South Lake Tahoe: Independence Day Survival Guide

July 4th is right around the corner, and even though we’ll be celebrating a little differently this year (shout out to the coronavirus for that one), I thought I’d kick off the holiday by taking a look back on my favorite Independence Day to date. Last year, I road-tripped up north to Lake Tahoe with a group of friends for a few days to celebrate America the best way we know how – themed parties, lakeside shenanigans, and more White Claws than I’d like to admit.

It was easily one of my favorite weekends of 2019, so I’m recapping everything below with some tips for making your own future Lake Tahoe experience worthwhile.

independence day in south lake tahoe

Where to Stay

We visited the south side of Tahoe, where you can find several casino hotels and lodges. However, we opted for an Airbnb cabin in a private neighborhood just outside the main part of town, which ended up being the perfect situation – I would definitely recommend this for big groups! This Airbnb was a duplex connected by a large balcony ideal for outdoor drinking games and complete with a large hot tub. It was submerged in the woods and covered with gorgeous evergreen trees, which helped keep the balcony and house cool in the summer heat.

independence day in south lake tahoe

The neighborhood was great because it was nearby several walking trails that we visited nearly every morning we were there. Although there were many other neighboring cabins and groups, it definitely felt like we were one with the wilderness and able to enjoy some quieter moments away from a city-like atmosphere.

independence day in south lake tahoe

What to Bring

If you’re going the Aribnb route, it’s a great idea to bring some extra blankets and pillows for everyone. With some people most likely having to sleep on a pullout couch (or even on an air mattress or the floor depending on the size of your group), there’s a chance that the Airbnb hosts may not supply enough bedding for extra people.

Of course, I can’t forget to mention the yummy food and drinks you’ll want to enjoy throughout the weekend. The best way to shop for any trip like this is to plan every meal ahead of time. This way, you’ll have all of the ingredients you’ll need and you won’t be left scrambling random foods together each day. P.S. If your friends are anything like mine, you’ll want to buy more drinks than you predict you’ll need. I’m pretty sure we went through our alcohol supply for the entire weekend within the first 24 hours (lol oops).

independence day in south lake tahoe

Now for the fun stuff…If you want to make your trip unique, add some flavor to the mix with a theme night (No, you’re never too old for a themed party). This trip also happened to fall near two of the girls in our group’s birthdays (the main reason we were in Tahoe to celebrate, tbh), so we used our first night in the house as their conjoined birthday party. For the theme? We decided to channel our teen angst with Emo Night, complete with thick, black eyeliner and Blink 182 blasting throughout the night. I suggest picking a theme your whole group will like and can go all out on. Make sure to pack the decorations and any supplies you’ll need for your costumes! This was such a fun way to kick off our weekend in Tahoe and got us pumped up for the 4th of July the next day.

independence day in south lake tahoe

What to Do

For the 4th of July, we went to a beach party at Zephyr Cove, which featured lakeside tanning and swimming, a live Dj, and several bars. It was a fun way to spend the day, but you should definitely be prepared to encounter some debaucherous activity and underage drinkers trying to break their way in. Also, if you plan on attending one of Zephyr Cove’s beachside extravaganzas, make sure to get there early as there will probably be a long line just to get into the party. A couple members of our group volunteered to skip the pregame at our cabin to grab a spot on the beach extra early, which was extremely useful because by the time the rest of us arrived there was hardly any room left to sit down. The only downside of this beach party is that it closes before sunset, so you’ll have to find another spot to watch the fireworks. Oh, and bring your walking shoes because finding an Uber at the end of the day was basically impossible (AKA, we had to wave down a driver and bribe her with cash).

independence day in south lake tahoe

After recovering from the excitement of Independence Day, we spent our last full day of the trip on the water. We rented a speed boat and drove around the lake for hours, and we even found a small cove area where you can swim, get out to climb on some big rocks, and just chill while you float. We got lucky and made friends with another group who graciously let us take a ride down the waterslide on the side of their houseboat, which made for the cherry on top of a basically perfect day.

independence day in south lake tahoe

If you still have energy after a long day of boating or celebrating the 4th, there’s still plenty to do once the sun goes down. For instance, our neighborhood had a community pool with several grills that we used to have a barbecue one night. When you’re researching places to stay in Tahoe, I highly recommend searching for one with amenities like this. It was nice to get out of the house for a cookout without actually having to go far at all. There are also several bars in town you can go to if you’re looking for a late-night out. On our first night in town (when we were all dressed like gothic 13-year-olds) we took our party to Whiskey Dick’s Saloon, which was the ultimate dive bar environment to fit our theme. You can also check out the casino clubs and restaurants depending on the kind of ambiance you’re looking for.

Overall, I would rate my Lake Tahoe trip a 10/10 experience. I would definitely go again on the 4th of July or any other time of the year. It’s such a beautiful place and there really is so much to explore and do!

Xo, Chloe

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