Where to stay in Lake Tahoe depends on what activities you want to do in this mountain resort town. I recommend staying at a ski resort if you are visiting Tahoe to hit the slopes, at a cabin in the forest if you want a true nature experience, or on the lakefront to go boating on the water for sunrise.
As a California local, I’m here to help you pick the best places to stay in Lake Tahoe. I’ll point you in the right direction for your ideal area, hotel, resort, rental, or RV campground.
For activities, bookmark my guide to things to do in Lake Tahoe.
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Best Places to Stay in Lake Tahoe
Just looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay in Lake Tahoe? Here are my top picks:
- 🏆 Best Overall Hotel – Tahoe Seasons Resort
- ✨ Best Luxury Cabin – Lake Living
- 👪 Best for Families – Club Tahoe Resort
- 👔 Best for Business – Truckee Donner Lodge
- 🏨 Best Boutique – The A-Team
- ⛷️ Best Near Ski Resorts – The Village at Palisades Tahoe
- 💵 Best Budget – Pepper Tree Inn Tahoe City
- 🏠 Best Rental – The Isosceles
Ok, let’s do a deep dive into the best areas and neighborhoods in Lake Tahoe:
7 Best Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in Lake Tahoe
Although Lake Tahoe itself is humungous, the neighborhoods around the lake are somewhat concentrated. They may be separated by the state border, but Lake Tahoe’s neighborhoods are relatively easy to maneuver.
The biggest neighborhood on the California side is South Lake Tahoe, followed by Tahoe City. The Stateline neighborhood on the Nevada side of the lake and South Lake Tahoe are less than 10 minutes from each other.
South Lake Tahoe
South Lake Tahoe is the most popular resort city around the glistening blue alpine waters of Lake Tahoe. There’s no shortage of ski resorts and beaches here, encouraging outdoor enthusiasts to flock to the shores of South Lake Tahoe.
South Lake Tahoe also has many restaurants, bars, cafes, and gear rental shops. I recommend staying here if it’s your first time in the area so you can be close to all the major amenities and tour agencies.
This area is a very short distance from the Nevada Stateline and many visitors staying in South Lake Tahoe like to cross the border for some after-hours fun at the Nevada-side casinos.
Some of the top ski resorts in California are in South Lake Tahoe like Heavenly Ski Resort, Kirkwood Mountain Resort, and Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort. If cross-country skiing or snowboarding is your top priority in Tahoe, then staying in South Lake Tahoe is your best bet.
Pros of Staying in South Lake Tahoe Neighborhood:
- Close to the main ski resorts
- Many private and public lake beaches
- Plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from
- High chance of meeting friendly Tahoe locals
- Many gear rental shops
- Close to the Nevada Stateline
Cons of Staying in South Lake Tahoe Neighborhood:
- Can be busy, especially on the weekends
- The beaches can be overcrowded
- Restaurants and accommodation are more expensive
- There can be weekend traffic
📚 South Lake Tahoe Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Skiing
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in South Lake Tahoe
🎟️ Top Attractions – Pope Beach, Tallac Historic Site, Emerald Bay State Park, Eagle Falls
Located on the northwestern shore of Lake Tahoe near Truckee, Tahoe City welcomes tourists with quirky shops, art galleries, and historic log cabins. Enjoy skiing in the winter and boating in the summer on Lake Tahoe, check out the local farmers market, or try your shot at a game of golf next time you’re in Tahoe City.
One of the most popular spots in Tahoe City is Commons Beach. This park is right on the water and hosts summer movies in the park every Wednesday. Another fun pastime activity in Tahoe City is a stroll down the lake-view boardwalk. This is the perfect place to walk your dog or to walk off a big lunch by one of the coolest lakes in California.
You will find some small-scale ski resorts in Tahoe City but the area is most known for its number of amenities like the abundance of hotels, restaurants, and bars. There’s also a shopping mall on the main strip, making this neighborhood the best for visitors who are not only interested in Tahoe’s outdoor activities.
