West Shore-Lake Tahoe, California
The deck at Sunnyside is the place to be for lunch or dinner any day of the week.
- More about your oliver guide: Courtney Leary
- Trip type: Family, Beach, Mountains
- Activity level: moderate
- Ideal length of trip: 5 DAYS TO 2 WEEKS
to & from
If possible, drive and bring bikes.
Or, fly into Reno and rent a car. Uber also available from Reno but a car is a nice thing to have during your vacation.
Where to Stay
- Rent a house as close to the lake as possible. Tahoe Luxury Properties and Hauserman Rental Group both offer nice choices. VRBO has a vast selection of homes as well but can be overwhelming to comb through. Rent as close to the lake as possible and access to a private beach or pier is key.
- Condominiums at Tahoe Taverns and Tavern Shores are also good options. The properties have a great pool, courts and pier and the location cannot be beat.
- If you are only going for a short stint without kids, I would look into these hotels but generally recommend Tahoe as a family destination:
- Sunnyside-- Great location on the water but can be noisy on weekends. Make sure you are not over the bar/deck if you care about noise even though this is best view.
- Cottage Inn-- Small and cute-- Not on the water but walking distance to a small beach, Sunnyside, and Fire Sign Cafe. People love it.
- West Shore Inn/Cafe--On the water, has a few very nice rooms, relatively far from Tahoe City but on a quiet beautiful part of the late. Their restaurant is good and worth a visit even if you do not stay here.
- Squaw Creek Resort-- Quite a ways away from the lake, mainly a winter destination since it is ski-in/ski-out for Squaw, but nice facilities and lots of rooms all year long. Great pool for kids.
- Tahoe Marina Lodge-- Basic condos in town that they book like a hotel-- usually available for a couple days at a time. great location. Also has small pool. Units are privately owned and vary in decor and location-- pictures are available online of each unit.
Where to Eat and Drink
- The deck at Sunnyside is the place to be for lunch or dinner any day of the week. Great summer scene on the lake that stays happening well into the evening on the weekends. Plan to wait for a table in July and August. Let your kids play on the beach (if there is one-- it disappears when the lake is high) while you have a drink at the bar. Fish tacos, fried zucchini and Hula Pie are favorites.
- The River Grill: A spot for nicer fare though still casual enough for the family. Live music most summer nights. Make reservations.
- Chambers Landing: A great family restaurant but is known for their bar on the pier where they serve their infamous Chambers Punch. With a public beach on one side and a private beach on the other, this is a great place to spend the afternoon. Arrive by boat if you can and we prefer weekDAYS in the summer as the bar scene can be overwhelming on Friday and Saturday afternoons-- although does allow for some good people watching if you are up for it.
- West Shore Café: The most upscale restaurant actually on the West Shore. Great food and beautiful setting. Be sure to make a reservation and request a table outside.
- Fire Sign Café: Offers the best full breakfast around. The menu is huge and it is all good!
- West Shore Market and Deli: A great spot for a coffee and the paper in the morning or a sandwich later in the day. Also has a small selection of groceries available should you need to restock.
- For old school Swiss Mountain charm, Swiss Lakewood. Dinner. No website, you must call for reservations. (530) 525-5211
- Moe's in Tahoe City offers a catering menu which is good for large gatherings. Pulled pork, bbq chicken and ribs are all favorites as is the cornbread. The cucumber tomato salad is fresh and a nice healthy option to put on the buffet. The buns are big and nothing special so if you have time, grab some slider buns at the store beforehand.
- It is often you will see a line out the door at Tahoe House Bakery where you will find good coffee drinks, wonderful pastries and gluten-free options too. This is THE place to oder a birthday cake or even a wedding cake should you need one. Additionally their sandwiches and salads for lunch are delicious and they offer an assortment of salads and prepared mains to take home for dinner. The staff is usually friendly and the service fast-- a rarity in this neck of the woods.
What to Do
- The water is cold but glasslike during an early morning waterski session with High Sierra Waterski School. One of our favorite ways to start the day.
- Fly through the trees at the North Tahoe Adventures’ ropes course. A good half-day of fun for the whole family.
- Hike the Rubicon Trail in D.L. Bliss State Park for a good workout with beautiful views. Great for kids and adults of all ages… with water, snacks and sunscreen. Another quick hike with a lot of bang for your buck is Eagle Rock. About 20 minutes up with kids in tow and great views from the top.
- Hit the beach… the water is cold but refreshing in the summer heat. We like to stay in an area with access to a private beach to use on a daily basis, like Tahoe Park Beach but then on occasion will venture to Chambers Landing Beach, Tahoe City Commons Beach or the beach at Sugar Pine State Park.
- Take a boat across the lake and have a boat picnic. The East Shore has secret sandy beaches and rocks meant for jumping from. Tahoe City Marina rents boats if you do not have a friend you can hit up.
- Raft down the Truckee River. As long as there is enough water in the lake, the Truckee is a fun easy rafting experience for all. Don’t expect rapids. Do expect fun.
- Paddle board… the lake is the perfect setting and the board will allow you to go close to shore and check out some of the amazing properties.
- Bike into town or to lunch. A great bike path runs between the lake and the road and will take you pretty much anywhere you want to go.
- Check out Squaw Valley… hike to the top or take the tram.
- Wolfdale's restaurant in Tahoe City offers a great cooking class on Thursdays. Start at 9 by shopping the Farmer's Market with the chefs and then finish with a four course lunch accompanied by wines. More info on their website.
- Get a massage! The masseuses at Massage by the Lake are highly trained professionals offering some of the best massages I have had in my life for a very reasonable price. The owner, Lisa Goodman, is a favorite. Read the bios of the team and choose one that suits your needs. They all have specialties. The atmosphere is clean and comfortable but this is not a high end spa with lots of frills.
- Tahoe is very casual… shorts, jeans, sandals are always appropriate.
- Pack a jacket. It gets cold at night.
- Sunscreen is crucial…. The rays are strong at high elevations.
- Traffic in and out of Tahoe City can be bad in the afternoon. Avoid it and go to the store in the morning.
What to Pack
Obexer’s used to have a great deli where you could grab sandwiches for picnics and boat rides, however, as of Summer 2019, the deli is closed. They still offer a small selection of pre-made sandwiches but nothing like previous years. Your best bet is to stop by West Shore Market or Tahoe-House Bakery instead.