Dog-Friendly South Lake Tahoe – Complete Travel Guide

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dog is feeling happy in south lake tahoe

Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and known for its beaches and ski resorts, South Lake Tahoe is a resort city in El Dorado County, California. About 100 miles northeast of San Francisco on the Nevada-California state line, you will find a variety of great attractions here, including over a dozen parks, several museums, and 10 beaches. Some of these are pup-friendly, and some even allow your pooch to play off the leash. 

Although it is a small town with just over 21,000 residents, it can quadruple its population during the peak tourist seasons.from June through August. Summers are just hot enough for swimming, boating, and other water activities but still cool enough to be comfortable no matter what you are doing. However, from July to September, it can be hot enough to be a problem for your dog if he is overexerting himself. 

In this guide, we examine the main things you need to know about South Lake Tahoe before packing up and taking your fur baby on the road. We have the main laws and regulations, dog-friendly hotels, parks, and restaurants, as well as where you can go hiking, biking, and other fun activities. You will also find some safety tips, veterinarians, the best times to visit, and the most pup popular neighborhoods.

Things dog parents need to know about South Lake Tahoe

No matter where you go, you will find a unique set of rules and regulations concerning your canine companion. From leash laws to proper poop practices as well as the best pet etiquette, we have all that here for you. 

  • All dogs should be confined to your property, an enclosed area, or on a leash at all times. The leash must be 10 feet or shorter in length unless otherwise noted. 
  • Pooches over four months of age must be properly vaccinated and licensed. 
  • Article 4 states that the owner or caretaker must pick up any solid waste from their pup immediately and dispose of it in a proper container. 
  • Many beaches do not allow dogs. However, Tallac, North Beach, Hidden Beach, and Chimney Beach are dog-friendly as well as Echo Lakes, Incline Village, and Kings Beach.
  • No dogs are allowed in grocery stores in California, but they are welcome in PetSmart, Dog Dog Cat, Petco, and Scraps Dog Bakery. 
  • No animals except service animals are allowed on public transport in South Lake Tahoe.

Dog friendly Hotels in South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe has more than 330 vacation rentals that are pet-friendly, including 33 hotels, motels, and resorts. We chose a few of our favorites and some campgrounds you and your pooch may enjoy as well. 

  • Quality Inn is great for those who want to save money but also have all the important amenities. It is right next to the ski resort and gondola and a block from the beach as well as less than a mile from the off-leash dog park. And the pet fee is only $15 per night!
  • Beach Retreat & Lodge at Tahoe is special for several reasons. First, it is right on the water so you can walk to it with your pooch. Also, there is a whole floor for dog parents and their pets on the ground floor to easily access the beach from your room. There is also a stunning view of the mountains for selfies. 
  • Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel donates part of their dog fee to the Heavenly Avalance Rescue Dogs. Also, they have a restaurant with a pup-friendly patio so you can enjoy a meal together during your stay. And you can also take him on a carriage ride that leaves right from your hotel. 

Nature lovers can also enjoy South Lake Tahoe with their pups. There are over a dozen campgrounds in the area, including Fallen Leaf, with 200 campsites. It features swimming, water sports, hiking, showers, BBQ grills, and picnic tables. Tahoe Valley has 439 sites with a pool, dog park, trails, a store, showers, and a playground. If you would rather be closer to nature, Nevada State Park has rugged campsites with picnic tables and a restroom but none of the other luxuries. 

South Lake Tahoe Dog parks

The city also has several dog parks where you can let your cuddle buddy play off the leash in a safe environment with other pups. Most dog parks are fenced areas with ample space for play, doggie doo baggies, and seating for pup parents. Here are a few we like.

  • Tahoe City Dog Park is a small park behind Rosie’s Cafe next to Conners Field. There is a hydrant for pups to pee on, rocks to climb on, and lots of grass for rolling around in. You will need to bring your own doggie bags, though. 
  • Fuji Park Dog Park has tunnels, boulders, benches, and lots of shade trees with tons of space for even the largest pups to run around and chase each other. However, there is no grass so it gets muddy if it rains. 
  • Bijou Dog Park has a separate area for small or shy dogs, agility equipment, and mulched ground so there is less mud. There are also water fountains and grassy areas to relax, and you can take him out in the rest of the park on a leash. 

