Things to do in Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, straddling the border of California and Nevada. It’s known for its beaches and ski resorts. On the southwest shore, Emerald Bay State Park contains the 1929 Nordic-style mansion Vikingsholm. Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park includes Sand Harbor Beach and Spooner Lake, a gateway to the long-distance Tahoe Rim Trail along the lake’s northeast side.
Find year-round fun in Lake Tahoe, from waterskiing and kayaking to skiing and post-ski nightlife.
No matter what season it is, Lake Tahoe is a haven for outdoor adventures. The ski resorts are world-class, the water sports are epic, and the hiking and mountain biking options are some of the best in the country. Discover the unique cities that surround the crystal blue water of the lake and explore as much as you can in their surroundings.
Although South Lake Tahoe is safe from the flames, the city is encouraging anyone visiting or in the area to register for emergency alerts with El Dorado County Code Red and regularly check the air quality and Cal Fire websites.
Things to do in Lake Tahoe
During winter and into the spring, Lake Tahoe is a world-renowned destination for alpine skiing. The Sierra Nevada Mountains are prized for their extensive terrain, sunny weather, and powdery slopes.
According to an article by the Reno Gazette-Journal, Lake Tahoe was essentially a dumping ground for Chinese railroad workers’ bodies in the late 1800s. They would be thrown into the lake by the hundreds while still alive and tied up in big groups, and weighed down to sink to the bottom.
Businesses, regional forests and parks are open and welcoming visitors. Increased openings at lodging establishments, restaurants and recreational activities with even more spaces in the next few days have also marked the community’s collective desire to rebound.
Generally speaking, the South Shore is more bustling for nightlife, while the North Shore is quieter and more shrouded in the wilderness, but you can’t really go wrong with either. Here’s everything you need to know to decide where to go in Tahoe.
Go to the water
Earn a diploma in watersports as you skim across Lake Tahoe’s glassy surface on a kayak, wakeboard, or water skis. For more than 30 years, High Sierra Waterski School has taught people how to safely operate a speedboat and jet skis and navigate with kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddleboards.
Two locations, in the Sunnyside and Homewood marinas, offer classes and equipment rentals. There are also kayak rentals and tours available from Tahoe Adventure Company, Kayak Tahoe, and more.
Eat at Fifty Fifty Brewing Company
Fifty Fifty Brewing Company serves innovative craft beers, pale ales, Indian pale ale, porters and imperial stout aged in oak bourbon casks, plus a bountiful array of bar-style burgers sandwiches, salads and pizzas. Turn your après ski gathering into a progressive party by visiting a few popular Truckee spots: Truckee Public House, Old Town Tap, and Moody’s Bistro.
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Stay at The Village at Squaw Valley
You can stay in the centre of The Village, in the Squaw Valley shopping and dining area, in a comfortable lounge with easy hillside access. Room dimensions can accommodate large families and groups if needed, with suites and full kitchens available. In nearby Tahoe City, families love Granlibakken: It started as a sledding hill and a ski jump in the 1920s and was added an inn in the 1940s; Today, the 30-acre resort has a spa, a wide variety of rooms and condo-style accommodations in addition to its warm, historic cabin.
A bit further north on Truckee, The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe offers magnificent mountain views, ski slope access on the slopes of Northstar California, and a sumptuous 1,579-square-foot spa. Diners can watch culinary magic in Manzanita’s open kitchen or sip a cocktail from the ice bar in the simple dark wood bar. In the summer, take advantage of the Northstar Mountain Bike Park and professional golf courses.
Bike the Truckee River Bike Trail
When the snow melts, Squaw Valley’s list of activities grows. An aerial tram rises 610 meters above the valley to an altitude of 2,500 meters, where a lagoon-style pool draws swimmers and sunbathers with its summer party atmosphere. Strap on your skates, ride the open-air rink or hike the trails leading from the upper tram station to the surrounding peaks. Down in the valley, rent mountain bikes from Factory Bike and ride the Truckee River Bike Trail or miles of dirt roads in the surrounding forest.
