Tahoe’s secret season is upon us! Visitors flock to Tahoe for its slopes during the winter but its shoulder seasons are also magnificent. Having survived a harrowing fall with evacuations during the Caldor Fire, South Lake Tahoe is finally free from stifling heat and smoke making now the ideal time to visit. Follow our itinerary recommendations below so that your family can answer the call to the beckoning of fall colors and crisp autumn air—book your trip today!
Tahoe Trout Farm
Open April through October, Tahoe Trout Farm makes fishing easy for both the newbie and veteran fisher(wo)man. With no admission fees, bait and tackle provided and practically fail-proof catching of rainbow trout, kids will love catching their dinner (Mac Duff’s pub down the road will gladly turn your catch into dinner—more below).
Take kids ages 5+ on a unique kayak tour in a completely transparent kayak! Clearly Tahoe offers Shoreline Tours through December and on clear days, the crystalline view will astonish kids with a 75 foot peek into the depths of Lake Tahoe!
Let little ones dip their toes (or more!) in the lake at either the gorgeous shores of Nevada Beach or walk/bike along El Dorado Beach.
Didn’t bring your bikes? No worries—Tahoe Bike Company has you covered! With beach cruisers, surreys and mountain bikes for rent, your crew will be ready to cruise on the miles of bike path around the lake.
Nearby Van Sickle Bi-State Park has several trails varying in length but our favorite trail, the Tahoe Rim Trail, starts outside the park. With a small parking lot just for this trailhead, a short ⅓ of a mile hike brings you to a vista with unobstructed, sweeping views of the lake. Continue up the trail and follow signs for the waterfall for another mile where a bridge will cross over the waterfall.
Good to know: Coming from the pancake-flat Bay Area to about 5600 feet in elevation means it's important for families to hydrate frequently and slow down with strenuous activity. Please use wise judgment and bring hats, sunglasses and plenty of water for the littles.
Strap on those ice skates and enjoy South Lake Tahoe’s only outdoor ice skating rink, opening November 1.
Why not have those holiday card photos taken with the gorgeous lake as a backdrop? Old TimePhoto can procure the perfect photo and even dress your family in authentic period costumes if you’d like!
Frequented by locals and housed in a charming cottage, MacDuff’s will cook the fish the kids caught and turn it into a delectable dinner. MacDuff’s also raises the bar on standard pub fare with truffle mac and cheese and an amazing beet salad. Bonus: go early and grab one of four igloo-like dining pods that will delight the kids to no end!
Named after a beloved family dog that lived to 23, Casey’s is a family-friendly tavern tucked away from the main tourist drag and serves up a little bit of everything from burgers and pizza to Thai lettuce wraps and chicken fried steak which means there’s something for everyone!
At Fire+Ice, kids will love creating their own meals! This interactive dining experience lets kids choose their own proteins and veggies, top it with their choice of sauce then watch a chef grill it up in front of them. The best part? It is all-you-can-eat so all those growing kids leave satisfied!
Taco time! This California-style Latin kitchen will serve up the very best of Tahoe’s tacos, burritos and enchiladas along with craft cocktails to wash it all down!
Satisfy your family’s sweet tooth with a stop at the Baked Bear where custom cookie ice cream sandwiches are the specialty! The Bear Batter ice cream was a hit for us— blue tongues included!
Where to Sleep
Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel
This all-suite hotel is the only one in South Lake Tahoe where each room is a suite, which translates into plenty of room to stretch out for families! Nestled at the base of Heavenly, Lake Tahoe Resort's location is perfect walking distance to a plethora of activities from hiking to shopping to biking to lake access. A full, hearty breakfast is included which ensures your family starts off the day with full bellies and is ready for adventure making. This fall is the very best time to go as the hotel is offering special rates so get ready to plan your escape now!
—photos and story by Christine Lai
Editor’s note: This trip was sponsored by Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.