Base Camp

Sunnyside Restaurant and Lodge, a fixture of Tahoe's West Shore and onetime mansion, features 23 renovated rooms ready to serve as your action-sports headquarters.     Photo: Courtesy of Sunnyside Resort

Deceptively Budget-Friendly Tahoe Lodges

Stay on the famous lake and have cash to burn

There are plenty of inexpensive places to stay on Lake Tahoe—but in many of them, you’d be too afraid to get beneath the sheets. These four clean, inviting lodges are the exception. They manage to combine value, location, and quality for travelers who want to live large on a budget.

Rustic Cottages, Tahoe Vista

  Photo: Courtesy of Rustic Cottages

The history of the Rustic Cottages is almost reason enough to stay in one of its 19 classic Tahoe-style houses and cottages spread over two wooded acres. Built near the turn of the 20th century to house workers for the Brockway Lumber Company, it turned into a holiday getaway in the mid-1920s. Rustic Cottages sit across North Lake Boulevard from a postage stamp–sized beach on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore. Rates start at $99 a night.

Sunnyside Lodge, North Shore/Tahoe City

  Photo: Courtesy of Sunnyside Resort

Built as a summer mansion in 1906, the well-updated Sunnyside Lodge has been an institution on Lake Tahoe’s West Shore since it opened as a resort six decades ago. Though it maintains its rustic look on the outside and in the wood-beamed indoor common areas, its modernly appointed 23 rooms and suites look surprisingly new. The Sunnyside is known as much for the American-style gourmet meals served in its dining room overlooking the lake as for its accommodations. Suites start at $150 a night.

Zephyr Cove Resort, South Shore/South Lake Tahoe

  Photo: Courtesy of Rachid Dahnoun/Riester

Zephyr Cove Resort, with its lodge and 28 surprisingly up-to-date cabins, has been an affordable and not-so-secret getaway on the South Shore of Lake Tahoe for more than a century. Billed as an almost-all-inclusive destination, you can rent ski boats and WaveRunners from the resort at the mile-long beach, go parasailing, play volleyball, or simply laze in a lounge chair. Zephyr Cove also runs cruises on two old-fashioned paddleboats. If the $181 nightly rate for the cottages is too steep, you can pitch a tent on the property’s campsite for $35.

Tamarack Lodge, Tahoe City

  Photo: Courtesy of Tamarack Lodge

Shaded by tall pines and only a few minutes from Tahoe City, the Tamarack Lodge is a hidden mountain resort that probably looks much the same as when the Oppio-Fenech family first opened it nearly 90 years ago. Once a getaway for movie stars, it’s now a haunt for cost-conscious skiers, hikers, and mountain bikers. You have your choice of three cabins or a handful of rooms inside the lodge. Lodge rooms with shared bath start at $75 a night.

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