10 Best Things to Do at Lake Tahoe: Top-Rated Attractions 2022
Lake Tahoe is a place of sublime beauty that inspires admiration even among the most blasé traveler. Mark Twain described the dazzling expanse of glistening sapphire waters as “the most beautiful picture the whole earth has to offer.”
Surrounded by pristine pine forests and snow-capped peaks, the lake’s magnificent topaz color is attributed to its almost 500 meters depth. The water owes its crystal-clear quality to the purity of its source: melted snow.
Lake Tahoe stretches across the California-Nevada border, extending 22 miles north to south and 12 miles wide. It would take at least three hours to walk the entire lake in good weather. However, plan more if you want to stop and see the attractions or hike the trails.
Lake Tahoe is a year-round destination for nature lovers and enthusiasts of outdoor adventures. Some of the most popular activities are nature walks, hiking, biking, and water sports in summer.
From December to April, Lake Tahoe is a winter wonderland where you can enjoy downhill and cross-country skiing, tobogganing, snowshoeing, and sledding. The Lake Tahoe area is famous for its world-class downhill skiing resorts.
Please find out about the best places to visit and plan your adventures with our list of the top attractions in Lake Tahoe.
10 Best Things to Do at Lake Tahoe:
1. Emerald Bay State Park
A slight protected stretch on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay State Park, is surrounded by wooded granite slopes carved by glaciers and dotted with a small island in the center. As the bay is slightly shallower than the rest of Lake Tahoe, the waters take on a striking greenish-blue color.
The imposing Scandinavian-style castle overlooks the glistening waters of Emerald Bay. Vikingsholm is a unique example of a historic summer holiday home on Lake Tahoe in this idyllic location. Access to Vikingsholm is via a steep one-kilometer pedestrian path. Visitors can visit the castle’s interior during the summer season, from the Memorial Day weekend until September.
Emerald Bay State Park, a national landmark, has two campgrounds: Camp Boat-In, which is only accessible by boat or on foot, and Camp Eagle Point, which is steps from the lake and has a secluded beach.
Inspiration Point is a must-see in the area, prized for its 600-foot panoramic views of Emerald Bay, perfect for photography.
To learn about other beautiful nature views over Lake Tahoe and how to capture them with the camera, tourists can sign up for a semi-private Lake Tahoe Photo Tour that takes participants to its most photogenic locations, including Emerald Bay.
2. Hiking at South Lake Tahoe
Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate Lake Tahoe for its natural glow. Some of the most beautiful places for hiking are the trails near South Lake Tahoe. These lakeside and lakeside trails offer rejuvenating Alpine landscapes and refreshing (or gentler) workouts.
A scenic family hike, the Cascade Falls Trail is an easy 2km loop from Bayview Campground to Cascade Falls with sensational views of Lake Tahoe along the way.
The Fallen Leaf Lake Trail is a gentle walk from the Fallen Leaf Campground to a tranquil lakeside location (at Fallen Leaf Lake instead of Lake Tahoe), followed by a walk along the shoreline of the lake (the entire trip is a 2.5 mile round trip).
One of Lake Tahoe’s favorite hikes is along the rugged shoreline of Emerald Bay. The Rubicon Trail follows the water’s edge from D.L. Bliss State Park to Emerald Bay State Park and behind Vikingsholm Castle.
This 4.5-kilometer trail has a slight slope as it wraps around a ridge above Emerald Bay. This elevated viewpoint offers sweeping panoramic views.
3. Alpine Skiing
In winter and spring, Lake Tahoe is a world famous destination for downhill skiing. The Sierra Nevada mountains are prized for their vast terrain, sunny weather, and dusty slopes.
The most popular ski resorts in Lake Tahoe are Squaw Valley, where the 1960 Winter Olympics were held, and Heavenly, with 4,800 acres of stunning ski area with stunning lake views.
Even non-skiers will appreciate the scenic 2.4km Heavenly Gondola ride that stops on the 9,123ft observation deck and offers breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe, Carson Valley, and the Desolation Wilderness.
For a day trip from San Francisco, Sugar Bowl is the closest and most accessible resort. This historic ski resort has a European style village with a cozy old farmhouse. The complex has 12 lifts (including a gondola) that provide access to routes for all skill levels, from beginner to advanced.
Advanced skiers love to race Northstar, while more advanced skiers prefer Kirkwood and Mount Rose for demanding runs.
