Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada is the official largest alpine lake on the continent. Straddling the border between the US states of California and Nevada, it is nestled between snow-dusted mountains and surrounded by verdant pine forests, it’s a very popular place to visit. This can make it difficult to decide what to do there. In an effort to assist you in organizing your itinerary, here are the 10 best things to do in Lake Tahoe.
The 10 Best Things To Do In Lake Tahoe
1. Emerald Bay State Park
There are a number of different hiking trails that will take you to the underwater state park and official national natural landmark known as Emerald Bay State Park. Situated on Lake Tahoe’s west shore, this state park is a favorite for its various hiking trails and a well-known jump-off point to explore the popular Vikingsholm mansion which hosts tours in the summer. Additionally, you can go kayaking along Emerald Bay’s pristine shoreline and even head out onto the water for a memorable adventure.
It’s such a serene place. If you enjoy epic, excellent views, check out Emerald Bay State Park Lookout. From there, you will enjoy exceptional views of lovely Lake Tahoe.
It’s also said by some to be the perfect place to begin a hike along the shoreline as well. Enjoy live music? Be sure to visit the Tallac Historic Site located not far from the park.
This group of historic estates is favored for the numerous festivals it hosts. For example, there’s the famous two-day Gatsby Festival, celebrated in August. It comes complete with several other themed events, jazz concerts, and related “Roaring Twenties” parties.
There’s also the Valhalla Estate where the locals hold the Valhalla Art, Music, and Theatre Festival. It is highlighted by cultural events, performances, and shows. If you’re into camping, break camp at the Eagle Point Campground. Just remember to take precautions as black bears “camp” there too!
2. Kings Beach
Kings Beach is nestled on Lake Tahoe’s northern shore. Some travelers include a visit to this beach as a mandatory stop on a bigger road trip between Nevada and California. Anchor yourself here for a few days and explore the assorted eateries and indie boutiques.
Have a picnic or two at any one of the different picnic spots at the Kings Beach State Recreation Area. Up for some watersports? Rent a kayak or paddleboard and hit the lake.
If you need more sun and sand, visit the nigh-iconic Speedboat Beach. Feeling athletic? Take a healthy hike to the popular Historic Stateline Fire Lookout and enjoy the views. The trail is steep in some places but is relatively short and otherwise easy to do.
3. Echo Lake
Less than 25 minutes from Lake Tahoe, you will discover Echo Lake. This popular summer spot is also worth a couple of hours of attention. In addition to the water, there are some noteworthy hiking trails here as well.
Indeed, seasoned hikers say that the Lake Aloha Trail is especially beautiful. Enjoy a bite to eat at the Lower Echo picnic site. It is generally quiet and free of crowds of tourists to boot.
If you’re more of a snow bunny, visit this spot at the same time you book a ski trip to the popular Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort less than five miles away. Don’t forget to get your lift pass ASAP, and if need be, you can rent skis too. It is also good to know that the assorted eateries atop the mountain can be a bit pricey.
4. D.L. Bliss State Park
Not far from Emerald Bay, visiting distinctive D.L. Bliss State Park is reportedly the best place to be if you simply want some peace and quiet. As this goes to press, the area is not well publicized or that built up and veteran visitors say it will make you feel as if you are “a million miles away” from the hubbub of civilization. Do you enjoy camping?
This is a comparatively small campground available with crude firepits and a small shower area as well. If you enjoy water sports consider kayaking on little Lester Beach. You can also hike on the Rubicon Trail and check out the historic Rubicon Point Light. The views are well worth it. Don’t forget to visit cozy Calawee Cove Beach either.
5. The Tahoe Rim Trail
If you’re the athletic type who is always in search of a challenge, then try hiking the Tahoe Rim Trail. This trail is all about exercise, excitement, and sore calves if you’re not in shape! It is a loop trail that is 165 miles long and circles Lake Tahoe.
No worries though as you can always complete the trail in sections if need be. Some travelers just hike the portions they prefer. You can do a group of small day hikes as there are a number of different trailheads available.
If you enjoy stunning panoramic views of majestic mountain tops, serene meadows, and calm lakes, consider hiking through distinctive Desolation Valley and the popular Carson Range. Check the condition of your hiking boots and stock up on sunscreen and all the essentials. Perhaps more importantly, don’t forget about the bears who live here in Lake Tahoe either.
6. The Mt. Tallac Hike
Mighty Mount Tallac is 9,735 feet high. That makes it one of the tallest mountains in the area. This can be a challenging trek for an average hiker due to the elevation and terrain of crushed granite and loose rocks. Still, those in the know say the view from the top makes it all worth it.
Enjoy the views of Cathedral Lake, Fallen Leaf Lake, and Gilmore Lake. From atop the mountain, you will get an epic view of Lake Tahoe too. The views of Granite Lake and Desolation Wilderness are also breathtaking. This hike is not for beginners, so put some miles on your boot soles prior to tackling it.
7. Sand Harbor State Park
Explore 50+ acred Sand Harbor State on Lake Tahoe’s Nevada side. When in Nevada, this is one of the best places to visit in Lake Tahoe. Here you will find fragrant pine forests, hidden coves, and beautiful beaches.
Your visit can be a relaxing day of sightseeing or a fun-filled day of water sports. Go for a dip or rent a kayak. If you like hiking, both the Sand Point Nature Trail and the popular Memorial Point Trail offer adventurers striking views of beaches and coves.
Feeling like a culture vulture? Great! Reserve your tickets for the popular Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. You can enjoy some awesome outdoor performances right there in the park.
8. The Eagle Rock Hiking Trail
Eagle Rock is a well-known volcanic outcrop located a few hundred feet above the heart of Lake Tahoe. It affords travelers terrific views. The Eagle Rock Hiking Trail can be joined on Lake Tahoe’s western shore and is only four miles out of the city.
It is very popular and easily accessible. In less than half an hour you can complete the hike and experience the sweeping views of the lake and surrounding area as well. You should know that the trail can get a bit busy at times. If you wish to avoid too many other hikers, avoid weekends and head out early in the morning.
9. Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park
Whether you are more interested in an outdoor adventure or an indoor tour, you will find it here at the popular but sometimes overlooked Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park. If you’re taking a road trip from busy Tahoe City to the southern shoreline, this is an especially great place to stop. One memorable attraction here is the Hellman-Ehrman Mansion.
This manse was once the haughty home of the affluent family of famous financier Isaias W. Hellman. Tour and explore the interior of the mansion. Notice the dining room’s rich redwood paneling and the genuine Navajo rugs as well.
If you’re a hiker, you may want to visit in the summer. Just remember to start each hike early no matter which of the trails you choose. If you prefer the cooler months, winter is a good time to visit nearby Homewood Mountain Resort. It features some of the Lake Tahoe area’s best ski slopes regardless of your skill level and the views are said to be phenomenal.
10. Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park
You will find this fun-filled adventure park in Tahoe City behind the well-known Granlibakken Resort. The exciting Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park offers visitors quite a different kind of outdoor activity. This is yet another must-see place and yet another way to get some exercise and stretch your legs.
Some of the major highlights here include exciting zip lines, terrific tree-top platforms, and bridges as high as 50 feet. While this is a fun hot spot, veteran visitors can confirm that guests of the park often work out muscle groups that they forgot they had. Get in shape now!