Bucket List Summer Activities to do in Lake Tahoe!

Planning a summer trip to Lake Tahoe can be overwhelming. Once you get a hotel, secure transportation you may be wondering what activities you can do. There are so many activities in the area, we wanted to break it down to the best things we think that visitors should participate in. Here are the best bucket list summer activities in Lake Tahoe to try out on your next vacation!

summer activities Lake Tahoe photo on heavenly gondola overlooking a road

Water Adventures

When it comes to Lake Tahoe in the summer, water adventures are a must-do to make the most of your visit. Here are the best summer water activities to try out in Lake Tahoe.

Kayaking and Paddleboarding

Fans of the water will love exploring Lake Tahoe on a kayak or paddleboard. Kayaking and paddleboarding are popular water activities that allow you to explore the hidden gems of the lake at your own pace.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, Lake Tahoe offers a variety of routes and hidden coves worth exploring. We love visiting the peaceful Emerald Bay and the scenic Sand Harbor to paddleboard during the summer.

Finding kayak and paddleboard rentals around Lake Tahoe is easy thanks to numerous rental companies scattered across the shore. Kayak Tahoe boasts multiple locations, including Pope Beach, Nevada Beach, and even one at Vikingsholm. They offer a wide selection of kayaks and paddleboards along with essential gear and instruction.

For paddleboarders specifically, SUP South Lake Tahoe on El Dorado Beach is a great choice with various board options for different experience levels and rental durations.

Jet Skiing and Boating

For those seeking a more thrilling experience, jet skiing on Lake Tahoe provides an adrenaline rush like no other.

Renting a jet ski for some thrilling fun on Lake Tahoe is possible at several locations. Action Water Sports at Lakeside Marina, Tahoe Sports on the South Shore, and Zephyr Cove Marina on the Nevada side all offer jet ski rentals. These companies typically include life jackets and basic instructions in their rentals.

If you prefer a more laid-back adventure, consider renting a boat and cruising along the shorelines of Lake Tahoe. Relax in the sun, go fishing, or have a picnic on board while enjoying the tranquility of the water. Just be sure to check for any safety regulations and licensing requirements before embarking on your boating or jet skiing adventure.

summer activities Lake Tahoe photo of lake tahoe blue water from the edge of a boat
We rented a boat to tour the lake!

Hiking and Mountain Biking

When you visit Lake Tahoe during the summer, there’s no shortage of stunning outdoor activities to enjoy. Hiking and mountain biking are two popular options that promise breathtaking views and exhilarating experiences.

Popular Hiking Trails

Exploring the hiking trails around Lake Tahoe is one of the best ways to experience Lake Tahoe. One must-visit trail is the Tahoe Rim Trail, offering a diverse range of landscapes from lush forests to alpine meadows. The trail’s moderate difficulty level makes it accessible to hikers of various skill levels. Along the way, keep an eye out for panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains that will leave you in awe.

Another noteworthy trail is the Eagle Falls Trail, known for its spectacular waterfall views. This moderate trail is perfect for a leisurely hike with family or friends. Don’t forget your camera to capture the beauty of Eagle Falls and Cascade Lake along the way.

summer activities Lake Tahoe photo of man and child hiking on trail above a blue lake
Van Sickle trail

Our favorite trail (especially with kids) is the Van Sickle hiking trail. The path itself is mostly easy to moderate, with well-maintained surfaces and gradual inclines. This translates to less complaining and more fun for young adventurers. Unlike some loop trails, Van Sickle allows you to choose your turnaround point, making the hike adaptable to your children’s endurance and attention spans. Along the way, keep an eye out for stunning views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains.

There’s even a waterfall surprise at roughly the halfway mark of the Van Sickle trail, which is a great way to celebrate getting to the halfway point. While the trail caters well to young hikers, it’s important to remember there might not be specific amenities like playgrounds or water fountains available to pack accordingly.

Mountain Biking Routes

For the adrenaline junkies looking for a thrilling adventure, mountain biking in Lake Tahoe is a must-do activity. The Flume Trail is a legendary route that offers a mix of technical challenges and stunning scenery. There are also two popular bike trails that we think are excellent for Lake Tahoe bikers:

Pope-Baldwin Bike Path: This paved 3.6-mile path is a great option for beginners. It’s mostly flat and winds along the lakeshore from South Lake Tahoe to Baldwin Beach. You’ll enjoy beautiful views of the lake and surrounding mountains along the way. There are also a few places to stop and relax or grab a bite to eat.