4. Lake Tahoe Boat Cruise
A boat trip on Lake Tahoe is a relaxing and breathtaking experience. As they sail through the sparkling blue waters, passengers will marvel at the stunning scenery of refreshing pine forests and the snow-capped Sierra Nevada peaks.
Many local companies offer sightseeing cruises or boat tours on the North Shore, South Shore, West Shore, or Emerald Bay. Cruises and boat trips depart from Zephyr Cove, Camp Richardson, Timber Cove Marina, Round Hill Pines Marina in South Lake Tahoe, and Incline Village and North Tahoe Marina in North Lake Tahoe.
The recommended boat trip is the MS. Dixie II cruise through Emerald Bay. This sightseeing cruise offers close-up views of the waterfalls, Fannette Island, and Vikingsholm Castle, with commentary along the way. Lunch and snacks are offered.
5. Tallac Historic Site
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Tallac Historic Site includes the Pope, Baldwin, and Valhalla properties. From Memorial Day until September, the entire site is open to the public, and visitors can explore the area for free. The site also offers guided tours and special events.
The historic mansions host the two-day Gatsby Festival every August, drawing crowds for glamorous 1920s parties, jazz concerts, and other themed events from the 1920s, reminiscent of the heyday social gatherings.
To learn more about how wealthy people in Tahoe lived in the early 1900s, visitors can take a guided tour of the Papal Household.
The Baldwin Estate has been transformed into the Tallac Museum, which focuses on local history, including exhibits relating to the native Washoe. The original elements of the house have been preserved in the museum, incl—kitchen from the 1930s.
Once a great summer vacation spot for San Francisco’s high society, Valhalla Estate is a favorite for private lakeside events and weddings.
Every summer from June to September, the Valhalla Estate hosts a series of summer concerts and theater performances at various venues: Valhalla Boathouse Theater (lake view), Grand Hall, and Grand Lawn overlooking Lake Tahoe.
For those looking to spend the night in the area, Camp Richardson is a great option. This historic lakeside resort has a small beach, marina with boat rentals, Old Tahoe Style Hotel, an inn, cottages, and campsites by the beach. The resort is an excellent place for boating, hiking, and cycling in summer. In winter, cross-country skiing, sledding, and snowshoes are popular.
6. Kings Beach
Supported by Las Jeffrey pine, this sandy beach soaked by the sun is an ideal place for rest, swimming, and a walkway in the summer. Kills Beach is located on the north coast of Lake Tahoe, and enjoy the direct sun from dawn until afternoon.
Designed for visitors, Recreational Zone Kings Beach has a lot of parking lots, public toilets, picnic tables in a shady area, barbecue, playground, and places that rent kayaks and rowing rows. Fishing is allowed but requires a license.
Kings Beach has many motels, restaurants, informal restaurants, fashion retail stores, and street sellers who care about tourists.
7. Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park
The Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park extends along Lake Tahoe for nearly two miles, with densely wooded forests of aspen, fir, pine, and juniper trees. Rich financial Isaiah W. Hellman built the real estate in 1903. Her daughter, Florence Hellman Ehrman, inherited a farm.
Surrounded by 2000 acres of forests in Sugar Pine Point Park, Mansion Hellman-Ehrman has excellent views of Lake Tahoe. The casual but elegantly rustic manor was designed as a holiday home and was equipped with the most modern amenities. The rooms are fitted with Redwood panels, and the rooms are decorated with knife carpets.
Mansion Hellman-Ehrman is open to the public for trips from the day of the fall to the end of September. Gardens (open all year round, free of charge) include a floral garden with a point of view, often used as a wedding place. Near the court, there is a nature center with exciting exhibits on birds, the ecology of lakes, flowers, trees, and other environmental issues.
In summer, guests come to Ed Z’berg State Park Sugar Sugar Pine Point to visit the extensive park trails and swim or sunbathe on a small beach next to the lake. Fishing in the park stream is allowed from mid-July to mid-September.
In winter, skiers throughout the country are delighted with a 20-kilometer system. The ski season usually extends from December to March.
Ed Z’Berg Sugar Pine Point Park has campsites, picnic areas, and barbecue areas. Facilities are available for use throughout the year (though only a limited number of grounds are open in winter). In winter, it is recommended to verify climatic conditions in advance.
8. D.L. Bliss State Park
Duane L. Bliss was a wooden baron who made a fortune in Banca, Tala, and Rząze at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. In 1929, a family of blessings handed over 744 Acres of private property to the California State Park System.
