Lake Tahoe is absolutely beautiful and should be on everyone’s bucket list to visit. Crystal clear waters, pine trees, and mountains are the amazing views you will be surrounded with. Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in the United States and located on the border between California and Nevada. Carl and I spent two days exploring Lake Tahoe and we had such a great time. In this post, I will be sharing a two day itinerary in South Lake Tahoe in September.
How To Get to Lake Tahoe
Where do you fly into to go to Lake Tahoe? There are three airports that are near Lake Tahoe. Reno-Tahoe International Airport is the closest airport. It is about an hour drive to South Lake Tahoe. Sacramento Airport is a two hour drive. And a third airport option is San Francisco, which is almost a 4 hour drive.
We chose to fly out of San Francisco since we wanted to spend a day exploring the city before flying home.
What is the Best Month to go to Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is great to visit all year round so it depends on the activities you want to do. If you want to snow tube, ski, and snowboard, Lake Tahoe is a beautiful winter wonderland. The best time to visit for winter activities is from November to March.
If you want to visit Lake Tahoe to hang out at the beaches and go swimming, the best time to visit is from June to August.
I visited Lake Tahoe in September and I personally think September is a great time to visit Lake Tahoe. It’s not as crowded as the summer months and the weather is a little cooler making it perfect for hiking and it can still be warm enough to go swimming.
What to Pack for Lake Tahoe in September
If you are trying to figure out what to pack for Lake Tahoe in September, it is important to know that even though September in Lake Tahoe is still warm and sunny, early mornings and evenings may drop to freezing temperatures. In early September, daily high temperatures range in the mid to high 70 degrees with evening and morning temperatures in the upper 30 degrees. In late September, daily temperatures range from upper 60 to lower 70 degrees.
Since it is still warm during the day, you can pack t-shirts, shorts, swimsuits and dresses. I recommend packing layers so then by the evening, you can throw on a light jacket, cardigan, pants, and sweaters.
Top Things to do in Lake Tahoe
There are a bunch of awesome hiking trails in South Lake Tahoe, especially in and around Emerald Bay State Park. Here are my top three favorite hikes in Lake Tahoe:
Granite Lake and Maggie’s Peak
This is a hard 3.5 mile hike. You gain about 1,000 feet in elevation so it is pretty steep. This trail is filled with so many cool viewpoints and at the end you are rewarded with beautiful views of Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay, Granite Lake, Cascade Lake and part of Fallen Leaf Lake. Even when we did the hike on a rainy foggy day, the views were amazing!
Hiking Trail Tip: You can park at the end of Bayview Campground. There are no signs that specifically say Granite Lake or Maggie’s Peak, but just follow the signs for Desolation Wilderness and you will be on the right trail! The trail is easy to follow and well marked!
Eagle Lake Trail
This is a moderate 1.9 mile hike and takes about an hour to complete. It’s a beautiful trail that leads you to the stunning Eagle Lake.
Since this is a short trail, we were able to do both Eagle Lake and Granite Lake + Maggie’s Peak in one day.
My favorite hiking trail that I did in Lake Tahoe was the Rubicon Trail. The trail is filled with beautiful views of the crystal clear lake, mountains, and pine trees. It is a 16.4 mile hike that extends between the Vikingsholm Estate and D.L. Bliss State Park.
If you don’t want to do the entire hike, you have the option to do shorter sections of the trail. The most popular trailheads are at D.L Bliss State Park and Emerald Bay State Park. It’s 4.5 miles between those two points. I recommend starting in D.L. Bliss State Park and starting the hike from there!
Also, if you want to see a bear, this is the hike to do! The trail is in bear habitat and you have a very high chance of seeing one like we did!
There are a bunch of beautiful beaches near South Lake Tahoe. Even if it is a chilly day and not good for swimming, I still recommend visiting the beaches and coves. It’s magical to see how clear the water is and the beaches are absolutely beautiful!
Here are two beautiful beaches that I recommend visiting in Lake Tahoe:
Sand Harbor Beach
Sand Harbor is a beautiful popular beach to visit in Lake Tahoe on the Nevada side. Entrance fees are $10 for Nevada vehicles and $15 for non-Nevada vehicles.
The clear waters and cool rock formations make a perfect spot for swimming and scuba diving. You can also rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards during the summer.
There are also a few hiking trails in Sand Harbor. The Sand Harbor to Memorial Point Trail is a short half-mile that provides access to many secluded beaches and rock areas.
Secret Cove Beach
My favorite beach that I visited in Lake Tahoe is Secret Cove. It’s surrounded by granite boulders making it a signature photo spot and a perfect place to relax. It can be tricky to find since the trail to the beach starts at the side of the road, but if you put “Secret Cove Beach” in google maps, it will take you to the exact spot. It is a 20 minute walk to the beach and totally worth it! There is no entrance fee to enter this beach. Also, just a heads up – Secret Cove is a nude beach.
Bike riding is the perfect activity to do to explore Lake Tahoe! There are so many different bike paths. Each one has stunning views and there is a variety of trails for every riding ability.
I highly recommend biking the Lake Tahoe East Shore Bike Path. It is considered the most beautiful bike trail in America. It is 3 miles and connects Sand Harbor State Path to Incline Village. If you’re unable to bring your personal bike, you will find a number of bike rental shops in the area!
Where to Eat in South Lake Tahoe
Basecamp Pizza – you have to try their Thai Chicken Curry pizza!
California Burger Company – serves gourmet burgers in a hip tavern with live bands
Sprouts Cafe – healthy cafe that serves juices, smoothies, and sandwiches
Izabella Ristorante Italiano – popular Italian restaurant
Cold Water Brewery and Grill – great brewery with a seasonal food menu
MacDuff’s Pub – you have to try their Shepherds Pie and Artichoke Spinach Dip!
A Cup of Cherries – perfect spot for breakfast – you have to try their Rum-Chai French Toast!
Black Cabin Coffee – great spot for coffee!
Hope you enjoyed my travel guide on how you can spend two days in South Lake Tahoe in September!