Pros of Staying in Tahoe City Neighborhood:
- Many restaurants
- Most amenities are within walking distance of each other
- Plenty of bars and cafes
- Good for shopping
- Less crowded than South Lake Tahoe
Cons of Staying in Tahoe City Neighborhood:
- Not as many gear rental shops
- Not as popular for outdoor activities
- Fewer lake access areas
📚 Tahoe City Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Amenities
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Tahoe City
🎟️ Top Attractions – Skylandia Park, Gatekeeper’s Museum, Lake Tahoe Dam
Experience the best of both worlds when you stay in the Stateline neighborhood. One minute you’re in California, the next, Nevada. Stateline is on the southeastern shore of Lake Tahoe and is the best place to stay for affordable Tahoe prices.
Gas is cheaper on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe as well as the accommodation options and food. It’s also legal to gamble at Stateline, which is a fun nighttime activity. The main casinos are Horizon, Harvey’s, and Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, which showcase the best entertainment in Lake Tahoe.
The nearest ski resort is across the border at Heavenly Mountain Ski Resort, only a 2-minute drive. Stateline is close enough to all of the major Tahoe amenities and excursions but without the heavy price tag of staying next to them on the California side.
One of my favorite places to stay on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe is Zephyr Cove resort, one of the best spots to camp in California. This RV resort is right on the lake and close to major Tahoe hiking trails. For travelers who prefer to splurge on their vacation, the Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe is the perfect option.
Pros of Staying in Stateline Neighborhood:
- More affordable than the California side
- Can gamble in casinos
- More options for entertainment
- Has a private beach
- Cheaper gas
Cons of Staying in Stateline Neighborhood:
- Farther away from the main Tahoe excursions
- The downtown area can be crowded
- There may be traffic on the weekends
- Can be noisy at night
📚 Stateline Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Affordable Prices
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Stateline
🎟️ Top Attractions – Kahle Park, Lam Watah Nature Trail, Puzzle Room Tahoe, Sand Harbor
This small community is on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, 5.5 miles south of Tahoe City, and is the ultimate stop on an epic California road trip.
The main attraction of Homewood is the Homewood Mountain Resort, a cross-country ski haven. The perfectly powdered slopes have a bird’s-eye view of the huge Lake Tahoe below, making it one of the most scenic places to ski in Tahoe.
Homewood is away from the hustle and bustle of the main tourist attractions and is closer to the hiking trails off the beaten path. Enjoy close access to Ellis Peak, Blackwood Ridge, and Barker Pass/ Tahoe Rim Trail, all beautiful trails nestled in the Tahoe pine trees.
One of the main activities that should be on your itinerary when you visit Lake Tahoe is boating on the gorgeous alpine lake. The Homewood neighborhood is right next to Obexer’s Boat Company, a convenient place to rent a marine vessel for the day or book a lake tour.
There are many vacation rentals in this area with either mountain or lake views. Tahoma Meadow Cottages is a cozy boutique only minutes outside of Homewood and offers guests a free ski shuttle.
Pros of Staying in Homewood Neighborhood:
- Less crowded than other Lake Tahoe neighborhoods
- Close to major ski resorts/ ski slopes
- Near the top hiking trails
- Many hotels have a hot tub
Cons of Staying in Homewood Neighborhood:
- Farther from main Lake Tahoe activities
- Fewer entertainment options
- Not many hotels are available
📚 Homewood Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Peace and Quiet
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Homewood
🎟️ Top Attractions – Eagle Rock Trail, Hellman Ehrman Mansion
Incline Village is on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. This neighborhood is appraised for its one-of-a-kind, all-inclusive mountain retreats but there are also a variety of house rentals and hotels.
This north Lake Tahoe enclave also features relaxing, private beaches and a slower pace of lake living. Incline Village invites its visitors to sip on their morning cup of joe and watch for Steller’s Jays in the nearby pines or settle down with a good book.
Technically on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, Incline Village is home to large mansions that celebrities use as summer vacation homes. This area is less crowded than other busy Lake Tahoe neighborhoods and is more affordable than the California side.
Nearby trails in Incline Village include Tahoe East Shore Trail, Tunnel Creek Trail, Sand Harbor Nature Trail, and Tamarack Peak, all top California hiking trails. Incline Village is the perfect place to stay for visitors who like accommodation options and want to stay in a 5-star resort one night and tent camp the next.