Go hiking near Emerald Bay.
From the lookout at Inspiration Point, it’s easy to snap stunning photos of Emerald Bay dotted with rugged Fannette Island. Get a fresh perspective on this glorious stretch of blue by hiking the Rubicon Trail from Emerald Bay State Park, looking for bald eagles along the way. Or walk the wide hillside trail down the Vikingsholm Trail to the lakeside and dip your feet in the cobalt-coloured water.
At the edge of the bay, visit Vikingsholm Castle, one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in America, or rent a stand-up paddleboard and work your abs while exploring the bay.
WINTER FUN IN LAKE TAHOE
Deep snow and bright blue skies that draw: Lake Tahoe is home to some of the best mountain resorts in the country, where little ones who ski and snowboard go on to win gold medals. But not everything is slopes and falls.
On the north shore, Squaw Valley, home to the 1960 Winter Olympics, has challenging slopes, but it also has large snow groomers and a superb ski and snowboard school, plus an ice skating rink in between. From the mountain and giant hot tubs (isn’t that great?).
Further north around the lake is Northstar California, a family favourite known for its beautiful parks suitable for all abilities. It includes a massive half-pipe designed as a training site for snowboard superstar Shaun White. Relaxation after a long day of skiing is essential at Northstar’s Ritz-Carlton on Lake Tahoe, where you can sip craft cocktails in front of huge windows overlooking the ski slopes.
“Zip-lines over the mountains, inflatable tracks, beautiful cable car rides and a festive atmosphere …”
On the south shore of Lake Tahoe, Heavenly, one of the world’s largest ski resorts, offers stunning views from slopes as wide and smooth as highways. Heavenly has also increased the fun, even if you’re not skiing or snowboarding. Ziplines were installed over the mountain, inflatable tracks, beautiful cable car rides, and a festive atmosphere both on and off the mountain.
Squaw’s sister mountain Alpine (you can buy tickets to access both mountains) is a favourite, especially on days perfect for skiing. South of the lake, Kirkwood is another local secret, as it has remarkable slopes and field lessons.
Otros resorts de ski a considerar son: Boreal, Donner Ski Ranch, Homewood, Sierra at Tahoe, Soda Springs, Sugar Bowl y Tahoe Donner, todos ofrecen más opciones para jugar en la nieve. Si eres de las personas que prefieren actividades en la nieve por su cuenta, ve a los senderos de raqueta de nieve y de esquí en Royal Gorge o Kirkwood, o haz una caminata guiada con la Tahoe Adventure Company. Una manera de consentirte es con un paseo romántico en trineo tirado por perros cerca del Valle Squaw, Kirkwood o en Hope Valley, justo al sur del Lago Tahoe.
Note: For up-to-date information on road conditions and closures, contact Caltrans (800 / 427-7623; English only), or check the website. You may need to use chains, four-wheel-drive vehicles, or snow tires; some storms completely block roads.
On the water or land, Tahoe is an outdoor lover’s paradise
Everyone from beachgoers to hilly trail adrenaline junkies loves Tahoe in the summer. Family times on the lake are a summer staple for many Californians; cabins, condos, traditional lodgings, and some campgrounds offer a wide variety of places to stay.
Finding something to do is about as complicated as taking a step. The trails run through the region. The 165-mile / 265-km Tahoe Rim Trail circles the lake in an impressive loop (when you get to the top, it’s at 9,000 feet / 2,743 meters), but don’t worry, most people only hike parts of the lake. The trail on foot or by mountain bike.
The resorts offer mountain activities in the summer – try mountain biking in Northstar California, zip-lining and rope activities at Heavenly, or relax in a beautiful pool at High Camp at 8,200 feet / 2,499 meters in Squaw Valley.
And then, enjoy the beautiful lake, caress its surface in a kayak; Tahoe City Kayak & Paddleboard on the North Shore offers guided tours and the ability to rent equipment. Or try stand-up paddling on surfboards (SUP); South Tahoe Standup Paddle’s Rise & Shine Morning Tour takes people of all abilities to calm water spots tomorrow (keep an eye out for bald eagles).
