Lake Tahoe is dreamy. Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe has easy access to beautiful hiking trails, ski resorts, golf courses, and both summer and winter sports. Surrounded by mountains and pine forests this huge freshwater lake makes for a fantastic holiday destination.
Lake Tahoe also has a lot of options for different areas to stay and accommodations to suit all budgets. You could stay on the north shore or the south shore. You could stay remotely in a heavenly ski resort in Olympic Valley or at The Hard Rock Hotel in the busy town of Stateline. Lake Tahoe has a diverse hospitality scene, so it is no wonder that it can be confusing when choosing where to stay in Lake Tahoe. Here’s our take on the best resorts, hotels, and vacation rentals in Lake Tahoe.
Where to Stay in Lake Tahoe
Best Hotels in Lake Tahoe, CA – Cut to The Chase
In a rush and want to know where to stay in Lake Tahoe quickly? These are the best hotels to suit every budget.
The 6 Best Areas to Stay in Lake Tahoe
There are many fantastic areas to stay in Lake Tahoe. To simplify things, let’s divide Lake Tahoe into its north, south, east, and west shores. Its east and west shore belong to different states, with the California/Nevada border splitting the lake in half. Its north and south shores have a soft border down the middle.
On the north shore, Incline Village and Kings Beach are the most popular places to stay.
- Tahoe City is the best place to stay on the west shore if you want a town atmosphere.
- Incline Village is perfect for outdoor lovers and families on a road trip.
- Olympic Valley is best if you want a remote base in the mountains.
- South Lake Tahoe and Stateline are the two main towns for the south and east shores.
- Stateline is located on the border of California and Nevada with casinos and entertainment on the Nevada side and plenty of nightclubs, and is the best place to stay for first time visitors.
1. Incline Village
Incline Village is a luxurious village in north Lake Tahoe. Incline Village is surrounded by pine trees, and most properties have beautiful lake views. If you are planning a visit to Lake Tahoe and don’t mind spending more money, we’d recommend Incline Village in answer to where to stay in Lake Tahoe.
Not only will you be surrounded by forest and lake views, but Incline Vallage is also popular amongst billionaires who travel in from Silicon Valley. The general atmosphere is serene and luxe – the perfect environment to unwind.
Luxury: Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino
Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort provides luxury on the lakefront. From the heated outdoor pool to the 24-hour casino, Lake Tahoe is best experienced indulgently from this resort.
You can admire mountain views from the outdoor swimming pool or Lake Tahoe from your bedroom window, as most rooms feature lake views. Each room comes with air-conditioning, a flat-screen television, an iPod docking station, and coffee facilities. However, you might want to get your morning coffee from Tahoe Provisions instead – the hotel’s in-house coffee bar.
Hyatt is somewhat of a beach retreat too, as Ski Beach and Incline Beach are just a short walk away. And, when you want to retreat inside, the spa, hot tubs, and fitness center will be waiting for you. Check rates and availability on TripAdvisor / Booking.com
Mid-range: Club Tahoe Resort
If you want luxury without the expensive price tag, Club Tahoe Resort might be for you. Club Tahoe has a seasonal outdoor pool, BBQ facilities, and an outdoor hot tub, providing plenty of outdoor space to enjoy when the weather allows.
Instead of standard hotel rooms, Club Tahoe provides apartment condos with kitchens and living areas to make you feel at home. Each apartment features a private balcony too, which is fantastic for enjoying the surrounding views in peace. Check rates and availability on TripAdvisor / Booking.com
Budget: Parkside Inn at Incline
Parkside Inn is unfussy and comfortable. The inn is set in a pine forest, making for a quiet experience of Lake Tahoe. However, Parkside Inn is still well-located and within walking distance of the Incline Village beaches, center, and hiking trails. The property offers bike rentals if you want to cycle the local biking trails, free parking, and a games room to enjoy on a rainy day.
Each room features a refrigerator, flat-screen television, and a seating area to relax after a day exploring Incline Village. Check rates and availability on TripAdvisor
VRBO: Lakefront Townhouse
This three-bedroom townhouse is perfect for a large group getaway to Incline Village. Easy access to Lake Tahoe and its beaches doesn’t get easier – just head down your private stairway to reach Crystal Bay from your back deck.
