There is so much to see and do in Lake Tahoe it can be hard to decide where to spend your time. Here is my list of the top 10 things to do in Lake Tahoe this Summer.
The largest Alpine Lake in North America, Lake Tahoe is truly a jewel of the Sierra Mountain Range. Deep enough to cover the Empire State Building, Lake Tahoe is about 1,644 feet deep, and holds enough waters to cover the entire state of California. The 39 Trillion gallons of water in the lake could supply everyone in the United States with about 50 gallons of water per day for the next five years. Not to mention, the water in the lake is 99.994% clear, meaning you could quite literally almost drink directly from the lake.
It's not difficult to see why 20 million people visit Lake Tahoe every year. But enough with the facts, you're reading this post to see the top 10 things to do in Lake Tahoe this summer, so let's get to it!
The Top 10 Things To Do in Lake Tahoe This Summer
1. Swim & Beach.
This should be a given, but it 's important to know the best beaches and spots to go to, as the beaches can get crowded quickly. Over 40 beaches can be found along the coastline of Tahoe.
If you're in North Lake, you've got quite a few options. Regulated beaches that you have to pay for are found in Kings Beach, Incline Village, with the Incline Beach, Ski Beach, Burnt Cedar Beach, and Sand Harbor Beach over on the east side of the lake. If you have a Village General Improvement District (IVGID) Pass, then you can get into Incline, Ski, and Burnt Cedar for free, or you can go to the recreation center in Incline Village to ask about a guest pass.
Free beaches around North Lake are Hidden Beach, Speedboat Beach, Moon Dunes Beach, Tahoe City Commons Beach, and Chimney Beach. There are a few others, but these are the main ones you'll want to check out. These free beaches have very limited parking, and some require a bit of a hike to get to them (especially Hidden and Chimney), so it is best to get there early and make a day out of it.
South Lake Tahoe is full of beaches. You need to pay around $10.00 to park at the majority of the beaches, but it for a good cause in terms of cleaning the beaches, bathrooms, etc. The top paid beaches you would want to check out are Bladwin beach, Pope Beach, Zephyr Cove, and Lakeside Beach. D.L Bliss state park and Emerald Bay are also great options, but a bit of a drive away from South Lake. I'll touch more of those later on. The top Free Beach in South Lake is Cove East. It is a bit of a hike to get there, but the beach is huge and usually not very busy and it is mostly locals who will be hanging out there.
2. Rent Paddleboards (Or Kayaks or Boats or Jet Skis).
Continuing with the water theme, there are places all over the lake that offer rentals for paddleboards, boats, kayaks, etc. What you rent is, of course, up to you, but for a lot of people, it can come down to the cost. Paddleboards and Kayaks will typically go for $25 for an hour, up to $80 for the full day (8 hours). The best spots to grab Paddleboards and Kayaks are Tahoe Paddle and Oar in North Lake, or SUP Tahoe in South Lake.
Jet Skis and Boats are, as expected, the more expensive option. A jet ski rentals can range anywhere from $150 for an hour, up to 800 for the full day. A boat rental can range $200 for an hour, all to way up to $2,000.00 for the day, depending on the boat. Jet Skis and Boats provide a unique opportunity to see different parts of the Lake from the water, and it is an amazing experience to boat around Lake Tahoe, it just isn't cheap. The best spots to rent a boat in South Lake Tahoe is Tahoe Sports or Action Water Sports in North Lake Tahoe.
Tahoe is full of amazing hikes and trails just waiting to be explored. There are over 100 hiking trails surrounding the lake, so picking a few of the best ones to conquer can be tricky. You can explore and learn more about each trail by using alltrails.com, but for the sake of this post, I'll go over my top three favorite hikes around the Tahoe Basin.
Mount Tallac - Tallac is a 10.2-mile round trip hike located near South Lake Tahoe. You'll travel through the lush forest for the start of the hike before transitioning onto a scenic ridgeline through a large rock field. You are exposed to the sun for a good amount of the hike, and it can get very hot on the rock field. While hiking up you will have views of Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake. Upon climbing 3,200 feet to the summit, you'll be rewarded with unparalleled views of Tahoe.
