Credit: Lake Tahoe Adventures

How to Spend a Winter Weekend in South Lake Tahoe

Make Picture-Perfect Memories in the Jewel of the Sierra This Winter

Whether coming to play in the Sierra Nevada range during winter or on its famous lake (the second-deepest in North America) during spring and summer, Lake Tahoe is a popular year-round destination straddling the California-Nevada state line that consistently ranks in the top-five best places to visit in the Golden State. Near the old frontier town of Truckee, North Tahoe skews low-key and closer to nature with easy access to Palisades Tahoe, Alpine Meadows and Northstar ski resorts. Dotted with stellar hotels, restaurants, brew pubs, theaters, shopping and casinos, South Lake Tahoe is a livelier option close to Heavenly Mountain. No matter what you’re looking for, we have the perfect 48 hours to experience it all.

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DAY 1

10 a.m. Breakfast at The Red Hut Cafe

Tucked away in the scenic embrace of South Lake Tahoe, The Red Hut Cafe offers a cozy retreat that feels like stepping into a postcard of Americana. With its rich history dating back to the 1950s, this charming eatery has become a beloved landmark for both locals and travelers alike. It’s not just the waffles that make The Red Hut a destination; it’s the warm, cozy atmosphere that captures the essence of Tahoe’s laid-back lifestyle. Each waffle, golden and crisp, serves as a canvas for a variety of toppings, from classic maple syrup to fresh, seasonal fruits. Whether you’re fueling up for a day on the slopes or seeking a cozy spot to enjoy a leisurely morning, this old-school diner gives visitors a true taste of South Lake Tahoe living.

 

11 a.m. Summit Snowmobile Tour

Lake Tahoe Guide
Credit: Lake Tahoe Adventures

Join Lake Tahoe Adventures for their popular two-hour Summit Snowmobile Tour that follows groomed trails in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest backcountry and passes historic settler cabins while taking in views of the stunning Sierra Crest. Helmets are included in the rate, but come dressed for winter weather or plan to rent snow boots, jackets and gloves. You’ll receive an orientation, safety talk and driving instruction before setting off. Check-in is 90 minutes prior to the tour, which departs from the main office in South Lake Tahoe.

 

1 p.m. Lunch at Get Rad Pizza

Tahoe’s premier pizza food truck, Get Rad Pizza is the tasty option for a post-slopes bite! You can find this mobile ‘za truck at South Lake Brewing Company, Meyers Mountain Market, the Ski Run Farmers Market and Live at Lakeview (check the schedule here). If you are plant-based, try the Mr. Toads pizza with truffle oil, mozzarella, Tahoe Mushroom Company blue oyster mushrooms and parmesan, or opt for the Sidewinder with basil pesto, parmesan, mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes. For the carnivores, you can’t go wrong with the Combo pie—a mouthwatering mix of organic Bianco DiNapoli tomato sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage and mushroom. 

 

4 p.m. Check-in at Edgewood Tahoe

Credit: Edgewood Tahoe

There’s no finer wow-factor stay than Edgewood Tahoe for close-to-nature lakefront luxury on the south shore. Floor-to-ceiling windows just off the lobby perfectly frame the postcard view, while tastefully decorated Lodge Rooms feature fireplaces, soaking tubs and walk-in showers with either resort or lake vistas. For extra perks (welcome bubbles and private car service, among many others), small groups should consider one of the Villa Suites. Outdoor fire pits and a heated swimming pool, a Zen-like spa, George Fazio-designed golf course (during the warmer months) and several dining options add to the appeal.

 

6 p.m. Go Ice Skating at Edgewood on Ice

Credit: Edgewood Tahoe

Edgewood is home to Tahoe’s only lakeside ice rink, and the seasonal Edgewood on Ice experience is a solid way to work up an appetite and take in postcard-perfect mountain views before dinner. Villa Suite guests receive complimentary access, otherwise the $25 price includes skate rentals. If a guided, 2-mile nature walk or snowshoe tour learning about the origin and history of the resort followed by cocktails and light bites at the Clubhouse is your thing, join the Edgewood Après Adventure, which is offered on select days during the week.

 

7:30 p.m. Dinner at Cafe Fiore

Nothing beats some cozy comfort food, especially in the snow. Cafe Fiore, a cozy wood-paneled restaurant, sits just minutes from Heavenly Village and serves up a unique menu of Italian favorites. Chef Gilberto whips up warm and innovative dishes like Linguini alla Toscana (tossed with chicken, Italian sausage, onions and bell peppers), Bistecca alla Veneziana (medallions of filet mignon served on toast) and his signature eggplant crêpes stuffed with smoked salmon and served with a sundried tomato and sherry cream sauce. 

