South Lake Tahoe

Photo from the hike down to Secret Cove Beach

My husband and I were very fortunate to get to plan a getaway for late last summer. We’ve been traveling together since we were 19 years old and have visited several amazing locations. It took us quite a while to decide on a new place we’ve never visited and we finally settled on South Lake Tahoe. Let me just tell you, if you’ve never been but want to go, make it happen! We had such a wonderful, romantic trip together!

Secret Cove Beach

If you follow the blog, you know that most of our travels are with our boys. Jereme and I dated for 6 years before we got married; and then were married for 6 years before we had kids. We had 12 kid-free years together and we spent a lot of that time traveling alone together or with our friends. In those travels, we just knew that we wanted to take our future kiddos everywhere and show them the world! Since having our boys, we’ve only traveled alone together a handful of times, but man is it fun to get away for a few days and not be Mom and Dad all day, every day!

Like I mentioned earlier, Jereme and I have been to several places and kind of had a hard time deciding on where to go. I think I searched “romantic getaways” and Lake Tahoe popped up. I honestly didn’t know much about this destination, so my research began. And honestly, Lake Tahoe is a huge place and I really struggled deciding on staying in North or South Lake Tahoe. So, I am hoping my blog post helps you when planning your trip!

I finally decided on South Lake Tahoe because I found more information on food and lodging there while I was making our plans. We were very happy with this decision, although we never got a chance to travel to North Lake Tahoe to compare. I booked a quaint hotel right on the State Line, but in California. We stayed at the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel and had a lovely room. I loved the space, we had a bedroom, living room, and decent size bathroom! This hotel is in a fabulous location. You can take a right and walk on the Nevada side for gambling or Vegas style shows. You can go left to find several different restaurants, shops, and even the Heavenly Ski Resort is in a walkable distance. The only downside to this hotel was that there wasn’t an outdoor pool. I would have preferred one outside because we visited in August and the weather was beautiful but very warm. We rented a car and drove in from Reno, NV. I enjoyed having a car for some of the hikes we did, but if you plan to stay around the hotel you would not need one.

Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel

We only had two full days in Tahoe, so we took full advantage of those days. The hotel provided a free breakfast, so we got up early for that and then headed out to explore. I used the AllTrails app to find scenic hikes near us. We visited Secret Cove Beach first. Be sure to wear a swimsuit and get to the parking lot early, like before 9 am. We got there by 8:30 and had no issues finding a front row parking spot. But when we left we noticed hundreds of cars along the main road and I cannot imagine having to walk that far from my car to begin the hike!

Secret Cove Beach was one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever visited. The hike is not very long, roughly a mile from the parking lot. There are not a lot of signs marking the trail, but we still had no trouble finding the secret cove. It is a clothing optional beach, I would never go nude, but didn’t mind if others did. However, we didn’t see anyone else without swimsuits on. We were there pretty early and it felt like we had the entire cove to ourselves. We explored the trails above the cove and just took in the sights, then hiked down to the beach and relaxed on the shore and took a few swims. Once more people started arriving, we left to do a little more hiking and then headed back to town for lunch. We picked a restaurant at the Heavenly Ski Resort, called Gunbarrel Tavern and Eatery, and we sat outside enjoying the weather, adult beverages, and the people. That night, we walked around and did some souvenir shopping for our boys. We ate at Maya’s Mexican Grill, it was great! If you are coming in the summer, be prepared for extremely long dinner wait times. Some were as long as 2 hours. And make reservations early if you want to do a dinner cruise, there were none available when we got there for any of the days that we were visiting.

Secret Cove Beach
That water though!

The following day, we decided to drive to Emerald Bay State Park. The views were stunning on the drive and even better on our hike! The walk from the parking lot is all downhill, which makes the walk back to the car quite strenuous, but totally worth it. We hiked down to the lake and were some of the first people in line for kayak rentals. These rentals are available right on the beach and I believe they open at 10 am. We got there around 9:15 am, so we waited about 45 minutes for a rental. There are several rentals available, like single or double kayaks and paddle boards. We went with a double kayak and had the best time kayaking out to the island and hiking to the ruins on top. There were so many people boating and snorkeling and enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery.

Emerald Bay

Once we turned in our kayak, we hiked to Eagle Falls and then headed to a yummy Mexican food restaurant that we passed on our drive to the park called Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant (no website). That night we ate at Base Camp Pizza Co. at the Heavenly Ski Resort. I had the most amazing pasta dish! It was probably my favorite dinner of the trip.

The hiking trail
The hiking was spectacular!

And just like that, our 3 night/4 day trip quickly came to an end. Jereme and I had the best time and we cannot recommend this destination enough! It’s hard to believe a place like this even exists. One tip I want to share is to travel in June or early July. We got extremely lucky visiting in early August because a forest fire began shortly before our trip and made the area extremely hazy after we returned home and I believe there were many mandatory evacuations afterwards, too.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions! Be sure to follow me on Instagram at road_trip_queen!

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