Lake Tahoe Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe: Things To Do In Summer And Winter

Lake Tahoe is a freshwater lake with sublime beauty bordering both Nevada and California. This lake is indeed a popular spot in the Sierra Nevada mountains. This beautiful lake with blue-green water has appealing sceneries and eye-catching snow-capped mountain peaks with mesmerizing landscapes.

The uniqueness of Lake Tahoe is that it is spread across the two US states. South Lake Tahoe in California and North Lake Tahoe in Nevada, hence also called the California side and the Nevada side respectively.

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Image by Jody Summers from Pixabay

Lake Tahoe is at the second spot on the list of deepest lakes in the US and one of the most freshwater lakes in the state. This amazing lake is a wonderful place to visit all year round and hosts millions of visitors throughout the year.

This outdoor heaven offers lots of activities and things to do. You can enjoy kayaking, swimming, hiking, biking, and trekking in summer and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter.

Things to Do at Lake Tahoe – During the Summer Season

1. Visit the Amazing Emerald Bay State Park-

Emerald Bay
Photo by 12019 on Pixabay

Emerald Bay State Park is a stunning park that features Emerald Bay, the National natural landmark. Also known as Gem of Lake Tahoe. The clear sparkling water with blue-green scenic mountain background creates an eye-catching view.

This park is situated on the west shore of this lake. Emerald Bay State Park is home to beautiful Eagle Falls, Scandinavian architecture consisting of 38-room mansion, and Vikingsholm.

You can certainly have a variety of activities and lots of fun things to do at Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay State Park. Have a refreshing swim in the Emerald Bay water. You can also opt for water activities like scuba diving, and paddle boarding.

Emerald Bay Maritime Heritage Trail is indeed a lovable spot for Scuba divers. Here they can look at underwater interpretative displays by diving at 4 various sites in Emerald Bay.

Emerald Bay’s sunken watercraft consists of 20th-century recreational boats, fishing boats, launches, and barges used previously during the 1920s and 1930s on the lake at the Emerald Bay resort.

2. Enjoy Hiking near South Lake Tahoe-

Hiking trails near South Lake Tahoe are among the amazing hiking spots. There are trails, offering mesmerizing lake views and alpine scenery with adventurous hikes. Lake Tahoe is certainly loved by an outdoor-loving person.

Cascade Falls trail is a loop trail of 2-mile originating from Bayview Campground leading to Cascade Falls. This picturesque trail offers eye-soothing vistas of Lake Tahoe on its way. In fact, it’s an easy family-friendly hike.

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Image by Jody Summers from Pixabay

The Fallen Leaf lake trail is a moderate hike from the its campground to the Fallen Leaf Lake shoreline. It is a 2.5-mile round-trip hike.

The Rubicon trail is also a favorite hiking trail that runs along the shoreline of Emerald Bay. It starts at the D. L. Bliss state park and ends at the Emerald Bay State Park crossing through the Vikingsholm castle.

This is a 4.5-mile trail with a slight incline around the ridge above Emerald Bay. This hike offers beautiful views from the elevated vantage point.

Some other hiking trails are also there, offering beautiful scenes of the place. For example the Tahoe Rim Trail to the Mount Tallac peak point, Cascade Lake, Mount Rose trail, and the Desolation Wilderness. Tahoe Meadows Interpretive trail at the peak of Mount Rose is however a hike with less difficulty.

3. Cruising on Lake Tahoe

Cruising in the waters of Lake Tahoe is an amazingly, refreshing and relaxing experience. So, a boat cruise is indeed a must thing to experience at Lake Tahoe.

Boat sailing through the sparkling azure water offers mesmerizing scenery of pine forests and snowcapped mountain peaks of Sierra Nevada.

Different local companies provide cruise tours of the South and North shore of Lake Tahoe, the west shore, and Emerald Bay. These rides depart from several points of South Lake Tahoe for example Zephyr Cove, Timber Cove Marina, and Camp Richardson. And from North Lake Tahoe’s points like North Tahoe Marina and Incline Village.

