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At a surface elevation of 6.225 feet and depth of 1,645 feet, Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake on the continent, as well as containing the largest volume after the Great Lakes. But what really makes it such a huge tourist draw is its crystalline beauty, with waters so blue and clear you feel like you’re gazing at the edge of the earth. Mountains hug Tahoe to form a postcard-perfect panorama, offering the double delight of a rugged natural landscape and plenty of skiing opportunities. It’s a little early for ski season, but you should still head to Lake Tahoe as soon as you can to capitalize on all the splendor it offers during the warmer months. Just in case you’re on the fence, we give you three rock-solid reasons for booking that trip now.

Emerald Bay Will Leave You Breathless with Wonder

Whether you’re a solo traveler, visiting on your honeymoon, or packing up the family for one last hurrah before school starts, Emerald Bay is a must-see when going to Lake Tahoe. Just travel south for 20 miles on Highway 89 if you’re leaving Tahoe City, or 10 miles north if departing from South Lake Tahoe, and you’ll be greeted by some of the most majestic sights possible in nature. Fannette Island lies in the middle of the Bay, with huge trees flanking the shoreline and silky smooth sand to set up your towels on.

Instead of sitting on the beach all day, though, work some adventure into your day by starting off with a scuba dive of the Underwater Park, Once you towel off, go on the relatively moderate 1-mile hike on the Vickingsholm Trail to arrive at Vickingsholm Castle, a 38-room mansion designed in Scandinavian style. Finally, no visit to Emerald Bay would be complete without renting a canoe or kayak and leisurely exploring the area, but just make sure to take a nature book with you so you can identify all the sights and sounds along the way.

Beat the Crowds at South Lake Tahoe

It may not have the glitz and glamor of its north sibling, but South Lake Tahoe offers all the magic without the headache of the crowds. You won’t get fancy restaurants in South Lake Tahoe, but if you think about it, did you really come to Lake Tahoe to eat at places you could visit at home?

Head to the shoreline for a laidback day on the beach, right by the red-colored pier, and settle in for the day with a book and a picnic lunch. With the mountains off in the distance and most of the crowds at Tahoe North, you’ll be able to enjoy nature just as she intended it: in relative tranquility and without too much manmade interference. To really get away from people and dive headfirst into the rugged vista, head over to the beachfront walkway and gear up for a hike. You’ll be close enough to amenities that you can make the hike as short or long as you want, but far enough away that you may just feel like the only person around.

View Tahoe from Above

By now, you probably have a pretty good picture of what Lake Tahoe looks like, from imagining yourself on the hiking trails to lounging around on the various beaches. But one thing you’ve yet to experience is Lake Tahoe from the air by way of a hot air balloon ride. It’s a local and tourist favorite, and you may even see a wedding being performed thousands of feet above you.

Drive up to the dock in South Lake Tahoe and let the excitement build as you try to figure out which blue, red and yellow balloon will take you up. Because summer is the dry season at Tahoe, your chances of getting a perfect day with clear blue skies are good, and will offer you a fantastic view of the enormous, clear lake. Don’t let your mind be changed by the price tag; while the cost of a hot air balloon ride is a bit more than you may want to spend, in 10 years time, the once-in-a-lifetime memory will be all you’ll left with.


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