Reno to Lake Tahoe Travel Guide + Itinerary
If you are planning a trip to Reno +/or Lake Tahoe this post contains a full 7 day itinerary and details on all the must see’s, things to do, restaurant recommendations, and where we stayed! I also have highlights saved on my Instagram from both spots (Reno + Lake Tahoe).
Background story…. my husband and I started a little tradition a few years go — spend New Years Eve somewhere different every year. I mean what’s better than starting the year off by exploring somewhere new? We decided that we wanted to go somewhere cold and filled with snow this year for the ultimate winter vacation.
Lake Tahoe stood out at the top of that list and BOY did it not disappoint, especially in the snow department…. they got almost 18 ft of snow in December, more than any other December in the past 142 years!!!
We broke our trip up as follows because we wanted to see it all!
2 DAYS in Reno (our flight got really delayed so we didn’t get in until really late the first day, so we really only had a day)
3 DAYS in South Lake Tahoe
3 DAYS in North Lake Tahoe
PS, if you’re new here my name is Stephanie and I am a wanderlustin, fashion obsessed, spicy margarita enthusiast. Follow me along on instagram @sugaredstilettos to see all that and a big dose of my daily life… I love new friends!
Here’s a summary of what you will find below in case you want to jump ahead!
Reno Pit Stop + why I HIGHLY recommend penciling this in as part of your itinerary!
North or South Lake Tahoe?
South Lake Tahoe Recommendations
North Lake Tahoe (Incline Village) Recommendations
Outfits I Packed with links!
1. RENO PIT STOP
Reno is often referred to as a smaller version of Las Vegas, but I personally think Reno offers so much more than that brushed off title. Reno is primarily known for its desert landscape, but it also sits alongside the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Did you know that there are actually more mountain ranges here than in any other state in the US? Reno offers the perfect mix of city life and outdoor activities… not to mention they have some pretty incredible restaurants for all my foodies out there.
Reno also sits SO close to Lake Tahoe. In fact, the Reno International Airport is the closest airport that you can fly into when visiting Lake Tahoe, so for us it was a no brainer to explore this city on our way to Lake Tahoe.
WHERE WE STAYED
We stayed at the Atlantis Casino and if I could reccomend one place to stay in Reno, this would be it. Between the 60,000 sq. ft. casino space, a top ranked spa, not one, but two pools, and some of the best restaurants in all of Reno, this casino truly has it all. Not to mention the service was unreal.
We booked a room in the Concierge Tower which is a bit pricier than the other rooms, but the added perks and upgraded amenities are worth it! By booking a room in their Concierge Tower you get access to the 25th floor concierge lounge, a continental breakfast, and afternoon hors d’oeuvres. The rooms also have great views of the surrounding mountains and city!
One of the things I loved most about this casino was how nice it was. A lot of times you go to a casino and they are very outdated and kind of dreary— not the Atlantis. It’s upbeat, lively, and you can tell they take pride in continuing to improve the atmosphere through their updates and renovations.
In the below sections you will find suggestions on my favorite places to eat/drink and you will find that quite a few of them were located right in the Atlantis. I wasn’t kidding when I said they had some of the best restaurants in Reno.
WHERE TO EAT
WALDEN’S COFFEEHOUSE (breakfast/coffee/lunch)
I would like to personally dub this little spot as a true hidden gem in Reno. Walden’s is a locally owned coffee house with some incredible food and organic coffee. Please do yourself a favor and order the Avocado toast with a poached egg on top— it sounds like a strange combo, BUT OMG was it sooooooooo good. I also ordered an iced cherry cold brew and my husband ordered a latte and both were so tasty. Highly recommend if you’re a coffee snob looking for high quality coffee to start your day.
TWO CHICKS RENO (breakfast/lunch)
I was definitely lured in by the overwhelming number of reviews on Yelp and they did not disappoint. This is such an adorable, vibrant little spot. We came here for breakfast and whatever you decide to order just make sure you are trying their flavored butter on something— its so yummy!
ATLANTIS STEAKHOUSE (dinner / located in the Atlantis Casino)
I don’t say what I am about to say next lightly by any means— this was one of the most phenomenal dining experiences my husband and I have ever had. The food, service, and atmosphere were all top of line. If you’re looking for a romantic, elegant, and lively dinner spot do yourself a favor and book a reservation here. It’s a bit on the pricer side, but it’s worth every single penny.
