Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe: North Lake Tahoe vs South Lake Tahoe


There’s a big difference in North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe. Luckily, even with my inconclusive research, we ended up staying exactly where we needed to. 

Lake Tahoe

North Lake Tahoe

We flew into Reno so our first stop was on the Northeast corner of Lake Tahoe. We drove around a bit in Incline Village. We were looking for a lunch spot with a view of Lake Tahoe. We ended up at a wonderful restaurant, The Grille at the Château. We sat out on the patio enjoying the perfect weather and the view. It just happened to be of a pristine golf course instead of Lake Tahoe. Haha We were not at all disappointed. The food was fresh, nutritious and very good.

Golf course
Lunch at golf course

They were setting up for a wedding down on the golf course below while we were eating lunch. What a perfect setting with temps in the 70s, vs in the 100s which is what we had left behind in Texas. 

Wedding set up at golf course

We were visiting at the end of August, so North Lake Tahoe, particularly Incline Village where we were, is probably very busy during snow ski season. It was quiet when we were there tho and the restaurants seemed more towards the upscale and pricier end of the spectrum. We came back to explore another day, but didn’t experience anything different.  To be fair, we didn’t drive to King’s Beach-which probably would’ve been hopping with a variety of options during the summer.  Next time!

Lake Tahoe seen from road

Driving on to South Lake Tahoe

Continuing on towards South Lake Tahoe, where we would be staying, we drove the route along the east side of Lake Tahoe. It was spectacular. The mountains surround the lake, so we were winding though these majestic mountains towering above us on one side and dropping off to the beautiful blue lake on the other side.  It was already an ‘exceeding my expectations’ kind of trip. 

Lake Tahoe

We stopped several times to experience Lake Tahoe on our way. The Ist place we stopped was a scenic pull off and we were able to meander down through some large smooth rocks to get to the water. It was cold even in August, but it was clear and so pretty. 

Lake Tahoe

As we drove along, we were amazed at the many cars parked on either side of the mountain road. We also wondered how far they had to walk to find a way down to the lake. It was such a steep descent. They were getting down there tho. The lake was  very populated with boats (we did see a boat launch), paddle boarders and swimmers. The cold water was not stopping them on one of the last summer weekends!

Road along Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe

A less than 1 mile, out and back, hike on Lake of the Sky Trail, gave us access to a small beach area at our next stop. This was Kiva Beach which was about a half mile from Taylor Creek Visitor Center where we parked. It was also on around the lake southwest of South Lake Tahoe (too early to check in so we kept driving). Lots of people here. We just took some pictures, hiked back and then drove back to South Lake Tahoe. 

Lake Tahoe hike
Lake Tahoe beach

We arrived in South Lake Tahoe to find a bustling resort town at the base of the mountain, Heavenly. We stayed at the Marriot Grand Residence Club property in one of the Heavenly Condos. We were surrounded by a variety of shops and restaurants in Heavenly Village that were easy to walk to. 

Heavenly Village Condos
Heavenly Village shops

The Heavenly Gondola was next to us with a consistent stream of gondolas going up and down Heavenly Mountain. 

Heavenly Village Gondolas

There were a few casinos in basically the same block, although across the state line in Nevada. These included Harrah’s, Harveys, Balley’s, Hard Rock and soon to open, Margaritaville.  Walking up and down the sidewalk, we were actually walking from California to Nevada and back without paying any attention to it. Pretty cool. 

Heavenly Village

The town is so clean and so well kept. The people are very nice and friendly. There are many more shops, restaurants, etc that are conveniently just a short drive  from the resort area. We saw several grocery stores, even a Whole Foods Store. We visited a CVS and scoped out not one, but two, Coldwell Banker Real Estate offices. Being a Real Estate agent with Coldwell Banker always has me on the lookout. There were other brokerages I noticed too.  I love connecting people with Realtors all over the country.   

Whole Foods South Lake Tahoe

While we were in town,  we made the most of it and tried to do and eat as much as possible. 

Dining Lake Tahoe 

Besides, The Grille at the Château, mentioned above, we ate a burger and listened to live music at California Burger Company. We ate breakfast at both Driftwood Café and Heaven’s Little Café. We ate dinner another nite at Cantarito Cocina Y Bar Mexican food, which was really good. If we had have stayed longer, there were lots of other places to eat. Way too many to list them all, but Base Camp Pizza was always busy and Azul Latin Kitchen, McP’s Taphouse  Grill, Social House, American River Café and others looked good. We didn’t even go to the casinos to see what all restaurants they had, so we missed Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen (ate at one in Vegas and it was a fun experience) and so many others.  