Lake Aloha - A large day hike, the Lake Aloha trail from Desolation wilderness spans 12.5 miles round-trip and features about 1800 feet of elevation gain. You will pass by 5 different lakes on the trail to Lake Aloha, and after a long, hot hike, there is nothing better than jumping into the cool glacial waters of Lake Aloha. The lake is full of little rock islands that you can swim to and bask on. *Note: you will need to fill out a permit at the trailhead.
Mount Rose - One of the tallest peaks within the Lake Tahoe basin, Mount Rose gives amazing views of Reno and Lake Tahoe. The hike is about 10.7 miles round trip with 2,400 feet of elevation gain. While on the hike you will walk amongst the forest, past a waterfall, and conquer switchbacks on your way to the top.
4. Mountain Bike.
Similar to hiking trails, mountain biking trails are aplenty. In North Lake, rent a bike from Flume Trail Bikes and take their shuttle to the start of the Flume trail by Spooner Lake. On the Flume, you'll bike along the mountainside and get amazing views of Lake Tahoe down below, just make sure you keep your eyes on the trail ahead of you. Another good rental option in North Lake is the Village Ski Loft. Here, you can find a good bike for your style and size and make it yours for the day. You could simply bike along the lake, or if you're feeling adventurous you can tackle the Tahoe Rim Trail from the trailhead at Mount Rose Meadows. In South Lake, you can rent bikes from Anderson's Bike Rentals and cruise along the lakeside paths, or get adventurous and hop on the Angorra Ridge trail or hop on the Tahoe Rim Trail from Big Meadows.
5. Disc Golf.
One of my favorite things to do in the Tahoe Basin, Disc Golf is free (except for the costs of the discs), it's an opportunity to get some great exercise, and if you're playing in the evening, it's a good excuse to enjoy a beverage or two while walking in the woods. If you're not familiar with disc golf, the concept is simple. It is essentially the same as golf, except you play with little frisbees known as discs. There are a ton of disc golf courses around Lake Tahoe. A few notable ones in North Lake are the Incline Village Disc Golf Course, and the Tahoe Vista Disc Gol Course. In South Lake, Zephyr Cove and Bijou State Park both have awesome, large courses. If you don't have any discs, you can find them at local sporting good stores. The Village Ski Loft in Incline Village has a decent selection, along with Tahoe Sports LTD in South Lake. Discs can range from $10-$20.00 and it would be a good idea to pick up at least one driver and one putter. Tahoe Vista is the only Disc Golf course that charges a small fee for parking, all of the other courses are completely free.
6. Catch the Sunrise at Emerald Bay State Park.
Emerald Bay is home to Tahoe's only island, Fannette Island, and it presents a dreamlike view of the lake as the sun rises over the eastern mountain ridge during the sunrise.
Pair the mountainous backgrounds with crystal clear, turquoise waters, and you've got yourself a photographers heaven. It's no wonder why Emerald Bay is arguably the most photographed place on earth.
Enjoy the sunrise from rocks at Inspiration Point, a turnoff from Highway 89 that provides a large parking lot and viewing area. After the golden hour has passed, you can continue adventuring around Emerald Bay by walking 600 feet down the paved path to the beaches e within the bay. Here, you can swim or rent kayaks and paddleboards to take out to the island.
If you want to get a good hike in while visiting Emerald Bay, you can do so across the street and down the road from Inspiration Point. Starting at Eagle Falls trailhead you can hike up to Eagle Falls, a large waterfall that eventually drops water into Tahoe. If you continue on the hike for about a mile you can get to Eagle Lake, a clear alpine lake that is fueled by snowmelt. If you want to continue hiking past Eagle Lake, you can do so, but you will need a permit for Desolation Wilderness.
7. D.L Bliss State Park.
About 20 minutes north of Emerald Bay, you'll find D.L Bliss State Park. D.L Bliss gives amazing opportunities for swimming, hiking, camping, and even cliff jumping. It features some of the clearest waters in all of Tahoe and the hiking trails above the lake give you spectacular views. The Park is also home to the highest elevation light-house in the United States, the Rubicon Point Light. By taking this short 2-mile round-trip trail you can reach the lighthouse.
