The Perfect Friends’ Getaway Weekend In Lake Tahoe, California

From where to stay, eat and drink to the most fun group activities, here's everything you need to plan the best friends' getaway, in Lake Tahoe California.

Planning a friend’s getaway in Lake Tahoe, California?

Creating the perfect Lake Tahoe getaway for a group of friends can be stressful. Transportation, accommodations, and activities can make or break a trip so it’s important to have it all planned out before the fun starts! Tahoe is one of my all-time favorite destinations, no matter the season. Over the course of the past 20 years, it’s exponentially increased in popularity, so the only downside during high season can be crowds.

It’s one of those magical mountain destinations that has everything you need to be entertained, whether it’s 100 degrees out or snowing. Water sports, hiking and lake days in the summer; vibrant, colorful foliage come fall; crisp, refreshing air and new blooms in the spring; and winter sports, cozy cabins, fires and s’mores in the winter. The truth is that there’s never a bad time to come to Tahoe. It just depends on what type of mountain adventure you’re looking for.

I recently celebrated with a huge group of college friends (most from the East Coast!) one of our best friend’s birthday’s in Tahoe. We had an absolute blast and packed in a lot in just a few days. From hiking, boating and kayaking to good food, clubbing and partying, it was a well-rounded trip that had everyone ready to come back asap!

Read on for my top recommendations!

South Tahoe is more known for its nightlife, bars, casinos and partying. So if your crew is the 24-hour partying type, you’ll be spending more time on this side of the lake. An hour away from Reno, the south shore includes South Lake Tahoe, Stateline, Zephyr Cove, Emerald Bay, and Kirkwood areas.

On the Nevada side of the downtown area are the four major casino resorts: Harrah’s; Harveys; Montbleu; and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Meanwhile on the California side is Heavenly Village which is filled with restaurants, boutiques, bars, live outdoor music, and the Heavenly Gondola, which is a beautiful ride whether or not you plan on jumping on a board at the top.

Meanwhile, North Tahoe is known for the more classy, upscale areas and luxury lodging. Laid back vibes, earlier closing times. Smaller towns and cities include: Incline Village, Sunnyside/Tahoe City, Kings Beach, Crystal Bay, Tahoe Vista, and Truckee. In particular, Truckee is a quaint mountain town about 12 miles north of Lake Tahoe with boutiques, art galleries, restaurants and wild wild west charm. Definitely worth visiting while you’re in the area for a bite and some fudge.

Both sides, however, offer spectacular views of the lake; excellent outdoor and water sports; places to hike and more. So no matter where you decide to lodge, you’re going to have a true Lake Tahoe experience.

From where to stay, eat and drink to the most fun group activities, here's everything you need to plan the best friends' getaway, in Lake Tahoe California.

Where To Stay In Lake Tahoe

It’s always more fun when your group can stay in the same place. This trip I had the opportunity to rent out a Cloud Castle via AirBnb. Cloud Castles is a new platform for people who want to own portions of real estate for vacationing when they’re free — and earn money when they’re busy! In other words, if you can’t stay at the property that you own shares of, Cloud Castles will list it on rental sites (like AirBnb); rent it out; and manage it for you so you can make money seamlessly. For those that have always wanted to own a piece of property with your besties or family, this is a smart, efficient way to do it, with low overhead costs.

This company has two properties right now, one being this Tahoe cabin and one in Miami. Through their easy app you can buy shares which split equity and profit of the rental. Then you receive your payouts from the earnings every month. And when it comes time for you to vacation, you get to stay there for a minimal cost!

Our hot tub!

Now back to the cabin! This large, yet cozy, South Tahoe cabin was perfect for our group! The property has three bedrooms and one common space, easily housing 8-10 people. It’s got a big hot tub, perfect for chilly nights or soaking in apres-ski style; an indoor fireplace; an outdoor fire pit ideal for s’mores making; a huge movie room with a pool table; and a giant kitchen for family-style cooking and eating. And there’s a washer and dryer!