Guided sailboat or motorboat rides are another excellent way to experience the lake, especially at sunset. Or relax on the Tahoe Queen or MS Dixie II, two paddle-wheel boats that offer brunch, dinner, and full-day cruises throughout the year.
Do you feel like just hanging out? Layout the towels at bustling Kings Beach on the north shore or D. L. Bliss State Park on the west shore. Don’t forget your sunscreen: the sun at this height can cause severe burns.
STATE BORDER AND SOUTH LAKE TAHOE
Nightlife and entertainment enliven the south coast.
Lake Tahoe has a dual personality: half California, half Nevada. Both are located on the lake’s southern shore, where casino hotels (in Nevada) meet Heavenly (in California). Millions of dollars have been invested in enhancing the experience in this part of the lake.
Unwind in front of year-round fireplaces at The Shops at Heavenly Village, featuring shops, restaurants, and a multi-screen movie theatre in a beautiful stone and wood community. Craft beer lovers can sample local beers at Stateline Brewery & Restaurant. Outdoor concerts feature big celebrities, like Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars, during the summer. After all that festive weather, you could unwind at local spas with zen flairs, like the Serenity Spa at Heavenly Village.
In the adjacent community of South Lake Tahoe, daytime fun activities are easily found. During the warmer months, Ski Run and the Tahoe Keys Marinas rent boats, as well as stand up paddleboards, to enjoy with instructors or on your own at the vast Lakeview Commons on El Dorado Beach.
Then dine with the locals at favourite restaurants like The Naked Fish serving exquisite sushi, the Himmel Haus, a vast temple serving delicious food and German beers (including some Belgian beers), and the Base Camp Pizza Co.
You don’t have to go far to find fun nighttime activities; Whiskey Dick’s Saloon is a classic hipster bar with live music. Rojo’s Tavern offers live DJ dancing and the South Lake Brewing Company and Tahoe AleWorx, where you can help yourself. Their pints are two places to try the most delicious craft beer in the area.
Family fun, lakefront beauty
It has a rich history with a legacy dating back to the Gold Rush when fortune hunters came here looking for silver in North Lake Tahoe’s Comstock Lode, Tahoe City. The city is home to museums and historical landmarks, managed by the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society. A visit to any of them will give you insight into how this city has evolved from a border post to an attractive enclave with shops, boutiques, lakefront restaurants and private estates.
The lakefront Commons Beach offers plenty of room to stretch out and relax, listen to a concert in the summer, and let the kids climb a small climbing wall. The park merges with the Tahoe State Recreation Area in the far north, with lakeside camping areas. The adjacent public dock is an excellent place to jump into the Lake Tahoe water.
At Fanny Bridge, which spans from the point where the lake’s waters flow into the Truckee River, go ahead and live up to the name by looking closely to see the lake’s trout swirling in the clear water. Take a walk downstream, where you can rent inflatable boats and float down a tranquil stretch of the Truckee River (perfect for kids and boating beginners).
Best Things to do in Lake Tahoe
Just east of Fanny Bridge, the Gatekeeper’s Museum (a reconstruction of the original historic cabin that was destroyed by fire) has an incredible collection of Native American basketry, as well as old photographs and relics from the region. In winter, the city hosts Snowfest, North Lake Tahoe’s version of Mardi Gras, with parades, live music and games in the snow.
The perfect place to stay while exploring Tahoe City? Basecamp Tahoe City is a downtown boutique hotel with rustic charm and is five minutes from the lake. To recharge, stop at Fire Sign Café, a family-friendly breakfast and lunch spot that’s been a Tahoe City favourite for over 40 years. The West Shore Market & Deli, where you can pick up gourmet items for a picnic, as well as delicious baked goods, sandwiches and flatbread pizzas.