Camping in D.L Bliss is very popular and spots can fill up quickly, If you want to camp in D.L Bliss, you can find more information on reservations here. You do have to pay a $10.00 fee to get into the park, but because of this, many of the beaches are a lot less crowded than many of the others around the lake. The beaches within the park are all very well maintained and present great spots to hang out and swim around for the day.
If you're feeling adventurous, you can also find some decent cliff jumping in D.L Bliss State Park. One spot, nicknamed Rooster Rock, is perhaps the most popular cliff jumping spot around the lake. It is more easily accessible by boat, but you can hike down to the rock from the Rubicon Trail. You can find the 'trail' going down towards the water after walking on the Rubicon Trail from the end of Lester Beach Road for about half a mile. The 'trail' is unofficial and unmaintained and requires some very steep descending. It is best to find a local who knows about this area to take you here if you are planning on hiking down. Otherwise, rent a boat and ask the rental company for direction. Remember, cliff jumping is extremely dangerous, always be careful.
8. Float Down The Truckee River.
Need a fun, but relaxing kind of day? Then this option is for you. Grab some friends, some beverages, sunscreen, and some tubes from your local grocery store, and get ready to relax and float for the day. You'll want at least two cars to float down the Truckee. One to be parked at the start of your float, and one to be parked at the end, otherwise you'll have a long walk back.
To float down the Truckee, you'll want to start on the South end of Tahoe City, near where the river flows out of Lake Tahoe. But first, yuo'll want to drive both cars about 3 miles up the street towards Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. As you drive you will see the river flowing next to the road. You'll want to park your car on the side of the road just before Alpine Meadows, as the river can get rough past this point. Then drive back to the beginning of the river and park the other car. Finally, grab your gear and get ready to float for a few hours - sunscreen is definitely recommended! it is also a good idea to tie your tubes together so that your group can float as one.
9. Ski Resorts - Squaw Valley, Heavenly, Northstar.
Of course, Ski Resorts definitely don't have the same appeal in the summer as compared to the winter, but there is still plenty to do at Tahoe Ski Resorts in the summertime. Head over to Squaw Valley and learn the history of the 1960 winter Olympics, or take the tram up the high camp where you will discover amazing views and sightseeing, hikes that take you throughout the mountain, a disc golf course, and even a giant pool and hot tub. It's a lot more than just a ski resort.
At Heavenly you can take a 2.4-mile ride up their village gondola, which gives unmatched views of the lake below you. Once on the mountain, you can take on the ropes course, or fly down the zip line.
Northstar, a ski resort located in Truckee, California, offers some of the best downhill Mountain Biking in the Tahoe Basin. If the trails I mentioned earlier sounded appealing, then biking at Northstar might be for you. You can rent downhill bikes and all of the required gear (helmets, pads) in the Northstar Village, and once you have your lift ticket, you're free to take the lift up, bike and all, and charge down the downhill trails throughout the mountain.
10. Catch the Sunset.
Yeah, I know, this is kind of cliché, but Tahoe sunsets are some of the best you will ever see. One of my favorite spots to watch it from is Monkey Rock. A small hike above Incline Village, Monkey Rock is perched along the east side of the lake, giving you spectacular views of the sun setting behind the western ridge. To get to Monkey Rock, get on the Tunnel Creek trail and follow it for about a mile. Eventually, you'll reach a point where another steep trail cuts off to the left. Take this trail on the left and climb it for about 500 feet, almost to the top. You will then see another steep trail once again on your left leading up to some large rocks, this is where you will find Monkey Rock.
If you want to see the sunset, minus the hike, head over to Sand Harbor. You might have to pay to get in, depending on the time, but it won't be more than $10.00. Sand Harbor is a very well maintained beach that faces directly west. There are a lot of rocks that rise up out of the water just off of the beach, making for some great foreground objects in your sunset pictures. Bring a blanket/ towel, and some beverages, and enjoy the beauty of a Tahoe Sunset.
Lake Tahoe is one of my favorite places in the world. There is so much to see and do, the options are endless. Outside of the adventures I mentioned in this post, there is shopping, nightlife, bars and breweries, scenic drives, and more. If you haven't been to Lake Tahoe, I highly suggest you add it to your list.
Thanks for reading. If you've been to Tahoe and would like to add anything that I might have missed, or if you want to share some of your favorite spots, feel free to do so in the comments below.