With crystalline turquoise waters and a vast, snowy mountain range, Lake Tahoe is the ultimate West Coast hub for year-round outdoor recreation. Thanks to its world-class reputation for adventure, this destination is filled to the brim with incredible hotels and vacation rentals. But with so many amazing accommodation options, narrowing down where to stay in Lake Tahoe can be more of a challenge than it seems on the surface.
Lake Tahoe straddles California and Nevada, with plenty of interesting towns, areas, and neighborhoods on both sides of the state border. Among the most popular areas to stay is South Lake Tahoe, the busiest town on the lakeside and home to many of the best hotels in Lake Tahoe.
For quieter digs, other towns like Truckee, Tahoe City, Incline Village, and Olympic Valley are good choices, too. Whether you’re looking for luxury ski resort chains or small, outdoorsy boutique hotels, you’ll find it around this pristine alpine lakeside destination.
Ready to check booking accommodations off your Tahoe vacation to-do list? This guide to the best places to stay in Lake Tahoe breaks down the resort city’s most popular neighborhoods and hotels to make booking your holiday a cinch.
Best places to stay in Lake Tahoe, CA
With bustling resort towns dotting the lakeshore and perched in the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains, there are plenty of interesting places to base yourself on your Lake Tahoe vacation.
If you’ve been California dreamin’, you’ll want to target towns like South Lake Tahoe, Truckee, or Tahoe City. In these popular areas, waterbugs gather to enjoy Lake Tahoe’s most beautiful beaches, swimming, and other water-bound summer fun. You’ll also be well-placed to tackle many of the most popular things to do in Lake Tahoe, from state parks to ski resorts.
On the other side of the coin, Incline Valley offers surprisingly more nightlife, a more mountain-focused adventure with tons of great hiking trails, and, of course, opportunities for slopestyle skiing in winter. Olympic Valley delivers the best of both worlds, with world-class skiing on the California side of the state line.
The best areas to stay in Lake Tahoe are:
South Lake Tahoe
✓ Lake Tahoe’s top destination for first-time travelers
As its name suggests, South Lake Tahoe is located on the south shore of its namesake lake. As outdoorsy as this destination is, it’s also quite developed. Staying here, you’ll find plenty of good eats and nightlife to keep you going until the sun comes up.
During the winter months, visitors in South Lake Tahoe tend to congregate at the Heavenly Mountain Ski Resort. Learn a fun, new winter sport on the bunny hill, take a scenic gondola ride, zip down the mountain in an inner tube, and shop your favorite ski brands.
Alternatively, summer travelers can lace up their hiking shoes and hit the trails at Van Sickle Bi-State Park or go chasing waterfalls. Have your SCUBA certification? South Lake Tahoe is home to the Emerald Bay Underwater State Park, the first underwater discovery trail in the state of California.
South Lake Tahoe accommodations are largely comprised of renovated and redesigned roadside motels and classic alpine lodges.
The Black Jack Inn promises a simple and clean motel stay with a mix of drive-up rooms and 2nd-floor suites to suit your personal preferences. It’s located right at the California/Nevada border, close to all the action in both states, which is a huge bonus. And, as if that wasn’t enough, they also have designated family rooms with extra amenities tailored to those traveling with kids and host fun weekly movie nights.
Looking for something a little different? Mix up your vacation with a stay at Heavenly Valley Lodge. The property is comprised of several cabins with rustic-chic “glamping” decor. You’ll quickly fall in love with one look at the patchwork quilts, timber and stone fireplaces, and antique rocking chairs. Thanks to its prime location, you can take a quick walk to the water anytime you fancy and then come back to one of several outdoor dining spaces for an al fresco dinner.
The Elet Hotel has taken everything you think you know about a roadside motel and turned it on its head. Don’t let the retro feel of its exterior fool you: This hotel boasts completely modernized guest rooms with trendy decor, lots of natural light, and deep soaking tubs.
For an unfussy resort experience in Tahoe, check out Marriott’s Timber Lodge. This “hotel” is made up of one, two, and three-bedroom villas (with jetted bathtubs!) plus tons of communal amenities to give you that quintessential ski resort feel. Spend the day lounging on the sundeck and playing in the pool, ultra-large hot tub, and small splash pad for the kids. Then, come dinner time, you can hit up the lodge’s Asian fusion bar and restaurant or head to the BBQ area with several premium grills to make some summer memories.
