Where to stay in Lake Tahoe including all the best hotels and vacation rentals for the north, east, south, and west shore.
As America’s largest alpine lake (about 72 miles around!), Lake Tahoe has been a popular vacation spot for generations.
With how much area it covers, it’s no surprise that each side of the lake offers a slightly different experience. So, how do you decide which area to stay in?
Below, I’ve outlined the differences between the northern, southern, eastern, and western shores of Lake Tahoe, so you can pick the side that fits your needs best.
And believe me, the side you pick matters! Whether you’re into skiing, nightlife, quiet nature, or casinos, every side has a little something for everyone.
With that in mind, I’ve rounded up the best hotels and vacation rentals around the perimeter of the lake to help you find the best place to stay in Lake Tahoe with ease.
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What’s the Best Area to Stay in Lake Tahoe?
Of course, the best area to stay in Lake Tahoe depends on what activities you’re most interested in.
People who know Lake Tahoe sometimes say it has a “split personality” due to the very different vibes you get on each side of the lake.
The lake is roughly divided west to east by the California/Nevada border, and the north and south side have a very different feeling to them as well.
Generally speaking, South Lake Tahoe (the town and the whole south end of the lake) is the most developed side and offers the widest range of lodging and food options. South Lake Tahoe is also known for its nightlife.
North Lake Tahoe is quieter than South Lake Tahoe, but still has plenty of excellent dining options and amenities. The north side of the lake is often known as a skiing mecca, with several large resorts.
The east side of Lake Tahoe is the Nevada side. This side of the lake is characterized by high desert (think sparse forests rather than very dense ones), and casinos can be found in most towns.
Finally, the west side of Lake Tahoe is known as the more undeveloped and naturally beautiful side of the lake. Desolation Wilderness is found here, and it’s also where you’ll find miles of quiet beachfront.
Looking for a more detailed guide to north vs south? Read our comparison guide to the differences between North and South Lake Tahoe.
Where to Stay in North Lake Tahoe?
Who’s it for: Those who love a funky small-town vibe.
Kings Beach, California is located right on the California/Nevada state line on the north side of Lake Tahoe.
The town’s claim to fame is its funky, small-town vibe. With only a few thousand people, this lakeshore town is a great place to have a less-harried getaway.
Although Kings Beach is small, it’s still close to Diamond Peak Ski Resort for those who want to hit the slopes in the winter.
Best Hotel in Kings Beach
Franciscan Lakeside Lodge
If you’re wondering where to stay on the north shore of Tahoe, look no further than the Franciscan Lakeside Lodge.
This lodge is technically in Tahoe Vista, just a few minutes away from Kings Beach on the north shore. But don’t worry, you’ll still be very close to all that Kings Beach has to offer.
This beach retreat is two minutes from the lake and many rooms feature hard-to-beat lake views.
It’s also very close to major ski resorts in the area, including Northstar Ski Resort and Olympic Valley, so the location is top-notch.
Best Vacation Rental in Kings Beach
Elegant Tranquility Chalet
The Elegant Tranquility Chalet is one of the best vacation rentals in Lake Tahoe. It’s a newly remodeled three-bedroom, 1,097-square-foot house with WIFI and a porch.
This house is done up in “high mountain” charm with lots of beautiful blonde wood pillars and high windows.
This rental is also outfitted with a full kitchen, two bathrooms, and three bedrooms and is set in a quiet neighborhood, just over a mile from the North Tahoe Marina.
Just note that 4×4 capability is needed to access it in the winter.
Who’s it for: Those interested in the finer things in life while on vacation.
Incline Village, NV is described by locals as “one big country club,” for good reason.
The atmosphere has a more upscale flavor than some of the surrounding Lake Tahoe cities, so if you want to be pampered on your vacation, choose Incline Village.
The town features excellent eateries and charming boutique shopping in addition to being close to Diamond Peak Ski Resort.