Local Insight: Long-time patrons of Cafe Fiore know to call ahead and request “special plates” not advertised on the menu!

 

DAY 2

7:30 a.m. Coffee at Cuppa Tahoe

Credit: Taylor Franz on Unsplash

For a quality cup of joe before you hit the slopes, head to Cuppa Tahoe, a charming mountain cafe-meets-bookstore with a fully stocked bookstore with espresso drinks, breakfast bites and a splendid selection of books, games and gifts. Start your day with a Tuxedo Mocha and a slice of sour cream coffee cake, then peruse the shelves of books for a new novel to stick your nose in. Cuppa Tahoe also has a cozy coworking space should you need to get some work done later.

 

9 a.m. Time for a Morning Ski at Heavenly Ski Resort

Lake Tahoe Guide
Credit: Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority

Hit the slopes at Heavenly Ski Resort in style with Edgewood’s ski butler program that covers in-suite fittings, tuning, valet and shuttle service to the Heavenly Mountain Gondola. Spanning 4,800 acres that cross state lines, Heavenly’s unique location means that you can ski and board in both California and Nevada. Beginners will love the groomed cruisers, while advanced riders can find plenty of tree skiing and challenging runs in the double-black diamond canyons. For non-skiers who still want to have fun in the snow, there’s a 500-foot tubing hill.

 

Noon Take Care of Your Appetite at Driftwood Café

After a full morning on the mountain, ride the gondola back down for lunch at Driftwood Café in Heavenly Village. The cozy homestyle spot is a local favorite and considered one of the best places in South Tahoe for breakfast, but the lunch menu has several standouts, including the fish tacos and black bean chicken chili burrito. 

Local Insight: There can sometimes be a line, so add your name and number about 30 minutes before you want to eat, and they’ll text when it’s your turn.

 

2 p.m. Tube Tahoe

The “fun never melts away” at Tube Tahoe! If skiing or snowboarding isn’t your forte but you still love a thrill, this tubing park is the perfect activity. Clocking in at over 500 feet in length, the machine-groomed tubing lanes here are some of the longest in the area and boast stunning views of Mt. Tallac and Echo Summit. Visitors of Tube Tahoe can even rent a private igloo to lounge in or strap in on the bungee trampoline for some air time.

 

4 p.m. Populate Your Feed at Picturesque Cave Rock

On the way back to South Tahoe, stop for a sunset photo at iconic landmark Cave Rock. The natural formation was created over three million years ago and is considered sacred to the Washoe people, who call it “The Lady of the Lake” because it resembles a woman’s face. Park at the trailhead off of Cave Rock Drive and follow the dirt path that parallels Highway 50. The 0.8-mile walk should take less than 15 minutes to reach the viewpoint, which rewards with panoramic vistas of Lake Tahoe.

 

5:30 p.m. Pour a Pre-Dinner Drink at Lake Tahoe AleworkX

Located less than a mile from Edgewood Tahoe, swing by local taproom Lake Tahoe AleworkX and sample some of Tahoe’s famous craft beer from the self-serve wall—insert your credit card before pouring to track your tab. You can pour as much or as little as you like from the 30 taps that feature a rotating selection of craft brews, kombucha, wine and nitro coffee. There’s a decent cocktail list too; try the Tahoe Mule or the Mountain Coffee, which are both made with Tahoe Blue Vodka.

 

7p.m. Dinner at Maggie’s

Desolation Hotel is eye-catching for its sustainable mountain-modern architecture, but its restaurant has become a Tahoe destination. Helmed by chef Skyler Chauss, the modern American menu at Maggie’s features whatever is fresh and available from area purveyors. Entrees span an 8-ounce rack of venison to miso-glazed salmon with a pad Thai sauce. Enjoy a drink in the bar before sitting down to dinner—cocktails are named after Desolation Hotel staff pets; try the Lucy Lets Loose, which is a tiki riff composed with white rum, Aperol and pineapple juice.

 

9 p.m. Catch a Show or Try Your Luck at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe Guide
Credit: Harrah’s Lake Tahoe

Tahoe’s south shore is home to several casinos, and one of the oldest continuously operating is Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, which opened in 1955 as a small bingo parlor and later expanded into a full-fledged casino. There’s a free blues show here every Tuesday night (from 8 p.m.), but you can also try your luck on the casino floor at one of the table games or slot machines. If magic and comedy are more your speed, The Loft Tahoe has several 18+ shows (Magic Fusion, Magic After Dark) each night from 9 p.m.

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Keri Bridgwater is a freelance writer covering travel and lifestyle. Her work has been featured in Fodor’s Travel, Marie Claire, Matador Network and InsideHook, among other outlets and publications.

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