Popular Day Trips from South Lake Tahoe

Are you looking for a fun day trip from South Lake Tahoe? This beautiful mountain destination offers plenty of outdoor activities for adventurers of all kinds. From picturesque hikes and kayaking to camping, fishing, and ATV tours, South Lake Tahoe is a great place to explore. While you are in the area, there are lots of other places nearby that are worth a day trip to. Keep reading to learn more about the most popular day trips you can take from South Lake Tahoe.

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1. Emerald Bay State Park

Emerald Bay State Park is a beautiful state park located in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, near the town of South Lake Tahoe. This area is best known for its stunning views of Emerald Bay and Eagle Falls, as well as its hiking trails and recreational opportunities.

A day trip to Emerald Bay State Park can include a variety of activities. Visitors can hike to the top of Eagle Falls for a panoramic view of the bay and the surrounding mountains, or take a leisurely stroll along the Eagle Lake and Eagle Falls trails, which offer a variety of scenic vistas and opportunities to see wildlife. The park also offers kayak and paddle boat rentals, swimming, and picnicking.

One of the main attractions of the park is Eagle Falls, which is a 2.2 miles round trip hike that leads to a viewpoint of the falls and the Emerald Bay. The hike is considered moderate and takes around 2 hours round trip.

2. Apple Hill

Apple Hill is a collection of apple orchards and farms located in the Sierra foothills of California, east of Sacramento. The area is known for its annual apple harvest season, which typically runs from late September to late November, and features a wide variety of apple varieties, as well as other seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Visitors can enjoy activities such as apple picking, hayrides, and wine tasting, as well as craft fairs and other special events.

day trips from south lake tahoe Apple Hill

In addition, many of the farms offer baked goods, preserves, and other apple-based products for purchase. Apple Hill is a great destination for a weekend getaway or a day trip from South Lake Tahoe, and it is considered one of the best places to enjoy the fall season in California.

Farm recommendations: Boa Vista Farm, Defino Farms, Larsen Apple Barn and Bake Shop

3. Truckee

Truckee is a charming town known for its outdoor recreational activities, rich history, and vibrant community making it one of the most popular day trips from South Lake Tahoe! A day trip to Truckee can include a variety of activities that cater to different interests.

History lovers can explore the town’s rich heritage by visiting the Truckee Railroad Museum, which tells the story of the Transcontinental Railroad and how it helped shape the town.

You can also visit the Old Jail Museum, which is housed in the town’s original jail and serves as a glimpse into the town’s past.

day trips from south lake tahoe Truckee

For those looking to relax and take in the town’s atmosphere, Truckee offers a variety of dining and shopping options. The town’s main street, Commercial Row, is home to a variety of restaurants, bars, and shops.

Visitors can also take a stroll along the Truckee River, which runs through the town and enjoy the scenic views and the sound of rushing water.

Dining Recommendations: Jax on the Trax, Morgan’s Lobster Shack and Fish Market, Moody’s Bistro

4. Reno/Sparks

Reno is a city known for its casinos, and nightlife, and is a little over an hour from South Lake Tahoe. Some suggestions for a day trip to Reno could include:

  • Visiting the Reno Arch, a famous landmark in the city
  • Exploring the exhibits at the National Automobile Museum
  • Taking a stroll through the Riverwalk District and checking out the local shops and restaurants
  • Visiting the Wilbur D. May Center, which features gardens, an arboretum, and a museum
  • Visiting one of the many casinos in the city to try your luck at gambling. Our favorite is the Atlantis!

5. Carson City, Nevada

Carson City offers visitors a variety of unique attractions and activities to enjoy. One of the top places to visit is the Nevada State Museum, which immerses you in the state’s fascinating history through exhibits covering everything from prehistoric times to the present day. Interactive displays like a recreated mine shaft and earthquake simulator make learning about Nevada’s history thrilling.

Another must-do is taking a ride on the V&T Railway’s historic steam train. Dating back to 1869, the scenic railroad passes through beautiful Sierra Nevada mountain scenery. Multiple trip options run along different sections of the original Virginia & Truckee line.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do in and around Carson City as well. Just minutes outside town, the famous 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail offers access points for hikers to walk sections of this iconic long-distance trail around Lake Tahoe.

Golfers can tee off at Dayton Valley Golf Club, which is considered one of the best public golf courses in Nevada thanks to its sweeping mountain vistas and challenging holes designed by Arnold Palmer.

Visiting South Lake Tahoe as a family? We’ve put together a guidebook of the best activities and hotels for families!

During winter, you can even go eagle watching along the Carson River at Riverview Park, where bald eagles congregate annually between December and February.

One cool aspect of Carson City is the museums in the community. Located in a restored historic firehouse, the Carson City Fire Museum displays antique fire engines and equipment. Especially interesting is the hand-pulled 1863 Neils fire engine carriage owned by the volunteer Bucket Brigade.

Catch a musical performance or play at the Brewery Arts Center, located in a historic brewery building downtown. With historical and cultural attractions plus gorgeous natural scenery just outside town, Carson City truly offers fun for all interests.

5. Virginia City, Nevada

Just one hour from South Lake Tahoe, the historic mining town of Virginia City offers a glimpse into Nevada’s past. As one of the largest gold and silver mining camps during the 1800s boom era, Virginia City became an icon of the western frontier.

Virginia City merchant walk

Walking the main street today, the town still feels frozen in time. Old west saloons, historic hotels, charming shops, and mine headframes dot the landscape. Walking the wooden sidewalks of the 19th-century downtown lets you feel the echoes of prospectors and pioneers at this National Historic Landmark District.

Take a ride on the Virginia & Truckee Railroad pulled by a vintage steam engine or tour the infamous Piper’s Opera House where Mark Twain once lectured.

Don a hard hat and headlamp to descend into a real mine shaft on one of the various mine tours of the Comstock Lode.

Beyond its fascinating history, Virginia City also provides gorgeous Sierra Nevada mountain scenery as a backdrop. Perched at over 6,000 feet in elevation, the town looks out over the valley below.

Nearby hiking trails like the Ophir Grade Trail offer panoramic views. From exploring an important part of western mining history to taking in the beauty of the high mountain landscape, Virginia City makes for an intriguing change of scenery just a short drive from the sun and sand of South Lake Tahoe.

6. Incline Village

Nestled on the northeastern shore of Lake Tahoe, Incline Village is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered, making it the perfect day trip destination from South Lake Tahoe. Just a short drive away, you’ll find yourself transported to a whole new world of natural beauty and recreational activities.

Nature lovers will find themselves in paradise with an array of outdoor activities to indulge in. From hiking picturesque trails like the Tahoe Rim Trail or the Flume Trail to exploring the tranquil shores of Sand Harbor, there’s no shortage of ways to immerse yourself in the great outdoors.

In the winter, head to Diamond Peak Ski Resort for some exhilarating snow sports, or simply enjoy a leisurely snowshoeing expedition through the pristine snow-capped landscapes.

For a taste of local history, visit the Mark Twain Cultural Center & Toccata Guttman Music Hall, which pays homage to the famous writer and composer.

Bowl Incline is a great option for those looking for entertainment and good food in Incline Village. Challenge your friends and family to a game of bowling.

Beyond the lanes, there is a new arcade. Challenge your friends to air hockey, test your skills at skee-ball, or compete in thrilling racing games. Bowl Incline also has axe throwing and outdoor activities like cornhole.

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