It is no coincidence that great artists like Mark Twain admire the breathtaking view of Lake Tahoe. The crystal clear turquoise blue waters correspond perfectly with the snow-capped peaks and wooded areas around. With a depth of 1,640 feet, the lake owes much of its beauty to the origin of the water – melted snow.
There is hardly a tourist who is not impressed by the view regardless of the season. It will take you several hours by car to tour the entire lake, which is located on the border between Nevada and California, but we advise you to spend a lot more time here so you can walk in nature and enjoy all the attractions around. If you are a fan of winter fairytale landscapes, the period from December to April is the perfect time to visit.
Last but not least, the area is known for some of the best alpine resorts. You will certainly not be bored here if you are a fan of winter or water sports and long hikes in the mountains.
Here are some of the favorite activities of visitors to Lake Tahoe.
1. Hiking at South Lake Tahoe
South Lake Tahoe is a popular destination for hiking, with numerous trails that offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains, forests, and lakes. Here are some of the most popular hiking trails in the area:
- Mount Tallac: This is a challenging hike that offers stunning views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains. The trail is approximately 10 miles (16 km) round-trip and climbs over 3,200 feet (975 meters) to the summit of Mount Tallac.
- Eagle Falls: This is a shorter, easier hike that is suitable for families and beginners. The trail is approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) round-trip and offers views of Eagle Falls and the surrounding forest.
- Desolation Wilderness: This is a wilderness area located just south of Lake Tahoe, with numerous hiking trails that lead through alpine meadows, lakes, and granite peaks. Some popular trails in the area include the Pyramid Peak Trail, the Gilmore Lake Trail, and the Lake Aloha Trail.
- Fallen Leaf Lake: This is a beautiful alpine lake located just south of Lake Tahoe, with several hiking trails that offer views of the lake and surrounding mountains. The Fallen Leaf Lake Trail is an easy 1.3-mile (2.1 km) loop trail that circles the lake and offers views of Cascade Falls.
Hikers in South Lake Tahoe should be prepared for changing weather conditions, and should carry plenty of water, food, and appropriate clothing and footwear. Hikers should also follow Leave No Trace principles and respect park rules and regulations to help protect the area’s natural resources.
2. Emerald Bay State Park
Emerald Bay State Park is a popular destination located on the western shore of Lake Tahoe in California, USA. The park encompasses over 2,800 acres (1,133 hectares) of pristine wilderness, including the stunning Emerald Bay and Fannette Island.
Here are some of the most popular activities to do in Emerald Bay State Park:
- Hiking: The park offers several hiking trails that lead through alpine meadows, forests, and along the shoreline of Emerald Bay. The Eagle Falls Trail is a popular hike that offers stunning views of Eagle Falls and the surrounding mountains.
- Boating and Water Sports: Visitors can rent kayaks, paddleboards, and motorboats to explore Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe. The park also has a designated swimming area for visitors who want to cool off in the clear, cold waters of the lake.
- Scenic Drives: The park is home to several scenic drives, including the 2-mile (3.2 km) Emerald Bay Scenic Overlook and the Rubicon Trail, which follows the shoreline of Emerald Bay.
- Camping: The park offers two campgrounds, the Eagle Point Campground and the Emerald Bay Boat-In Campground, for visitors who want to spend the night in the park.
- Sightseeing: Visitors can take a tour of the Vikingsholm Castle, a unique Scandinavian-style mansion located on the shores of Emerald Bay. The castle is open for tours from Memorial Day to September.
Emerald Bay State Park is open year-round, but some facilities and activities may be limited during the winter months. Visitors should check with park officials or visit the park’s website for up-to-date information on park conditions and available activities.
3. Lake Tahoe Boat Cruise
There are many companies around Lake Tahoe that offer a boat trip on its calm waters. This is a great way to relax, and the surrounding frosted peaks of the Sierra Nevada are a real delight to the eye.
Tours start from different points on the coast (Zephyr Cove, Camp Richardson, Incline Village, Timber Cove Marina, etc.). Some tours offer a tour of the waterfalls, Fannette Island, and Vikingsholm Castle.