It’s ideal for home base. Not only is it spacious, but it has all the amenities you’d want for a fun, getaway cabin. Another bonus? It’s less than 15 minutes away are the shops, restaurants, casinos, the lake, and Heavenly Ski Resort!

Transportation

I highly recommend renting a car in Tahoe, as Ubers, Lyfts and taxis all can take some time to get to you depending on your location and time of day.

The all-new 2021 Cadillac Escalade

This trip, I had the unique opportunity to try out the all-new 2021 Cadillac Escalade and it was truly epic! This tank is pure luxury, so luxury that it’s equipped with Super Cruise — the first ever hands-free driving-assistance feature! It’s so smart it even has Lane Change On Demand. In other words, it’s got hands-free driving, even while changing lanes.

I loved driving it around Tahoe. It’s super safe, spacious and bold; definitely a dream SUV I’d love to own one day! Honestly I couldn’t have had a better vehicle while there — it’s perfect for mountainous conditions and spacious enough to fit a whole squad of people and then some!

Best Group Activities In Lake Tahoe

Kayaking on Lake Tahoe.

Kayaking

When it comes to renting kayaks, Clearly Tahoe is hands down the place to go in Lake Tahoe! I’ve been on their kayak tours multiple times and each one is just as memorable as the last. Their group tours are fantastic activities to do with everyone, especially first timers to Tahoe. Clearly Tahoe’s clear kayaks allows you the unique opportunity to not only be out on the lake at great depths, but also see up to 65 feet below the surface.

There are few activities that allow you to take in 360-degree views of Tahoes natural beauty with such ease. The picturesque shoreline; stunning rock formations; coves; lush forestry; ridiculously blue water and more are just a few reasons why you have to experience this first hand in a clear kayak! Clearly Tahoe offers multiple tours that include expansiveshoreline tours; eco tours in which you explore the marsh areas of Upper Truckee and it’s wildlife; and night tours where you have the chance to stargaze in colorful LED clear kayaks and zone out with the ambiance of bioluminescent lighting.

The most recent tour they’ve launched it the Bonsai Rock Tour which takes guests on a stunning paddle along the north shoreline. Beautiful beaches; crystal clear coves; and the iconic giant rocky boulders make this tour simply remarkable. There’s nothing like paddling along calm, blue lake waters with your best friends surrounded by the epicness of Lake Tahoe! This was certainly a highlight of the trip!

Clubbing/ Partying

While you can always find nightlife at the casinos, if you want to have a good ‘ol night out of partying, take your group to AleWorX Stateline. Located next to Harrah’s, it’s an ideal location nearby all the nightlife, perviously mentioned casinos, bars and late night programming. It’s menu offers tasty bites that include shareable wood-fired pizzas; wood-fired sandwiches; salads and more. And the bar offers a nice selection of craft cocktails, beer, wine and a special martini section.

Lake Tahoe AleWorX at Stateline.

Our 8pm dinner quickly turned in to a full-on DJ-hosted party around 9 pm. One of the things I liked about this spot was that while they did offer bottle service like a mainstream club would, it didn’t have that over-the-top pretentious clubby feel. No heels, dress code or drama. Nothing ridiculous. The bottle service was super lit and got everyone going quick. We literally danced the night away like we were back in college!

The music was on point — the perfect mix of throwbacks, remixes, rap and pop all in to one fire DJ set. They also have outdoor fire pits when you’re looking to cool off!

Shout out to Matty, the general manager, for making sure the whole evening went smoothly!

Boating

Being on a boat with all your friends is guaranteed to be the best time. Friends, booze, food, music, the lake… it’s literally the best way to spend the afternoon on the water! I highly recommend booking your boat with Blue Warrior. Our group chartered The Blue Warrior, a 36-foot sports yacht that accommodates up to 20 guests.