M. S. Dixie ii, which starts from Zephyr Cove Marina is indeed the most popular cruise around Emerald Bay. There is an old-fashioned paddle wheeler on board.

This boat ride offers breathtaking scenes of the lake and a glimpse of Fannette islands and Vikingsholm castle. They offer two types of tours, one is a daytime sightseeing cruise with commentary and the other is a sunset dinner cruise with live entertainment and dancing.

4. Have a Visit to the Tallac Historic Site-

Tallac Historic site includes the Pope, Valhalla estates, and the Baldwin. This is present in the list of the National Registry of Historic Places. This place is open to the public from Memorial Day to September. Despite being a famous site, entry is free of cost. Some guided tours and special events are also there.

Gatsby festival is hosted at this historic estate annually in August. This is a two-day festival that includes twenties-themed parties, jazz concerts, and some 1920s theme events representing the social get-togethers of the 1920s estates’ heyday. This event is certainly a full crowd pleasure and attracts one.

4.1 The Pope House –

The Pope House tour gives you a glimpse of the lifestyle of the 20th-century wealthy people of that place. Tour of the Pope house is available from Memorial Day and is open till Labor Day.

In this one-hour tour, you will get to see the living room, dining room, pantry of the butler, and the servant’s quarter. The tour also includes the outdoor ground area of the Pope House.

4.2 The Baldwin House-

The Baldwin House is converted into the Tallac Museum. Focusing on local history, exhibits represent the native Washoe people. 1930s-era kitchen with some original elements of the house is also there. However, entry is free and the opening days are from Thursday to Sunday in Summer.

4.3 Valhalla Estates –

Valhalla Estates are certainly the most-loving venue for hosting lakefront weddings and other private events. Previously, this was a great summer retreat for the rich people of San Francisco. Summer Concert Series hosted at the Valhalla estates is certainly a favorite among tourists. This is hosted in summer from the month of June to September.

There are theatre performances also at different venues. For example the Grand Hall, the Valhalla boathouse theatre, and on the Ground Lawn past Lake Tahoe.

You can maximize your visit also by staying there at Camp Richardson Resort. This is a lakeside resort with an old Tahoe-style hotel, cabin, beachside inn, campsites, a small beach, and a marina with boat rentals.

You can enjoy boating, biking, hiking, cross-country skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing here respectively in summer and in winter.

5. Halt at Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park-

This vast Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park spreads over an area of 2 miles by the side of Lake Tahoe. This area is indeed full of trees of fir, pine, juniper, and aspen. Isaias W. Hellman built this property previously in 1903. Later the estate was inherited by his daughter Florence Hellman Ehrman.

The Hellman-Ehrman mansion-

The Hellman-Ehrman mansion is also the highlight of Sugar Pine Point State Park. This huge mansion featuring a beautiful view of Lake Tahoe is surrounded by 2,000 acres of woodlands.

This vast, elegant, rustic mansion was built as a vacation home for summers equipped with all the modern conveniences of that era.

Redwood paneling in the dining rooms and Navajo rug decorations in the guest room are some examples. The inside tour of the mansion is available for the public from May’s end to September.

The grounds of the mansion including a flower garden with a gazebo are open throughout the year. Also the entry is free of cost. This place is sometimes decorated for weddings too.

A Nature center is also there in the state park. There are exhibits related to nature. For example birds, wildflowers, trees, lake ecology, and other environmental things.

Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park has hiking trails, lakes, streams, campsites, barbecue pits, picnic spots, and other facilities also. During summer, more tourists come here to enjoy nature.

Visitors can go hiking on the trails of the park. Enjoy sunbathing and swimming at the lakeside beach. You can also enjoy fishing in the park’s stream. Fishing is allowed but only from mid-July to September.

