There is a little bit of everything in Lake Tahoe. You have casinos on the Nevada side, snow in the wintertime along with ski resorts and other snow sport activities. For the summertime visitors it the perfect place for swimming in the crystal clear waters. Other water sports like paddleboarding, kayaking, jet skiing, boating, and more are at your fingertips. But if you have a limited time there are some beautiful sights and activities that you can still participate in. I share my Lake Tahoe itinerary and how you what 24 hours in Lake Tahoe looks like if you’re visiting during the summer.
Upon arrival, I knew I wanted to camp but I didn’t get a reservation in advance. There are some campgrounds that take reservations online and others that are “first come, first serve.” We tried our luck and headed to the first camp I had my eye on, Eagle Point Campground at Emerald Bay State Park. This campsite can book up months in advance. Summer is a busy time at Lake Tahoe so book ahead or try out luck. We happened to get the last spot available that day.
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Camping and Other Accommodations
Camping is an option during the summer months. I opted for Eagle Point Campground at Emerald Bay State Park. You can book for Eagle Point Campground and other campsites in South Lake Tahoe (the California side) here!
This campground had flushable toilets and coin-operated showers. And each campsite had its own bear boxes (remember, you’re in bear country here) and fire pit. I particularly liked the campground because of it’s proximity to other sights and because of the view.
And if camping isn’t for you there are many options for accommodations in Lake Tahoe!
You’ll have spectacular views of Emerald Bay at this campground. Head to Eagle Point viewpoint at the end of the campground to take in the bay and the lake. The campground also connects to Emerald Bay beaches and the pier. You can also connect to Vikingsholm however it is a long hike from the campground.
After exploring the campground for a bit it was time to head out to get some food for dinner and head to the Nevada site to watch the sunset.
Restaurants tend to be a bit more expensive since Lake Tahoe is touristy so if you’re on a budget opt for grocery shopping. Fast food is also an option if you’re in a pinch but let’s be real, that isn’t healthy. There are a few grocery stores and I found that Safeway, on the Nevada side, was open 24 hours.
Chimney Beach gets its name from the chimney that is literally on the beach. It’s the only thing remaining of an old lakefront cabin that was once there. It was a short hike down from the parking lot. The lot tends to fill up quickly during the day but luckily just before sunset, there were a few spots available.
Head back to Campground
After enjoying the sunset it was time to head back to the campground for dinner. Dinner was spent under the stars and then it was off to bed so we could get an early start.
I had a shower with the coin-operated showers and I’m happy to report that the water was hot. Each coin costs $1 and lasts for 3 minutes. I used 2 coins and that was enough time since I didn’t wash my hair.
The intent was to watch the sunrise at Eagle Falls but since I’m a sleepyhead I hit the snooze button a couple of times. Read all about the best places to watch the sunrise in Lake Tahoe here.
Eagle Falls has a couple of different trails to get to it. I opted for the easy to get to the viewpoint which is a quick walk from the trailhead parking lot, just on the other side of the highway. Walk a few steps over the rocks and you’re there on top of the waterfall.
You can also hike to the lower part but you won’t have the same view. If you have the time you can always do both! These trails do tend to get busy so I recommend starting before 9 am.
Vikingsholm is another popular spot. The trailhead parking lot gets full rather quickly. Only a few cars were here just after sunrise. The parking lot is where the Rubicon Trailhead is located which leads you to the Vikingsholm house. You can also take the trail down to get to the beach and pier.
I didn’t take the trail but since the parking lot was rather empty I took a few minutes to take in the views.
Breakfast at Campground
It was back to the campground to eat breakfast and pack up. We loaded the car and headed towards the beaches on the Nevada side.
Drive through Cave Rock (Or Stop For A Hike)
This ancient rock was formed over 3 million years ago. Not only is Cave Rock a tunnel to drive through, but it’s also a short hike with spectacular views. The trailhead begins just off Cave Rock Drive and is a short 15-minute hike.
Secret Cove Nude Beach
If you’re looking for paradise it can be found at Secret Cove. Once I arrived I opted to spend my entire 24 hours in Lake Tahoe here, just kidding but I did stay for a while. This small beach is a “clothing optional” beach, also known as a nude beach. This doesn’t mean you have to be nude but there will be plenty of people there in their birthday suit.
It’s a short but a bit slippery of a hike down. I recommend wearing comfortable shoes to get to the beach. Like most the beaches in the summertime, it will get busy so try to get there early to secure parking. There is no parking lot for this beach, you’ll park on the highway.
Bonsai Rock Beach
After a dip at Secret Cove, it was time to head to another beach, Bonsai Rock! This is a more popular beach and draws in a crowd. Like Secret Cove, there is parking on the main highway. The beach is a short hike down and again, comfortable shoes are recommended.
There are plenty of large rocks to hang out and sunbathe on. And this is also a popular spot for kayaking and paddleboarding. You’ll see plenty jumping off the larger rocks into the water and lots of swimming. It’s definitely a more active beach versus the more chill Secret Cove. Both are absolutely beautiful and worth checking out.
Bye Lake Tahoe
Shortly after Bonsai Rock was the end of my stay in Lake Tahoe. From there I headed back towards Los Angeles.
Other Lake Tahoe Beaches and Activities
There are other beaches in Lake Tahoe to visit. I didn’t get to go but I made a shortlist of beaches and a hiking trail worth checking out.
Sand Harbor Beach
Sand Point – Hiking trail with many viewpoints
There are plenty of things to do in Lake Tahoe and while 24 hours may seem like a short time I was able to do everything I set out to do. From magical Lake Tahoe sunsets to waterfalls, and swimming in paradise, an entire day was all I needed.
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