South Lake Tahoe is often thought of as ‘the side with the casinos,' but we've spent a lot of time there as a family and always had a blast without spending a dime on a slot machine! We love South Lake Tahoe's laid-back vibe, adventurous activities and drool-worthy food. Here's a look at all the action you can fit into a single day on the south side.

South Lake Tahoe Hotel Azure adjoining rooms

First up, drop your bags at the spot that played host for us this trip, Hotel Azure. Formerly known as Inn at the Lake, this contemporary hotel just finished a $3.5-million renovation – and it shows. It's not often that hotel decor has me making mental notes to replicate back at home, but this place nailed it. The reclaimed Redwood walls, wide open spaces and plush accents are everything I've strived for as we've slowly been updating our own little farm. We got adjoining rooms, so there was tons of space for the kids to spread out while Nate and I had our own cuddle area.

South Lake Tahoe Hotel Azure pool

If you can overnight before your big day or get an early check-in, try to take a quick dip in the pool before the sun is high in the sky. Going from the hot tub to splashing around in the cool water is refreshing, and it's one of our favorite ways to kick things off.

Bear Beach Cafe in South Lake Tahoe

Next, walk on over to Bear Beach Cafe. Here, you'll encounter the most giant stuffed animal EVER. The boys actually have the large version of this bear at home, but apparently they make it in a GIGANTO size as well.

Bear Beach Cafe in South Lake Tahoe

I got a potato-egg-meat skillet thing that was the bomb dot com.

Taking the Heavenly Gondola

After filling up, we headed over to Heavenly Resort for a gondola ride up to the top! I love visiting ski destinations in the summer. The views are unparalleled, and my boys can get a feel for the gondolas without having to mess with the skis or snowboards (that's definitely coming down the pike for us in the next season or two, but for now I'm just trying to get them comfortable with the mountain environment).

Heavenly Resort ropes course for kids

Up at the top, it was time for ropes courses, rock climbing and zip-lines!

Heavenly kids' zipline

There was a little trepidation at first, but the friendly guides were SO skilled at handling kids. Sidekick rode the zipline four more times after this and actually begged to keep going! If you make it to the mountain with the kiddos, try to get up there early. The sun can get a little brutal mid-day, and they close down at 4pm.

South Lake Tahoe Hotel Azure patio

We made it back to the room to unwind for a bit. The boys squeezed in a little nap, while Nate and I took in the view and baby snuggles on the patio.

South Lake Tahoe Hotel Azure free bikes

You can borrow a free bike from the hotel and pedal your way on down to the waterfront for a cool, calm sunset.

South Lake Tahoe with kids

Thomas F Regan Memorial Beach is the best spot for kids, with shoreside swings and little beachy areas where they can scramble around and watch the boats float by.

MacDuff's

We parked it back at the hotel and walked on over to MacDuff's Pub. This English eatery features fare from across the pond. We dined on Shepherd's Pie, Corned Beef and Cabbage and hot toddies! The kids enjoyed running around the big lawn next to the patio seating.

Tahoe Bowl

Right across the street, Tahoe Bowl is great for beginners. They have bumpers for kids whose aim may not be quite up to par.

Game room at the Hotel Azure

Back at the hotel, we got in a little more action at the game room while I perused the selection of books. You know I love a good hotel library!

Kids sleeping at Hotel Azure

Finally, everyone conked the heck out while dreaming of the next day's adventures. Next up on our activity list was fishing in the sierras – one of our favorite activities along this stretch of highway.

24 hours in south Lake Tahoe with kids | family travel | california

Got any favorite activities in the Tahoe area? Shoot us an email and we'll check them out!