Expert Advice

We Vacationed In Lake Tahoe — Here Are Our Top Recommendations

There’s plenty to do in California’s winter wonderland

Sissi C and Peiting L
A Hilton Grand Vacations Member sits by the lake at South Lake Tahoe

As Canadians and winter enthusiasts, we were excited to explore South Lake Tahoe. Since the town straddles California and Nevada, unique outdoor and indoor experiences are abundant, perfect for wintertime’s early sunsets and colder temperatures.

Below are some of our experiences and tips for an enjoyable stay.

A Hilton Grand Vacations Member by Lake Tahoe 

Outdoorsy Things To Do In South Lake Tahoe


Tahoe is the largest Alpine lake in North America and the second deepest lake in the United States. Its clear blue color comes from the lack of algae in the water. But it doesn’t sit alone. Smaller lakes — like Fallen Leaf Lake and Emerald Bay — formed by glacier-carved valleys also make up the Lake Tahoe landscape.

The Eagle Lake and Fallen Leaf Lake trailheads are within 30 minutes of town. These are easy hikes that offer different perspectives of the surrounding terrain. Budget about one and a half hours out and back for both hikes and remember the sun sets earlier in the winter — so time your hikes appropriately for maximum safety. We also suggest crampons for safe winter hiking.

For another unique look at Lake Tahoe, check out Cave Rock on the Nevada side, a 30-minute drive from town. Park your car in the small lot at the trailhead and walk to the rock formation for otherworldly lake views. Go at sunset and watch the sun disappear behind the mountains for a truly breathtaking experience.

Skiing And Snowboarding

One of the area’s main draws is the ability to ski and snowboard with views of the sapphire-blue lake. There are 12 ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe basin. We stayed at Tahoe Seasons, a Hilton Vacation Club, which was steps away from Heavenly Mountain Resort, touted as one of the world’s most unique snow sports destinations.

A Hilton Grand Vacations Member skiing in Lake Tahoe  \

Since we visited in December, only a few trails were open due to limited snow. But there were enough trails for beginners and more seasoned riders to enjoy their day.

Not only were the views from the top absolutely stunning, but Heavenly also has rest stops with food, beverages, WiFi and an energetic DJ. You may also spot hardworking (and adorable) rescue dogs. We spoke with several locals who told us that while other ski resorts are less busy, they return to Heavenly time after time due to its unparalleled views.

Book your Epic Pass in advance so you’ll receive it in the mail before your trip. If you need parking, reserve your spot in advance since lots fill up quickly. As for gear, rent on-site or at one of the many rental shops in town for slightly cheaper. We got our gear from Rip N’ Willies Ski & Snowboard Shop.

If snow sports aren’t your thing, you can still ride the gondola to experience the crisp air and stunning sights.

Other Activities

We found several other activities for winter vacationers. A small skating rink in the heart of Heavenly Village operates most days — weather permitting — and offers skate rentals. Snow tubing is also available at several sites, a fun activity for families with younger children.

There are plenty of snowshoeing trails for views that aren’t reachable by car or foot. There wasn’t enough snow on the trails for us, but it’s a must on our list the next time we visit.

Scenic mountains and lake at Lake Tahoe 

What To Do Indoors In South Lake Tahoe


We were surprised by South Lake Tahoe’s abundance and variety of dining options. For a cozy post-slopes meal, check out Himmel Haus for comforting German food like pork shank and spaetzli — and an extensive beer menu, of course. We also tried pies made from scratch from Vinny’s Pizzeria. In town, check out the brewpubs and burger joints with heated patios and live music.

On the Nevada side, many casinos like Bally’s offer daily specials. Go early because they sell out fast. One of our favorite meals was at The Oyster Bar inside Golden Nugget, where we watched our delicious seafood bouillabaisse made fresh to order. Parking is free for the first hour at most casinos.


South Lake Tahoe boasts plenty of shopping options for outdoor gear and locally sourced gifts. Big brands such as Patagonia and The North Face have storefronts in the heart of Heavenly Village, with more shopping continuing upstairs. Sports Ltd. is an unassuming one-stop shop for clothing and equipment from all the usual brands and friendly, knowledgeable staff. Venture out of town a bit, and there are secondhand gear stores and thrift shops offer gently-used equipment. 

A Hilton Grand Vacations Member skiing at Lake Tahoe 


When it gets cold and dark, duck inside a casino on the Nevada side for dinner, a show or a rousing table game. Most casinos offer $2-$10 free play vouchers when you sign up for a free membership card.

Home Suite Home: Where To Stay In Lake Tahoe

We booked a 1-Bedroom Suite at the Tahoe Seasons, a Hilton Vacation Club for its proximity to Tahoe’s hiking trails and renowned ski resort with incredible lake views. The resort is just across the street away from one of Heavenly’s gondolas and chairlift sites, so we didn’t worry about fighting for a parking space. At the end of a long day on the slopes, we simply walked back to the resort.

Our Suite had a full kitchen, where we stashed our Costco goodies, and a fireplace that we enjoyed nightly. The valet parking service was convenient for loading bulky items like luggage and rental equipment.

We enjoyed our stay at the Tahoe Seasons Resort immensely, mostly because of the thoughtful amenities that made our trip much more enjoyable. Our favorite part of the resort was the steam and sauna rooms. We relaxed in spa-like amenities (often all to ourselves) and warmed our muscles after hiking or powder-shredding. We woke up every day feeling refreshed and — surprisingly not sore — which is a bonus when the days are short, and there’s so much to experience in South Lake Tahoe.

Read “Choose The Best HGV Ski Destination Based On Your Travel Style” for more snowy vacation inspiration.

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Hilton Grand Vacations Member and partners Sissi C. and Peiting L.

Sissi C and Peiting L

Sissi and Peiting are partners and HGV Max Members living in Toronto, Canada. For them, being a part of Hilton Grand Vacations has boosted their love for travel and opened up new opportunities. Follow them on their adventures as they visit diverse cultures, soak in stunning natural beauty and savor delicious food.

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