Dog Friendly Restaurants and Dining

Want to take your cuddly canine companion out for a meal with you? South Lake Tahoe is full of great pup popular restaurants, bars, breweries, wine bars, and coffee shops. First, the Burger Lounge has over 20 dog-friendly tables on their patio where you can both enjoy a delicious burger. They also have fish, veggie burgers, chicken, and turkey. 

Mac Duff’s Pub is an Irish bar that loves dogs and has pup popular tables in the summer. If you want to see where some of the best beer is made and get the freshest craft beer, check out Cutthroat Brewing Company. They even have food with a dog menu with a Pup Patty and Dog Brew for your pooch. 

For wine lovers, you can take your pup to Idle Hour Wine Bar on the lakefront. You can get it by the glass or have a wine-tasting flight while your pup has some treats. If you need a caffeine boost, Starbucks has over a dozen stores in the area, including one at Harrah’s, one at Heavenly Resort, and one in Tahoe Valley. Dogs are always welcome on the patio. 

Things to do in South Lake Tahoe with a dog

Take your cuddle buddy on a fishing trip with Tahoe Sport Fishing or rent a kayak and go out on the water yourself at Clearly Tahoe. They even have standup paddle boards for those who enjoy that. Or let someone paddle you both around with a Venetian Gondola Ride. You can also take your pup to one of the dog-friendly beaches, including Kiva, Tallac, Regan, and North Zephyr Cove. 

Another great sport to enjoy with your pooch in South Lake Tahoe is hiking. There are over 100 trails, including the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail. Skylandia State Park also has several nice hiking and biking trails to explore. The 4.5-mile Flume Trail is also fun. In late September, visit the Lake Tahoe 4-H Club for Wild Blue Dog Fall Camp. You will have a blast!

Daycare and Boarding

If you need a dog sitter so you can go hit the slopes or watch a show, you and your pooch will be happy to know that there are lots of reputable dog sitters and boarding houses in the area. For example, The Holiday Inn Pet Resort offers overnight boarding as well as short-term and long-term stays. Tahoe Best Friends is the only 24-hour dog boarding in South Lake Tahoe, and they have excellent reviews. Also, you can feel safe leaving your pup at Agate Bay Animal Hospital, where the vet is always available. 

Dog Care and safety

Besides dog sitting and boarding, you may also need medical assistance for your pooch while you are in town. The Sierra Veterinarian Hospital is the closest and provides all types of care from tooth cleaning to emergency surgery. Blue Lake Animal Care Center is another great place for full-service dog care, including vaccinations and prescriptions. Finally, Alpine Animal Hospital has four veterinarians with over a decade of experience each. 

Some of the most dangerous risks in South Lake Tahoe are the trails. Not only are some of them very hazardous from cliffs and rocky edges, but they also have reported toxic mushrooms and wolf lichen on trees. You should also keep him away from Mayapples, Tansy, Horse Chestnuts, acorns, and milkweed. 

Another issue is that some of the small lakes and ponds have parasites like giardia and leptospirosis, so do not let your pup drink from any of them. Pack plenty of water for you both. Also, there are many wild creatures that may be hazardous to your pup, like coyotes, bears, mountain lions, and even porcupines. 

If your fur buddy needs a prescription filled or refilled, you can visit one of the local PetSmart or Petco Stores. There are also several smaller pet pharmacies in and around the lake. In addition, most veterinarians, animal hospitals, and clinics will fill the prescriptions on-site. 

Best time to visit South Lake Tahoe with your dog.

South Lake Tahoe is a fun destination for everyone, with a variety of attractions, including several dog-friendly beaches to enjoy. The shoulder season is the best time to go to avoid the crowds, but if you plan to swim, you will want to go during the high season. If you really want to avoid the crowds, go during the low season, but pack warm coats for you both. 

  • Shoulder Season: (April – May and September – October): From April through May, the temps are in the lower 60s, and it is typically sunny enough to enjoy a day at the park. Nights will drop into the upper 30s though, so bring a coat for you and your fur baby if you plan to go out. 
  • High Season (June – August): With highs ranging from 72 to 80 degrees F, this is the busiest time of the year for South Lake Tahoe. Beaches are crowded as well as everything else like restaurants, bars, clubs, and other attractions.  
  • Low Season (December – February): The winter is the best time to visit for the least crowds, but it can be pretty cold. It is perfect for those who plan to hit the slopes or just enjoy some holiday shopping but pack warm clothing for you and your pooch. 