Our captain showed us some of the best places to explore on the lake including Emerald Bay and a sick area to cliff jump. Customized charters and sightseeing tours are available for all sorts of occasions and include swimming, snorkeling, float devices and more.

Out on our sports yacht!

Our afternoon on the boast literally flew by and was the most fun our group could have had on the water! The company provides ice chests too which is super convenient for keeping libations nice and cold.

Hiking In Lake Tahoe

Group hikes are almost always fun. The awesome thing about Tahoe is you don’t have to go far to see some unreal scenery.

Some of my favorite hiking areas in Tahoe include:

  • Eagle Falls & Eagle Lake Trail
  • Rubicon Peak Trail
  • Van Sickle Bi-State Park
  • Mount Tallac
  • Emerald Bay
  • Rubicon Trail 

My favorite beaches include:

  • Sand Harbor
  • Zephyr Cove
  • Vikingsholm Beach
  • Hidden Beach
  • Kings Beach
The view of Hidden Beach.

Where To Eat In Lake Tahoe

While dining reservations can sometimes be a pain, I highly recommend calling in advance. Especially if your group is over 10 people.

Best friends!

We had the best luck with the below restaurants:

Breakfast:

  • Bistro Edgewood – located in Edgewood Tahoe, this restaurant is elegant, upscale and offers guests unobstructed lake views.
  • Heidi’s Pancake House – since 1964, huge and hearty portions, amazing waffles, pancakes and crepes.
  • The Driftwood Cafe – mom and pop owned, large selection of both comfort dishes for breakfast and lunch
  • Red Hut Cafe – a Tahoe classic since 1959 serving all-day, all-American breakfast and lunch
  • Clyde’s Coffee Roasting Company – amazing pastries, morning treats and ethically-sourced coffee in a cozy cafe
  • Fire Sign Café – a homey cafe serving up homemade classics like thick-cut Challah French toast and eggs Benedict

Lunch:

  • Sunnyside Restaurant & Lodge – waterfront restaurant with satisfying dishes like filet mignon and fries and fresh fish tacos
  • Taqueria Jalisco – a hidden gem with authetic Mexican food
  • Azul Latin Kitchen – California Mexican food with a huge selection of burritos, enchiladas, bowls, tacos, and more alongside cocktails
  • Char-Pit – a no-frills burger and fries stop serving old-fashioned, 1/4-pound burgers as well as fried favorites like mozzarella sticks and shrimp and more—plus shakes, floats and malts.
  • Base Camp Pizza Co. – live music, gourmet pizza and large-portioned pasta dishes

Dinner:

  • Edgewood Restaurant – fine dining in an elegant lodge setting with a selection of steaks, chops and seafood dishes
  • Riva Grill On the Lake – American cuisine that includes steaks, fish and pasta dishes right on the lake
  • Lake Tahoe AleWorX – wood fired pizzas, sandwiches and salad alongside craft cocktails, beer and wine in a fun environment
  • Scusa Italian Ristorante – upscale Italian fare in a welcoming, warm environment; Italian specialties include Fresh Salmon Scaloppine and Shrimp, Clams and Mussels Scusa
  • Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen Lake Tahoe – inspired by his hit TV show, this ritzy restaurant located in Harvey’s has some incredible British dishes including the beef Wellington and sticky toffee pudding
  • Bourbon Pub Northstar – a Michael Mina restaurant; from Bourbon Pub Nachos to Frito Pie, it’s apres-ski dining at it’s finest
  • Ciera Steak and Chophouse – inside Montbleu Resort and Casino; ideal for splurging on steak, seafood, and wine. 

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Chelsea is a San Francisco-based journalist whose passion revolves around exploring the world, immersing herself in foreign cultures, and of course, eating and drinking everything delicious.

Her work can be found in TravelPulse, Forbes, INSIDER, SF Gate and more. She covers all things food, drink and travel and is always up for an adventure, whether that means an adrenaline-pumping excursion or trying a new cuisine.

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