Lake Tahoe is a stunning place no matter what the season, but so often people overlook autumn when planning on coming to the lake which is a big mistake! For starters, it’s much less crowded than during the winter or summer wherein hordes of tourists pack the beautiful Northern California destination, whether that be on the slopes or beaches. While Tahoe is known for its incredibly clear cobalt blue lake, and it’s almost crazy to think it can get any more picturesque, Lake Tahoe plus vividly colored foliage amidst the always epic Sierra Nevada mountains takes the cake.
It almost goes without saying that with fall comes incredible foliage—but what makes it extra special in Tahoe is that you can take amazing hikes through the foliage on trails that get you up close and personal with nature’s finest. Golden aspens, fresh air, the stunning lake, and few crowds? Yes, please!
I spent two beautiful, albeit chilly days, in South Tahoe with my dad exploring this area in partnership with Tahoe South and Sierra Safely. This area is definitely open for business and the ideal place to get your feet wet traveling again, especially for those in the Bay Area. The opportunity for safely distanced activities are endless!
The Perfect Fall Getaway: A Two Day Itinerary
Check-in to Harveys Lake Tahoe
Harveys Lake Tahoe is a great spot to stay at while in South Tahoe. As the first casino hotel built on the South Shore, it’s central to shopping, restaurants, great hiking, the lake and more. In addition, it features a casino, fitness center, pool and hot tub, upscale dining at Hell’s Kitchen, and newly renovated rooms with a view of the lake.
Lucky Beaver Bar & Burger
For a hearty dinner after a long drive, stop by Lucky Beaver which features what many claim to be Nevada’s best burgers and steaks sourced from world-famous Pat LaFrieda Meats.
You can’t go wrong with one of their USDA Prime Steaks; one of their ½ pound steak burgers which is a mouthwatering combination of short rib and chuck roast chopped from the bone and ground into a patty; or one of their signature burgers which is a ½ pound patty made of 50-day dry-aged Prime rib to chuck, brisket and short rib. I chose the Bronze signature burger with Aged cheddar and caramelized onions alongside sweet potato fries. It’s an understatement to say I was full after devouring it!
Overnight at Harveys
If you’re craving some late-night sweets, stop by the Cinnabon in the hotel for a fresh, frosting-covered cinnamon bun. It’s the ultimate indulgence—especially when you get to the super-soft, deliciously sweet, cinnamon center.
Start your morning at Red Hut, a classic Tahoe-area establishment serving all-day breakfast and lunch, for a hearty all-American brunch! The original Red Hut opened up in 1959 and it has since opened four other locations.
This 50’s style diner serves some major plates for the a.m. but I chose to stick with my favorites: blueberry streusel French toast, bacon, and two over-easy eggs alongside lots of coffee and whipped cream and some of my dad’s fluffy buttermilk pancakes. It was delicious and just what I needed to start our day of fall hiking…
Van Sickle Bi-State Park
Conveniently located right behind and within walking distance of Harveys is Van Sickle Bi-State Park. This is a great place to hike if you’re not looking for a strenuous workout, but want the views that normally require hours of hiking to get to.
Five minutes in and you already see glowing yellows and orange which offer a stunning contrast to the bright blue sky and surrounding pine trees. Not going to lie we took A LOT of photos the second we saw foliage because it was that jaw-dropping! Just a short climb up the trailhead about 15 minutes (less than half a mile) and you’ll find yourself at the Scenic Overlook.
Take a breather on the massive boulders and take in the unobstructed view of the lake and the surrounding forest. It was super windy the day we hiked up there but even so, the view was worth it!
Hikers have two other great options to continue their hikes. One is the Waterfall hike, an equally easy 1.1-mile hike from the trailhead. The cascading waterfall is beautiful and well worth the effort to see.
The other option is the Rim Trail Connector which brings you to the epic Tahoe Rim Trail, designated by National Geographic Adventure magazine as one of the nation’s top ten trails. This is a longer hike at 3.3 miles.
Clyde’s Coffee Roasting Company
After your hike, warm up with a hot drink and pastry at nearby Clyde’s Coffee Roasting Company. This charming coffeehouse and roasting shop is so cozy inside with its rustic cabin décor and a little fireplace. If you’re a big coffee fan and prefer to support local businesses, this is it.
They partner with a boutique coffee firm allowing them to offer guests direct sourced, hand-picked coffee beans using sustainable farming practices. I ordered the Pumpkin Spice Latte (a fall classic!) along with one of their indulgent apple turnovers. They had a whole selection of fresh scones and croissants too which made this a tough decision!