Best Hotels in Incline Village
Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa & Casino
The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa & Casino is an ideal choice for an Incline Village stay.
Only a five-minute drive from Lake Tahoe, this hotel is pet-friendly and includes other standard resort amenities like free WIFI.
There’s also a heated outdoor swimming pool (open year-round) as well as two hot tubs.
And the amenities don’t end there. There’s a spa, fitness center, and a 24-hour casino on-site too (remember, we’re in Nevada!).
But the one feature that makes this my top choice for staying in Incline Village is the private beach.
Hyatt Residence Club Lake Tahoe
Another hotel option in Incline Village is the Hyatt Residence Club Lake Tahoe, a peaceful mountain retreat among the pine trees overlooking Lake Tahoe.
Like the Hyatt Regency, the High Sierra Lodge is equipped with WIFI and all the standard resort amenities.
However, rooms come with a few different options, including a “condo-like” option with a full kitchen and sofa bed.
In terms of location, South Lake Tahoe is 22 miles away and the closest airport (to all of Incline Village) is the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, which is 21 miles away.
Best Vacation Rental in Incline Village
Tahome is a small whole-home rental with one bedroom, one bathroom, a full kitchen, and a patio.
It’s close to Burnt Cedar Beach and Incline Beach, two popular nearby beaches, as well as Diamond Peak Ski Resort.
Who’s it for: Anyone looking for a cozy mountain town on the north side of the lake.
About 20 minutes northwest of Lake Tahoe, Truckee is one of the bigger towns on the north side of the lake with around 17,000 year-round residents.
Don’t let the distance to the lake put you off, Truckee is a gorgeous mountain town with Donner Lake nearby.
It also has a ton of mountain attractions, like mountain biking, horseback riding, and rock climbing.
And Northstar California Resort is one of the major skiing and snowboarding attractions in Truckee. It’s a gorgeous little ski village with ice skating and shopping.
Read our guide to the best places to find snow in California.
Best Hotels in Truckee
Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe
The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe needs no introduction when it comes to its reputation for pure class.
The Lake Tahoe Ritz-Carlton is close enough to the Northstar California Resort that you can ski there and back with ease.
The property has two outdoor pools and three fine dining options, and all of the rooms come with a gas fireplace and marble bathroom. And there is, of course, a spa on-site as well.
As a bonus, the facility is pet-friendly and even offers a garden, which is something I don’t see too often as a hotel amenity.
Another option in Truckee is the Northstar Lodge by Welk Resorts.
This is definitely the place for ski bums to stay since one major benefit of staying here is the ski-out access to the slopes. No need to hustle for parking!
Northstar Lodge features a heated outdoor pool, and the private balconies attached to the rooms have an outdoor fireplace.
The property also features free WIFI, a spa, granite on all the fixtures, and exquisite dining options.
Best Bed & Breakfast in Truckee
Donner Lake Inn B&B
If you can’t figure out where to stay in North Lake Tahoe that isn’t a large resort, take a look at Donner Lake Inn B&B.
Donner Lake Inn B&B offers a decidedly more rustic and economical accommodation option in Truckee, but with perks like mountain or garden views from the rooms.
The rooms are heated by little potbelly gas stoves and the B&B comes with a full breakfast and free WIFI.
Where to Stay in South Lake Tahoe
South Lake Tahoe
Who’s it for: Anyone who wants a combination of natural beauty and bigger city nightlife.
South Lake Tahoe is unquestionably the most developed city in the Lake Tahoe area.
The city of South Lake Tahoe features the quiet beauty of the crystal-clear lake, of course, but also offers the more “party inclined” of us with 24-hour nightclubs.
It goes without saying, but South Lake Tahoe has the most options when it comes to dining, both for fast food and fine dining.
There are also recreation opportunities galore, including every type of water sport you can imagine.
