A non-gambler’s guide to Lake Tahoe’s casinos

Claire McArthur
Tahoe Daily Tribune
The Crystal Bay Casino is known for its diverse lineup of performers at the Crown Room. (Provided / Sam Shear)

For some travelers, the allure of Lake Tahoe’s azure waters is only part of the reason to vacation in the Sierra Nevada; they crave the excitement of the blackjack table and the sounds of the slot machines. But for those not interested in Nevada’s gambling scene, it may seem like the casinos in Stateline, Incline Village and Crystal Bay have nothing to offer. Not so!

With a host of fine dining options, luxurious spas, elaborate cocktails and wine lists, and an eclectic mix of entertainment, you don’t need to court Lady Luck to enjoy Lake Tahoe’s casinos.

Elevated eats

While casino dining may conjure up images of all-you-can-eat buffets — which you will certainly find and have their moments — there are also elevated dining experiences at Tahoe casinos that should not be missed.

On the top floor of Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Friday’s Station in Stateline serves up high-quality steak and seafood with expansive views of Big Blue. From perfectly seared medium rare filets with bearnaise to Chilean sea bass served on a bed of asparagus and black truffle risotto, indulge in decadent dishes while sipping on a Manhattan and watching the sun set over the lake through the restaurant’s three walls of windows.

Across the street, make reservations at Hell’s Kitchen in Harvey’s Lake Tahoe for a meal by multi-Michelin star chef and TV personality, Gordon Ramsey. Start the meal with pan-seared scallops with butternut squash puree, braised bacon and pickled green apples before tucking into Ramsey’s famed beef wellington. Don’t forget to save room for sticky toffee pudding.

Treat yourself

Not into the emotional rollercoaster of games of chance? Opt for a day of relaxation at one of these casino spas instead.

The elegant Stillwater Spa and Salon inside the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino in Incline Village is the perfect alpine retreat. Get in an invigorating Peloton ride at the fitness center before disrobing for an hour long massage with aromatherapy using calming chamomile, lavender and sage or an ultra hydrating Keep Tahoe Blue Hyaluronic Marine Facial.

At Reflections Spa in Harrah’s, enjoy a full-body experience like the Sierra Luxury Package, which kicks off with a pomegranate and cranberry body polish for glowing skin, followed by a relaxing massage and hydrating body wrap. Alternatively, the Emerald Bay Package pairs a Swedish massage with a European facial and a moisturizing paraffin hand dip.

The happiest of hours

Cocktails at a casino doesn’t have to mean imbibing belly-up to a poker table. At Lone Eagle Grille at the Hyatt Regency, sit by a firepit on the lakefront patio and sip on a pear martini or browse the restaurant’s impressive list of single malt and fine scotch.

For happy hour in Stateline, sidle up to The Oyster Bar at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Lake Tahoe for a dozen oysters on the half shell and a glass of sparkling sake or prosecco. Feeling wild? Try an oyster shooter with vodka or tequila instead.

Feel the music

Pass through the casino floor of Bally’s Lake Tahoe (formerly Montbleu Resort Casino and Spa) in Stateline with nary a bet placed and head into the theatre for an evening of much-missed live entertainment. This summer Montbleu hopes to move forward with an entertainment schedule with the likes of comedian and Saturday Night Live alum David Spade and American blues rock band George Thorogood and the Destroyers.

Further north, the Crystal Bay Casino is home to two entertainment venues, the Red Room and Crown Room, that have hosted musicians of all different genres and levels of notoriety for decades. Whether you’re into bluegrass or punk, there’s something for everyone. The concerts are standing room only and generally sell out, so keep your eye on social media for upcoming events.

Editor’s note: This story appears in the 2021 summer edition of Tahoe Magazine.

Unwind with a relaxing massage at the Stillwater Spa at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino. (Provided / Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe)
Provided/Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe

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