If there's a "city" (yes, the quotes mean ironic use) in the Lake Tahoe area, South Lake Tahoe is it. It has traffic and more restaurants and hotels and attractions than the other lake towns. It also has the whole casino vibe right beside it (by the way, non-locals won't know if they've crossed the line into Stateline where many of the casinos are or if they're still in South Lake Tahoe).
The South Lake Tahoe Vibe
It has a hustle-bustle energy that you just don't find in the other Lake Tahoe spots unless it's July 4th or a particularly good ski day. It also has a plethora of great resorts and a reputation as a preferred location for High Sierra weddings. There's lots going on in here.
But juxtaposed with this high energy is an undercurrent of reverence for nature and respect for the people and forces that came before and shaped the place we now call South Lake Tahoe. Cave Rock is a protected area that was considered sacred for the local Washoe Indians who have inhabited these lands for thousands of years. The Tallac Historic Site keeps the history of the earliest non-native settlers in the area alive. Desolation Wilderness, 64,000 acres of protected land that encompasses mountain lakes, old growth forests, granite peaks and boulders, is available for hikers and campers but not for anything mechanical that might cause it harm. A series of beaches that dot the Lake Tahoe shoreline like beautiful jewels on a necklace are preserved for current-day use but are expected — yes, expected — to be treated with respect and care. When you live in South Lake Tahoe (or, to be fair and true, anywhere around Lake Tahoe), the sacred nature of Place is as much a part of your psyche as is loving snowfalls. It's a given. And visitors to South Lake Tahoe learn this pdq if they don't come with it already in their bones.