Lake Tahoe’s beautiful, clear water is a perfect place for families and outdoor enthusiasts. It is the second largest alpine lake in the United States sitting in the Sierra Nevada Mountains between California and Nevada. Lake Tahoe in summer is one of the most popular family vacation spots in the US.
With its abundance of outdoor and adventure activities, this is one destination that doesn’t disappoint. Whether you want to swim, kayak, eat great food, or relax at the beach, Lake Tahoe is a great place to be with your whole family.
*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. Please check out our disclosure policy for more details. Thank you for your support!
What to Do in Lake Tahoe in Summer
Considering a summer vacation with family in Lake Tahoe? Here are some great ideas on what to do:
1. Visit Emerald Bay State Park
One of the best things tourists love to do in Lake Tahoe is visit Emerald Bay. The bay is actually the most photographed spot in the area. This stunning park offers many amenities and outdoor activities. While you are here, you and your family can make a quick stop at the Eagle Falls Trailhead. Here you can explore the area or hike at Desolation Wilderness.
You can also visit Emerald Bay Beach, where you will find crystal blue waters with nearby shade and picnic tables. Emerald Beach is also perfect for water activities like swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding. There are places to rent the equipment you need to have fun in the water.
Another major stop at Emerald Bay State Park is Vikingsholm Castle, a Scandinavian-inspired home built in 1928. According to history, about 200 craftsmen worked on the home’s interior, and it’s open for tours from Memorial Day Weekend till September 30.
2. Tahoe Treetop Adventure Parks
Tahoe Treetop Adventure Parks are a great place for those looking for an exhilarating adventure. This adventure park sits on the north shore of Lake Tahoe and offers about 97 platforms, 27 zip lines, and 10 rope courses across Tahoe’s trees. The courses have varying difficulty levels and are suitable for kids between the age of 6 and above.
Kids can climb, jump, swing, and zipline through Tahoe’s pine forests on these exhilarating courses. Parents are welcome to join in the fun! Treetop Adventure is located in Tahoe City, Olympic Valley, and Tahoe Vista.
3. Scenic Paddle Boating at MS Dixie II
The M.S. Dixie II is a paddle boat that departs from Zephyr Cove and takes passengers on a scenic cruise while treating them to live music and delicious meals. This 500-passenger vessel offers day and dinner cruises. It is easily one of the best ways to enjoy a Lake Tahoe summer vacation with family.
4. Check Out KidZone Museum
Traveling with young children? There is no better way to spend the day than taking them to the KidZone Museum in Truckee. This lovely museum offers indoor and outdoor exhibits/activities designed to help kids learn while having fun.
Some fun activity centers for kids include the art studio, where they can try their hand at arts and crafts; the Jungle Gym play structure for physical fun; Exploration Station, where children can carry out science experiments and the Baby Zone for infants.
5. Heavenly Village
Heavenly is one of the best winter ski resorts in the Tahoe area, but it also offers great activities for the summer months. You can take a gondola ride with your family to get views of the mountains, hike through the pristine trails, and enjoy a meal at their restaurants.
The Heavenly Gondola offers one of the best views of Lake Tahoe and is one of the most popular activities in this area.
6. D.L. Bliss State Park
D.L. Bliss State Park features the famous Rubicon Trail, which connects the park with Emerald Bay.
A great way to spend your day at Lake Tahoe is to start hiking from D.L Bliss and end at Emerald Bay, where you can take a swim and relax at the beach. D.L. Bliss also offers other hiking trails, including the Lighthouse Trail and Balancing Rock Trail.
In addition to the trails, you can also enjoy swimming at the beach and taking in stunning views.
7. Visit The Beaches
There are many family-friendly beaches in Lake Tahoe, and some of the most popular ones include:
- Sand Harbor
- King’s Beach
- Meek’s Bay
These beaches feature small waves, clear water, soft sand, and a mild current perfect for small children. There are many things you can do at these beaches; you can enjoy a picnic, let the kids enjoy the playground, take photographs, and swim in the clear water. You can also rent kayaks, paddleboards, and jet skis to get out on the water and see the lake from a different perspective.