Rabe Meadow to Nevada Beach
Once you’ve got your coffee in hand, head over to Rabe Meadows Trail at the intersection of Hwy 50 and Kahle Blvd in Stateline (just past Lakeside Inn & Casino).
The trail winds through Rabe Meadows, gorgeous yellow alpine trees and eventually ends at Nevada Beach. There also are numerous side trails that end at babbling brooks, rock outcroppings and other super scenic photo spots.
The real treat though is finally arriving at Nevada Beach! There was absolutely no one at the beach and the glistening blue water was nothing short of stunning!
There are picnic tables in case you wanted to bring snacks and plenty of beach to explore. Rabe Meadows Trail is a great little stroll to get some fresh air and lake time in before dinner (and before it gets freezing!).
Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen Lake Tahoe
Located at Harveys is the notorious chef, Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen Lake Tahoe. I was a little skeptical at first about how good this meal would be as it’s not only in the hotel, but also the restaurant of a celebrity chef. I couldn’t have been more wrong in my assumption!
This meal was epic. From the lively, yet elegant atmosphere, to the attentive and knowledgeable wait staff, it was a great dining experience.
The restaurant highlights many of the Hell’s Kitchen cast and chef recipes and dishes featured on the show, including many of Chef Ramsay’s signature dishes.
Everything was cooked and seasoned to perfection. And the sticky toffee pudding was legit one of the best desserts I’ve ever eaten!
This is what you need to order:
- Pan-Seared Scallops with butternut squash puree, braised bacon lardons, pickled green apples
- Lobster Risotto with butter-poached lobster tail, truffle risotto, crispy onions
- Beef Wellington with potato puree, glazed root vegetables, red wine demi-glace
- Roasted Rack of Lamb with vadouvan carrots, Bloomsdale spinach, lamb jus
- Crispy Skin Salmon with beluga lentils, shaved fennel salad, citrus herb beurre blanc
- Sticky Toffee Pudding with Speculoos ice cream
Overnight at Harveys
Start day two with an elegant breakfast at The Bistro Bar at Edgewood Tahoe with a view of the country’s biggest alpine lake.
This elevated mountain-chic restaurant has a delicious variety of breakfast favorites. Sweet dishes include a crisp Belgium waffle with berries, bacon, link & patty sausage, cream cheese frosting; and a chicken and waffle with Nashville hot chicken, crispy malted waffle, bacon, pecans, bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup.
Other dishes served are chilaquiles with pulled smoked pork, refried pinto beans, two eggs, guajillo salsa, queso fresco; huevos rancheros with two fried eggs, corn tortillas, refried pinto beans, chorizo, queso fresco, salsa served with sliced avocado and home fries; a variety of fruit bowls; toasts and bagels; build-your-own-omelets and more.
Time to get on the water with Clearly Tahoe! Experiencing the lake on a guided tour in a clear kayak is one of the most unique ways to see the glory of Lake Tahoe!
The completely transparent kayak allows you to see up to 65 feet below your boat affording unreal views of the depths of the lake.
Take a tour and paddle along looming cliffs, unreal rocky shoreline, through rock formations and coves, and so much more. Not only does it feel incredible to be on the water, breathe the incredibly fresh air and take in nature at its finest, but the 360-degree views of Tahoe’s beauty is something that will always be remembered.
My guide Geoff was absolutely awesome, friendly, highly professional and made me feel totally comfortable on the water. I learned more about the lake than I ever had before we even got in the kayak! Not to mention, the photo opportunities are unreal!
Tahoe Cocktail Corner
Post-kayaking head over to Tahoe Cocktail Corner for some seasonal craft cocktails and comfort food! This casual cocktail lounge shares a spacious patio with next-door neighbor, AleWorX, complete with dining areas, fire pits and a stage for live music and entertainment. Guests can take out from either establishment and enjoy their drinks and dishes al fresco by the fire.
Menu items range from group platters such as the sausage plate with bratwurst, chicken & apple, bockwurst, whole grain mustard, sauerkraut to the charcuterie board with blue cheese, gouda, asiago, brie, apples, pears, grapes, fig jam, crackers, hot honey; entrees that include ahi tuna poke; smoked duck breast; and beet carpaccio with goat cheese mousse. They also serve brunch items if you get there early enough.
When it comes to cocktails they offer a huge variety of both hot and cold drinks; classic and innovative; bold and sweet; specialty martinis; and everything in-between! They also serve a nice selection of beer and wine.
Cheers to a great two-day South Tahoe getaway!
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