Currently, visitors can absorb the beauty of this public park, with attractive picnic places, pleasant areas on the lake, and beautiful sandy beaches. Beaches are isolated because they are hidden in densely forested groves and are available through a steep two-bit walk.
Lester Beach of Park and Calawee belong to the most beautiful beaches of Tahoe. Swimmers enjoy crystalline waters; Delight in tanning when sunbathing under warm summer rays; And water sports enthusiasts enjoy excellent conditions for fishing, canoeing, canoe, and rowing.
Visitors also come to D.L. Bliss State Park for hiking, especially the Rubicon trail, which offers sensational views of Lake Tahoe. This 4.5-military path leads to the Emerald Bay state park; a two-room extension trail passes the Vikingsholm Castle.
Other trips include a trace of a lighthouse that leads to a historic lighthouse, and a rock swing path, with a 130 tone granite “Rocking,” which is based on a narrow stone base.
Summer D.L. Campground Bliss State Park has 150 campsites with bathrooms and showers with hot water. This family-run camping is very popular, and reservations are recommended. The camp is open from May to September.
9. Sand Harbor State Park
In North Lake Tahoe on the Nevada side, Sand Harbor State Park offers miles of sandy beaches and hidden coves and pine forests with shadows. The majestic scenario provides an impressive backdrop for summer outdoor activities.
The 55-acre park offers opportunities for swimming, diving, and kayak in the translucent waters of Lake Tahoe. Lifeguards are of service from Memorial Day until Labor Day. Navigation enthusiasts, kayak, and navigation appreciate the docks at the launch of the ship.
Visitors can take scenic walks along the nature path of the sand point, a brief walk with exceptional views of the lake, and the port of sand to Memorial Point Trail, a half-mile trail with access to isolated beaches and coves Rockies.
Sand Harbor State Park also has shaded picnic areas under the fragrant Jeffrey Pines. Other amenities include the Sand Harbor Visitor Center and gift shop and an informal restaurant.
Literary rates must schedule attendance at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival (held from mid-July to mid-August). The festival presents a series of performances highlighting some of Shakespeare’s most famous works.
The audience will enjoy the entertaining interpretations in an exquisite outdoor theater located in the middle of elevated pine trees. The serene landscape and the starry night skies are added to the memorable experience.
10. Eagle Rock Hiking Trail
The Eagle Rock hiking trail is a spectacular hiking trail on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, just four miles from Tahoe City.
Eagle Rock is a spectacular volcanic outcrop that rises more than 6,000 feet, sitting several hundred feet above Lake Tahoe. This short and easy hike is about half a mile long and can be completed in 20 minutes. However, it pays off with great views.
Frequently Asked Questions: Best Things to Do at Lake Tahoe
What part of Lake Tahoe is best to visit?
Generally the south side of the lake is the most popular, is more built up and more things to do. The north side of the lake is quieter with small towns and has a more laid back atmosphere. There are casinos in both the north and south side of the lake, but the large ones are at the south shore.
How many days do you need in Lake Tahoe?
How many days to see lake Tahoe/Yosemite? Two full days for each. Otherwise you will have to skip too much. Plus you need a fifth day to drive between them since the drive takes four to six hours, depending upon the time of year, which affects the available routes.
What is the best month to go to Lake Tahoe?
The best times to visit Lake Tahoe are from March to May and from September to November, but the area welcomes visitors throughout the year thanks to the wide variety of attractions and activities.
What is Lake Tahoe known for?
It is known for the clarity of its water and the panorama of surrounding mountains on all sides. The area surrounding the lake is also referred to as Lake Tahoe, or simply Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is a major tourist attraction in both Nevada and California.
Can you swim in Lake Tahoe?
Here’s an oft-asked question: Can you swim in Lake? The answer is yes, especially if cool/cold water is your thing! And there are other places to enjoy Lake Tahoe swimming such as Donner Lake, Fallen Leaf Lake, Spooner Lake and the Truckee River.
What month does it start snowing in Lake Tahoe?
The first snowfall of autumn for South Lake Tahoe arrives as early as September or as late as November. The season’s last snowfall typically happens in June, although about one in four years gets no new snow after May. The resort city is normally free of snow every year during July and August.
Can you drink water straight from Lake Tahoe?
Lake Tahoe is considered one of the clearest and cleanest bodies of water in the world. In fact, several Nevada communities pump drinking water right out of the lake. Because the water quality is so good, these water suppliers do not need to install expensive filtration plants.
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