Highlights from our trip to Lake Tahoe
Hi, friends! How are you? I’m doing well. I’ve got a trip recap for you today. And you know what, I haven’t had the chance to write one of these in more than a year. So today, I’m going to share a little bit about our trip to Lake Tahoe.
We had a great time visiting Lake Tahoe last week. It was our first time renting a house on a trip, and we did that through VRBO and had a great experience. We even brought Rudy with us.
We were only there for four nights, arriving on Monday afternoon and leaving on Friday morning. And I think that we got a lot of benefits from visiting mid-week, because nothing was crowded at all, which was great. But we definitely could’ve used another couple of days away.
The weather was complete perfection. It was in the 70s during the day and a lot chillier at night. And that was a welcome change of pace, because we’ve been having super-hot days at home in the Bay Area, made even worse with poor air quality from nearby fires. The Tahoe weather and fresh air were a great escape. We spent as much time as possible outdoors while we were there. It felt good to breathe in clear air.
We stayed in Homewood, which is on the west shore of Lake Tahoe. And it’s a quiet and friendly area, with a small ski resort, hotels, restaurants and easy access to everything else in Tahoe.
Highlights from our trip to Lake Tahoe
Let’s get to some highlights …
Renting a house in a quiet mountain neighborhood
I’ve got to be honest, I’ve always been skeptical about renting a house through AirBnB or VRBO. For some reason, I’ve equated renting a house with having to do more work, like cooking, cleaning and not having access to the perks of a hotel. And part of what I love about traveling and a vacation is having time away from those sort of house-related duties.
But I’ve got to admit, having a nice big house in a quiet neighborhood was absolutely awesome. Our house had a big upstairs with a deck with a view of the lake, a grill, a big kitchen and even access to a lakeside area with a kayak, which we took advantage of during our stay. It was surrounded by big trees, yet we were close enough to walk to the lake and a little general store too.
(BTW: Here’s the VRBO house where we stayed. It had absolutely everything we needed, and I’d definitely recommend it.)
(Can you spot the tiniest piano player?)
(And here’s a breakfast spread I had three days in a row while there: A local sourdough English muffin topped with crunchy almond butter and some mango juice on the side.)
It was really nice to have a separate room for Brady. And it was really nice to be able to wash clothes and cook our own food. We made and ate all of our breakfasts and dinners at the house, then got take-out for lunch twice and ate at a restaurant one time. We certainly couldn’t have done all that in a hotel.
I actually really enjoyed waking up in the morning and taking Rudy for a short chilly morning walk around the neighborhood too.
And Dave and I loved sitting on the deck at night and being able to see all sorts of stars that we aren’t able to see from our house in Pleasant Hill. The deck was also a great place to sit for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and drinks, of course.
(A slice of carrot cake cheesecake from Safeway.)
(A veggie sandwich from West Shore Market.)
When we were out walking the area, we waved to our neighbors, but otherwise we were mostly alone. It was a super quiet and peaceful place to stay.
Oh, and the house had a bear box to put our trash in at the end of the steep driveway, which is apparently customary. We didn’t see any bears, but they are clearly a thing.
Also, there were games and books already at the house for our use, and Brady loved having some new reading material. And one night, Dave and I even did a puzzle. Good times!
After this experience, I would definitely consider renting a house on vacation again.
Hiking Eagle Rock
One of our friends told us to hike up Eagle Rock, because it was very close to where we were staying. And I’m so glad we took that recommendation on our first full day. It was an excellent kick-off to the beautiful scenery of Lake Tahoe.
There’s parking right by the trail entrance to Eagle Rock, and so we basically got out of the car and began the hike.
It took us about 25 minutes to slowly hike to the top. Brady walked much of it while holding Dave’s hand, but we did have to carry him a bit up some rocky areas. It was mostly kid friendly, and Brady loved it.
After taking Brady on a couple of trail walks in the Bay Area recently, he’s very much into “hiking.” He’s slow, so we have to keep him moving in the right direction, otherwise he would stop and pick up every rock and flower.
The real reward was at the top. At the top of Eagle Rock is the most amazing view ever. Oh my gosh, it was breathtaking. You could see the lake, the mountains and so much more.
We stayed at the top of the rock to enjoy the sites for a bit. And while up there, we even saw a couple having a small private wedding ceremony. I can’t imagine doing the hike in a wedding dress, but the bride must have made that happen. Good for her.
(Wearing a Fabletics outfit and my favorite workout shoes.)
Overall, Eagle Rock is a can’t-miss stop in Lake Tahoe. Loved it.
Renting a pontoon boat to cruise to Emerald Bay
This particular afternoon outing was by far my favorite of the trip. A HUGE highlight for us all!
Having grown up in Florida and going on boats all the time, I’ve thoroughly missed that blowing-in-the-breeze feeling that you get while cruising in a boat. And I hadn’t even put on a bathing suit in almost two years before this excursion, so clearly I was in need of a little water action.