4. Kings Beach
What to do in Lake Tahoe if you are a fan of water summer sports? Visit Kings Beach on the north side of the lake. In Kings Beach State Recreation Area you will find all the necessary amenities – barbecue areas, picnic tables, public restrooms, parking.
There are many hotels, shops, and boutiques in the Kings Beach area.
5. Alpine Skiing
In winter and spring, Lake Tahoe becomes a favorite destination for skiers captivated by the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The most famous of the winter resorts is Squaw Valley, known as the venue for the 1960 Olympic Games, and Heavenly, which offers 4,800 acres of ski slopes and stunning views of the lake.
In addition, here you can choose a gondola ride that will take you to the most picturesque views. Another favorite resort for skiers is the Sugar Bowl, offering European style and 12 lifts for its guests.
6. Tallac Historic Site
This attraction consists of 3 properties – the Pope, Baldwin, and Valhalla estates. Here, at the beginning of the 20th century lived some of the most noble and wealthy representatives of the area.
To find out more about its significance and history, you can tour them with a guide. In August, the Gatsby Festival is held here, which brings great excitement with jazz concerts and many other entertainments typical of the 1920s.
Today, the Baldwin Estate has become the historic Tallac Museum, which houses many artifacts from the area’s past, including the property’s original kitchen from the 1930s.
The Valhalla Estate is an ideal venue for celebrations or larger music events.
7. Take a walk in Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park
One of the must-see Lake Tahoe activities is a walk-in Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point, State Park. The park stretches for 2 miles around the lake among conifers and the highlight of this walk will be a visit to the Hellman-Ehrman Mansion. The property is furnished with all the amenities of its time and offers breathtaking views of the lake.
You can visit it in the days from Memorial Day until the end of September. The property is surrounded by a flower garden, often used for weddings and celebrations, and nearby is the Nature Center, offering exhibitions of wildflowers, birds, and more.
In summer you can go for a long walk in the shady forests or for a swim in the small beach of the park, and in winter you can go skiing. The park has plenty of campsites, picnic areas and barbecues.
8. Eagle Rock Hiking Trail
The Eagle Rock Hiking Trail is a popular destination located near Homewood, California, on the west shore of Lake Tahoe. The trail offers stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains and is suitable for hikers of all skill levels.
The trail is approximately 2.5 miles (4 km) round-trip and climbs approximately 400 feet (122 meters) to the summit of Eagle Rock. The trailhead is located near the intersection of Highway 89 and Eagle Falls Road, and there is a small parking area near the trailhead.
The trail follows a well-maintained path through the forest and offers several scenic viewpoints along the way. The summit of Eagle Rock offers panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains, making it a popular spot for photos and picnics.
Hikers on the Eagle Rock Trail should be prepared for changing weather conditions and should carry plenty of water, food, and appropriate clothing and footwear. Hikers should also follow Leave No Trace principles and respect park rules and regulations to help protect the area’s natural resources.
9. Sand Harbor State Park
Sand Harbor State Park is a popular destination located on the northeast shore of Lake Tahoe in Nevada, USA. The park is known for its beautiful sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Here are some of the most popular activities to do in Sand Harbor State Park:
- Beaches: The park offers several beautiful beaches, including a large sandy beach that is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking.
- Water Sports: Visitors can enjoy a variety of water sports in Sand Harbor, including kayaking, paddleboarding, and boating. There are several rental shops in the area that offer equipment and lessons.
- Scenic Drives: The park is home to several scenic drives, including the East Shore Drive, which offers stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
- Hiking: The area around Sand Harbor offers several hiking trails that lead through forests and along the shoreline of Lake Tahoe. Some popular trails in the area include the Marlette Lake Trail and the Flume Trail.
- Theater: The park is home to the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, which offers a variety of live performances and events during the summer months.
Sand Harbor State Park is open year-round, but some facilities and activities may be limited during the winter months. Visitors should check with park officials or visit the park’s website for up-to-date information on park conditions and available activities.