Best Hotels in South Lake Tahoe
The Landing Resort and Spa
The Landing Resort and Spa in South Lake Tahoe is one of the best places to stay in South Lake Tahoe with access to the beach and a ski resort.
It’s just a one-minute walk from the beach and is situated near the Heavenly Village Ski Resort. And if golfing is your thing, the Edgewood Golf Club is only a 10-minute walk away.
The Landing Resort and Spa has a gas fireplace in each room as well as heated floors(!) with terry cloth robes and slippers, perfect for a romantic getaway with your partner.
The Jeffrey Hotel in South Lake Tahoe is a contactless boutique hotel with decor inspired by 70’s camping culture.
And this place is all about location. The hotel is within walking distance of the lake, shopping and dining, and even casinos in Nevada.
As a bonus, their check-in is completely contactless. They provide you with a room code that you can use with an app to access your room.
Best Vacation Rental in South Lake Tahoe
Heavenly Valley Townhouses
The Heavenly Valley Townhouses let you have a complete house to yourself, plus access to a fitness room and sauna (with an appointment).
The townhomes are equipped with a kitchen that has a dishwasher and microwave, a flat-screen TV, and a safety deposit box.
And the location is fantastic. The Heavenly Valley Townhouses are within walking distance from some of the ski trails at Heavenly Mountain Resort.
If you’re visiting in summer, it’s also close to two popular Lake Tahoe beaches on the south shore of Lake Tahoe (Lakeside Beach and Tahoe Queen).
Lastly, the facility has an outdoor swimming pool and a garden to relax in.
Who’s it for: Anyone willing to try their luck in one of the many casinos!
Stateline, NV is one of the more unique places to stay in Lake Tahoe because of its location, well, on the state line.
This is where the “split personality” of Lake Tahoe comes into focus.
In Stateline, you can try your luck in towering casinos, and right next door in California, you can also enjoy the ski chalet vibe of Heavenly Village.
Best Hotels in Stateline
The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is one of the best hotels in Lake Tahoe for both the avid gambler and the casual slot puller (me!).
In addition to all of the amenities you’d expect (free WIFI, TV, fitness center, etc) the Hard Rock Hotel also offers an airport shuttle.
The hotel is located within walking distance to the south shore of Lake Tahoe and the ski slopes at Heavenly Mountain Resort in California.
The hotel also has a swimming pool and offers free parking to guests.
Harrah’s Lake Tahoe Hotel and Casino
Harrah’s Lake Tahoe Hotel and Casino features, you guessed it, a 24-hour casino, as well as a swimming pool and spa. There’s also a show hall on-site called the South Shore Room that features live entertainment.
Harrah’s is located within walking distance of the beach as well as some famous eateries, like Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen Lake Tahoe, and some swanky shopping areas.
Best Vacation Rental in Stateline
Only four miles from South Lake Tahoe, Big PineApple is a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, full kitchen home with WIFI and an outdoor hot tub.
There’s also a playground nearby, making it a good place to stay with kids in Lake Tahoe.
Where to Stay in West Lake Tahoe
Who’s it for: Anyone whose ideal vacation involves breathtaking natural beauty on the more undeveloped side of Lake Tahoe.
Tahoe City, CA is located on the northwest side of Lake Tahoe, and it takes up a good stretch of the west shore.
The town is known for its incredible natural beauty.
Not only are views of the lake spectacular, but the easy access to hiking trails and bike paths along the Truckee River makes this a great spot to relax and reconnect with nature.
Best Hotel in Tahoe City
Basecamp Tahoe City
Basecamp Tahoe City is a family-friendly, boutique hotel with 24 rooms located within walking distance of the beach.
The mission of the Basecamp brand of hotels is to offer a chic lodging experience at a more affordable price point.
In place of an outdoor pool or hot tub, Basecamp Tahoe City offers adventures on the lake and the surrounding areas. These include stand-up paddleboard rentals, north shore kayak tours, and mountain biking excursions.