I highly recommend at least somebody in your party order one of the tableside dinner entrees. My husband ordered the tableside Steak Diane and it was not only so fun to watch be prepared, but he said it was out of this world good. There is a reason this restaurant is rated Best Overall Steakhouse in Reno. I got the Ora King Salmon and the flavor combo was divine.
Be sure to check out the 1,100 gallon saltwater fish tank as you walk in!
SKY TERRACE SUSHI BAR (lunch or dinner / located in the Atlantis Casino))
If you’re a sushi lover like myself the Sky Terrace offers an all-you-can-eat sushi option and a great sake list. We came here for lunch and it was only $26 per person for a miso soup or salad, endless amounts of sushi, and ice cream… such a great deal! There is also a nice view overlooking Virginia street and I loved how overall bright and airy it felt up there!
THINGS TO DO
ATRIUM LOUNGE (cocktail bar / located in the Atlantis Casino))
The Atrium Lounge was actually completely remodeled last year with new lighting, furniture, and marble and it’s honestly so nice. This spot is a great place to get a cute picture and go for some great signature cocktails. Clearly I took my own advice and got some pictures here— couldn’t let an adorable outfit go to waste!
ATLANTIS SPA (located in the Atlantis Casino)
This spa has been rated one of the top spas on Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Spas for 6 years in a row. In other words, if you want to get spa services here book this WAY ahead of time, as it books out weeks in advance. We weren’t able to get a spa service scheduled since they were all booked up, but we got day passes to utilize the spa amenities. It was the BEST way to cure our severe airplane travel delay jet lag from the night before. We sipped on fancy flavored waters and got to try out all the different rooms. With a day pass you can access the Aqua Lounge, Laconium Relaxation Lounge, Brine Inhalation-Light Therapy Lounge, Herbal Steam Room and Cedarwood Sauna, making it a great way to get a taste for what this spa has to offer.
THE RENO ARCH
We didn’t have time to do this on our trip, but if you love checking out landmarks then add it to your list! The Reno Arch is located in Downtown Reno and holds the renowned slogan “The Biggest Little City in the World”.
GAMBLING + CASINO NIGHTLIFE
I mean when in Reno right? There are tons of casinos located in Reno, so if you want to pop around and gamble at a few different spots you have options. Although if you’re staying at the Atlantis I doubt you’ll want to leave because as a I mentioned above it truly does have everything you need right there.
If you want to take a quick break from the casinos and head outdoors go downtown to the Riverwalk District. You will find tons of shopping, restaurants/bars, and you can talk a walk on the river walkway!
2. NORTH or SOUTH LAKE TAHOE?
I am going to start this section off with two words— DO BOTH…seriously. I read a ton of articles before our trip trying to decide which one was the “better” of the two to stay in and they all lead me to one conclusion— if you’re going to Lake Tahoe you need to experience both. They each offer and are known for their own things, but what connects them is the ability to see breathtaking scenery from both ends. So if you’re planning a trip with the intention of soaking up all the views Lake Tahoe has to offer, then pencil both into your itineraries. I personally don’t think you can truly experience Lake Tahoe in all of its majestic glory without exploring each side.
With that being said, let’s get into the main differences of each.
South Lake Tahoe is known for their bustling and lively atmosphere and definitely has a bigger nightlife scene compared to the North shore. The downtown area on the California side is known as Heavenly Village and is filled with tons of shops, restaurants, bars, and live outdoor music. The Nevada side is also packed with casinos if your’e looking to test your luck out. So when you’re done hitting the slopes for the day and don’t want the night to end you will always find something to do in South Tahoe.
North Lake Tahoe is definitely the more laid back of the two, making it a perfect spot for those seeking a more relaxed vibe. You might hear some of the locals refer to the North shore as being on “Tahoe Time” due to the slower paced and tranquil nature of things. It has that more traditional mountain feel to it and it’s all about taking in the fresh air and breathtaking views. The North may be more laid back, but don’t let that fool you into thinking there isn’t much going on here. This area is also home to delicious restaurants, breweries, and tons of outdoor activities.
PS… Shaun + I decided that we 100% are planning a summer trip here, so stay tuned for a summer edition Tahoe blog post!
