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25 Incredible Things to do in Lake Tahoe in Summer

Lake Tahoe kayaking

Lake Tahoe is an alpine lake located over 6000ft above the sea in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. With crystal clear beaches, breathtaking hikes and views of snowcapped mountains, Lake Tahoe almost sounds too good to be true. I believe Lake Tahoe is one of those bucket list places that you should visit at least once in a lifetime. 

Sand Harbor beach

Sand Harbor beach

Lake Tahoe views

Lake Tahoe views

Woman swimming Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe beaches

Its unique geography makes Lake Tahoe a perfect destination in winter or summer. I am not a skier but love water sports so summer is my favorite time of the year to visit Tahoe area. Living less than 4hrs away, we make it a point to visit Lake Tahoe as often as we can. Thanks to our numerous trips, we picked up a few favorite things to do and have listed 25 amazing things to do in Lake Tahoe in summer. Even if you had already visited Lake Tahoe, I am sure you will find something new in this list!

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25 Things to do in Lake Tahoe in Summer

Drive around Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe drive

Lake Tahoe drive

Lake Tahoe has 72 miles of shoreline. While it may not seem like a lot, you could easily spend a weekend driving around the lake and admiring the jaw dropping vista points and beaches. If you cannot drive all around the lake, I suggest choosing either north or south from wherever you are staying. Save the other side for your next trip!

TIP: The drive can be windy with single lane roads and lots of traffic. Start early to avoid traffic especially near South Lake Tahoe and Emerald Bay.

Jet Ski, Kayaking & Water Sports

Kayaking Lake Tahoe

Kayaking Lake Tahoe

Kayaking Sand Harbor Beach

Kayaking Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is a water sport lover’s paradise in the summer. There are so many water activities to choose from like parasailing, boating, kayaking, paddle boarding and jet skiing. Many companies along the shore and beaches offer rentals. Check out Tahoe Sports, Tahoe jet boats, Tahoe Blue Adventures to name a few.

Emerald Bay 

Emerald Bay view

Emerald Bay view

This is probably the most popular spot in Lake Tahoe and for a good reason. Make this your first stop and get there early to avoid crowds! The views of Emerald Bay and Fannette Island from the parking lot are breathtaking. 

While you are at Emerald Bay, you have got to go on a few hikes to fully appreciate the beauty of the bay. If you want even better views of Emerald Bay and catch some waterfalls, check out the hikes below.

Eagle Falls hike 

Sunrise over Emerald Bay

Sunrise over Emerald Bay

This is one of the busiest trails in Emerald Bay. The round trip to Eagle falls is less than 2 miles and that makes it a great family hike. This is an awesome hike to watch the sunrise as well!

Cascade falls hike

Cascade falls, Emerald Bay

Cascade falls, Emerald Bay

This is another heavily trafficked trail that has great views of Emerald Bay and Cascade falls. The hike is less than 1.5miles round trip and is dog friendly. Yay! 

Bayview trail

Emerald Bay

Emerald Bay

I believe that all spectacular things in life are not free. All good things need some effort and that makes the result so much more gratifying. One such trail that requires effort but so worth is the Bayview trail. Bayview trail is approximately 10 miles round trip and goes higher with even more jaw dropping views of Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe. Hike this trail if you have enough time and are an experienced hiker.

Vikingsholm

A 1.7 mile hike down towards the bay shore leads you to one of the most beautiful Scandinavian homes in the US – Vikingsholm. It was built as a summer home in early 1900s. Later in 1953, the estate was sold to the State of California. Take a tour (opearted from June – September) of the home if you are interesting in learning about its history and architecture.

Boat/Yacht ride to Emerald Bay

Another way to get around Emerald Bay and around the lake is renting a boat or taking a yacht tour. There are many companies that offer boat rentals and scenic yacht tours. Check out Serenity Yacht or Tahoe Sports.

D.L. Bliss State Park

Commons beach, Tahoe City

A few minutes drive to the north of Emerald Bay is D.L. Bliss State Park. With camping, beach access and hiking trails, you could easily spend a day at this park or have a nice picnic after hiking and swimming.

Rubicon Trail

Rubicon trail is a 22 mile trail with several entrance points. One of those entrance points is from D.L. Bliss State Park. If you visit the park, I highly recommend this hike for beautiful views of the lake and the bay.

Heavenly village and Gondola

Heavenly village is a fun shopping village to visit in South Lake Tahoe. In summer months, the village is bustling with outdoor patio restaurants and people performing live music. It is a great place to grab a drink or a bite after a long summer day. While you are there, take the 2.4 mile Gondola ride for panoramic views of Lake Tahoe.

