It's a 4-hour drive from San Francisco; take I-80 east to Sacramento, and then U.S. 50 to the South Shore, or I-80 east to Hwy. 89 or Hwy. 267 to the North Shore. Be prepared for snow in the winter. During heavy storms, you won't be permitted to pass the CHP (California Hwy. Patrol) checkpoints without four-wheel-drive or chains. From Los Angeles, it's a 9-hour drive; take I-5 through the Central Valley to Sacramento, and then follow the directions above.
Reno-Tahoe International Airport (45 min. to North Shore, 90 min. to South Shore; www.renoairport.com) runs regular service by 10 major airlines, including American (tel. 800/433-7300), Delta (tel. 800/221-1212), and United (tel. 800/241-6522). Rent a car or take a shuttle up to the lake: North Lake Tahoe Express (tel. 866/216-5222; www.northlaketahoeexpress.com) serves the North and West shores; South Tahoe Express (tel. 866/898-2463; www.southtahoeexpress.com) serves the South Shore (1-day advance reservations recommended). To get to the lake, take U.S. 395 South to Rte. 431 for the North Shore or U.S. 50 for the South Shore. All the roads leading to the lake are scenic, but the panorama as you descend into the Lake Tahoe Basin from Rte. 431 is spectacular. Pull into the overlook and enjoy the view.
Amtrak (tel. 800/USA-RAIL [872-7245]; www.amtrak.com) stops in Truckee, 10 miles north of the lake. Public transportation (TART or Truce Trolley) is available from the train depot, or you can take a taxi to the North Shore. Greyhound Bus Lines (tel. 800/231-2222; www.greyhound.com) serves both Truckee and South Lake Tahoe with daily arrivals from San Francisco and Sacramento.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.