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Exploring a new place is one of the best parts of traveling, especially when you have great recommendations from friends and family. We’ve rounded up a list of local favorites – from dining to activities – so the next time you are in Tahoe you can feel like a local and enjoy these hidden gems.

River Ranch

Step back in time at the River Ranch, located on the banks of the Truckee River, and full of old Tahoe charm. The River Ranch has been around since 1888, and was a popular watering hole along the narrow gauge railway. We think the Ranch has one of the most underrated happy hours in town, and the view from the riverfront tables on a spacious outdoor patio can’t be beat. Happy hour is from 3-5, first come first served, and dinner reservations are strongly recommended. 

River Ranch Lodge & Restaurant - Tahoe City, CA | OpenTable

Red Truck

What started as a popular food truck, Red Truck has also taken up a permanent home at the Tahoe Truckee Airport – and it’s a favorite lunch spot for locals. You can grab a bite to go or enjoy it on the lawn outside. There is a little playground for kids and it’s always fun to watch the planes take off. With fresh, sustainable food full of flavor, you’re sure to find something delightful at the cafe. Open for breakfast and lunch, 9 am – 3 pm seven days a week. They also post daily specials on twitter and facebook!

Red Truck Catering Truckee

Ellis Peak

If you’re in the mood for a longer hike, Ellis Peak is a lesser-known hike that still offers amazing Tahoe views and beautiful wildflowers in the spring. It is a multi-use trail, open to hikers and bikers, and dogs can come but have to be on a leash. It is just under 7 miles out and back, and the top scrambles along a cliff edge. There is a nice lake, Ellis Lake, to stop at and enjoy before or after reaching the top of the peak. Head up early in the morning to beat the crowds and the heat. 

Ellis Peak trail is easy to miss, hard to forget

Charter Sailing Catamaran

The best way to enjoy the lake when it’s not quite swimming season – charter a catamaran! The 55 foot Sierra Cloud offers private tours, daily afternoon cruises, and a sunset tour. You can enjoy the easy cruise of a catamaran above the pristine waters of Lake Tahoe all season long. You can even do a Sunday morning Mimosa cruise! 

Via Ferrata

Looking for some high alpine adventure that’s safe and fun for all skill levels? Via Ferrata is an assisted climbing course on the Tram Face above Squaw Valley. Via Ferrata,  Italian for “iron way,” originated in the high Alps of Italy during the first and second world wars, and assisted troops traveling across rugged mountain terrain without any climbing experience.  Using ropes, cables, anchored ladders, and suspension bridges, climbers scramble their way over the rocks with a professional guide. With multiple routes and varying difficulty levels, Via Ferrata is a fun and challenging activity that offers great new views of the valley floor. 

Adrian Ballinger at the monkey in the middle bridge on the Tahoe Via Ferrata