Driftwood Cafe
Cantarito Cocina Y Bar

Shopping South Lake Tahoe 

We did some shopping too. Found a nice little Canadian shop, The Little Blue House, which had some pajama pants and matching socks that I got and love, for my upcoming Maine trip,  We also shopped beside Heaven’s Little Café at Shirt Off My Back for some decently priced sweatshirts.  Champagne & Chocolate was my favorite little shop to frequent after dinner for chocolate truffles.  Powder House adjoining shops, just across the street, was a nice shopping area too, with great shops. 

Champagne & Chocolate
Powder House South Lake Tahoe

How fun does Flatsitck Pub look? Grab a bite, a craft beer and play miniature golf with friends. You will be indoors and not worried about the heat, cold, rain or other weather factors. Family friendly until around 8 pm when it’s 21 and up.  

Flatstick Pub South Lake Tahoe

Our resort amenities

As I mentioned, we thought the Heavenly Condos at Grand Residence Club were a great place to stay. Not only did we have a fully stocked kitchen in our room, we had a property with stocked amenities. The huge pool area with lots of lounge chairs and a mountain view was awesome. For more entertainment, there was a huge chess set and corn hole available poolside. 

Heavenly Village Condos
Heavenly Village Condos

Bud took full advantage of the  gym in the mornings. There were plenty of sitting vignettes and indoor arcade games for downtime. The staff was very nice, communicated well and offered convenient valet parking. We were extremely happy with the location surrounded by restaurants, shops, casinos, the gondola and plenty of live music.

Heavenly Village shops

We couldn’t resist a couple of nearby cities while we were in the area either.

Cities Near Lake Tahoe

Carson City

Carson City rural goes out to Lake Tahoe, so we drove back and forth thru there before checking out the town itself. The town is definitely one for a day trip. There is so much interesting history here surrounding all of the silver mining. You’ll also find several highly recommended museums, including Nevada State Museum and Nevada State Railroad Museum. The silver domed Nevada State Capitol Building is a great place to visit. The grounds are pretty and peaceful. 

Nevada State Capitol Building

We had a nice lunch in the next block at Fox Brewery. The restaurant is located at the historic Charles Hotel where the side street is open only to foot, bicycle and scooter traffic. This is the Bob McFadden Plaza and here you will also find Mom & Pops Diner, Scoops Ice Cream, a splash pad for kids and more. Click here for more details and photos on our Carson City post. 

Fox Brewery Carson City NV
Mom & Pops Diner Carson City NV

While at Carson City, we were encouraged to go to Virginia City.  

Virginia City

I was reminded a little of Deadwood, South Dakota when we visited Virginia City. They are similar with the boardwalk Main Streets (C Street in VC), the 1800’s silver and gold rush histories, the rugged mountain views at the end of the streets and the ‘stepping back in time’ vibe with the preservation of these once booming towns turned tourist destinations. 

Bonanza Land and Cattle Co Virginia City NV

Virginia City boasts of 17 museums, mine tours which includes the Virginia & Truckee Railroad train ride taking you through 17 old mining sites along its route, saloons and some fabulous churches. I love to see beautiful old churches when traveling. 

St Mary's Cathedral Virginia City NV

Click here to see more photos and details on our Virginia City post. 


We flew in and out of Reno. When we arrived we were anxious to get to Lake Tahoe and when we headed back to the airport, we were reluctant to leave Lake Tahoe! So, we actually didn’t get to explore Reno with its casinos, art, Riverwalk, famous arch, balloon and air races, etc. I think we would need at least several days here in the ‘Biggest Little City in the World’ anyway. 

Reno Airport

One reason I wanted to visit Reno and Carson City was because when my Dad was in the Marines and he and my mother 1st married, they lived in Carson City. I’m guessing he was at the MC Mountain Warfare Training Center. 

South Lake Tahoe Was a Fit

As much as we ended up exploring north of Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe really was the the best fit for us and we can’t wait to go back. The area is beautiful and there is so much to do. South Lake Tahoe is actually the city encompassing Heavenly Village where we stayed and kept busy. I guess the best way for us to figure out the difference in North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe was just to go visit both of them personally!  They are only about 45 minutes apart by way of a beautiful scenic drive. I hope this article, with us doing the in person research (which we were more than happy to do), will help you be able to decide where you would like to spend the most time. 

Lake Tahoe
Heavenly Village South Lake Tahoe
At the beach in South Lake Tahoe
Turn on Lakeview Ave for picnic/beach access

2 thoughts on “Lake Tahoe: North Lake Tahoe vs South Lake Tahoe”

  1. Delving into the North Lake Tahoe vs South Lake Tahoe showdown in your blog – such a tough choice! Ready to weigh the majesty of both sides and plan my perfect Lake Tahoe getaway. Thanks for the insightful comparison! 🏞️🗺️

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