Lake Tahoe is a beautiful and popular destination known for its stunning natural beauty and outdoor recreational activities. However, in addition to the more traditional activities such as hiking, skiing, and swimming, there are also a variety of unique and exciting activities to try in the area. From adventure sports like ziplining and rock climbing to cultural experiences like visiting historic sites and museums, Lake Tahoe has something for everyone. Read on to explore all the unique things to do around Lake Tahoe.
M.S. Dixie II
Take a scenic boat ride on the M.S. Dixie II, a steamboat that takes a turn around Emerald Bay. The M.S. Dixie II is the largest cruising vessel in South Lake Tahoe and a local favorite. It is a 500-passenger, award-winning paddle-wheeler boat that features “The Sunken Treasures of Lake Tahoe” video and glass bottom viewing. All M.S. Dixie II cruises depart directly from Zephyr Cove Resort & Marina. Taking in the lake during a day cruise is also ideal for a perfect 360-view of the tea house on Fannette Island in Emerald Bay, and a perfect panoramic view of Vikingsholm!
If you’re looking for something a little more unique and a chance to stargaze on the lake and take in the nighttime silhouettes that the lake and surrounding forest have to offer, then the dinner cruise is just the ticket! The full meal option has a good variety for a simple menu as well as providing a variety of drink options.
Note: The food is a bit lacking in our opinion but the views and vibes make up for it!
Wine Tasting with a View
Did you know there are wine-tasting spots in Lake Tahoe? The weather isn’t really conducive to growing grapes but tasting rooms have popped up around the lake! Our favorites are
- Truckee River Winery in Truckee, California
- Uncorked by the Lake in South Lake Tahoe, California
- The Idle Hour in South Lake Tahoe, California
- Tahoe Wine Collective in Tahoe City, California
Explore Heavenly Village
Heavenly Village is a shopping and entertainment complex located in South Lake Tahoe, California. Some popular activities at Heavenly Village include shopping at various stores and boutiques, dining at various restaurants like Base Camp Pizza Co., watching a movie at the Cinemark theater, and visiting the Heavenly Gondola for scenic views of the surrounding area.
Heavenly Village also offers ice skating in the rink (winter) and mini golf in the summer.
Address: 1001 Heavenly Village Way South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Off Road on the Rubicon Trail
The Rubicon Trail is a 22-mile-long off-road trail located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. It's considered one of the most famous and challenging off-road trails in the United States, and is known for its rugged terrain and beautiful scenery.
The trail is open year-round, but the best time to visit is during the summer and fall when the weather is mild. The trail is open to all types of vehicles, including 4x4s, Jeeps, and trucks!
Discover the Historical Donner Memorial State Park
Donner Memorial State Park is a California state park located in Truckee, California, near the site of the ill-fated Donner Party's journey through the Sierra Nevada mountains.
In the park, you can tour the small visitor center and museum, hike, have a picnic, bike around the lake, or swim on West Beach!
Address: 12593 Donner Pass Rd Truckee, CA 96161
Try a Rope Course
Tahoe Treehouse Adventures is one of the most unique things to do around Lake Tahoe that allows participants to explore the forest canopy while suspended on a series of rope bridges, ziplines, and other aerial obstacles. The course is designed to be challenging and fun for participants of all ages and skill levels.
Consider the morning sessions and the late afternoon since they seem less packed which was really nice because everyone is able to take their time on the ropes.
Biking the Truckee River
Biking the Truckee River is a popular activity in the Truckee, California area. The Truckee River is a great place to bike because it has a paved bike path that runs alongside the river and offers beautiful scenery.
The Truckee River bike path runs from Tahoe City to the Nevada border and is approximately 12 miles long. Make sure to dress in layers and wear comfortable shoes. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a water bottle. The bike path is shared with pedestrians, so be sure to ride at a safe speed and be aware of your surroundings.
Try an Escape Room!
There are two escape rooms in South Lake Tahoe, The Puzzle Room and Trapped in Tahoe. This is a great unique way to spend some time with a group of friends or family.
The escape room staff can help give clues if you are stuck and prices range from $20-$40 per person.
Tour the Thunderbird Lodge
Tour the Thunderbird Lodge, an eccentric historic home filled with taxidermy, hidden doors, and other oddities. Sitting on the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe, Thunderbird Lodge is an eccentric mansion that offers a unique glimpse into the extravagant and quirky lifestyle of wealthy businessmen George Whittell Jr.
Built in 1936, the sprawling stone lodge houses an extensive collection of taxidermy animals from Whittell's big game hunting expeditions to Africa and other exotic locales. Giraffes, elephants, zebras, and big cats are just some of the preserved creatures on display.
Touring Thunderbird Lodge today provides a glimpse into a piece of Lake Tahoe history while you admire the impressive Sierra Nevada mountain backdrop through its towering glass windows.
Cost: $75 per person (must be age 6 or older)
Duration: 75-minute lodge and estate tour
Tour Times: 9:30am, 11:00am, 12:30pm, and 2:00pm
Dates: May 30 – October 13, Tuesdays and Fridays
Address: 5000 Highway 28 Incline Village, NV 89450
Hot Air Balloon Over The Lake
Lake Tahoe Hot Air Balloons is a unique and exciting way to experience the beauty of Lake Tahoe from above.
After takeoff, balloons soar upwards to heights of up to 8,000 feet for panoramic views of Emerald Bay, Fannette Island, and the Sierra Nevada mountain range rimming the lake. Since hot air balloons move silently with the wind, this allows for a peaceful bird's-eye view experience. Flights last around 1 hour total.