Monthly highlights

  • January: You will not see many crowds during January as the temps drop into the 20s at night. Plan some indoor fun or pack warm coats for you both.
  • February: A brisk walk or jog at the local park is good during the afternoon as long as you both dress warm because the temps are in the mid-40s.  
  • March: With temperatures rising into the low-50s, you can plan a day at the dog park for you and your fur baby.
  • April: The beginning of shoulder season, April sees mild daytime highs in the upper 50s and lows in the mid-30s. Plan accordingly.
  • May: As the temps hit the 60s, you can have a picnic on the beach or spend the day at the botanical garden to see what is blooming. 
  • June: Nice weather in the lower 70s means you can go to the beach, and your pup can even splash around a little if you go during the afternoon when it is warmest. But it is still probably too cold for humans to dive in.
  • July: The lake is warming up, and beaches are getting crowded during the high season with high temps nearing 80 degrees F. Pack some sunscreen and get there early to get a good spot on the sand. 
  • August: The last month of high season brings the last of the travelers to the beaches and attractions. As long as your canine companion is okay in crowds, go ahead and hit the beach.  
  • September: The second part of the shoulder season brings temps in the lower 70s during the day. Take a hike or play at one of the dog parks with your pooch.  
  • October: A trip to one of the pumpkin patches would be great, but make sure they allow dogs before you go. 
  • November: Holiday shopping is fun at this time of year, and there are plenty of pup popular stores and shopping malls in South Lake Tahoe. 
  • December: Go see the holiday lights, but dress very warm as the temps drop into the upper 20s at night. 

South Lake Tahoe Neighborhoods

South Lake Tahoe is not a huge city and has just a handful of neighborhoods, but they all have pet-friendly places to visit during your trip. However, the most pup popular is Bijou, where you can find the best off-leash dog park, a large community park, and a dog-friendly stretch of beach on Lake Tahoe. 

  • Bijou: Located in northeastern South Lake Tahoe, Bijou has several beaches that allow leashed dogs, including Connolley Beach and Regan Beach, which has its own dog water park. Also, Bijou Community Park features disc golf, volleyball, basketball, trails, and a fenced dog park. 
  • Lake Valley: You can find Lake Valley in western South Lake Tahoe along the Upper Truckee River from Meyers to Lake Tahoe. Here, you can find the pooch popular Kiva Beach and the Tahoe Keys. The Keys Beach is also dog-friendly, and they have outdoor dining for you and your pup. 
  • Tahoe Valley: Just south of Lake Valley, Tahoe Valley is one of the largest neighborhoods with a variety of enjoyable activities like Tahoe Valley Campground and Park. You can also take your cuddly canine companion shopping at the Pet Supermarket, where you will find everything from treats to toys. 
  • Al Tahoe (Downtown Tahoe): This is the most historic and the oldest area of South Lake Tahoe between Regan City Beach and Highway 50. It has been a part of the city since 1859 and includes the ski resorts, casinos, awesome nightlife, and great restaurants. Although your pup cannot join you on the slopes or in the casinos, you can take him to the dog-friendly eateries and resorts. 

Wherever you and your cuddle buddy are headed, always pack lots of extra water, snacks, treats, and doggie bags. It is illegal (and not nice) to not pick up your pup’s poop so make sure you do that right away. Also, keep him on a leash unless you are in an off-leash dog park or beach area. 

The Final Woof

Whether you want to take your best bud on a float trip, fishing tour, out to eat, or just to the local dog park, you can find all that here in South Lake Tahoe. In this guide, we have our top picks for dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, and dog parks, as well as hiking trails, bars, and coffeehouses. We also listed some important things like rules, regulations, safety tips, and some vets and animal hospitals. If you need boarding or dog sitting, they have some of those, too. We included the best times to visit and the most popular neighborhoods in South Lake Tahoe.

Photo of author
Patty Oelze is a freelance writer who is also in the process of getting her PhD in Psychology. She has been writing about dogs and other critters for about 10 years and has a plethora of animals at her home including several cats, some chipmunks, a dozen raccoons, two foxes, one coyote, and herds of deer. She and her husband have been living in the Missouri Ozarks for years where she enjoys taking care of wildlife, fishing, photography, boating, and of course, writing.

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