Lake Tahoe Lingo and Lore

Mesh in with the Tahoe locals in no time with these tips and key terms.
Casinos in South Lake Tahoe

Casinos in South Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe locals have several nicknames for different parts of the area. South Lake refers to the busy area with big casinos at the southern end of the Lake.

Photo by: Rod Hanna

Rod Hanna

By: Tawnya Schultz

Key Terms

Know how to talk the talk.

Tahoe, The Hoe – Common nicknames for Lake Tahoe

T.C. – The abbreviation for Tahoe City

K.B. – The abbreviation for Kings Beach

CBC – What most locals call the Crystal Bay Club Casino in North Lake

The Grid – The streets of Kings Beach are set up as a grid and locals refer to it as this. It's also the name of a bar in town.

The Shire – The area on the outskirts of Truckee called Glenshire

West Shore – The west side of the lake is considered the West Shore.

East Shore – The entire east shoreline of the lake starting at Incline and ending around Zephyr Cove. There isn't much housing in this zone, but there are many spectacular beaches.

North Lake – Generally everything between Tahoma on the West Shore and Incline Village on the East Shore are what the locals refer to as the North Shore or North Lake. This area is more spread out, with many more towns than South Lake. Truckee, off of the lake, is also considered North Lake.

South Lake – The southern end of the lake, busiest with tourists and big casinos. It is also the name of the town.

Ghetto in the Meadow – There really is no "ghetto" in Tahoe, but locals call the residential/business district off of Lake Forest Road in Tahoe City this possibly because there is cheaper housing and it's in a meadow.

Squallywood – Locals often call Squaw Valley Squallywood. There is a book named Squallywood that documents Squaw's most-exposed ski/snowboard lines, and it has held the name because of its high-profile association.

Keep Tahoe Blue – The mantra of the locals can be seen everywhere around the lake. Keep Tahoe Blue is a non-profit focused on minimizing pollutants that end up in the lake.

Good to Know

For your information:

  • Drive the speed limit. There's only one main two-lane road around most of Tahoe, so don't dilly-dally while driving. While the lake is captivating, pull over if you want to look at something or don't know where you are going. In snow, drive SLOW, downshift and don't ride the breaks. Get chains if you don't have all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Chain-control workers won't let you on certain roads if you don't.
  • There is a very eclectic mix of people who live in Tahoe. Many are seasonal, low-paid young adults who are just living the dream and enjoying life. There is also a large South American and New Zealand population during the busy seasons. They come to Tahoe to work and make money.
  • The southern portion of the West Shore near Emerald Bay is closed due to snow most of the winter. Know this in advance to avoid getting your hopes up about driving around the lake. Sometimes you won't realize it until you get up to the barrier, which is super annoying because you have to drive the complete opposite direction, so check in advance if you plan to travel that direction.
  • Being a mountain town, many restaurants close relatively early and may be closed completely certain nights a week during the off-season. Call ahead before heading out to save time and disappointment.
  • The TART, Valley Express and Night Rider make getting around Lake Tahoe without a car fairly simple. The Night Rider is a complimentary service that begins at 6 p.m. While there is no ferry on the lake, there are water taxis to certain areas that make things easier instead of driving. Check for schedules.

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