Are you looking for the best things to do in Lake Tahoe for your upcoming trip?

The good news is that Lake Tahoe is jam-packed with everything you could need for a fun expedition to the beautiful shores of this stunning alpine lake. 

Whether you are a serious outdoor enthusiast or just want to lounge out by one of Lake Tahoe’s best beaches, there is something for everyone in this mountain getaway.

Now, get ready to build up your excitement and enthusiasm, as you can select all the unique things to do in Lake Tahoe for a fun-filled trip.

Get ready, as the crystal clear blue waters of Lake Tahoe are calling, and it’s your turn to make your own adventure.

13 Best Things to Do in Lake Tahoe

Whether you visit during the snowy winter or the sun-drenched summers, you will surely find plenty of things to do in Lake Tahoe.

If you arrive during the snow season, you can hit the slopes at one of the area’s incredible ski resorts or simply cuddle up by the fire in a charming cabin in the woods. 

The most popular time to visit is from June through September when this alpine lake offers up a nearly endless list of things to do in Lake Tahoe in summer.

From catching some rays on one of Lake Tahoe’s tree-lined beaches to summiting Mount Tallac, you will be in for a fantastic mountain getaway.

With so many places to visit in Lake Tahoe and fun adventures along its shores, deciding what to add to your vacation itinerary will be hard.

To help you decide, dig into this list below to see what inspires you when visiting Lake Tahoe.

Visit Emerald Bay State ParkEmerald Bay

Emerald Bay is one of the top things to do in South Lake Tahoe as it draws in countless visitors to see its stunning crystal clear water that fades from deep blue to turquoise by the shore.

This national natural landmark is also a historic site of Vikingsholm Castle and the Fannette Island Teahouse, which was built in 1929 for a wealthy philanthropist as a summer getaway.

When planning to visit Emerald Bay, make sure to bring a hiking shirt and some good trail shoes so you can hike along the shore to hunt for hidden coves.

This is also a popular spot for daytrippers who arrive by boat to cruise the glassy waters in the sheltered bay. 

To visit Emerald Bay and take a Vikingsholm tour, you must prepare for a semi-strenuous hike down a 1.7-mile trail that descends 377 feet.

Don’t worry, the hike is more than worth the effort to picnic by the water at one of Lake Tahoe’s most pristine destinations.

D.L. Bliss State Park

Lake Tahoe can get busy during the summer, and the perfect escape is an adventure to D.L. Bliss State Park, which is a bit of a hidden gem.

While the tourist crowds flock to other popular destinations around the lake, this park remains relatively quiet.

Not only is this one of the most beautiful sections of Lake Tahoe, but the shoreline is full of hidden coves and small beaches with jewel-like turquoise and emerald water.

The best way to access the best parts of this state park is to hike along the Rubicon Trail, starting at Calawee Beach, before heading south along the ridgeline and through the forest. 

RELATED  Hard Rock Hotel San Diego

Make sure to pack your camping gear and book a campsite early, as this is the best spot to camp by the lake with a chance to sleep amongst the pine trees.

Before leaving D.L. Bliss, stop by to see the famous balancing rock, which you will swear is grinning at you.

Go Skiinglake tahoe ski resort

Lake Tahoe may be a big summer draw for tourists, but the area is best known for its incredible selection of ski resorts.

The options range from luxury ski resorts with their own villages, restaurants, and shopping to small hills with only rope tow lifts.

Lake Tahoe is blessed with not only excellent snow conditions, with an average of over 400 inches of snow per year, but this area of the Sierra Nevada mountains also sees 300-plus days of sunny weather.

This makes for a perfect combination of light powder during stormy days and lots of sunny “bluebird days” for carving down the slopes.

If you are new to skiing or snowboarding or are thinking about giving it a try, Lake Tahoe has plenty of resorts that offer lots of beginner runs along with lessons to help you get out on the snow.

This is your chance to test out all the skiing presents you got for Christmas, including some new goggles that will help you see the gorgeous lake right from the slopes.ski Tahoe

Ed Z’Berg Sugar Pine Point State Park

This quaint state park on the west shore of Lake Tahoe is an ideal destination for a camping trip where you can get up close to nature.