Best Bed & Breakfast in Tahoe City
Cottage Inn at Lake Tahoe
The Cottage Inn at Lake Tahoe is a log-cabin-inspired, adults-only bed and breakfast a mere 100 feet from the west shore of Lake Tahoe. What more could you want?
It’s also a very centrally located B&B – downtown Tahoe City is only two miles away and the Squaw Valley Ski Resort is five miles away.
All the studio spaces at Cottage Inn have garden or lake views, feature standard hotel amenities as well as a “hearty country breakfast” every day.
The facility also has its own private beach and is close to some scenic hiking trails.
Who’s it for: Ski nuts! With three large ski resorts within a half-mile radius, this is your go-to vacation spot for non-stop skiing.
Olympic Valley, which you may also see referred to as Squaw Valley, is famous for being one of the largest ski areas in the whole United States.
Best Hotels in Olympic Valley
Olympic Village Inn at Squaw Valley
Olympic Village Inn at Squaw Valley is one of the best resorts with access to world-class skiing.
It’s just a few miles from Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, Northstar California, and The Palisades Ski area.
If you’re visiting in summer, there are still plenty of activities to enjoy in Squaw Valley, like the Via Ferrata. The area around the inn is also known for its beautiful hiking trails.
As a bonus, the hotel has an outdoor swimming pool as well as a ping pong setup and fitness area.
One thing to note is that Olympic Village doesn’t have lake views since it’s more inland, but the west shore is only a 20-minute drive away.
The Resort at Squaw Creek
The Resort at Squaw Creek is perhaps the best ski resort in Lake Tahoe (although I’m sure that title is contested by other resorts).
And more than that, the Resort at Squaw Creek provides easy access to all of your favorite luxury outdoor activities.
With multiple outdoor heated swimming pools, an ice-skating rink, ski-in/ski-out access to Squaw Valley, and an 18-hole championship golf course, you could say this location is full service.
Best Vacation Rental in Olympic Valley
The Tavern is an entire apartment rental with two bedrooms, two living rooms, and two bathrooms, just a few miles from Alpine Meadows Ski Resort.
It’s not only a cozy and quiet apartment, but also has an outdoor swimming pool, free WIFI, and free parking.
Who’s it for: Beginner/intermediate skiers and backcountry enthusiasts in need of peace and quiet.
Homewood, CA and Tahoma, CA are located right next to each other on the central-western shore of Lake Tahoe.
Homewood is a smaller town with a small local ski resort (good for beginners or intermediate skiers) and both towns are close to nearby trails in the undeveloped forest to the west.
This is the perfect spot for avid nature lovers with easy access to Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park next door.
Best Hotel in the Homewood/Tahoma Area
Tahoma Meadows Cottages
Tahoma Meadows Cottages feels like an extension of your grandma’s house. In other words, it has a rustic feel with plaid cloth placemats on the tables.
It’s within walking distance to the west shore of Lake Tahoe and is situated near some great hiking trails as well.
The Tahoe Meadows Cottages feel like a place to enjoy nature without the trappings of the large ski resorts.
Well, without all the trappings of the large resorts. You can still get a massage on-site and they offer a wine and cheese pairing in the afternoons.
Rooms also come equipped with a gas-powered fireplace and there are fire pits located outside in the garden.
The Tahoma Meadows Cottages offer free parking and breakfast and are pet-friendly. You can enjoy winter sports here too as it’s close to Homewood Ski Resort.
Best Vacation Rentals in the Homewood/Tahoma Area
Elm Street Retreat
Elm Street Retreat in Tahoma is an entire home with three bedrooms and three bathrooms, plus cable TV.
The large wooden patio facing into the forest is what I like most about this property.
There’s also a stone fireplace and the entire interior has a light and airy feel that makes it an ideal place to achieve some zen.
Tahoe Pines Cabin
Tahoe Pines Cabin in Homewood is an incredibly charming log cabin home.