And forget choosing between mountain or lake views; this property has both. Use the coffee maker for your morning brew and wake up properly overlooking the mountains and Lake Tahoe from your terrace. If you are wondering where to stay in Lake Tahoe, this is one of the best vacation rentals. See rates and availability on VRBO
Things to do in Incline Village
You can head to Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau to get advice on things to do. But you should note down these recommendations as well: Read more: The Best Things to do in Lake Tahoe in Winter
- Have a game at the Incline Village Mountain Golf Course
- Walk the Incline Flume Trail
- Go skiing at the Diamond Peak Ski Resort
- Hike the Tahoe Rim Trail
2. Olympic Valley
Olympic Valley was actually called Squaw Valley until 1960 when it changed its name in honor of the Olympic Games. Many Olympic Valley properties have also changed their names to avoid using the slur in recent years.
As you might have guessed with the Olympic Games link, Olympic Valley is heaven for winter sports – especially skiing. The Olympic Valley ski slopes are widely renowned, and many hotels and resorts offer ski-in, ski-out services. If you want to be in the center of Lake Tahoe’s skiing scene, you should really consider staying in Olympic Valley.
Luxury: Resort at Squaw Creek
If you are going to stay in Olympic Valley, it is often fun to stay in one of its ski resorts. After all, skiing made this area of Lake Tahoe famous.
Resort at Squaw Creek is the most famous ski resort in the valley and hosted the Winter Olympics in 1960. The resort offers a cozy meets luxury experience, providing access to a ski lift, golf course, spa, heated pools, ice-skating rink, and a gym. The resort caters excellently to those wanting a ski holiday, although you can equally enjoy the nearby hiking trails outside of winter.
Each room has slate and wooden furnishings, flat-screen televisions, coffee facilities, and fridges. However, you might want to spend more and book a suite or penthouse to get a kitchenette and living area as well. Check rates and availability on TripAdvisor / Booking.com
Mid-range: Squaw Valley Lodge
Slightly smaller than its neighboring ski resorts, Squaw Valley Lodge is a perfect mid-range base for an active holiday.
Make use of easy access to Palisades’ ski slopes with ski-in, ski-out services. Or, stay in and enjoy a massage and dip in the seasonal outdoor swimming pool. Squaw Valley Lodge has a sauna and fitness center inside too, so there’ll be plenty to keep you relaxed and entertained.
The lodge has suite rooms, which all come with kitchenettes and living areas. As a modestly priced luxury accommodation choice, Squaw Valley Lodge is a great place to stay in Lake Tahoe. See it on TripAdvisor / Booking.com
Budget: Olympic Village Inn
Fancy a ski trip to France? Olympic Village Inn might be the next best thing. The ski resort is designed with French country style in mind, creating a European experience when you visit Lake Tahoe. View it on TripAdvisor / Booking.com
Olympic Village Inn has all the amenities you could wish for – from kitchenettes in every room to a hot tub, business center, free parking, and barbecue facilities. Plus, you are within walking distance of nearby trails and major ski resorts.
VRBO: Chic Condo
This chic two-bedroom condo is a modern property with plenty of natural lighting. Its large windows overlook the surrounding mountains and pine trees, and there are rustic wood and stone elements still incorporated in its modern interior design. The property includes a private balcony – perfect for admiring Olympic Valley views from in privacy.
The condo is within walking distance of the ski lifts and heavenly mountain trails that follow the Truckee River. This condo is a great option for a private but well-located base in Olympic Valley. Check it out here.
Things to do in Olympic Valley
- Spend an afternoon at Olympic Valley Adventure Center
- Visit the Olympic Museum
- Spend a day skiing on the slopes
Stateline is where to stay in Lake Tahoe if you want nightlife. The south shore town is home to the most after-hours entertainment in the Lake Tahoe area, and you’ll find casinos, clubs, and bars.
Gambling is illegal in California, so you’ll find many people crossing the border into Nevada to indulge. Stateline welcomes all those wanting less restricted partying with open arms. Small but mighty, Stateline has a reputation for being the place to let your hair down.