Pros of Staying in Incline Village Neighborhood:
- Plenty of accommodation options
- Close to many hiking trails
- Upscale hotels and resorts
- Gated communities and private beaches
Cons of Staying in Incline Village Neighborhood:
- Farther from main tourist attractions
- Hotels can be expensive
- Fewer entertainment options
📚 Incline Village Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Accommodation Options
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Incline Village
🎟️ Top Attractions – Diamond Peak Ski Resort, Tahoe East Shore Trail, North Tahoe Nevada Welcome Center
Formerly called Squaw Valley, Olympic Valley lies halfway between Truckee and Lake Tahoe and is one of the coziest places in California. This area encourages the spirit of adventure and exploration with its 3,600 acres of open skiing and snowboarding terrain at Palisades Tahoe.
Olympic Valley is also home to live music, spring pool parties, and a wacky Tahoe pond skimming contest. Known as a winter sports haven, stay in Olympic Valley for the winter snow experience of a lifetime.
Besides shredding down the slopes at Squaw Valley Resort, you can also enjoy snowshoeing and dog sledding in this winter wonderland neighborhood. There are summertime activities in Olympic Valley as well like riding the cable car to the high camp activity center at 8,200 feet or cycling along the mystifying Truckee River.
The outdoor activities available in Olympic Valley are endless. Stay in this Lake Tahoe neighborhood if adventure is your main priority while exploring the Sierra Nevada Mountain town.
Pros of Staying in Olympic Valley Neighborhood:
- Many adventurous activities are available
- Cool mountain eateries
- Plenty of open space for backcountry skiing
- Fewer crowds and less traffic
Cons of Staying in Olympic Valley Neighborhood:
- Father away from Lake Tahoe amenities and entertainment
- No major hotel chains are offered
- Fewer restaurants are available
📚 Olympic Valley Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Adventure
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Olympic Valley
🎟️ Top Attractions – Palisades Tahoe, Olympic Museum, Five Lakes Trailhead, Shirley Canyon Trailhead
One of the largest neighborhoods around Lake Tahoe, Truckee sits just north of Olympic Valley in Tahoe National Forest. Truckee is nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and is a great place to stay if you are debating where to stay in Lake Tahoe without crowds.
With ski resorts, the beautiful Donner Lake, the pine tree-lined Truckee River, and surrounding Sierra Mountain peaks, Truckee is one of the most beautiful towns in Northern California.
Truckee is one of the best places to stay near Lake Tahoe for a more peaceful escape. The historic downtown district offers western wooded establishments like an old-timey barber shop and old-fashioned candy stores.
This small mountain town has plenty of accommodation options from luxury resorts to small rental cabins and affordable motels. There’s something for everyone in Truckee and is best for those who wish to escape crazy weekend crowds in Lake Tahoe.
Pros of Staying in Truckee Neighborhood:
- Fewer crowds
- Off the beaten path
- A charming, old-timey downtown area
- Less expensive than neighborhoods closer to the lake
Cons of Staying in Truckee Neighborhood:
- Father away from main Lake Tahoe attractions
- Accommodations can book up quickly
- Fewer restaurant options are available
📚 Truckee Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Escaping Weekend Crowds
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Truckee
🎟️ Top Attractions – Donner Memorial State Park, Truckee Railroad Museum, KidZone Museum, West End Beach
Tips for Staying in Lake Tahoe
Pack According to Your Activities
Decide what you want to do beforehand to make the packing process so much simpler. Check out our California packing essentials list to help figure out what to bring to Lake Tahoe.
It’s sometimes hard to gauge California weather but even if you visit Lake Tahoe in the summer, the night will still be chilly. Bring layers to ensure you have the most comfortable Lake Tahoe visit possible.
I recommend wearing a short sleeve shirt in the summer, followed by a light jacket and a backup down jacket in your bag, just in case. You should also always have a rain jacket on you for emergency instances because the Sierra Nevadas frequently generate their own weather.
Bring Aquatic Gear
Lake Tahoe activities are centered around aquatic activities. Even if your main priority is hitting the ski slopes, soaking in a steaming hot jacuzzi afterward should be high on your Tahoe itinerary.