Trout Creek Trail: This 1-mile paved trail is another great option for beginners. It’s located near Truckee and follows Trout Creek through the forest. The trail is mostly flat, but there is a slight incline at the end. This is a great option if you’re looking for a shorter ride in a more natural setting.

If you’re not bringing your own bike, don’t worry. There are plenty of bike rental shops around Lake Tahoe where you can grab a top-quality mountain bike for your adventure. Additionally, guided tours are available for those seeking expert knowledge of the trails and the area’s natural history as they ride.


If you’re looking to volley and smash your way to pickleball fun in Lake Tahoe, you have options on both the north and south shores. For public courts, head to Meyers Paradise Park. They offer pickleball court access during open hours, with a call recommended to confirm availability.

summer activities Lake Tahoe photo of pickleball court in Meyers california
Pickleball courts at Paradise Park

North Lake Tahoe boasts the brand new North Tahoe Regional Park Tennis & Pickleball Facility. This state-of-the-art complex features dedicated pickleball courts with lighting, perfect for extending your game into the evening. If you’re seeking a more social scene with fellow pickleball enthusiasts, Incline Village Tennis Center offers drop-in play, lessons, and even tournaments throughout the summer.

Remember, court availability can vary, so it’s always a good idea to call ahead or check online before heading out with your paddle.

Beach Relaxation and Picnics

When you’re looking for the perfect spot to soak up the sun and enjoy a leisurely picnic by the crystal-clear waters of Lake Tahoe, you’re spoiled for choice with the top beaches in the area. Two must-visit beaches for a day of relaxation and picnicking are Sand Harbor and Zephyr Cove Beach.

1. Sand Harbor

Sand Harbor stands out as a gem along the shoreline of Lake Tahoe, known for its picturesque sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters. It’s an ideal spot for sunbathing and swimming. The beach offers excellent facilities, including picnic areas, restrooms, and even a snack bar for your convenience. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also explore the various water activities available, such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and even boat tours to admire the stunning lake views from a different perspective.

2. Zephyr Cove Beach

Zephyr Cove Beach is another popular destination for those seeking a relaxing day by the water. This scenic beach boasts a long stretch of sandy shoreline perfect for beach picnics and leisurely strolls. With facilities like picnic tables, BBQ pits, and restrooms, you can comfortably enjoy a delightful picnic while taking in the panoramic views of Lake Tahoe. For the more active beachgoers, Zephyr Cove Beach offers water activities such as jet skiing, parasailing, and cruises around the lake, providing a mix of relaxation and adventure.

Outdoor Dining and Shopping

Lake Tahoe isn’t just a haven for outdoor adventures; it also boasts a vibrant dining scene and diverse shopping options that cater to every taste and preference. From scenic eateries with lake views to charming local shops offering unique treasures, there’s something for everyone in this picturesque destination.

Local Eateries

Indulge your taste buds at Lake Tahoe’s must-try restaurants that not only serve up delicious local cuisine but also offer breathtaking views of the blue waters. Coldwater Brewery is a top pick for its tasty options and its proximity to the main drag.

For a unique dining experience, check out Hell’s Kitchen Lake Tahoe, where you can enjoy upscale dining in a Lake Tahoe casino. Guests can choose from risotto, beef wellington and toffee pudding in Gordon Ramsay’s iconic restaurant.

Shopping Spots

When it comes to shopping, Lake Tahoe doesn’t disappoint. Explore the charming streets of Downtown Truckee, known for its quaint boutiques and art galleries offering local crafts and souvenirs. For those visiting in the summer, the Truckee Thursday Market is a must-visit, featuring live music, food vendors, and a vibrant atmosphere.

Additionally, art enthusiasts can discover unique pieces at the Heavenly Village Art Walk, a showcase of local talent against the backdrop of the majestic Sierras.

Entertainment and Events

Lake Tahoe in the summer is bursting with exciting events and vibrant entertainment options for visitors of all ages. From outdoor concerts to art shows and theater performances, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this picturesque setting.