Luxury: Edgewood Tahoe Hotel
Edgewood Tahoe Hotel is where to stay in Lake Tahoe if you want a taste of luxury and Stateline’s party scene. You’ll have a private beach, outdoor swimming pool, and hot tub to enjoy – plus an on-site restaurant and bar. Each room comes with a coffee machine, fridge, and television, with most featuring private balconies.
After a full day of Lake Tahoe’s winter sports, you can relax in the hotel or walk into the Stateline center to party. See prices and availability on TripAdvisor / Booking.com
Mid-range: Harrah’s Lake Tahoe Hotel
Harrah’s Lake Tahoe Hotel is also extremely luxurious. You won’t feel disappointed settling for a mid-range hotel. The hotel has its own 24-hour casino, so you won’t have to walk far for evening entertainment.
You also have access to an indoor swimming pool and spa – perfect for relaxing after a day on the Lake Tahoe hiking trails or ski slopes. Each room has cable television, a fridge, a coffee machine, and air-conditioning. See rates and availability on TripAdvisor / Booking.com
Mid Range: Hard Rock Hotel
Hard Rock Hotel might not sound budget-friendly, but it is reasonably priced compared to other Stateline hotels. If you are flexible with dates and book ahead, you will find a good deal. Check it out on TripAdvisor / Booking.com
Hard Rock Hotel has the basics covered, with free parking, wi-fi, toiletries, and gym access. The hotel is only a short walk from Stateline’s golf courses and ski lift, so it is well-located to enjoy the best of Lake Tahoe. Guests can also eat meals at the on-site restaurant for ease.
VRBO: Five-bedroom Villa
This property is expensive but beyond worth it. In Stateline’s center, experience luxury living with an outdoor eight-person jacuzzi, indoor soaking tub, jungle-themed rainfall shower, and twelve-person steam room – just for you.
The villa has everything you could need, from toiletries to extravagant entertainment. You can even settle down for a movie night in a private theater room. And, if you somehow get bored, you can pop next door to the Hard Rock Hotel to use their pool and gym free of charge. See more on VRBO here.
Things to do in Stateline
- Visit the Puzzle Room Tahoe
- Play a round at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course
- Walk the Lam Watah Nature Trail to Nevada Beach
- Take the Gondola up Heavenly for views or skiing at Heavenly ski slopes
- Hit the casinos on the Nevada Side
4. Tahoe City
Tahoe City is a sweet little town with a few bars and attractions to break up the overall laidback, nature immersed atmosphere.
Tahoe City has the most museums of all the small towns in Lake Tahoe, California. You can visit the Watson Cabin, North Lake Tahoe Historical Society, and Gatekeeper’s Museum. While, for outdoor adventure, you can enjoy treetop obstacle courses, cross country skiing, river rafting, and boating.
Tahoe City Marina is a particularly pretty place in Tahoe City to grab lunch or an evening meal, with restaurants and bars lining the marina promenade.
Luxury: Cedar Crest Cottages
Okay, this could be cheating slightly. Cedar Crest Cottages are located in Homewood, just outside of Tahoe City. But if you want a luxury base within easy distance of Tahoe City, we’d highly recommend this hotel.
Cedar Crest offers entire cottages with gourmet kitchens, luxurious furnishings, laundry facilities, and all the amenities you may need. You can also make use of the concierge services to plan the finer details and activities of your Lake Tahoe trip. See rates on TripAdvisor Booking.com
Mid-range: The Inn at Boatworks
The Inn at Boatworks is fantastically positioned on the lakefront. Upscale, fresh, and friendly, the inn is an ideal base in Downtown Tahoe City. Each room features a microwave, coffee machine, and fridge – perfect for cooking basic meals and making your morning coffee. You can easily pack a picnic and walk to Tahoe State Recreation Area or catch a boat tour from the marina.
If you are traveling to Lake Tahoe with a pet, it is worth noting that this property is completely pet-friendly. Check rates and availability on TripAdvisor / Booking.com
Budget: Basecamp Tahoe City
Basecamp Tahoe City is trendily designed and well-located. With a bar, free wi-fi, and a shared lounge, you’ll soon feel welcomed and at home. Each room has the necessary luxuries like kettles, air-conditioning, and flat-screen televisions. And, you are close enough to Tahoe City to explore the attractions even after a long day on the Lake Tahoe slopes.