Lake Tahoe sits at a high elevation of 6,224 feet. This is quite a change for someone coming from sea level. You will want to stay hydrated at all times to avoid feeling the effects of altitude sickness.
A big, reusable water bottle like the Hydro Flask does a great job of helping you stay hydrated. This is especially important if exploring Lake Tahoe’s surrounding Sierra peaks, some of which are 10,000 feet and over 15 miles long.
Visit Lake Tahoe in the Summer for the Best Weather
If you aren’t a keen skier or snowboarder, you will want to visit Lake Tahoe in the summer months for the best weather. More non-winter sports activities are available at this time like swimming, fishing, hiking, biking, paddleboarding, boating, and more.
Late summer is the best time to visit Tahoe because snow may persist until early July. If you do choose to visit this area in the non-summer months, be sure to have tire chains just in case.
Stay on the Nevada Side of Lake Tahoe to Save Money
If you are deciding on where to stay in Lake Tahoe to save money, choose the Nevada side. Not only are there more entertaining activities to do on this side, but the accommodation, food, gas, and drinks are all significantly cheaper.
Nevada neighborhoods like Stateline and Incline Village are top destinations to stay in when visiting the Lake Tahoe resort town. Gambling is legal on this side, making the Nevada side one of the most entertaining locations on the lake.
Try Out a Rental Cabin in Lake Tahoe
There are many hotels and ski resort accommodations in Lake Tahoe but I recommend staying in a rental cabin. This is the best option if you like your privacy, as the entire cabin is often available for rent.
Most rental cabins in Lake Tahoe are quaint, cozy cabins with their own private balconies, driveways, and outdoor lounge areas. I always try to book a Lake Tahoe rental cabin with a hot tub to relax my muscles after a long day of hitting the ski slopes.
Visit in the Winter for the Best Winter Sports
Visit Lake Tahoe in November-May if you are a winter sports fanatic. Skiing in Lake Tahoe is one of the best things to do in Northern California.
Besides shredding down some resort ski slopes, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, mountaineering, and dog sledding are also popular winter activities in Lake Tahoe. Choose from one of 15 ski resorts in this mountain town oasis for a riding trip to remember.
Leave No Trace
Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places in California. What makes this area so pristine is the rule in effect to leave no trace and pack out all of your trash.
No one wants to encounter a litter-intense hiking trail in the Sierras. Be sure to “keep Tahoe blue” by not polluting its forests or lake water.
Have at Least Two Nights in Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is huge and the sheer number of activities to do around the resort town number in the hundreds. You will want to book at least two nights in Tahoe to fully experience all its splendor.
Don’t rush your Tahoe trip and plan out a longer itinerary before you visit this mountain town. Set aside one day for getting to know the town, its shops, and small hiking trails then spend the next day either out on the water or lounging on the sandy beaches around the lake.
Book Activities Ahead of Time to Save Money
You may find ski lift deals if you book your trip ahead of time. Compare prices online before you get to Tahoe and you may end up saving upwards of $50.
If you dig around, you’ll be able to find bundle deals and may also be able to find discounts around the holidays. Booking activities ahead of time is the best way to save money on this romantic California getaway.
FAQs About Where to Stay in Lake Tahoe
Which side of Lake Tahoe is best to stay in?
What is the most beautiful area of Lake Tahoe?
Emerald Bay is the most mesmerizing area of Lake Tahoe. The enchanting, postcard view of the Emerald Bay waters backdropped by the towering Sierra Nevada Mountains makes this the most beautiful area of Lake Tahoe.
What is the best month to go to Lake Tahoe?
When you go to Lake Tahoe depends on what activities you want to do. If you like skiing or snowboarding, then the best time to go to Lake Tahoe is in December- March. If you want to enjoy the lake waters or go hiking, then visiting in July-September is ideal.
Which side of Lake Tahoe is better California or Nevada?
There are more activities to do on the California side of Lake Tahoe. The Nevada side is less crowded and more affordable but there are fewer tourist attractions on this side.
Thanks for reading my guide on where to stay in Lake Tahoe! For more helpful Tahoe information, check out our top things to do in Lake Tahoe guide.
(Featured Image Credit: Plum Guide)
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