Summer Events Calendar

  1. Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival: Experience the magic of live theater against the stunning backdrop of Lake Tahoe at the Glenbrook venue. Check their official site for ticket information.
  2. American Century Championship Celebrity Golf Tournament: Witness top celebrities showcase their golfing skills in Stateline at the American Century Championship Tournament. Don’t miss out on this thrilling event. More details can be found here.
  3. Valhalla Renaissance Faire: Join an entertaining world of knights, jesters, and artisans at the South Lake Tahoe Valhalla Renaissance festival. Get your tickets early for this unique experience.

Farmers Markets: There are several summer farmers markets around Lake Tahoe which is one of the best activities for families! In fact, the summer season is prime time for these vibrant gatherings. Here’s a breakdown of some popular options:

  • Ski Run Farmers Market (South Lake Tahoe): This lively market runs every Friday from June to September, offering fresh produce, local eats, live music, and even a bounce house for the kids!
  • Tahoe City Farmers Market (Tahoe City): Located at Commons Beach with stunning lake views, this market operates Thursdays throughout the summer and fall. Expect to find local farmers selling fresh produce, along with artisan crafts and delicious food options.
  • Meyers Mountain Market (South Lake Tahoe): Wednesdays from June to September, this market offers a more intimate setting at Tahoe Paradise Park. Here you’ll find local vendors with fresh produce and handcrafted goods.

Heavenly Village

At Heavenly Village, scenic gondola ride whisks you up the mountain for breathtaking panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and a mountain coaster, but the fun doesn’t stop there. Thrill-seekers can get their adrenaline pumping with the Epic Discovery offerings. This includes a zip line experience for all ages, a rock climbing wall to test your skills, and even gemstone panning for a unique souvenir. If relaxation is more your style, grab a lounge chair and soak up the sun while enjoying live music or entertainment.

The whole family can enjoy classic summer fun with miniature golf or a game of arcade games. For the younger ones, there’s even a dedicated Discovery Day Camp offering adventures and exploration throughout the great outdoors.

Scenic Drives and Sightseeing

Who doesn’t love a picturesque drive with stunning views to match? Lake Tahoe doesn’t disappoint when it comes to offering scenic routes and attractions that are beautiful.

Notable Scenic Drives

One of the must-see scenic routes is the Emerald Bay State Park Drive. As you navigate this mesmerizing drive, be prepared to witness panoramic views of the azure waters of Lake Tahoe against the backdrop of towering mountains. A stop at Emerald Bay Vista Point is a must, where you can take in the postcard-perfect view of Fannette Island nestled in the middle of the bay. The drive also offers pull-off points for those instagram worthy Tahoe locations.

Another gem is the drive along Lake Tahoe’s eastern shore on Highway 28, where you can catch glimpses of hidden beaches and rocky coves. Keep an eye out for Sand Harbor, known for its crystal-clear waters and scenic beauty, making it a popular spot for picnics and water activities.

Must-See Attractions

When it comes to iconic attractions around Lake Tahoe, Vikingsholm Castle stands out as a unique marvel. This Scandinavian-style castle nestled on the shores of Emerald Bay is a sight to behold. Offering guided tours through its historic halls and lush gardens, visitors can immerse themselves in the history and architecture of this enchanting structure.

For those looking to explore Lake Tahoe from the water, the Tahoe Queen Cruise is an experience not to be missed. Sail across the pristine waters aboard this paddle-wheeler while taking in the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and shoreline. Whether you opt for a daytime cruise or a sunset dinner voyage, the Tahoe Queen offers a memorable way to appreciate the beauty of Lake Tahoe.

We also recommend exploring Lake Tahoe Balloons. Lake Tahoe Balloons offers scenic hot-air balloon flights over the Sierra Nevada mountains surrounding the lake. These sunrise adventures take place in the springtime through fall and provide breathtaking panoramic views of the region. You’ll journey in a wicker basket with a pilot for roughly 45 minutes to an hour, sometimes even enjoying refreshments onboard. Landings typically occur on a boat specially designed to recover the balloon, making it a truly unique Lake Tahoe experience.

So, there you have it – Lake Tahoe in the summer is an action-packed wonderland just waiting for you to dive in!

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