EMERALD BAY STATE PARK
On foot or by boat, visit the exquisite bay of Lake Tahoe: Look down this fantastic bay, and you will understand why Mark Twain had this to say about Lake Tahoe: “The perfect image our planet can offer us.” At the same time, the main lake is as blue as a topaz, a colour produced by the incredible clarity and depth of Tahoe.
This relatively shallow bay on the lake’s west shore takes on a dazzling and beautiful greenish-blue colour, rendering it more striking is the perfect spot on little Fannette Island, the only islet in Lake Tahoe, right? in the middle of the bay.
Try to see the ruins of a stone tea room at the top of the island from the shore areas on the side of Highway 89. The Scandinavian-style tea room and stone castle with 38 rooms known as Vikingsholm near the coast were built by Lora Knight, an extraordinary woman who married a wealthy man and then used her fortune to educate young people who could not access education.
Best Things to do in Lake Tahoe
Learn about her and take a guided tour of her residence built by hand and in costly detail. It is a replica of a Scandinavian castle from the 9th century, and visits are made several times a day, from the end of May to the first Monday in September; definitely worth the walk from the parking lot. Learn about her and take a guided tour of her residence built by hand and in costly detail.
It is a replica of a Scandinavian castle from the 9th century, and visits are made several times a day, from the end of May to the first Monday in September; definitely worth the walk from the parking lot. Learn about her and take a guided tour of her residence built by hand and in costly detail. It is a replica of a Scandinavian castle from the 9th century, and visits are made several times a day, from the end of May to the first Monday in September; definitely worth the walk from the parking lot.
On foot or by boat, visit the exquisite bay of Lake Tahoe
You can also access Emerald Bay from the accessible and famous Rubicon Trail that follows the lake’s edge from D. L. Bliss State Park, 4 miles / 6 kilometres south of the bay. Another worthwhile short hike is the 1-mile / 2-kilometer trail that starts up the road from Emerald Bay and takes you to the icy waterfalls of Eagle Falls, where you’ll have a panoramic view of Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe.
Watersports on the Tahoe Queen wheel boat also take you to Emerald Bay; you can consider it a good destination if you rent a boat on the south coast. For a big splurge, charter a private yacht from Lake Tahoe Boat Rides; Along the way, the captain will provide you with information about the region’s history.
GOLF IN LAKE TAHOE
Play golf surrounded by alpine beauty: With nearly as many golf courses as ski resorts, Lake Tahoe is a beginner golfer’s paradise, not to mention that the views are magnificent. The fields wind through valleys sculpted by ice, cut the lake’s edge, and slide between tall conifers.
The north coast has six competitive golf courses designed by sports legends (Jack Nicklaus and Robert Trent Jones). More professional golfers can play the challenging par 71 The Links in the Squaw Valley on Tahoe’s northwest side.
Towering peaks give way to the broad Martis Valley on the 18-hole par 72 courses in Northstar, California. After playing, relax with a Bloody Mary at the Martis Valley Grille. On the South Shore, use your golf clubs at the Lake Tahoe Golf Course, which is for all abilities.
The whole family and beginners will enjoy the Bijou Municipal Golf Course, with no hidden obstacles or holes over 350 yards.
HIKING IN LAKE TAHOE
Explore long and pristine alpine trails
Hikers will find it easy to pamper their inner naturalist at Lake Tahoe. Granite slopes sculpted by glaciers, waterfalls and wildflower-filled meadows is just part of what you’ll find. Whether you decide to climb a 10,000 foot / 3,000-meter peak or take a walk along the shores of Emerald Bay, you will see fantastic alpine views that you will not be able to stop photographing.
For strenuous hiking or backpacking into the dramatic highlands, explore the trails of the Desolation Wilderness, where you’ll find miniature lakes along a massive expanse of glacier-sculpted granite. The 165-mile (266-kilometre) Tahoe Rim Trail connects the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe; some sections still follow the original routes used by the Washoe natives, the pioneers and the Basque shepherds.
