The Secret Season in South Lake Tahoe

It seems like everyone has been touting autumn as the secret season in Lake Tahoe. Full of beauty, Tahoe is always an excellent spot to vacay, but becomes even more idyllic between the busy-ness of summer fun and the first snow fall. What makes this autumnal playground secret so great? Apparently reduced crowds and reduced costs, which is a win-win in my book!
Since Sean and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary this month, we decided to explore South Lake Tahoe without kids. Our honeymoon had been in New England for some splendid fall colors…so the colorful aspens in Lake Tahoe seemed like a pretty darn romantic notion. What did we discover? A super chill atmosphere at hotels, restaurants, and on trails. It was PERFECT! Whether Tahoe is a new playground for you, or you are a seasoned lake visitor, you have got to experience it in the fall glory! It is magical!!

Basecamp South Lake Tahoe

True to all the rumors, deals are to be had in Fall in Lake Tahoe. A little surfing on Groupon turned up a sweet deal for Basecamp in South Lake Tahoe.
The rooms were the perfect amount of outdoorsy chic, and the beer garden was the perfect hangout spot. Can you believe the adorable airstream? And they were pouring some of our local brews. San Luis Obispo represent!
However, my fav thing about this spot was the rooftop jacuzzi graced by pines and adorned with twinkle lights. It was the BEST way to unwind after a day on the trails!

Basecamp South Lake Tahoe
The complete pocket guide from Basecamp HotelThe outdoorsy lobby of Basecamp hotelThe beer garden at Basecamp Hotel
The bunk beds at Basecamp HotelDrawing of two hikersThe beer garden at Basecamp Hotel with fire pits and an airstream
The activities board in the lobby at Basecamp Hotel South Lake Tahoe
Rental bikes at Basecamp South Lake TahoeBasecamp Hotel in South Lake Tahoe

Playing in Tahoe during the fall is super easy! I couldn’t believe how great all the trails were without the crowds. It was so much easier to experience the magic of Tahoe. Oh, and HELLO APEN COLOR!

Colorful aspens in South Lake Tahoe during the fall
A picture of me and my husband in with the colorful aspensBright red dogwood in autumn
Marshes by Camp Richardson in South Lake Tahoe

A lot of museums close down the first week of October, but there is so much to see even from the outside of the structures on a self-guided tour. Besides, there are even more epic experiences that are only available in October, like the salmon run (can you make out their coral bodies in the image to the bottom right? And then there is biking! The weather is beyond perfect for a decent ride. We actually drove to the other side of the lake to Tahoe City to explore a sweet bike path that took us on a 14 mile journey along the Truckee river towards Squaw Valley. It was seriously magical, AND NOT CROWDED! Yay!!!


This one dates me, you guys. I have been wanting to visit Vikingsholm for the last 20 years. Holy heck! Ever since I studied Scandinavian literature at UCLA (man, that was a lifetime ago).
Seriously though…this was a bucket list experience for me. I almost cried when I discovered that they had done their last tour of the season the weekend before we arrived. How could I be missing it by a few days after waiting 20 years? Well, here is where being unrelenting paid off. We went ahead and hiked the one mile trek from the road to Vikingsholm, in hopes of getting a glimmer. Man o’ man, was I happy. Walking through the trees on a wide open trail not overcome with other tourists, Vikingsholm quietly stood in all her majesty. This place is beyond amazing, you guys. A true testament to Scandinavian architecture and art here on the west coast of the Unite States. Crazy, but true. Everything was so much more than I anticipated. Carvings, metalwork, furniture, paintings…all done with the finest eye for detail.

Ok, I was a total creeper. Since the last tour for going inside this epic creation was on the last weekend of September, I smooshed my iPhone up against the glass to get this one interior shot of the dining room. LOL
This place did NOT disappoint! The carvings and the living roof are singed in my brain for life as a definition of beauty. Holy cow, it was amazing!

True confessions: yes, I am a nerd! But honestly, you guys have got to experience this one at some point in your lives! Even the hike down to the property was magical, with little streams and waterfalls gracing the paved switchbacks.

Valhalla Boathouse Theatre

While Sean and I were exploring Camp Richardson along the shores of Lake Tahoe, we discovered a treat. Amongst all the beautiful historic buildings, there was this amazing boathouse situated right on the shore. Boathouse? Big deal, right? Ummm, yah. It was converted into a live theatre predating the 20’s, and they were opening with a new production: The Woman in Black. Time to get our Halloween freak on!

The Valhalla Boathouse Theatre was a beautiful location right on the lapping shore of the lake, but the walk through the forest at twilight with bats diving about our heads as we made our way to the boathouse was truly an experience.
Our discovery and decision to buy tickets to the show turned out to be one of the best spontaneous adventures on our trip. It was the best way to usher in October! Oh, and the Oktoberfest the following day was the perfect punctuation mark! Camp Richardson rocks!

Grover Hot Springs State Park

Before we headed back home from our four days of Tahoe adventuring, we took a little detour towards Grover Hot Springs State Park. I am a serious hot springs fanatic. My favorite experiences are finding trails with remote springs off the beaten path, but this communal pool was pretty legit. Completely surrounded by alpines and meadows, it cost a measly $10 to soak away the day. The best part, the water was wonderfully hot! This is not a lukewarm pool. In fact, we got there right when they opened and we had to wait an additional thirty minutes because the water was too hot for the to let visitors into the pool! Hello mineral soak. Happy skin, happy heart and happy life. I loved that they had a cold pool right by the hot springs, for some good heart pulsing dunking in the crisp air.

If you are compelled to take a quick trip this season, or are ready to look at next October, you can discover more here and here.
I hope you get a chance soon to take advantage of this “secret” and epic adventure!

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