Lake Tahoe splits into two distinct areas: the South Shore and the North Shore. Each side offers unique experiences for visitors. The South Shore is vibrant and full of energy, with many shops, casinos, and nightlife options. It attracts those who love excitement and a lively atmosphere.

The North Shore is calm and scenic. It offers quiet beaches and trails for hiking or biking, making it perfect for nature lovers who seek a peaceful retreat.

For your choice between South Shore and North Shore, consider what kind of experience you want. If you prefer fun and games, South Shore is the place. If you enjoy quiet and nature, North Shore will suit you better.

South Shore (South Lake Tahoe Area)


The South Shore area of Lake Tahoe, centered around South Lake Tahoe, has a lively resort town feel.

Many bars, clubs, and live music venues cater to those looking for an exciting nightlife scene. The casinos offer gambling, entertainment, and flashy attractions that give South Shore a definite big-city vibe compared to the quieter North Shore towns.


Large Hotels/Resorts

South Lake Tahoe has many large hotels and casino resorts like Harrah’s, Harvey’s, and Montbleu. These properties offer a full Vegas-style resort experience with hotels, casinos, restaurants, pools, spas, and more.

Vacation Rentals

In addition to the big resorts, there are also plenty of vacation rental houses, cabins, and condos available for rent in South Lake Tahoe and surrounding areas like Meyers and Stateline.


Diverse Cuisine

The dining scene in South Lake Tahoe is quite diverse. You’ll find all kinds of cuisines represented from casual eateries to high-end restaurants. There are particularly good options for American, Mexican, Italian, and steakhouse fare.


The brewpub and bar scene is also lively, with spots like Lake Tahoe Ale Worx and Basecamp Pizza offering craft beers and great food.



Some of the top attractions on the South Shore include beautiful beaches like El Dorado Beach, Pope Beach, and Regan Beach.

Heavenly Village

Heavenly Village is a lively area with shopping, dining, and entertainment.


Of course, the casinos themselves are a major draw too, with big resorts like Harrah’s, Harvey’s, and Montbleu Casino Resort right on the lake.

Outdoor Recreation

Heavenly Ski Resort

For outdoor recreation, the Heavenly Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe is world-class. It offers terrain for all ability levels across its two mountains.

Summer Activities

In summer, popular activities include hiking trails, biking, golfing, boating, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and simply relaxing on the beaches.


  • Lively entertainment and nightlife scene
  • Variety of dining options from casual to high-end
  • Many lodging choices including large hotels/casinos and vacation rentals
  • Popular attractions like beaches, Heavenly Village, and casinos
  • Access to Heavenly Ski Resort and summer outdoor activities
  • Bustling, resort town atmosphere


  • Can feel very crowded and touristy, especially in peak seasons
  • More expensive in general for lodging, dining, etc.
  • More traffic and parking challenges
  • Noisier and less natural setting than North Shore
  • Lots of built-up development
  • Limited camping/RV options nearby

North Shore


  1. Quieter small towns
  2. More low-key and natural feel

The areas along Tahoe’s North Shore like Tahoe City, Kings Beach, Carnelian Bay, and Incline Village have a much quieter, more laid-back vibe than the bustling South Shore. These are quintessential small mountain towns with a relaxing pace of life.

The natural scenery and tranquility of the mountains and lake take center stage on the North Shore, providing a respite from the high-energy resort atmosphere down south.


  1. Smaller resorts and motels
  2. Vacation rental homes and cabins

While you’ll find some smaller resorts and motels, the majority of North Shore lodging consists of vacation rental homes, cabins and condos. These provide a homey, residential feel versus the large resort hotels.


  1. Lower-key, casual eateries
  2. Brewpubs and casual dining

The North Shore dining scene is more low-key, with an emphasis on casual restaurants, cafes, pizza places, and brewpubs rather than high-end resort dining found in South Lake.


  1. Beaches like Kings Beach
  2. Charming small towns like Tahoe City and Incline Village
  3. State parks and natural areas

The top attractions are the lovely shores of Kings Beach and other beaches along the north and west shores.

The small, walkable towns with their local boutiques and cafes are also drawing, as are the numerous state parks and recreation areas for hiking, camping, and general nature appreciation.

Outdoor Recreation

  1. Hiking trails galore
  2. Camping and RV parks
  3. Water sports on the lake

Outdoor pursuits are what the North Shore is all about. Hiking trails snake through the mountains and around the lake. There are numerous campgrounds and RV parks as well. On the water, boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, and swimming are popular in the summer months.


  • Natural beauty and scenic views
  • Relaxed, low-key atmosphere
  • More affordable lodging and dining
  • Abundance of hiking trails
  • Great options for camping and RV parks
  • Less crowded and commercialized


  • Fewer dining and shopping varieties
  • Lack of nightlife and entertainment
  • Can feel too quiet/isolated for some
  • Have to drive to get to amenities
  • Fewer lodging options besides rentals
  • More rustic, less development

The Verdict

Who South Shore is Best For

  • Those seeking an action-packed resort getaway
  • Nightlife lovers and gamblers
  • Families who want hotels with amenities
  • Anyone looking for excitement and convenience

Who North Shore is Best For

  • Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts
  • Those desiring a serene lakefront setting
  • Campers and RV travelers
  • Anyone seeking a more relaxed, low-key vibe

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