8. Tallac Historic Site
Located on the west side of South Lake Tahoe, this area offers many historic properties. Some of these include the Baldwin Estate, built in 1921, the Tallac Resort, The Pope Estate, built in 1894, and the Heller Estate, also known as the Vahalla.
At this historic site, you can tour the properties, explore the gardens, see blacksmiths at work, and visit the museum for a glimpse into Lake Tahoe’s past.
9. Taylor Creek Visitor Center
At Taylor Creek Visitor Center, you and your family can hike, learn more about the area, view underwater life, and take in the views of the nearby Mt. Tallac.
Taylor Creek is just a few miles out of South Lake Tahoe and offers nature interpretive trails perfect for adults and young children. While you are there, you can listen to the educational talk at the amphitheater and hike the trails.
The best part for kids is looking through the Stream Profile Window to view the aquatic life like the Kokanee salmon, frogs, slugs, and crayfish. Taylor Creek is also a perfect place to load up information and maps about the area.
10. Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival
Attending the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival in the summer is a must. It celebrates the timeless and beautiful works of William Shakespeare in Sand Harbor. This literary festival features special performances from artists in and around the Lake Tahoe area.
11. Palisades Tahoe
Some fun activities you can enjoy at Palisades Tahoe include hiking, biking, and shopping. One of the most recommended activities here is experiencing the Sierra Nevada Mountains from above. So, while you are here, take the Base to Base aerial tram ride, which connects the Village at Palisades Tahoe to the Alpine Lodge. The ride takes about 15 minutes one way.
You can also tour the Olympic Museum documenting the 1960 winter Olympics in the area. Also, you and your family will enjoy the amenities at High Camp, including the pool, hot tub, play structure, miniature golf, roller skating, and lawn area with games. Adventurous families can tackle the area’s only Via Ferrata and there’s a zipline and ropes course.
Those looking to relax can spend some time shopping at The Village at Palisades Tahoe, where you can browse for souvenirs, take in the fresh air, and enjoy great food.
12. Donner Memorial State Park
Donner Memorial offers summer opportunities like camping, boating, picnicking, fishing, water skiing, and other activities you can enjoy with your loved ones. There are hiking trails for all ages and when you’re finished, stop at the Donner Museum and explore the visitor’s center featuring exhibits that tell the history of the region.
Donner Memorial State Park features about 154 campsites that accommodate RVs, tents, and trailers, and it is one of the best spots to enjoy camping with your family members.
13. Take a sunset cruise on the lake
What better way than to enjoy the beauty of Lake Tahoe than on a sunset cruise? You and your crew can enjoy drinks and dinner or simply a boat ride, as many companies offer excursions. This is our favorite sunset cruise on Lake Tahoe.
14. Truckee River Rafting
Dare we say a trip to Lake Tahoe isn’t complete without rafting on the Truckee River? There are two major river rafting companies in Tahoe City: Truckee River Rafting and Truckee River Raft Company.
You can book a reservation with either of them to float down the Truckee River for about 2-3 hours. During this time you’ll enjoy the scenic meadows, the mountain views, and small rapids.
Thanks to the river’s tranquil waters, this rafting trip is suitable for every member of the family, including little children and pets. The rafting season typically runs from June to September, and it’s best to make reservations before you arrive.
15. Lake Tahoe Golf Courses
One of the best things you can do in the summer months is playing golf at one of Lake Tahoe’s beautiful courses. There are many options for families who want to hit the links. Some of these include the courses of Edgewood, Northstar Golf Course, Old Brockway, Coyote Moon, and Incline Village.
For those who want a different version of the game, check out North Tahoe Regional Park, which features 18 holes of Disc Golf and Kings Beach or Magic Carpet for miniature golf.
Traveling with family can be tricky because you must consider activities the entire family will enjoy. The good news is that Lake Tahoe offers many outdoor activities perfect for every family member. Hopefully, this list of the best things to do in Lake Tahoe will get you excited about visiting this place with your family.