There are two campgrounds to choose from, with Sugar Pine Campground having the best facilities and the General Creek Campground offering a more remote setting.

Ed Z’Berg State Park is also home to one of the best beaches in Lake Tahoe, which seldomly is packed like other popular options closer to South Lake Tahoe. 

Sugar Pine Point Beach is also a great place to rent a stand-up paddleboard or a kayak from West Shore Sports for a good paddle along the gorgeous crystal-clear water.

Several easy but worthwhile hikes inside the park showcase the park’s natural beauty without taking up too much of your visit. 

Before leaving the park for the day, sign up for one of the tours of the Hellman-Ehrman Mansion, which was first built in 1903.

Go Kayaking or Paddle Boarding at Sand Harbor

Sand Harbor is known for its natural rock garden that sits below some of Lake Tahoe’s most pristine and crystal-clear water.

This unique beach area provides a perfect opportunity to see it up close from a kayak or paddleboard while gliding across the water.

During the Lake Tahoe summer, there are rental companies along the shore, so there’s no need to bring your own

Just ensure to arrive early, as rentals are first come, first serve, and the water gets rough from the boat wakes.

Sand Harbor is also a great destination to spend the day relaxing at the beach for a short swim in the chilly water or for a picnic with some incredible views. 

Hit the Beach

Summer in Lake Tahoe is all about enjoying some time at the beach, with gorgeous weather and views that will drop your jaw right from the shoreline.

There are fantastic beach options on all the shores of Lake Tahoe, ranging from quiet hidden stretches that must be reached by boat on the west shore to the mega beaches with a party vibe in South Lake.

Some of the most popular options around Lake Tahoe include:

  • Pope Beach – South Lake Tahoe
  • Baldwin Beach – South Lake Tahoe
  • Kings Beach State Recreation Area – North Lake Tahoe
  • Tahoe Vista Recreation Area – North Lake Tahoe
  • Meeks Bay – West Lake Tahoe
  • Secret Harbor – East Lake Tahoe
RELATED  World of Color - Disneyland's newest show

Not only are these great places to get a tan, but plenty of beaches offer adult libations at waterfront bars specializing in tropical cocktails, like the Sunset Beach Bar at Zephyr Cove.

If you are lucky enough to book a room at one of Lake Tahoe’s waterfront hotels, you can enjoy access to their private beach areas, which are far less crowded than most public options.

Go for a HikeMaggies Peak

When the weather is good, and the trails are dry, there is no better thing to do in Lake Tahoe than to go for a hike.

The shores of this alpine lake and the surrounding passes have a massive collection of well-maintained trails that provide easy access to the best Lake Tahoe attractions.

You can hike up to the edge of Desolation Wilderness to relax by the shores of Eagle Lake, or you can test your strength by climbing up to Maggie’s Peak.

There are options for every ability level, including paved paths that weave through the forest and streams near the Taylor Creek visitors center with a stop at the Mount Tallac Historic Site.

For serious hikers, you can attempt to scale Freel Peak, which is the tallest in the Lake Tahoe area, or you can attempt to complete the entire 170-mile Tahoe Rim Trail for a multi-day expedition.

For day trippers, try out the Floating Island and Cathedral Lakes Trail or the Fallen Leaf Lake Trail for a shorter but equally fulfilling adventure.

Hiking is also at the top of the list of cheap things to do in Lake Tahoe, especially if you take public transportation to avoid parking fees at the trailhead.

Take a scenic drive around the lake

One of the best ways to see Lake Tahoe is to go for a drive along the shore of Lake Tahoe, with stops to see the sights along the way.

The drive around the lake will take 1 hour 48 min (71.6 miles) if you make no stops and there is zero traffic, but this can easily be turned into a half or full-day excursion.

You can stop at a few beaches, snap some photos at a scenic viewpoint, and even slip in a few short hikes along the way. 

If you time your drive right, you can also stop for lunch on the deck of a waterfront restaurant or catch the sunset on the lake’s eastern shore. 

Another great reason to drive around the lake is to have a good time, even if the weather makes a turn for the worst, as you can still enjoy the views from the shelter of your vehicle.

