the trails early

The early bird definitely gets the worm in Tahoe. Getting active early in the morning oftentimes allows you to beat the crowds and enjoy some peace and quiet out on the skiing, hiking, and biking trails. Plus, you’ll get to take in some of those amazing Tahoe sunrises. If you are driving, arriving early gets you a better chance of finding a parking spot as well. As a bonus, temperatures tend to be a little milder in the mornings without the hot sun beating down, so you’ll be a little more comfortable.

6. Wear sunscreen and protect your skin.

We talk about this a lot because it’s so important. Especially in winter and colder temperatures, people forget that the sun can still impact them — and oftentimes causes more damage as it shines brightly off the snow. Whether it’s warm or cold, bring sunscreen and reapply it often. Your skin will thank you later. Hats, visors, and sunglasses also come in handy.

See you in Tahoe!

We hope you found these tips helpful. If you haven’t booked your trip already, what are you waiting for? We can’t wait for you to experience Tahoe for the first time.

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