During winter, the park has a 20-kilometer system of trails for skiing, a great place for cross-country skiers. December to March is the ski season. Despite having a sudden trip, you should check the weather condition before visiting during winter.

6. Relax at Kings Beach-

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Photo by Jessieman on Pixabay

Kings Beach is located on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe. This sandy beach, drenching in sunlight from early morning till late afternoon is indeed a great place to spend a day.

Mesmerizing sea views with Jeffery pine trees forests at the landside, certainly provide a relaxing ambiance. You can also enjoy swimming, lounging, and boating here.

Kings Beach State Recreation Area is a well-built area at Kings Beach providing different amenities for tourists. For example public restrooms, picnic tables with shade, a parking area, playgrounds, barbecue pits, rental paddleboards, and kayaks are available. Fishing with a license is also allowed here.

Motels, casual eateries, street vendors, restaurants, and trendy shops are also there in the town of Kings Beach for visitors’ enjoyment.

7. Spent a Day at D. L. Bliss State Park-

D. L. Bliss State park is a beautiful public park having picnic spots, lovely lakesides, and sandy beaches. Previously, this state park was a private property of Duane L. Bliss, a rich businessman. Later in the year of 1929, the Bliss family gave a huge portion of their property in charity to the California state park system.

Nonetheless, the beaches of this state park are attractive spots. These beaches are located in dense groves, accessible by a steep two-mile hike, and hence are less crowded and secluded.

The most popular among them are Lester Beach and Calawee Beach. You can enjoy swimming in clear water, relaxing, and basking under the warm sun’s rays. Visitors can also have enjoyment while doing water sports like fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boarding.

Hiking is also one of the loved things to do at D. L. Bliss State Park. Rubicon Trail, a 4.5-mile trail leading to Emerald Bay State Park offers mesmerizing views of Lake Tahoe.

An extended 2-mile trail passing through the Vikingsholm castle is also there. You should not miss hiking the Lighthouse trail leading to the historic Lighthouse. The Balancing Rock nature trail features a 130-ton rock of granite resting on a small base of stone.

Camping is another attraction at D. L. Bliss state park. There are almost 150 campsites. These campsites have the facility of restrooms and hot showers at the campgrounds. This is open from mid-June to September. The camping area is family-friendly. Prior reservations are recommended during the visiting season.

8. Eagle Rock Trail Hiking-

On the west shore of Lake Tahoe, a huge volcanic outcrop is standing at a height of 6,000 feet. This spectacular rock is Eagle Rock, and the trail leading to the top is the Eagle Rock hiking trail.

The Eagle Rock hiking trail is a short but easy, half-mile hike offering breathtaking views along its way. It takes almost 20 minutes for the hike and can be done by all. You can reach here soon by driving 4 miles from Tahoe City.

9. Indulge in the Beauty of Sand Harbor State Park-

Sand Harbor State Park is a beautiful amalgamation of sandy beaches, dense pine forests, and dark hidden coves. This big 55-acre park is located on the Nevada side of North Lake Tahoe with magnificent scenery. In summary, making it a great place for relaxing and summertime outdoor activities.

You can feel the pleasure and adventure by doing water activities, for example, swimming, boating, kayaking, and scuba diving in Lake Tahoe’s waters. Sailing and boating at the docks are also available. Lifeguards are there during the visiting season.

You can also do hiking here. Sand point nature trail is a short hike with mesmerizing scenery of the lake. Sand Harbor to Memorial Point trail is a half-mile hike to the lonely beaches and hidden coves.

Picnicking under the shade of fragrant Jeffery pine trees at Sand Harbor State Park is also loved by visitors. Have a visit to the Sand Harbor visitor center featuring a restaurant and a gift shop.

10. Enjoy at Donner Memorial State Park-

Donner Memorial State Park features Donner Lake, hiking trails including the Lakeside Interpretive trail, and Donner Pass inside the Tahoe National Forest.