✓ The perfect place to stay in Lake Tahoe for adventurous spirits
About 20 minutes driving distance from the lakeshore, Truckee is a North Lake Tahoe town that appeals to young families and vacation couples alike.
If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, plenty of top-tier ski resorts pepper Truckee, including the Northstar California Resort. Alternatively, it’s just as popular to experience the mountains in Truckee by renting a pair of cross-country skis/snowshoes.
(Fun fact: Truckee has a huge network of guaranteed snow-free scenic pathways, so you can take a walk through the mountainside, no matter the weather!)
Summer visitors largely spend their time soaking in the views of the turquoise alpine lakes, swimming at powdered beaches, and fishing off the pier.
The Truckee area offers a little of everything for accommodations, from budget-friendly and mid-range chain hotels to boutique stays with a slightly higher price tag.
If you’re seeking a good balance of comfort and value, the Best Western umbrella is always reliable, and the Best Western Plus Truckee-Tahoe Hotel is no different. Your booking will come with a bunch of added perks, like a full breakfast, free parking, and a winter shuttle to the ski lifts. Plus, there’s an outdoor pool that’s heated year-round, so you can dive right in, no matter the weather.
Calling all boutique hotel lovers! The Gravity Haus Truckee-Tahoe has given the classic ski chalet a revamp. Characterized by its many striking communal spaces and perfect for chilling with a cup of joe, this outpost has a unique coworking space (hello, digital nomads!), a barrel sauna, and a globally inspired farm-to-table restaurant. They also have a gear locker where you can rent anything from kayaks to snowboards without the hassle of finding a local outfitter.
The SpringHill Suites by Marriott Truckee is well-loved for its bright and airy guestrooms, complete with ultra-modern desk spaces and mountain photography. Need a few more perks to sway you? The hotel also has a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, and your complimentary American breakfast is served in a dining area that feels like an up-and-coming restaurant.
Halfway up the mountainside in a clustered alpine forest is the iconic Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe. With ski-in/ski-out access, you’re guaranteed gorgeous scenery at this 5-star hotel. Even if you visit through the warmer months, you’ll have a great time lounging on the luxury pool and sundeck, sipping in the living room cocktail bar, and soaking in copper tubs at the spa. Need a quick pick-me-up? Order fireside service from the Backyard BBQ, or visit the onsite coffee shop.
✓ The best place to stay in Lake Tahoe for boutique hotel lovers
Nestled onto the Northwestern shores of Lake Tahoe and at the mouth of the Truckee River is Tahoe City. The downtown area is a bit more built up than in other towns around the lake, so you’re guaranteed to find some good shopping, dining, and even a few art galleries.
Aside from the downtown attractions, Tahoe City is also the ultimate place for outdoor adventure. You can soar through the sky at Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park, go white water rafting, or even rent a bike and take a self-guided grand cycling tour of the Lake Tahoe region.
Tahoe City is a hotspot for boutique-style, independently-owned hotels; if you dig a slower base and a more personalized experience, this might just be the area for you.
Mother Nature’s Inn is situated on a quiet street, just a quick walk from the shores of Lake Tahoe. With just eight rooms, you’re guaranteed the utmost personal attention to the guest experience and a charming vintage appeal. Good news for proud pet owners! This establishment prides itself on being the dog-friendliest hotel in town; there’s even a dog park right behind the hotel to give your pups a bit of exercise before tucking in for the night.
The unofficial boutique hotel for explorers who wouldn’t mind a little bit of pampering at the end of the day, Basecamp Tahoe City offers a curated, camping-inspired experience. You can request a DIY smores kit for an evening around the fire or purchase them assembled and perfectly toasted from the lobby bar. Want to create family memories that you’re kids will never forget? Book the “Great Indoors” suite, fitted with a kid’s camping room, complete with bunkbeds inside a canvas tent, a faux firepit, a picnic table, and glow-in-the-dark stars.
Home to the “largest outdoor deck in Lake Tahoe,” the Sunnyside Resort and Lodge is all about the waterfront lifestyle. Soak in the views from the dining room with panoramic windows or the private balcony in your guest room, or arrange a boat rental from the resident marina at a guests-only discounted rate.