(Here’s the top and bottom for this bathing suit.)
As I mentioned, the weather was perfect, and Lake Tahoe is one gorgeous setting. We were on the boat for about 2.5 hours and could have stayed all night, if the sun wasn’t setting and we didn’t need to get Brady home for dinner and bedtime.
This was Brady’s first time on a boat too, and he had been talking about it for weeks leading up to our trip. He did great. He was a little nervous on the way out, and sat closely tucked in my lap, sometimes hiding under a towel. But then when we were stopped and on the way back, he was much more adventurous. He loved “driving the boat” while it was stopped.
We cruised out of our area and headed to Emerald Bay, which is an incredibly scenic bay with mountains, rocks, a beach and even a rock island with a manmade castle on top. Once in Emerald Bay, we idled a bit enjoying the moment, had some snacks and soaked it all in.
The water in Lake Tahoe is pretty darn cold (which I’ve heard is because it’s mostly melted snow, and because Lake Tahoe is also one of the deepest lakes in the world, by the way), but Dave and I wanted a chance to experience it. So we each took turns jumping off the boat into the cold. What a rush! It felt amazing, sort’ve like a cold plunge.
This short time on the boat was one of those “life is good” moments, and it was just so perfect for all three of us to do together.
On the cruise back to the dock, Brady and I were huddled under some towels snuggling as we checked out the big mountain mansions along the coastline. It was pure bliss.
Stumbling upon Kiva Beach on a stroll
Because we only had three full days in Lake Tahoe, we decided to shoot for one morning activity and one afternoon activity. This left room for Brady’s daily nap, which he happily took because of all the action.
On our second full day, we drove down to South Lake Tahoe hoping to hike on the Rainbow Trail, which was something that another friend has suggested to me as a kid-friendly activity. Well, when we got there, we found out Rainbow Trail was closed. So a park ranger sent us on another path that also ended up being closed. A couple of dead-ends was a bit frustrating.
But rather than get disappointed because we drove half an hour to get there, we decided to move our car and explore another area that we saw from the road. Well, this was a great choice.
After a few minutes of following a path, we stumbled upon Kiva Beach. It’s a rocky and sandy lakeside beach with only a little bit of shoreline and a whole lot of privacy. While we could see people down the beach, it was almost like our private island.
While there, we put our feet in the cold water, skipped rocks (which I later found out is illegal in Lake Tahoe, because technically you aren’t allowed to put anything in the lake that isn’t already there, whoops), and it was, once again, so darn scenic.
Had we not had a failed mission leading up to this, we wouldn’t have ended up there.
A few other tidbits about our trip to Lake Tahoe …
- The house we rented came with a kayak, and so we took Brady out on it on our last day. He sat tucked in between my legs in the front, and Dave sat in the back. The water was as clear and calm as can be, but Brady was super nervous. A few minutes into our trip, he said it was too scary and asked to turn back. That ended quickly. We ended up playing on the beach looking at rocks and searching for clovers in the grass.
- The house we were staying at also had a piano. Brady thoroughly enjoyed banging on it as often as we would let him. I fully intended to play it too (I could probably remember how to play a few songs), but we weren’t at home long enough for that to happen. Next time.
- We tried to get food delivered to our house, but discovered that DoorDash, UberEats and Instacart do not work there. We also discovered that many restaurants stop offering take-out at 6 p.m. So each night, we picked up groceries from Safeway for dinner. And the upside to that was grabbing Safeway’s signature carrot cake, which is so good.
- Our only meal out was at Sunnyside Restaurant and Lodge in Tahoe City, and it was amazing. This salmon bowl …
- Rudy did not have a good time on this trip, other than my daily morning walks with him. We were so happy to bring him with us, but he was nervous in a strange house and had major separation anxiety when we went anywhere. We left him at the house for a couple hours each day while we did most of our outings, and he would wait at the window while we were gone. When we’d walk or drive up to the house, we’d see his little white head instantly make an appearance. Poor guy.
- We also visited Sugar Pine Point, which had some hiking trails, a beach and picnic areas. It was a great stop and one I’d recommend. It didn’t quite make the highlights, but is still worth mentioning.
(Literally couldn’t live without this belt bag, and I wore it each day on our trip.)
Overall thoughts on our trip to Lake Tahoe
I had been to Lake Tahoe two times before this trip. Once in the winter with Dave during our first few months of living in California, which was pretty nice, but I tried snowboarding for the first time and absolutely hated it, so that scared me away from a future winter visit. And then I also went to Lake Tahoe once in late summer on a press trip, during a less-than-fun period in my life when I was in the depths of trying to get pregnant unsuccessfully. I felt a bit stressed during that trip because of work demands and personal demands and had fun, but wasn’t all there. So even though both previous trips to Tahoe were great, this trip was SO MUCH BETTER!