This place became famous as Donner Memorial State Park because of the infamous incident that occurred here. Donner party’s journey was obstructed here at the mountain pass of Sierra Nevada mountains in October 1846 due to heavy snowfall. Because of extreme conditions and lack of food, casualties occurred, and therefore that area is now known as Donner Pass.

During summer, hiking, fishing, picnicking, mountain biking, boating, and camping can be done here. Get information about the Donner party, the Pioneer experience, and other local history at the visitor center.

There is a Pioneer monument at the Donner Memorial State Park which commemorates the California pioneers.

11. Entertain Yourself at the Shakespeare Festival at Lake Tahoe-

The Theatre-loving person should not miss the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. This festival runs from mid-July to mid-August and offers different types of performances. Shakespeare’s famous works are indeed the center of attraction of this festival.

You will have an amazing outdoor theater experience because of the set up between the tall pine trees groves with serene surroundings and starry skies at night, however adding the special effect.

12. Explore the Vibrant Tahoe City-

Tahoe City is an attractive town on the mountain hills near Lake Tahoe with mesmerizing scenery and vibrant natural beauty. You can just walk through the downtown of Tahoe City and indulge yourself in its exceptional beauty.

The city is full of local shops, boutiques, hotels and cafes, art galleries, and street-line shops. It also features old-fashioned log cabin-style houses for tourists to visit.

You can have the pleasure and fun of doing various water activities and ground activities in this city. For example fishing, water skiing, hiking, golfing. Explore Tahoe City and enjoy.

13. Have Outdoor Fun at Eldorado National Forest-

Eldorado National Forest is a United States National Forest. This is a part of the mountain range of the Central Sierra Nevada.

This forest is 10,000 feet above sea level featuring 297 lakes and reservoirs. These are used for fishing, swimming, kayaking, and water-related activities. The developed recreation facilities are family-friendly.

You can finally relax and bask in the wild, natural beauty of this wonderful forest comprising fresh, cool air, vibrant natural scenery, and pleasing wildlife. Nonetheless, this is an amazing escape from the busy city life.

14. Spent a Day at Camp Richardson Resort-

Photo by egorshitikov on Pixabay

Camp Richardson Resort is famous as the best resort and marina of Lake Tahoe. Indeed, this has world-class dining, lodging, camping, and cabin accommodation which gives an exhilarated and incomparable experience.

Camp Richardson writing is located on a known historic site on Lake Tahoe’s shores. The fresh atmosphere, serene ambiance, mesmerizing views, and lakeside dining altogether combine to give an unrivaled experience and indeed lifelong memories.

The resort is good for families and friends and it also offers fun and recreational activities for throughout the year. Enjoy the Tahoe boat ride from the resort’s marina to Emerald Bay.

Visit the Vikingsholm castle, or spend a leisurely day on the cruise. You can also opt for biking on trails by taking rental bikes from Mountain Sports Centre.

15. Come Close to Nature at Homewood Mountain Resort-

The Homewood Mountain resort is a classic resort with 1260 acres of land, 8 lifts, 67 runs, and picturesque views of Lake Tahoe. This family-friendly resort was started previously in 1961 and to date gives an amazing experience, laid-back vibe, and cozy accommodations.

You can enjoy here doing activities like biking, hiking, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding in summer, and skiing, and snowboarding during winter.

16. A Day Out at Incline Village-

Incline Village is among the largest towns of Lake Tahoe. This beautiful village dwells on the north side of Lake Tahoe’s shore. It is named after the Great Incline Tramway which was established previosly in 1878 by loggers.

Get yourself refreshed and energized by viewing mesmerizing mountain retreats near beaches and alpine lakes. Lots of recreational activities happen outdoors in Incline Village every season.

Mountain biking and hiking are loved in summer. Memorial Point Trail is a short 0.3-mile hike. The trail ends at the Memorial Point overlook. This less-difficulty, family-friendly hike is enriched with beautiful views of the hills and the lake.