10. D.L. Bliss State Park
This area around the lake is named after Baron Duane L. Bliss, who made a fortune in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and donated 744 acres of his property to the California State park system. Here you will find many places suitable for walking among the trees and several secluded beaches hidden among the wooded areas.
The most famous are the crystal blue waters of Lester Beach and Calawee Cove, ideal for water sports. Here is the famous 4.5 mile long Rubicon Trail and offers breathtaking views.
In summer the park has 150 campsites ideal for family travel and equipped with the necessary amenities.
11. Desolation Wilderness
Desolation Wilderness is an area of 64,000 acres around the Lake Tahoe pool and the Eldorado National Forest. It consists mainly of alpine forests, mountain peaks, and small lakes formed by glaciers.
Here you have the opportunity to travel only by horse or on foot, as all mechanical vehicles are strictly prohibited. The place is ideal for those who love winter walks and landscapes.
12. Fallen Leaf Lake
Just a mile south of Lake Tahoe is the glacier-created Fallen Leaf Lake. You will not find the amenities of urban areas here, as only the Fallen Leaf Marina and Store is located around the lake.
Fallen Leaf Lake is a beautiful alpine lake located in El Dorado County, California, United States. The lake is situated in the Sierra Nevada mountains at an elevation of 6,377 feet (1,944 m) and has a surface area of approximately 2.9 square miles (7.5 square kilometers).
The lake is fed by several small streams and is surrounded by dense forests of Jeffrey pine, red fir, and lodgepole pine trees. It is a popular destination for outdoor activities such as fishing, boating, camping, hiking, and swimming.
In addition to its natural beauty, Fallen Leaf Lake is also home to several historic structures, including the Stanford Sierra Camp, which was built in 1892 as a retreat for Stanford University faculty and staff.
13. Gatekeeper’s Museum
The Gatekeeper’s Museum is a historic museum located in Tahoe City, California, United States. The museum was built in 1909 as the gatekeeper’s cabin for the nearby Fanny Bridge, which crosses the Truckee River.
The museum houses a collection of artifacts and exhibits related to the history of the Lake Tahoe area, including Native American baskets, photographs, and artifacts from the logging and mining industries. It also features exhibits on the construction of the transcontinental railroad, the development of the tourism industry, and the history of the Washoe people, who have lived in the Lake Tahoe area for thousands of years.
One of the most notable exhibits at the Gatekeeper’s Museum is the Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Collection, which includes over 800 baskets from more than 85 tribes across North America. The collection is considered to be one of the finest of its kind in the world.
The museum also offers educational programs, guided tours, and special events throughout the year. It is open to the public from May through October.
14. Homewood Mountain Resort, Lake Tahoe
Homewood Mountain Resort is a ski resort located on the west shore of Lake Tahoe in California, United States. It is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders due to its stunning lake views and diverse terrain.
The resort features 1,260 acres of skiable terrain with 67 trails that cater to all skill levels. The resort’s base elevation is at 6,230 feet (1,899 meters) and its summit elevation is at 7,880 feet (2,402 meters). Homewood Mountain Resort also offers a variety of services and amenities, including ski and snowboard rentals, ski school, and several on-mountain dining options.
In addition to skiing and snowboarding, Homewood Mountain Resort also offers a variety of summer activities, such as hiking, mountain biking, and water sports on Lake Tahoe.
One of the unique features of Homewood Mountain Resort is its location on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, which provides stunning panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains from many of the resort’s runs. The resort is also known for its laid-back atmosphere and friendly staff, which helps to create a welcoming and relaxed environment for visitors.
17 Things to Do in Lake Tahoe in the Summer
- Emerald Bay State Park
- Eagle Lake
- D.L. Bliss State Park
- Rubicon Trail.
- Sugar Pine Point State Park
- Gatekeeper’s Museum
- Olympic Valley
- Magic Carpet Golf
- Speedboat Beach
- Sand Harbor
- Cave Rock
- Heavenly Gondola
- South Lake Tahoe Restaurants
- Tallac Historic Site
- Glen Alpine Falls
- Cascade Falls