Tahoe City and Commons Beach

Commons beach Tahoe City

Commons beach Tahoe City

I love Tahoe City because it is not as crowded as South Lake Tahoe and is close to many attractions including Squaw Valley and Truckee river that are listed below. It is quite peaceful in the morning and you can have as much fun as in South Lake Tahoe minus the people and traffic. Commons beach is a great beach to relax and enjoy water activities. There are also some great restaurants in the town.

Aerial Tram at Squaw Valley

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

Squaw Valley aerial tram

Squaw Valley aerial tram

Squaw Valley in the summer? Why, yes! We stayed here once and loved the peace and quiet of the valley, alpine meadows, beautiful biking trails and the aerial tram with gorgeous views! The only downside is that only a few restaurants operate during the summer. However, Tahoe City is only a 10min drive from the valley.

Truckee River Bike Trail

Woman at Truckee river, Tahoe area

Truckee river bike trail

Woman biking Truckee river bike trail

Truckee river bike trail

Rent a bike at Squaw Valley and follow the bike trail to Truckee river. It is one of the most beautiful trails to bike with cool river breeze and trees providing much needed shade. 

Truckee River Tubing/Rafting

Truckee River

Truckee River

Truckee river is a hidden gem in Lake Tahoe area that not many people visit. It is a great place to relax while tubing or have thrilling adventures like rafting. Truckee River Rafting Co. offers both.

Jake’s On The Lake

Jake's on the lake

Jake’s on the lake

Tacos at Jakes on the lake

Tacos at Jakes on the lake

What a fun restaurant this is! We had so much fun dining at Jake’s while watching paddle boarder’s and boats sail by. The food here is pretty good too and is such a fun place to eat for lunch or dinner. 

Hurricane Bay Beach

Hurricane Bay Beach

Hurricane Bay Beach

There was barely anyone around every time we had visited the beach. And I have no idea why because this is a great beach to relax and listen to the sound of the waves. If you want stillness and peace, visit this beach and spend a few hours there.

Kings Beach

Kings Beach pier

Kings Beach pier

Kings Beach pier

Kings Beach pier

Kings Beach to the north of Tahoe City is another fun town with old shops, beaches, pier and water activities. If you drive to the north side of the lake, stop by Kings Beach and the pier.

Round Hill Pines Beach Resort

Round Hill Pines Beach Resort

Round Hill Pines Beach Resort

If you are a resort person and like to spend the day at one place instead of driving around, choose Round Hill Pines Beach Resort. They offer boat rentals, water sports, beach activities and also have restaurants at the beach. It is also a great place to end the day with beautiful sunset.

Zephyr Cove & Nevada beach

Nevada beach

Nevada beach

Zephyr Cove sunset, Lake Tahoe

Zephyr Cove sunset, Lake Tahoe

Zephyr Cove and Nevada beach are both great beaches to enjoy water sports and relax on the south side of Lake Tahoe. These beaches are not as crowded as the South Lake Tahoe ones and are ideal to watch sunset.

Cave Rock State Park

Sunset at Cave Rock Lake Tahoe

Sunset at Cave Rock Lake Tahoe

View from Cave Rock, Lake Tahoe

View from Cave Rock, Lake Tahoe

cave rock sunset view lake tahoe

Sunset at Cave Rock Lake Tahoe

I cannot think of a better spot than Cave Rock to watch the sunset in Lake Tahoe. Check out my blog post about this short but most beautiful hike with THE best sunset in Lake Tahoe.

The Bistro at Edgewood Resort

The Bistro, Edgewood Resort

The Bistro, Edgewood Resort

The Bistro, Edgewood Resort

The Bistro, Edgewood Resort

This is yet another beautiful resort with lots of activities including golf. If you cannot stay here, I suggest dining at The Bistro and enjoy the views of the Lake.

Sand Harbor Beach

Woman at Sand Harbor beach

Lake Tahoe

Sand Harbor beach, Nevada

Sand Harbor beach, Nevada

Kayaking Sand Harbor Beach

Kayaking Lake Tahoe

Sand Harbor beach is on the east shore and is a MUST visit for its blue green water and beautiful landscapes. Is a bit of a drive if you drive from California or staying on the south/west side but so worth it. You could easily spend a day at the beach kayaking, paddle boarding or beach gazing.

TIP: While the parking lot is pretty big, it can get full pretty quick in the summer. Go as early as possible (the park opens at 8am), find a good spot on the beach and don’t leave. 🙂

Chimney Beach

Chimney beach

Chimney beach

Chimney beach is a hidden gem on the east shore of the lake approx. 2 miles south of Sand Harbor beach. Note that the hike to the beach is pretty challenging and takes an effort but the turquoise waters make it an unforgettable experience!