You can stargaze from Basecamp’s outdoor fire pit and terrace in the evening – a memorable way to end your day. See rates and availability on TripAdvisor / Booking.com
VRBO: Lakefront Condo
This condo is so close to the lakefront that all you have to do is step off your deck. See rates and availability on VRBO
You can swim in Lake Tahoe, then head back up the private stairway to your deck to cook lunch on the barbecue when you get hungry. This condo provides an off-the-grid lifestyle but with all the convenience and amenities to keep the holiday relaxing. The property sleeps six people, so book in advance to lock in your next group holiday.
Things to do in Tahoe City
- Go river rafting on Truckee River
- Visit the Gatekeeper’s Museum
- Catch a lake cruise from Tahoe City Marina
5. Kings Beach
Kings Beach is a busy and hip Lake Tahoe town. The town is close enough to Incline Village to benefit from proximity to skiing, snowboarding slopes, and golf courses, but just far away enough to retain a bit more peace and quiet.
Kings Beach is a great place to stay in Lake Tahoe for visiting independent shops, hiking local trails, and relaxing into beach life. Kings Beach is the perfect compromise, not too big and not too small.
Luxury: Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe
The celebrity of luxury Lake Tahoe accommodation, the Ritz Carlton isn’t a chain that requires an introduction. Ski-in and ski-out, dip in one of two outdoor pools, relax in the spa, or dine in one of three on-site restaurants. The Ritz has a lot on offer. Each room has a marble bathroom and air-conditioning – leaving no luxury spared.
The Ritz is located just outside of Kings Beach, and you can reach the town in just a fifteen-minute drive. See rates and availability on TripAdvisor / Booking.com
Mid-range: Lakeside Suites at Hotel California
Lakeside Suites is the best hotel to experience small, mountain town living. Guests have lake and mountain views from private wooden terraces. And inside, you have comfortably furnished studios with kitchenettes, fireplaces, hypo-allergenic bedding, and flat-screen television.
Well-located and prettily decorated, Lakeside Suites is a worthy choice when visiting Lake Tahoe. View rates and availability on Booking.com
Budget: Crown Motel
Crown Motel is a family-friendly base in Lake Tahoe. You can expect thoughtful details like blackout curtains to help the whole family get a restful night’s sleep. There are also children’s books and DVDs for family entertainment.
Guests receive private beach and hot tub access. You can also relax with lake and mountain views on the deck and in the swimming pool. Check rates and availability on TripAdvisor
VRBO: Unique Cottage
This cottage is coined the ‘Gingerbread Cottage’ by locals and is loved for its unique appearance. See rates and availability on VRBO
Have you ever relaxed in an octagonal room? This cottage has an octagonal living room where you can have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon marathons to your heart’s content. Every aspect of the property is distinctive – from the sleigh bed to the teepee ceiling and stripy furnishings on the balcony terrace.
Things to do in Kings Beach
- Have a game at Magic Carpet Golf
- Spend a day at North Tahoe Regional Park
- Visit the Fire Lookout
6. South Lake Tahoe
South Lake Tahoe is gorgeous and extremely popular. The resort town is sandwiched between natural beauty and the nightlife of Stateline, just across the Nevada border – creating a wonderful ‘best of both worlds’ scenario.
South Lake Tahoe is great for those wanting easy mountain access. The town is surrounded by a mountain range, meaning plenty of slopes to ski in winter and trails to walk in spring and summer. Like the popular kid at school, South Lake Tahoe is fun, and everybody knows it.
Luxury: Marriot Grand Residence Club, Lake Tahoe
Marriott is a huge chain the Marriott Grand Residence is a great choice for luxury in South Lake Tahoe. See it on TripAdvisor / Booking.com
Situated in Heavenly Village, it is excellently located to access the skiing and snowboarding slopes but not too far from the town center. Guests can rejuvenate with amenities like a heated outdoor pool and wellness center. And from wake up calls to dry cleaning, the Marriot has an extensive list of thoughtful services.
Mid-range: Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel
Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel is easily one of our favorite South Lake Tahoe properties. The hotel is all-suites, with a living room, kitchenette, and marble bathroom in every suite option. The property’s shared spaces are just as exciting, and guests receive access to an indoor pool, jacuzzi, and gym.