Skiing, snowshoeing, and snowboarding at the Diamond Peak ski area in Incline Village are most popular in winter.

17. Join the Local Festival Celebrations at Lake Tahoe

Different types of festivals at different times of the year occur here at Lake Tahoe.

Sample Sierra festival at South Lake Tahoe is a farm-to-fork festival. It is a food festival where you can enjoy local cuisine, live culinary demonstrations and cooking competitions, music, dining, and games in fun-filled fare.

Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and wine festival is also a great event featuring food symposiums, live cooking demos, and wine tasting. Enjoy the food and cocktail with the sunset here.

The Fall fish fest is a festival celebrating the spawning of kokanee salmon fish. This two-day event has educational programs about spawning and other games for children.

18. A Helicopter Tour Over Lake Tahoe-

Indulge yourself in the region’s scenic beauty by taking a helicopter ride over Lake Tahoe. You will get to see the soaring peaks, snow-capped mountains, dense forests, and sparkling water altogether.

These aerial tours are so popular, prior booking is recommended during the season.

Things to Do at Lake Tahoe – During the Winter Season

1. Alpine Skiing at Lake Tahoe

Photo by NickWindsor on Pixabay

Lake Tahoe is a world-famous location for alpine skiing during winter and into the spring. This Sierra Nevada mountain range is a perfect place because of its large terrain, powdery slopes, and bright sunny weather.

There are lots of ski resorts present at Lake Tahoe. Palisades Tahoe and Heavenly Ski resort are the most favorite among all. Previously, Palisades Tahoe was the host place for the 1960 Winter Olympics.

The Heavenly ski resort also offers a great area of ski terrain with mesmerizing views of the lake.

Lake Tahoe is indeed heaven for ski lovers. They enjoy skiing here. NorthStar California resort has slopes appropriate for intermediate skiers. Kirkwood and Mount Rose slopes are loved by advanced skiers for their risky, challenging black-diamond runs.

Non-skiers can choose rides and admire scenic beauty. Take the Heavenly Gondola ride, a 2.4-mile scenic ride. This ride has a stop at an Observation desk at a height of 9,123 feet. Indeed, the spot offers beautiful views of Carson Valley, Lake Tahoe, and Desolation wilderness.

Sugar Bowl is the nearest and most accessible resort to San Francisco. This famous historic ski resort features a European-style village with an old-fashioned lodge. The resort has 12 lifts providing access to trails for all levels.

2. Live the Fairytale Life at Squaw Valley Village

Squaw Valley was the host place for the 1960s viii Olympics Winter Games. This popular place offers beautiful skiing slopes for skiers and numerous winter activities for non-skiers.

You can enjoy skiing on the slopes, and ice skating in the Olympic Ice Pavilion and High Camp’s Olympic museum.

Picturesque snow-capped mountains and the slopes covered with white glistening snow give the dreamy fairytale effect to this village. Wander around the place and imbibe the beauty within yourself.

Rome along the cobblestone walkways. Explore the up-market boutiques, restaurants, shops, cafes, and cuisines. There are different fun activities for kids. Entertain yourself at the live music events at night.

3. Enjoy Skating at NorthStar-

The base village at the NorthStar Tahoe is another winter wonderland to visit. The main attraction of this beautiful village is the skating rink functions throughout the year, with art galleries, restaurants, cafes, boutiques, and luxury flats surrounding the place.

The place offers lots of activities for all types of people. For the ice skaters, ice skating is there. And non-skaters can enjoy watching the ice skaters while sitting near the fire pit and sipping a hot beverages. Enjoy roasting marshmallows here.

Other snow sports like alpine and telemark skiing, cross-country skiing, tubing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing can also be done here. The marketplace is good for buying skis and snowboard boots.

NorthStar is live and vibrant with music, live bands, festivals, special events, and parties. Entertainment yourself and enjoy life here.

