sandy beach with tahoe mountains in the background

Guide to South Lake Tahoe by Bike

August 23, 2023

How to Make the Most of Your Tahoe Trip

When life gets a little overwhelming, it’s time to start planning your escape. No, we don’t mean changing your name and moving abroad – we mean a trip to Lake Tahoe.

This trip may not solve all of life’s problems, but it can put them on hold for a precious few days as you decompress and recharge with mountain and lake views. One of our favorite sections of Lake Tahoe for an escape is South Lake Tahoe. Filled with stunning natural scenery, beautiful beaches and endless outdoor activities, you will fill your days with fun and end your trip ready to take on the world. 

Are you ready to plan your scenic escape? Here is your ultimate guide to a South Lake Tahoe getaway.

The Ultimate Guide To South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe can’t be beat – and let us show you why! Here are all of our tips, tricks and recommendations to make the most of your South Lake Tahoe vacation. 

pine trees and trails with lake tahoe in the backgrounnd

What You’ll Need to Make the Most of Your Trip:

  • A Lake Tahoe Bike Rental: You’ll need a bike, and if you can’t bring your own, the easiest and most scenic way to enjoy South Lake Tahoe by bike is by renting bikes. Big Blue Bike Rentals is located on the adjacent bike path to the famous East Shore Trail.
  • Watercraft: The draw of Lake Tahoe is obviously… the lake! You’ll want to enjoy this impressively clear water as best as possible, and some watercraft will elevate the experience. From kayaks to Stand Up Paddleboards to Canoes or even boat tours, you will want to spend as much time on the water as you will off. 
  • Hiking Gear: Lace up your hiking boots! You may want to lounge on the shore, but there is also a lot to do in the neighboring mountains. Several trails near South Lake Tahoe are well worth the steps!
a woman buckling her bike helmet at lake tahoe

How To Get To South Lake Tahoe

If you’re flying, fly into The Reno-Tahoe International Airport for the easiest commute to the lake. Once you land, a rental car or rideshare is about 60 miles (approximately 1.5 hours) to South Lake Tahoe. 

If you don’t want to worry about a car, shuttle services are available from the Reno airport to South Lake Tahoe. These shuttles are often shared with other passengers, providing a more affordable option than renting a car. We recommend booking in advance to secure your seat.

If you’re driving, elevate the commute by including some scenic routes! U.S. Highway 50 from Spooner Lake to Stateline and State Route 28 from Spooner Lake to Crystal Bay are well worth the drive to acquaint you with the wonderful views you’ll see during your getaway. 

How Long Should You Stay in South Lake Tahoe? 

The length of your trip depends on the season and what you want to get out of the trip!

  • If you’re visiting primarily for outdoor activities or enjoying the lake in the summer, a long weekend of three days and three nights will be enough to get all the best of the lake. 
  • If you want to make sure to fit in time to enjoy spas, a day of golf, relaxation at your vacation rental or hotel, or stretch out the fun, five days will feel relaxed and luxurious without being too long. 
  • South Lake Tahoe is also relatively close to other attractions, like Yosemite National Park, Napa Valley, and San Francisco. If you plan a road trip or vacation with multiple stops, take your time in South Lake Tahoe! We recommend spending at least two nights here to not feel rushed.
a cabin on the edge of lake tahoe

Must-See Sights and Attractions in South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is a major hub for several must-see views and must-do activities at the lake. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Emerald Bay State Park: You can’t visit Lake Tahoe without visiting this gorgeous inlet state park. The crystal-clear waters and a tiny island featuring the historic Vikingsholm mansion are some of the most picturesque sights you can find on the lake. Enjoy scenic hikes, swim, or take a boat tour to the island to explore the mansion on a guided tour.
  • Heavenly Mountain Resort: Ski in the winter, bike and hike in the summer! This Ski resort offers year-round fun. We love this spot for energetic kids in the summer because it’s full of exciting family activities like a gondola ride, zip-lining, a ropes course and a mountain coaster. 
  • Tahoe Rim Trail: The Tahoe Rim Trail is more than a hike. People travel far and wide to embark on this gorgeous 165-mile loop. While the entire trail is quite an undertaking, you can hike short legs of the path to see the best sights! 
  • Zephyr Cove Beach: Located on national forest land, this spacious, sandy beach is perfect for swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding and other watersports. Thanks to its crystal-clear water, you can paddle and enjoy a view straight down to the bottom of the lake.
view of emerald bay in lake tahoe with two boats circling around the island