2. SOUTH LAKE TAHOE
WHERE TO EAT
AZUL (Mexican food)
If you know me you know my love for Mexican food runs deep, so it’s obvious I would choose this spot for lunch. With over 1.9k reviews on Yelp and an overall 4 star rating this place hit the spot. Azul is also located right downtown in Heavenly Village, so it’s a great place to grab a bite to eat when shopping! PS.. I highly recommend the spicy margs and guac!
EDGEWOOD BISTRO (brunch/amazing views)
Add this to your itinerary immediately and thank me later because this brunch spot is DELICIOUS and also beyond scenic with stunning views of Lake Tahoe. Spots fill up quick so you will want to make a reservation ahead of time. I ordered the chicken and waffles and all I have to say is WOW… they definitely fell into a top best 3 I have ever had, SO if you’re into that kind of thing don’t pass up on ordering them!!
COLD WATER BREWERY (lunch/brewery)
We actually stumbled across this place and what a great find. If you’re a beer lover they have a huge beer selection and also offer beer flights. If you aren’t a beer person they also have an awesome cocktail list and if you’re in Lake Tahoe in the wintertime do yourself a favor and get the spiked hot chocolate…. IT WAS SOO good.
REVIVE COFFEE WINE (breakfast/coffee)
This is the perfect spot to grab coffee and breakfast right before you head over to El Dorado Beach because they are within minutes of each other. The food menu is smaller, but the options they do have are great. I ordered the avocado toast and blueberry scone… YUM. I will also go on record saying that I had a lavender cold brew from here and it was hands down the best coffee I have had to date.
HELLS KITCHEN (dinner)
Located in Harvery’s casino this happening spot owned by Gordon Ramsey is the perfect place for dinner followed by some gambling. The ambience of this restaurant is lively and upbeat, so it’s a good date night spot. The menu is beyond creative offering a wide variety of options to choose from for both food and cocktails. The smoked bourbon cocktail has such a cool presentation so if you have a bourbon lover in your group I recommend this option! One of their top entrees is the Beef Wellington which my husband ordered and devoured.
This restaurant is located in the Landing Resort and they offer food all day, with a limited menu during dinner turnover. The service was a bit on the slower side here, but when we were finally seated and got our food everything came out delicious. There are also beautiful views of the lake that you can enjoy while eating.
THINGS TO DO
THE LOFT TAHOE (magic show + tapas)
My husband and I went to an adult magic show on NYE and we were cracking up the entire time. Not to mention my husband got called on stage and was part of the show so I was living my best life dying of laughter watching him up there. They offer comedy shows for all ages and whether you’re going to a kid friendly or adult magic show expect to see some mind boggling magic tricks and have a great time. They also have a restaurant that you can grab some tapas and cocktails at before the show if you can get a reservation!
I am actually laughing as I write this because when I was posting about this on my Instagram stories I was calling it a hike… but it’s actually not. It was only a hike because when we went there was SO much snow that the roads leading in were closed so we had to hike through the snow to get to the lake. LOL. Either way the views were so beautiful! Valhalla is actually a pretty happening place usually where you can go to enjoy history, music, catch a show, or take in some beautiful art. They often host events here and have a concert series in the summertime! Here is a link to their website so you can check the event list.
EL DORADO BEACH (beach/views)
This is one of the largest beaches in South Lake Tahoe and it’s great for kayaking, swimming, picnics, and cruising down the bike trails. We were obviously there in the winter time, but it’s a gorgeous place to stop by, relax, and soak up the views. PS.. in the wintertime there is no charge to park!
EMERALD BAY (beach/views)
I was SO bummed we weren’t able to go here on our trip. The roads leading to Emerald Bay were all shut down because of the extensive amount of snow Tahoe got while we were there. But pleaseee add this to your itinerary and send me pictures LOL.. I have heard it’s one of the most beautiful spots in all of Lake Tahoe.
HEAVENLY VILLAGE (downtown area)
Calling all shopping lovers… Heavenly Village is located at the base of Heavenly Mountain and has over 40 shops, tons of restaurants, and live outdoor music. FYI.. you do have to pay to park if your accommodations are not within walking distance.
If you’re not the outdoorsy type, but still want to take in all the views at the top of the Mountain the Heavenly Gondola takes you all the way up for a scenic ride. Definitely book these tickets well in advance because they do sell out very quickly!
