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Lake Tahoe's Most Stunning Beach is Sand Harbor State Park


Incline Village, NV - You think you know a place and it turns out you barely have a clue. That sentiment prevailed throughout a recent trek to play and relax in the clear, cool, and cobalt blue waters of Lake Tahoe. The weather was perfect and the scenery was overwhelming on this perfectly warm summer's day.

Majestically set astride the California and Nevada borders, Lake Tahoe never fails to live up to its promise of serving up surprises that astound the senses and fill the soul.

Destination: Sand Harbor State Park

Sand Harbor State Park is regarded by many as the crown jewel of Lake Tahoe beaches. A few Internet searches and one visit here will quickly show you why Sand Harbor has such a well-deserved and stellar reputation. Yeah, it's that amazing and delivers some unique qualities that set it apart from other locations around the lake. A bucket list destination wouldn't be a stretch in our estimation.

The park fills quickly during summer and its popularity has prevented us from getting a glimpse during prior visits. An alarm clock and early departure from Roseville would remedy previous oversights. The park opens at 8:00 AM, so arriving early ensures entry and your pick of prime beach spots. All the spots are fantastic, but some deliver the "wow" factor with a bit more gusto.

Word to the Wise: Plan to Stay!

Sand Harbor is no ordinary day at the beach, so accept the fact that you may not wish to leave this place once your settle in. Plan accordingly. (Pack the cooler and suncreen for starters!) This is an ideal location for both relaxation and recreation while you absorb all the natural beauty that helps define Lake Tahoe. Snow-capped mountains and towering pines surround you on the shoreline as the sounds of summer create a sensory-filled 3-D experience.

Kid and Family Friendly

Sand Harbor contains two very distinct sections separated by a short nature boardwalk. The southern section is perfect for sun worshipers and is a very family friendly place to bring the young ones. The very shallow waters and long slope (no rocks) provides the ideal environment for children of all ages to play and float around. Lifeguard stations provide extra sets of watchful eyes. Clean and spacious restrooms are just a few steps from the beach. The scenery is nothing short of stunning.

Adventurous Side

Step into the the northern section of the park and you enter a surprisingly different world. Giant rocks and boulders dominate the landscape as they rest in emerald pools filled with the more adventurous crowd. We marveled as teens and the twenty-something crowd flipped into the crisp waters while a young dad filmed a leap with his toddler into the lake. Barbecues were going and music was blaring as the younger generations provided a much more energetic and entertaining experience. Whichever side you opt for, be sure to check out both sections to enjoy the sheer beauty.

Sand Harbor Bar & Grill

If you forget to pack the cooler, no worries the Sand Harbor Bar & Grill provides reasonably priced and tasty grub in this beautiful setting overlooking the park and lake. It can get busy, so be prepared to wait in line.

Sand Harbor is an exceptional destination and experience that you won't soon forget. The next time we're asked to recommend one of the best beaches in the West, we'll have to point to a most unlikely suspect--Nevada.  After all these years, we finally have a clue.

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