✓ Recommended area to stay in Lake Tahoe for beach bums
Located on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore is a destination full of laid-back mountainside retreats and tons of beautiful beaches: Incline Village. This is the only Nevada-bound town to make our list, but boy, it’s a stunner!
Visitors wanting to hit the slopes will have easy access to Diamond Peak Ski Resort. If you’d rather visit during the nicer weather and traverse the mountains by foot, set your sights on Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. Looking to avoid some of the more crowded spots for sunning at the water’s edge? Check out Secret Cove Beach, Incline Village’s hidden gem.
Incline Village has hotels to suit many different budgets, mostly made up of mountain lodges and villas.
Need a bit more space? Rent a homestyle unit from North Lake Lodges & Villas. Ranging from roomy 1-bed condos to full-size homes that sleep eight (with a loft hot tub on the third story, by the way!), this is your go-to Lake Tahoe home-away-from-home. Of course, there’s a communal outdoor hot tub accessible to everyone else for an evening under the stars and even a putting green for practicing that expert swing before heading to the golf course.
One of the main reasons to reserve a room at Club Tahoe Resort is the selection of recreation amenities. From a games and billiards room to tennis and racketball courts—not to mention an arcade and pool—you could spend your entire holiday on the property and never run out of stuff to do. Especially if you’re traveling with kids, this is a great way to fill the gaps in your itinerary without breaking the budget or traveling too far afield.
Though the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa & Casino is technically family-friendly, it’s certainly better suited to the 21+ crowd. The resort is home to six different bars for celebrating happy hour on-site, ranging from a quick sip on the floating pier before your sailing tour to a western-style saloon for an old-fashioned nightcap. There’s a private beach where you can watch the cotton-candy sky reflected in the lake at dusk and modern firepits at the water’s edge for enjoying after the sun sets; they’ll even serve you fresh seafood fireside. All this, plus endless slots and table games? Sounds like the perfect adults-only getaway to me!
The Hyatt Residence Club Lake Tahoe, High Sierra Lodge is well-loved for its two-bedroom suites with stone fireplaces, modern kitchens, and newly updated rainfall showers. This popular hotel is located almost exactly halfway between the slopeside and the lake, making it the ideal home base for tourists who’d like to explore both. Need some inspiration for nearby attractions? There are several stables offering mountainside horseback riding tours within walking distance, not to mention a couple of Lake Tahoe’s finest beaches.
✓ The ideal city in Lake Tahoe for avid skiers
Located in North Lake Tahoe on the California side of the border is one of the biggest ski destinations in the country. Olympic Valley, sometimes also referred to as Squaw Valley, is a snow bunny’s paradise.
Of course, the two most popular things to do in this area are challenging yourself at the Palisades Tahoe ski runs in winter and hiking winding footpaths in summer. When you’re not carving your way up and down the mountain, you can take a scenic ride on the Palisades Tahoe Arial Tram or pamper yourself at the Spa at Squaw Creek.
The accommodation scene in Olympic Valley is an even mix of high-end ski resorts with all the amenities you could ever dream of and apartment-style lodges, giving you a bit more space and a lot more freedom.
The Village at Palisades Tahoe offers a range of spacious, apartment-style accommodations with private balconies and live-edge wood dining tables for elegant family dinners. Traveling through the winter months? Your hotel booking comes with free underground parking, so you’ll never have to scrape snow and ice from the windshield for the sake of your budget.
Rent a condo-style suite in a resort atmosphere at Red Wolf Lodge At Squaw Valley. This vintage ski lodge-inspired accommodation boasts hot tubs, a sauna, firepits, and indoor/outdoor games to keep you entertained on slower paces days. The best part? Skiing and hiking trails are accessible right from your doorstep.
Nested into the Ponderosa forests and snowy foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, Everline Resort & Spa is all about maximizing your view. From a steakhouse with floor-to-ceiling glass panels to rooms with panoramic windows, you’ll never have to miss it for too long. Even at the fitness center, you’ll hardly be looking at your Peloton screen with the beautiful scenery in front of you.
If you’re worried about how you’ll pass the time when you’re not out sightseeing, fear not: The hotel has several pools, a handful of restaurants, a golf course, a spa, a skating rink, a waterslide, private ski runs, and even a fly fishing center.