3. NORTH LAKE TAHOE (INCLINE VILLAGE)
WHERE TO EAT
FUMO TAHOE (brunch + dinner)
Do you ever go to a place and you like it so much you go back twice? Yeah, this was FUMO for us. We stopped in for breakfast and had such a delicious meal that we came back for dinner that same night. Now let me also just explain that breakfast and dinner were two completely different experiences which was awesome. For breakfast, we ate inside the restaurant which has a very whimsical mountain lodge type vibe to it. The food was so delicious— we got the french toast and eggs benedict!
Then we booked an igloo reservation and got to eat outside in our own personal heated igloo. It was so cozy and cute inside and the food was phenomenal. This was my husband and I’s favorite dinner we had in Lake Tahoe. Their cocktails were on point and the food options were so flavorful. Not to mention the service was unmatched. If you want to book one of these igloos they only have so many slots per night, so book in advance!! I highly recommend ordering the lobster deviled eggs and ceviche to start— flavor combos are unreal!
DRINK COFFEE DO STUFF (breakfast/coffee)
We came here for a quick bite to eat before we went skiing and we thoroughly enjoyed it. If you’re a waffle lover they have a cinnamon honey waffle on their menu that is so dang good. They also serve high quality coffee and have some great drink options.
ALIBI ALE WORKS (brewery + restaurant)
Alibi has a few locations in Lake Tahoe— a full service restaurant/bar, as well as a brewery. The beers they brew are packed with unique flavors and they serve beer flights so you can try out a few different ones. You can also order their beer offline (linked here) which is pretty awesome!
INCLINED BURGERS (quick lunch / grab + go)
And the most drool worthy chicken sandwich award goes to Inclined Burgers. I am still dreaming about this fried chicken sandwich and I am putting in a request for delivery to Connecticut pleaseeee. Inclined Burgers is a small little spot to grab a quick bite. We grabbed a table, ordered some beers, and devoured these sandwiches in like three seconds.
BITE (tapas style dinner)
If you love creative options and tapas style dinners BITE serves up quite the array of options. Its a cozy dim lit restaurant in Incline Village and tapas style makes it perfect for trying out a little bit of everything. Every dish we ordered was packed with so many flavors and textures. Highly recommend!
WING’S KOREAN CHICKEN (takeout)
We were so tired one night and wanted to just get takeout to eat in… if you like wings I recommend trying this spot out. They were so flavorful!
THINGS TO DO
DIAMOND PEAK (ski/snowboard mountain)
If you love to ski/snowboard then you need to hit up Diamond Peak. It’s a locally owned mountain that has 6 different lifts, 30 runs, and an awesome bar/restaurant at the top of the lift! We had soooo much fun on this mountain as you can see from this video here. One of the coolest parts is that you can see views of Lake Tahoe from the top and as you go down some of the trails. I will link the website here where you can buy tickets and read more about it! PS… if you buy ahead of time they are discounted slightly!
SAND HARBOR (UNREAL views)
All I can say is WOW. No words are needed to describe this place, the pictures below speak volumes themselves. Sand Harbor is beyond breathtaking and was our favorite place to soak up views on the entire trip.
We are early risers over here and love to be able to catch sunrises , so we made sure to add this to our itinerary. The vivid purple, orange, and pink hues slowly rising over the Lake were absolutely magical. It honestly didn’t even look real, almost like someone had painted it into the sky.
My husband and I love snowmobiling so we knew that we had to book an excursion out in Tahoe. We booked through Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours and our guides were fantastic and the views from the trails were stunning. My only advice is that if you’re more experienced on a snowmobile like my husband and I BOOK A PRIVATE TOUR. We booked a group tour only because the private tours were sold out and the speed was just a bit too slow for us. FYI, if you want a private tour book well in advance!
We had planned to do one of the Sleigh Rides out here, but unfortunately it got cancelled due to high winds on the day we were supposed to go. I will leave the link here for you because this looks like such a fun thing to do! Still so bummed we couldn’t go!
4. Outfits I Packed with links!
OUTFIT 1 (linked here)
OUTFIT 2 (linked here)
OUTFIT 3 (linked here)
OUTFIT 4 (linked here)
OUTFIT 5 (linked here)
OUTFIT 6 (linked here)