The trail, which joins the Pacific Crest Trail for nearly 50 miles / 80 kilometres, runs along the top of the ridge in the Lake Tahoe Basin, crossing six counties and two states. In summer, it is open for walkers, mountain bikers and horse riders.
And remember this tip if you love hiking but may not have the time or energy to get that high: Heavenly, Squaw Valley, Northstar California, and Kirkwood lifts offer access to high mountain trails during the summer.
Lake Tahoe KINGS BEACH
Visit the best destination to get comfortable and relax on the north coast.
According to legend, this city was named after card genius Joe King, who won the rights to the area in a poker game nearly a century ago. Despite its real name, Kings Beach is not at all pretentious; It features several owner-owned motels, restaurants, and places to buy “I Love Tahoe” T-shirts. The Sunny Kings Beach State Recreation Area is well known on the North Shore due to its practically constant sun.
It is making it a perfect place for anyone who loves the beach—especially for large groups and families looking for easy parking and short distances to eat out. If you want to rest for a while, disappear on a paddleboard, available to rent here (with instructors), after dark done with the locals at Lanza’s, a family-friendly Italian restaurant with red and white checkered tablecloths.
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At the crossroads of Highways 267 and 28, Kings Beach is also a good spot for skiers and snowboarders looking to jump off slopes at one of the North Shore mountain resorts. Shops, restaurants and colourful street vendors complete the fun.
This charming mountain town is the core of the North Coast attractions.
Across the hill from Lake Tahoe’s north shore, Truckee offers affordable options for an adventure-filled trip. Historically a logging town, Truckee was also home to significant railroad construction in 1860. Today, its Old West-style downtown has evolved into an arts hub, with historical sites and unique boutiques and galleries. This creative culture allowed Truckee to be distinguished as the California Cultural District in 2017.
Stop by Gallery 5830 ‘, Mountain Arts Collective, and Riverside Studios, just three of the many galleries, where you’ll find the work of dozens of local artists, including sculpture, hand-blown glassware, woodwork, and more.
Learn more about history and nature at the independent bookstore, Word After Word, owned by two local moms. If not, take home some great souvenirs and home decor from Bespoke Mountain Edge, a well-kept gift shop owned by Brian Hess and his wife, Heather River. A few doors down, the couple’s gallery, shop and art room, Atelier, welcomes creative hopefuls to learn how to do everything from knitting to screen printing to arranging flowers.
The city has also become a popular spot for foodies, with sophisticated yet comfortable options including Stella, Pianeta, and Drunken Monkey, a favourite for sushi lovers. Chefs and owners John and Nyna Weatherson come up with creative price menus at Trokay, where you can also take classes to learn about cheese combinations or how to make your pasta.
Best Things to do in Lake Tahoe
Moody’s Bistro Bar & BeatsIt’s Truckee’s nightlife landmark, serving mountain food and live jazz inside the 1873 Truckee Hotel. Sit at the bar to watch shows like the Mose Allison and Shotgun Wedding Quintet. For quality wines and tasting them, visit The Pour House, which features more than 350 wines from small wineries worldwide.
Craft beer also has a strong presence here; be sure to check out Truckee’s Alibi Ale Works, which serves triple duty as a pilot-scale brewery, a public house that also serves food (order the gourmet nachos), and live music. Another beer venue in Truckee is FiftyFifty Brewing Co., which recently won an award for best beer group of the year.
It’s easy to find year-round adventure in Truckee. Choose from rafting, swimming, rock climbing, mountain biking, and horseback riding in warmer months. Sparkling Donner Lake, also located in Nevada County, is a fun alternative in Tahoe. Follow the 2.75-mile Truckee River Legacy Trail; most of the paved road parallels the beautiful Truckee River.
In winter, Truckee’s ideal location is just 10-15 minutes from some of Tahoe’s best ski resorts, including Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Boreal Mountain Resort, and Homewood Mountain Resort. If downhill activities aren’t your style, there are plenty of backcountry tours, snowmobile terrain, and sledding adventures nearby.
Best Things to do in Lake Tahoe