Go for a Bike Ride on the Tahoe East Shore Trail

The Tahoe East Shore Bike Trail is commonly referred to as the most scenic bike path in California.

It starts in the heart of Incline Village and heads south with a turnaround at Sand Harbor, where you can stop for lunch or go for a quick swim to cool down.

This protected route offers plenty of room for cyclists away from the road full of passing cars, and there are plenty of stops along the way to check out some viewpoints and hidden beaches.

The route is 6 miles roundtrip and will take around 45 minutes if you push the pace, but we recommend stopping and reading the informative placards along the way.

If you are not traveling with a bike, you can easily rent one at Vista Trail Bikes, which offers reasonable rates and even better service, and they are located near the start of the path in Incline Village.

Go on a Boat Cruise

You don’t have to rent or own an expensive boat to enjoy a trip out on the water in Lake Tahoe.

RELATED  Top 15 Things to do in San Francisco

In fact, you can book tickets to board the M.S. Dixie II, which is a historic Paddle Ship that takes passengers across the lake with breathtaking views of the must sees in Lake Tahoe. 

You can choose to go for a daytime cruise where you can relax on the top deck while taking in the sites, including a swing through Emerald Bay.

If you are wondering what to do in Lake Tahoe for a classy evening out, you can book the evening cruise to enjoy live music and cocktails while watching the sunset behind the mountain peaks.

This is a perfect way to celebrate a special occasion or to wind down an amazing trip to Lake Tahoe with a celebratory ride across the crystal-clear waters of Lake Tahoe.

Ride the Heavenly Gondola

There is no better way to get a panoramic view of Lake Tahoe than to ride the Heavenly Gondola up the mountain.

This should be at the top of the list of best things to do at Lake Tahoe for those not interested in a tough hike up to the top of one of the surrounding peaks.

The 2.4-mile ride to the top offers scenic views along the way to the observation deck, which sits at 9123 feet and is 2898 feet above Lake Tahoe.

When you arrive at the top, make sure to grab a coffee or a hot beverage to keep you warm from Cafe Blue.

This is also one of the top things to do in Lake Tahoe in winter, as the Gondola is open to both skiers and non-skiers alike and provides a chance to see Tahoe blanketed in snow. 

Check the weather before booking, and bundle up, as it can be much colder at these higher elevations.

Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival

Whether you are a Thespian or a casual theater enthusiast, the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival will surely be your trip’s highlight.

Each summer, this fantastic venue on the shores of Lake Tahoe at Sand Harbor offers a chance to enjoy a live performance with your toes in the sand while enjoying a glass of wine.

The shows are also strategically timed to start early enough that you will get to enjoy the sunset during the performance for an extra dramatic effect.

While the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival runs throughout the summer, tickets sell out quickly for their shows, with weekend seats going the fastest.

Make sure to save some room to enjoy a delicious dinner and a show, as they feature a full menu of tasty treats from Shakepear’s Kitchen.

Donner Memorial State Park

Lake Tahoe has a sister lake that is just a short drive from Tahoe City, which offers a different mountain lake feel set just outside the town of Truckee.

This state park has two main beaches, including the Tahoe Donner Beach Club Marina and the West End Beach, which have all the amenities you will need for a day on the lake.

You will find everything from restaurants, beach bars, water sports rentals, and clean restrooms, so you won’t have to leave the fun-filled shores.

For a more peaceful time, you can head up Donner Creek and go for a leisurely float along the gentle current with a stop at the swimming hole before returning to Donner Lake. 

This is also a popular destination for fishing for massive Mackinaw Trout, and multiple fishing charters are available to take you out for the day.

If you want to visit during the winter, Donner Memorial State Park is one of the area’s top destinations for cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing adventures along the lake’s trails.

Bottom Line

Now that you have had the time to peruse through this list of the best things to do in Lake Tahoe, all you have to do is pick out your perfect accommodation.

The last thing you will need to do is pack your bags and don’t forget to bring along this list of the best things to do in Lake Tahoe.

Bring your swimsuit and hiking shoes, and prepare to travel to this amazing mountain town with an impossibly blue lake.

Read Next:

8 Best Places to Visit in California with Kids

5 Best California Vacation Beaches