Skiers, listen up, as the hotel is right at the base of Heavenly Mountain Ski Resort – ideal for quick slope access. Just stop by the on-site ski shop to purchase or rent any equipment you need. Check rates and availability on TripAdvisor / Booking.com
Budget: Tahoe Mountain Inn
For budget-friendly accommodation in South Lake Tahoe, look no further. This inn has a selection of cabins rather than standard rooms, with a fully-equipped kitchenette and fireplace in each one.
Set inland from the lakefront, Tahoe Mountain Inn has a central location and friendly, suburban atmosphere. You’ll be based in the residential area of South Lake Tahoe and have a chance to settle into the lakeside lifestyle. See rates on TripAdvisor / Booking.com
VRBO: Downtown Penthouse
Wanting a classy, traditional stay in South Lake Tahoe? This penthouse is divine.
For an indulgent trip to South Lake Tahoe, consider this spot. The property sleeps eight guests across four bedrooms and has a private rooftop hot tub. Guests access the penthouse via a private elevator, and there is even an option to hire a personal chef for your stay.
Things to do in South Lake Tahoe
- Ski at Heavenly Mountain Resort
- Stop by Tahoe Trout Farm
- Visit Emerald Bay State Park
Where to Stay in Lake Tahoe in Summer and Winter?
In summer, we suggest staying in South Lake Tahoe. South Lake Tahoe has a fantastic summer beach culture and plenty of nightlife. You’ll appreciate the nightlife it offers on long summer nights, especially when you don’t have to trudge through the snow to get to the bar.
In winter, we’d recommend Incline Vallage. Incline Vallage offers the best proximity to snow sports in winter and has a great ski culture. If you want to take your skiing seriously, choose Incline Vallage on a winter trip to Lake Tahoe.
What is the nicest part of Lake Tahoe?
The western lakeside is widely renowned as the prettiest part of Lake Tahoe, although it doesn’t have much infrastructure or many accommodation options.
If you want to stay in the nicest part of Lake Tahoe, try to stay on the outskirts of Tahoe City or South Lake Tahoe. You’ll be closer to the state parks, like Emerald Bay, on the western shore. But you’ll also get to experience the fun, community atmosphere in both towns.
Should I Stay in South Lake Tahoe or North Lake Tahoe?
Overall, North Lake Tahoe is better in winter, and South Lake Tahoe is better in summer.
However, you should also consider how much you want to ski and how interested you are in winter sports. Since Olympic Valley was the site of the Olympic Games in 1960, it offers a lot of sporting history for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts. If you are an avid skier, we suggest staying in North Lake Tahoe all year round.
What are the Best Resort Hotels in Lake Tahoe?
The best resort hotels in Lake Tahoe are the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Club Tahoe Resort, and Resort at Squaw Creek.
These properties all offer an upscale experience of Lake Tahoe and easy access to skiing and snowboarding slopes.
Our Money-Saving Tips for Lake Tahoe
The most important thing for saving money in Lake Tahoe is flexibility. If you are flexible with your dates and plans, there is more chance of you scoring an amazing deal. The second most important thing is preparation – book in advance and bring all the equipment you need so you don’t waste money on rentals.
Getting Around Lake Tahoe
It is certainly possible to enjoy a holiday in Lake Tahoe without a car. Most of the areas we covered have ski lifts within walking distance, and many hotels offer airport shuttle services. It may be easier to use public transportation and shuttles in winter, especially if you aren’t accustomed to driving on snow and ice.
However, if you want to explore more remote areas around Lake Tahoe, we’d suggest renting a car. Public transport can be limited, and driving can make reaching some attractions much easier, particularly in summer.
Evaluate whether you need a car rental based on what you plan to do and what season you visit Lake Tahoe.
Lake Tahoe is an incredibly Californian destination, and part of the fun when booking a trip is deciding which area to stay in. Who knows, maybe you’ll have to visit a few times to try out the different neighborhoods.
After experiencing Lake Tahoe, you could also head on to Sacramento, San Francisco, or Yosemite National Park. Be prepared to be inspired to travel to more of California – Lake Tahoe is just the tip of the iceberg.
*apartment images courtesy of VRBO