Because of my first two trips, I already knew that Lake Tahoe was beautiful. And I also knew that a lot of people around us spend many weekends there a year. Well, this trip made it crystal clear as to why. It’s worth the three-hour drive to get away. It’s a real escape. And it’s one of the most gorgeous places ever.
Here’s the deal: Due to everything going on in our world right now and how strange life has been, I didn’t have a ton of high hopes for our trip to Tahoe. I wanted to get away and knew that it was much needed. However, I’m not sure why, but I just expected something bad to interfere with it. Well, it didn’t.
This trip was short, but it was good for our souls. We relaxed. We spent so much time outside moving and exploring together. And we took advantage of the beauty of the area to the fullest.
Our little group definitely made some memories, ate a lot of food (carrot cake and wine at least once a day!) and enjoyed the shoddy cell service while we were out and about, so we could be truly present and disconnected.
We came back home to the heat, smoky air and reminder that things are still not normal these days, with some additional bad news from other areas too. But we’re together, safe, healthy and always trying to do our best to stay positive. Hope you are too, my friends!
Thanks for reading about our trip to Lake Tahoe!
Other posts you may like …
- What I’ve learned from traveling with a baby across the country multiple times
- Beautiful North Lake Tahoe in the summer
- Splurge vs. save: How I spend money
- What I wish I had known or done before having kids
- What we loved about visiting Vancouver in the summer: Our Vancouver trip highlights
Questions of the day
How was your weekend?
Have you had a chance to get a change of scenery lately?
Have you ever been to Lake Tahoe?
This trip sounded so great! I’m glad you had a great time.
Inspiring too, as you know we were meant to be coming over to the US for our Californian road trip and trip to Vegas, well that isn’t happening any time soon so we have booked a few days on the Isle of Skye here in Scotland, probably the equivalent of you guys going to Lake Tahoe, and I’m sure we’ll have a great time there too. (This is after our tiny October wedding, although after the postponement of our big wedding in March I have this nagging feeling that something will go wrong again, much like you did here)
Fingers crossed we are all living more ‘normally’ sometime soon…. take care!
Hi Iona! I remember you were supposed to make your big California trip. So sad it is cancelled, but I’m glad to hear you have some alternative plans. I think many of us are working off alternative plans right now hehe. I’m wishing you the BEST of luck to have no other issues pop-up for your big day, my friend.! 🙂
It was fun to read about your trip and live vicariously through you! I’m happy for you that your family made some special memories during such a hard year, especially for California. Praying that our country can get back on track again with all the good things we used to have.
Hi Michelle! Aren’t we all hoping for better times ahead — YESS?? Thank you so much for reading and saying hello! 🙂
love your biker shorts! Lake Tahoe looks so beautiful, always wanted to go there! It looks like you had a fun trip 🙂
Thanks, Steph! This is my first pair of biker shorts, and I’m obsessed. I LOVE them, and they are so comfy. Tahoe is gorgeous, and I hope you can make it there one day!
Being in the bay Area I feel like I read reports from Tahoe about the locals feelig like there are too many visitors/trach due to Covid.
I’m curious if you observed any of the trash issues
AND how you feel locals treated you.
I have been really wanting to escape for a few days and escape the smoke and it seems the mountains is the best option(I so want a house in Napa/Sonoma with a pool, but smoke :()
You are serving for inspiration to get out of the city!!!!
Hi Sabrina! I had heard those reports about locals being angry too. We didn’t see ANY of that. Everything was beautiful, no trash, no debris, no crowds and the locals were amazingly friendly. I think it helped that we went mid-week and went to a less-populated area, as I hear South Lake Tahoe is a lot busier. We did our best to be good visitors too. You should totally go!! 🙂
Your trip to Lake Tahoe sounds amazing! I’d be sitting out and watching the stars at night too. It looks like you enjoyed a lot of exploration and plenty of fresh air! Lake Tahoe is on my list and I hope to get there someday soon! I’m ready to get out and explore, thanks for sharing!
Hi lady! It sure is nice to see stars — we’ve always lived in populated well-lit areas and never had great access to them! But they sure are beautiful. Happy Tuesday to you! Hope you get to explore soon.
What a lovely trip! And so needed with these fires and smoke. We are in the Sacramento area and have thought quite a bit about a quick escape to Tahoe…this recap may put me over the edge! West Shore is always a treat – we almost got married at West Shore Cafe…such a pretty area. Looks like a great trip, thanks for sharing!
Hi Holly! I would definitely make the trip to Tahoe — and mid-week if you can swing it, because it was so nice. I’m so over the fires and smoke — such a problem in our state. Stay well, friend.
Hi Ashley! So glad you had a nice trip away, so needed I’m sure. I just got back from Scotland, we had the most amazing weather for hiking, kayaking, I feel refreshed. Have a great week
That’s great, Andrea. Good weather sure makes a difference with a trip. So glad you are refreshed. 🙂