Best Time of Year to Visit South Lake Tahoe

This isn’t an easy answer! Many will tell you that We love every season at Lake Tahoe – here are just a few of the reasons why:

Spring: The mild weather, lush greenery, and budding wildflowers make spring one of the most vibrantly colorful seasons in Lake Tahoe. 

Summer: Watersports abound! The water is the perfect break from the summer heat, and there are endless ways to fill the day. 

Fall: Another vibrantly colored shoulder season, you can enjoy some world-class leaf-peeping as you drive through red, yellow and amber hues of fall leaves. 

Winter: Skiers will never tire of the skiing you can find at Lake Tahoe, and the quiet quilt of snow muffles all sounds for a perfectly tranquil lake. 

We recommend planning your trip between June and August if you want to make the most of the lake.

snowy rocks along lake tahoe with snow capped mountains in the background

What Are The Most Popular Outdoor Activities to Do in South Lake Tahoe

The Shorter question would be: What isn’t there to do?!

Thanks to the sparkling waters and surrounding mountains, there aren’t many outdoor activities that you can’t do in South Lake Tahoe. Many people travel long distances just to do a few of these activities:


Lake Tahoe has hiking trails criss crossing over the stunning mountain and lake terrain that cater to all levels of hikers. You can find several ways to change your visual perspective, from leisurely strolls along the lakeshore to challenging treks up to scenic viewpoints. 

Skiing and Snowboarding

Winter in South Lake Tahoe is a powder lover’s dream. The area has world-class ski resorts like Heavenly Mountain Resort, Kirkwood Mountain Resort, and Sierra-at-Tahoe, offering a wide variety of slopes for all skill levels.

Mountain Biking

During the summer, road biking and mountain biking are popular, with numerous trails to choose from. The famous Flume Trail is a must-ride, offering breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Water Sports

See Lake Tahoe’s crystal-clear waters by kayak, paddleboard, jet ski, or boat. The calm waters and fewer crowds in early mornings and evenings make these activities even more enjoyable.

a fishing dock in lake tahoe with mountains in the background
a mountain biking couple biking somewhere on a trail in lake tahoe

Explore Beaches

South Lake Tahoe has several beautiful beaches where you can lounge, swim, and soak up the sun. Zephyr Cove Beach and Pope Beach are some of the top choices, thanks to their stunning views and proximity to watersport rentals. 

Rock Climbing

Climbers will find fantastic opportunities in the nearby climbing areas. Lover’s Leap, a popular climbing spot, is a short drive away and offers challenging trad climbing routes in a stunning alpine setting.


The water is so clear you can see the fish as they find your hook! Lake Tahoe is renowned for its fishing opportunities. Catch trout, salmon, and bass from the shore or by boat – you decide how far into the water you get! There are also plenty of streams and rivers for fly fishing enthusiasts just a short drive away.

Scenic Drives

If you prefer a more relaxed experience, take a scenic drive around the lake or up into the surrounding mountains.

There are so many ways to enjoy South Lake Tahoe. Make sure you take advantage of the views by seeing them on a bike ride! Big Blue Bike Rentals can hook you up with quality cruisers, e-bikes and kid’s bikes for an amazing trip. From helmets to bike trailers to bike locks, you will have everything you need to have a fantastic time on your journey to Lake Tahoe.