Lake Tahoe is absolutely gorgeous, and I highly recommend driving a complete circle around the lake if time allows you during your visit. If you drive straight through around the lake (with no stops), it takes approximately 2.5 hours, but I recommend taking photo breaks and enjoying breakfast or lunch along the way. In my opinion, the drive is much better suited for a half day when you can take your time.
– GUIDE TO DRIVING AROUND LAKE TAHOE IN A DAY –
– THE STOPS –
1. South Lake Tahoe Marina or Reagan Beach(Cross into Nevada!)2. Zephyr Cove3. Logan Shoals Vista Point4. Memorial Point(Back into California through Incline Village!)5. Kings Beach6. Tahoe City7. Emerald Bay and Inspiration Point Vista8. Tallac Historic Site and Kiva Beach
– SOUTH LAKE TAHOE –
This part of Tahoe is flatter and there are lots of water sport activities at the marina when the weather is nice. Reagan Beach is also located in South Tahoe, and features sandy waterfront views.
(Just a note: You can pick up anywhere on this route, we simply started in South Lake Tahoe because we were staying there.)
– ZEPHYR COVE –
Not my favorite vantage point, but another great spot for water sports and where the Tahoe Queen Cruise picks up. We didn’t stop here for long, but shortly after the cove you’ll drive through cave rock (pictured below), which is a fun landmark on this road trip.
– LOGAN SHOALS VISTA POINT –
Hands down my favorite view of Lake Tahoe. It is also super romantic at sunset. In my opinion, the views in this area are the most beautiful! You are definitely up higher so you won’t get the shores of South Tahoe, but rather the mountains and trees. This is a great location for a panoramic lake shot, but note that parking is limited to the side of the ride, so be careful not to drive by and miss it!
– MEMORIAL POINT –
The view here is similar to Logan Shoals, just a little further down the road. A plus is they have more than one public restroom if you need a pit stop, and it is hard to argue with the views. You can get a little closer to the water here than at Logan Shoals to shoot some slightly different angles if that interests you.
– TAHOE CITY –
Tahoe City is where I recommend fueling up with a great brunch. My favorite stop is the Fire Sign Cafe, but there are other delicious places you can also visit. At this point, you are completely on the opposite side of the lake from where you started.
– INSPIRATION POINT, EMERALD BAY –
This stop is tied for my favorite view with Logan Shoals. It is definitely the most popular “money shot” of the lake. There is a long walkway behind ample parking where visitors can take photos and enjoy the view of Emerald Bay from the Inspiration Point Vista.
– TALLAC HISTORIC SITE AND KIVA BEACH –
I really like this area of the lake because it is very laid back, less crowded, and incredibly beautiful. There are cabins, picnic areas, and a nice mix of beach and trees. You are down a lot lower than Inspiration Point so you can swim or stick your feet in the water if the weather is nice. There is a very peaceful, natural vibe at this stop.
p.s. I am very partial to the name Kiva, as it was our family dog’s name, which we chose after a trip to New Mexico where we visited the undergrounds Kivas, or Native American homes. She was the most amazing soul ever, and she would have loved this beach.
– THE END OF THE CIRCLE –
From Kiva Beach it is a short drive back to South Lake Tahoe to complete your circle. Isn’t it amazing how different the lake looks at various points? I really hope this guide is a helpful starting point to your visit and that you get to enjoy this beautiful Alpine Lake in person someday! I’d also love to know your favorite views if you’ve been before.