4. Have Fun at the Snowmobile Expedition-

A snowmobile ride through the terrain full of snow-covered pine trees is a must thing to do at Lake Tahoe in winter.

A snowmobile tour is filled with fun and adventure, scenic views of lake Tahoe, and numerous photo stops on its way. It is an almost two-hour guided tour. Mount Watson viewpoint is a popular stop to take beautiful pictures of the lake.

The forest is beautiful but dense, so there is a chance of losing your way hence guide is recommended. Mostly one guide leads the group and the other one is at the back to take care of the visitors.

Race lovers and enjoy the snowmobile race at the frozen Watson’s Lake.

5. Snowshoeing in the Moonlight

A full moon snowshoe tour in the NorthStar at Lake Tahoe is a different experience and nonetheless, it is an out-of-ordinary thing to do at Lake Tahoe.

NorthStar terrain features extensive snowshoe trails and cross-country trails. As a result, the place gets crowded on weekends and holidays because of day-trippers.

6. Get Adventurous on a Glider Ride

You can fly above the Sierra Mountains on a dual people’s non-motorized glider. You will certainly catch the vast enchanting views of Emerald Bay and Carson Ridge.

7. Spent a Day at Winter Sports Park

Winter Sports Park in Tahoe City is a perfect day-out place in winter. You can enjoy lots of winter fun activities like ice skating, fat biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing here. The entrance fee is there.

8. Hop Onto the Unique Dog Sledding ride

Photo by pasja1000 on Pixabay

Dog Sledding is one of the unique things to do at Lake Tahoe. A Sled is attached with ropes and pulled by a team of huskies (dogs) and guided by a musher. You have to sit back in the sled and admire the scenery of the outdoors.

Many companies like Kirkwood’s Running Creek Dog Sled Rides, Sierra Adventures, and other ski resorts provide these tours.

9. Get the Dose of Entertainment at the Snow Globe Music Festival

Snow Globe Music Festival is a three-day festival held on new year’s Eve at Lake Tahoe. At this festival, famous musicians came together to create lovely music on multiple stages.

Enjoy this lovely music and finally set yourself free at the final new year’s Eve event. Have fun while dancing and grooving throughout the night and watching the fireworks.

10. Get Cozy in the Hot Pool Bath

A warm hot pool or a jacuzzi in this cold snowy weather is indeed a comfortable place to relax and lose your tiredness.

The warm and snug feeling of hot water is captivating and you don’t want to come out of the hot water soon. Explore Hot Springs near Yosemite.

Some FAQs

1. Transportation Service

From the Reno/Tahoe International Airport, you can use a shuttle service, cab ride, or city bus service to reach your location. A Rental car is a preferable choice to roam around Lake Tahoe.

2. Accommodation-

There are a variety of accommodations ranging from luxury hotels to mid-range hotels to budget-friendly hostels are available.

Some hostels with beds, outdoor recreation areas, and indoor common areas are there. They are also at a walkable distance from some popular spots.

You can get mid-range hotels with free Wi-Fi and private parking in downtown Lake Tahoe. You can also opt for luxury hotels or resorts providing lots of facilities.

3. Suitable time to visit-

Lake Tahoe welcomes visitors throughout the year because of its beautiful places, and plenty of attractions, and activities. However, March to May is preferred in summer, and September- November is preferred in Winter.

4. Other places to visit

There are some famous locations to explore near Lake Tahoe. Reno town is a city bustling with people, luxury resorts, and a flashy ambiance. Nevada City is also a beautiful place along with the grass valley to visit.

Conclusion –

Lake Tahoe is a good amalgamation of beautiful scenic views, mountains, and lakes. Therefore there are different things to do at Lake Tahoe for the whole year. In summary, Lake Tahoe is a must-visit place to spend quality and fun time on your vacation.

Last Updated on September 2, 2023 by Anuja.V