Lake Tahoe is home to a large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and in the summer, it’s most well-known for its beaches. You’ll find Emerald Bay State Park on the southwest shore and Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park on the northeast side. Lake Tahoe is by no means small, and if you are planning a trip here, you may want to put together a few ideas of what to do while you’re there. Here are seven Lake Tahoe summer activities.
The Best Summer Activities in Lake Tahoe
If you want to spend some time outside of the water, consider taking one of Lake Tahoe’s many hiking trails. You’ll have fantastic views of the water and the shoreline from high up above, and if you hike to the top of Mount Tallac, you can get even better views! I highly recommend taking the Tahoe Rim Trail if you are looking for a great trek around Lake Tahoe.
Our favorite kid-friendly hike is the Van Sickle trail! The Van Sickle Connector Trail is five miles total, but you can hike 1.7 miles to a gorgeous waterfall and still have a great workout. This hike will reward you with gorgeous views of South Lake Tahoe! Get there early to grab a parking spot in the lot nearest the entrance to the trail or park at the overflow lot near Bijou street.
One of our favorite places to paddleboard is Emerald Bay. This is a beautiful spot with clear, blue water and great views of Eagle Falls and Fannette Island. It’s a bit of a workout to get there, but it’s worth it for the scenery.
Pope Beach is another popular spot for kayaking and paddleboarding, with a wide, sandy beach and easy access to the water.
Take a Gondola Ride
Heavenly Ski Resort is a great place to be in the winter, but during the summer, you can trade your skis for a gondola ride instead! You’ll be able to take in the fantastic vistas of Lake Tahoe and the wilderness all around you.
They have zip line tours and other activities you can do if you don’t want to take a gondola ride as well. This is one of the best ways to get a good view of the lake!
The gondola ride takes around 12 minutes and the gondolas are equipped with glass floors, which provide a great view of the valley below. Once you reach the top, you can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities like hiking, sightseeing, and wildlife viewing, as well as dining options, with a restaurant and a snack bar.
There’s also an observation deck with a 360-degree panoramic view of the lake, the mountains and the valley.
Swimming & Kayaking
There are over 70 miles of shoreline to discover, making this a great place to go kayaking or swimming! If you are interested in having your own adventure, take a kayak out for a bit. You can kayak to Cave Rock or head to Nevada Beach for some beach kayaking fun as well.
It’s also worth checking out some guided kayak tours, which can take you to some of the more remote and less-visited areas of the lake.
Angora Lakes is the perfect spot to enjoy swimming surrounded by breathtaking alpine scenery. These two small pristine lakes are accessed by a short uphill hike leading you into a wilderness setting with panoramic views. The warmer temperatures make the lakes very swimmable, yet they remain refreshingly cool and clean. Gentle beaches provide easy water access for swimming or wading.
Since the lakes are relatively shallow with no motorized boats allowed, they provide a family-friendly environment for children and those looking for a peaceful swim. After working up an appetite, you can enjoy a picnic on the shore.
For the more adventurous, there is cliff jumping off the rocks into the deeper parts of the upper lake. With stunning surroundings and calm crystal clear waters, an afternoon swimming at Angora Lakes lets you immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Lake Tahoe while escaping the crowds.
Lake Tahoe Shakespeare’s Festival
The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival is an annual event that takes place at Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. The festival features productions of plays by William Shakespeare, as well as other classical and contemporary works. The festival typically runs from July to August and also features live music, pre-show entertainment, and educational programming.
Tickets start at $40 and we recommend wearing layers as it can get cold by the water. The festival usually has booths or food trucks or you can bring your own food and drink!
Visit Vikingsholm Castle
This giant mansion is the perfect site to visit while you are visiting Lake Tahoe. It’s beautiful from the outside, and you can even get a castle tour during the summer months. Vikingsholm Castle is a rare Scandinavian piece and used to be the summer home of Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight.
The castle is located on the shore just feet away from Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe. Vikingsholm is open for tours — and this includes the house, interior courtyard and adjacent buildings. There are some incredibly beautiful waterfalls (don’t miss Eagle Falls) and trails behind the home, so make sure that you visit them too!
If you’ve ever wanted to take a peek at Viking culture without heading to Europe, this is an excellent option if you’re in the area. Parking is $10 and the tour is $10 per adult.
Lake Tahoe has several waterfalls you can visit for a quick swim on a hot summer day. If you’re afraid of heights, you may want to reconsider. Some of the waterfalls have drops of up to 800 feet, so these aren’t tiny waterfalls by any stretch of the imagination.
However, if you are seeking adventure, this can be the perfect way to cool off on a hot day. Lower Eagle Falls has a much smaller drop of only about 60 feet for those who are looking for a small waterfall hop into the water.
Lake Tahoe has several farmer’s markets but our favorite is the Tahoe City Farmers Market. This market takes place on Thursdays from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, from late June to mid-September. It features a variety of vendors selling fresh produce, baked goods, honey, jams, and crafts.
We also love the Meyers Farmer’s Market which happens from 3 pm – 7:30 pm at Tahoe Paradise Park which usually has lots of different food options in the form of booths and trucks.
Whether you’re looking for a warm summer getaway or a fun way to get outdoors in near the West Coast, you can go wrong with any of these activities while you’re visiting Lake Tahoe.