North Tahoe has so much beauty and serenity to offer that you could hardly see it all in one day. But because I never turn down a good challenge, I’ve packed a sunrise to sunset adventure-filled day into your picnic basket for you. When this day is done, I promise you’ll sleep well.
You’ll start out in Incline Village and meander through North Lake and down the West Shore, ending at stunning Emerald Bay. You know all those photos you Googled with your credit card in hand right before you impulse-booked a vacation to Tahoe? Yep, that’s Emerald Bay. And guess what? Suck it, Google. You’re going to finish the day with the best Instagram story ever.
8 A.M.: Incline Village
BREAKFAST: Mountain High Sandwich Co.
COFFEE TO GO: IV Coffee Lab
Believe me, for this day, you’ll want to start early. Grab breakfast at Mountain High Sandwich Co., which offers quick service and local, organic fare like sandwiches, salads, soups, and fresh-pressed juice. Then head west toward Kings Beach. On your way out of Incline, pop into IV Coffee Lab for some good ol’ pump-up-your-heart caffeine. Afterwards say goodbye to Nevada, because you’re California-bound, baby!
9 A.M.: Kings Beach
GET OUT: walk the beach
SHOP: Pop in to local shops on the main drag
Kings Beach is big, sandy, and majestic. Stroll the beach for a bit and take those iconic kneeling-next-to-the-dog photos to use for the Christmas card. Cross the street and check out some of the local shops to see some rad art and buy a few things you don’t really need, but totally want! I recommend Blue Wolf Studios, which is full of expertly made and freshly creative local art.
10:30 A.M.: Tahoe City
BIKE LIKE A LOCAL: Olympic Bike Shop
RIDE THE BIKE: pedal down to Eagle Rock (~5 miles)
Go to Olympic Bike Shop. Seriously, do it. These bike pros will set you up with a solid cruiser bike for the day. But don’t get a cruiser, really, don’t, ‘cause you’ll be pedaling uphill for a while later and you’ll want a few gears. After you rent your sweet ride, pedal Tahoe City’s bike path toward Homewood. You’ll ride about 5 miles down the West Shore through scenic forest and lake views. Lock that ride up at the Eagle Rock trail head, and hike up (~10 mins) to the best view you’ve seen in a while. Warning: Your return ride includes some uphill portions, but that’ll make your next stop — at beer-thirty o’clock — seem that much sweeter.
2 P.M.: Tahoe City
IPA’S THAT MAKE PORTLAND LOOK SHABBY: Sips Tahoe City
After returning the bike, grab a couple of craft beers for later from this delightful liquor store-meets-taproom. If you’re gluten-free, they’ve got killer ciders to choose from, and if you’re alcohol-free, they’ve got that, too. Wanna taste something from the tap? Hang out for a glass at the tiny bar that’s probably blasting incredibly good underground hip-hop.
3 P.M.: Sunnyside
LATE LUNCH: West Shore Market
After that long ride, you’re gonna wanna cool off with those beers. But resist the urge to pop the top for a little bit. Stop at West Shore market for a great locally sourced sandwich first. Take it to go — you’ll head south, further down the West Shore past some great lake views, toward a beautiful swimming spot.
4 P.M.: Sugar Pine
PADDLE OUT: Sugar Pine Point State Park
Go ahead, you daring adventure buff, crack open that full-bodied beverage and enjoy that sweet sandwich as you sit on the sandy beach of Sugar Pine Point along the stunning shores of Lake Tahoe, enjoying the glorious afternoon sun. Stretch out on your towel and add a little tan to your day. Go for a swim or listen to some bluegrass on the beach until late afternoon, because the lingering evening sun is a pleasure not to be missed.
6:30 P.M.: Lower West Shore
PHOTOGRAPH IT: Emerald Bay
The waters of Emerald Bay are incredibly clear. High above the shore, vantage points offer you the perfect opportunity to photograph the glistening water stretching for miles, with the blazing Sierra lit up in golds, pinks, and oranges behind them. Take the million-dollar photo you’ve always dreamed of, because, well, you’re awesome.
8 P.M..: Tahoma
REFILL YOUR TANK: West Shore Pizza
8:30 P.M.: Tahoe City
SCARF IT UP: Commons Beach
Grab a pie at West Shore Pizza in Tahoma on your way back up to North Lake. Or wait, don’t grab a pie, grab the incredibly delicious pesto chips! Head back to Tahoe City’s Commons Beach. Here, in the quiet darkness, you can sit on a blanket on the beach and look out at thousands of stars while you enjoy your dinner. It’s been a long day, and you’ve earned it.