It’s just 1.3 miles from the Homewood Mountain Resort and five miles from Lake Tahoe. The cabin has three bedrooms and sleeps up to six.
Where to Stay in East Lake Tahoe
Who’s it for: Those traveling with kids as the gentle slope of the lake bed here makes for shallow swimming areas.
Zephyr Cove, NV is located on the southeast side of Lake Tahoe and is known for the gentle winds (zephyrs) that blow through the town.
The area has been a popular vacation location for over one hundred years!
Zephyr Cove is also home to the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, which is Lake Tahoe’s only lakefront golf course.
Best Hotel in Zephyr Cove
Club Wyndham South Shore
Club Wyndham South Shore in Zephyr Cove, NV is situated among fragrant pine trees and is a 12-minute walk to the east shore of Lake Tahoe.
The hotel features an outdoor swimming pool, spa, and tennis courts, plus there’s a bar and grill.
Best Vacation Rentals and Airbnbs in Zephyr Cove
Vista Lago is an entire house rental with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a full kitchen, patio, and hot tub.
In terms of location, this rental is only five miles away from South Lake Tahoe, 2.5 miles away from the Edgewood Tahoe Gold Course, and three miles from the Gondola at Heavenly.
It’s also close to the east shore as well as all of the winter sports South Lake Tahoe has to offer.
This is a very popular rental (also pet-friendly!) that books up quickly, so don’t delay if you want to snag this place.
Skyland Retreat in Zephyr Cove is a four-bedroom house with four bathrooms. This would be an amazing two-family getaway.
It includes free parking and WIFI, a fully outfitted kitchen, and pets are allowed with no extra charge.
Skyland Retreat is right on the water with two outdoor patios that overlook the water. Oh, and staying at Skyland gives you access to a private beach.
Who’s it for: Those who love Wild West History and don’t mind being a little further from the lake.
Located further inland from the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe, Carson City, NV is the state capital of Nevada.
Carson City is known for its Wild West history, and one of its main attractions, besides the lake, is the Nevada State Railroad Museum.
Best Hotel in Carson City
Staybridge Suites is located just off the main highway through town (most of the hotels in Carson City are too).
If you enjoy winter sports, this hotel is about half an hour from Ski Tahoe and Incline Village, NV. The facility offers free parking and a swimming pool.
Best Vacation Rental in Carson City
Luxury Studio Cottage
The Luxury Studio Cottage in Carson City, NV is a studio apartment with free parking and a full kitchen just over two miles from Ski Tahoe.
The studio offers free WIFI and is pet-friendly. It’s on the small side but includes a queen-sized bed and a sleeper futon (in the same room).
This would be a great crash pad for friends over a long weekend.
Best Ski Resorts to Stay at in Lake Tahoe
If you’re trying to find the best place to stay in Lake Tahoe in winter I have three suggestions.
Northstar California Resort in Truckee is situated on an extinct volcano called Mount Pluto and offers beginner, intermediate, and advanced runs. It also has a terrain park, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing.
Heavenly Mountain Resort, also known as Heavenly Ski Resort, in South Lake Tahoe is another very popular option. And in addition to ski slopes, it gives you access to all the nightlife and restaurant options that South Lake Tahoe has to offer.
Finally, Diamond Peak Ski Resort in Incline Village is proud to say they’re community-owned. They offer quick and easy access from the parking lot to the ski hills and have a kids’ skiing area.
If you’re looking for the best campgrounds in Lake Tahoe, check out my guide to Lake Tahoe camping.
Get your FREE California Travel Planner – including printable checklists and my favorite two-week itinerary for the state.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Meredith is a biologist and writer based in California’s Sierra Nevada. She has lived in 6 states as a biologist, so her intel on hiking and camping is *chef’s kiss* next level. One of her earliest camping memories was being too scared to find a bathroom at night on a family camping trip. Thankfully, she’s come a long way since then and she can help you get there too!
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