Bonsai Rock

Bonsai Rock Lake Tahoe

Bonsai Rock Lake Tahoe

If you are looking for another perfect place to watch sunset, this is it! It is just a rock with a few trees growing out of it but there is something magical about it. Use these coordinates for the exact location of the rock and hike down to see the rock up close!

Lake Tahoe is a beautiful lake to visit and one could easily spend weeks exploring the area. This list should be more than enough for you to spend a week there! Through this post, I hope you got picked up a few things to do in Lake Tahoe. Have you been to Lake Tahoe already? If yes, let me know what your favorite things to do are and if I missed something!

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I am Aswani Kurra. I am an engineer, dreamer and part-time wanderlust, writer and wine lover. I always had an urge to write, create and travel. So I created this space to satisfy my creative itch and combine all my skills to help you plan your Charming Escape.

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33 Comments

  1. Suvarna on June 20, 2020 at 9:33 am

    Wow, your photos are stunning. I would love to see Lake Tahoe.

    • Aswani on June 21, 2020 at 8:14 am

      Thank you Suvarna! 🙂

  2. Katherine on June 20, 2020 at 10:08 am

    We visited Tahoe for a day on a road trip last year and I’ve wanted to get back there ever since. This is an awesome list of things to do that I’ll be saving for when we can finally get back there. I forgot how clear and beautiful the water is, your photos are gorgeous!

    • Aswani on June 21, 2020 at 8:14 am

      Isn’t it a gorgeous place! Honestly, even a weekend trip is short. 🙂

  3. Taylor on June 20, 2020 at 10:12 am

    Wow! This is an amazing guide Aswani! I am actually planning on going there at the end of next month, so I’ll totally be keeping this article handy. Also your photos are so beautiful. 🙂

    • Aswani on June 21, 2020 at 8:14 am

      Oh that’s great, Taylor! You will enjoy it so much!

  4. molly on June 20, 2020 at 10:43 am

    Great Guide! so comprehensive and easy to follow. Thank you!

    • Aswani on June 21, 2020 at 8:13 am

      Thanks Molly! 🙂

  5. EarthToKatriona on June 20, 2020 at 11:01 am

    oh my gosh, Lake Tahoe looks so incredible! Thank you for sharing such a great guide – on my bucket list now for sure 🙂

    • Aswani on June 21, 2020 at 8:13 am

      Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.

  6. Alex on June 20, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    Brilliant guide and great photos! Have pinned for later x

    • Aswani on June 21, 2020 at 8:13 am

      Thank you so much Alex. 🙂

  7. Holidays from Hels on June 20, 2020 at 5:42 pm

    I restructured my whole US road trip itinerary for this year when I saw a picture of Lake Tahoe. The water is just incredible! Sadly my flights from the UK have just been cancelled but I am hoping to rebook for next summer and Emerald lake will be first on my list. Some kind of boating will definitely be in order too.

    • Aswani on June 21, 2020 at 8:13 am

      Wow! Definitely a wise decision. You will love absolutely enjoy the lake! 🙂

  8. Shelley on June 20, 2020 at 11:14 pm

    WOW! How beautiful is Tahoe in the summer?! I’ve only visited in the winter to go snowboarding, but I see I have to return in the summer. Saving this blog for later…. thanks so much.

    • Aswani on June 21, 2020 at 8:12 am

      I love it in Summer so much! Thank you so much. 🙂

  9. Emma on June 21, 2020 at 1:39 am

    I’ve heard great things about Lake Tahoe but haven’t had the chance to go myself. It certainly looks beautiful, I could quite happily spend some time there to get away from the city

    • Aswani on June 21, 2020 at 2:17 am

      So many fun things to do in Lake Tahoe and the lake is so peaceful to getaway! Thank you Emma! 🙂

  10. Mohana and Aninda on June 21, 2020 at 1:57 am

    Lake Tahoe looks stunning! We visited in the winter and it was so quiet. And I look the woods and the entire drive…it’s stunning! Would love to visit in the summer.

    • Aswani on June 21, 2020 at 2:17 am

      Thank you Mohana! While I love visiting in winter, summer is just stunning! You will love it 🙂

    • Aswani on June 21, 2020 at 8:12 am

      Summer is amazing and an awesome time to visit! 🙂

    • Debjani Lahiri on June 21, 2020 at 9:38 am

      Lake Tahoe looks like a dream in a dream and your pictures definitely does more wonders to it no doubt .. cascade falls looks definitely adventurous .. Someday i wish to visit here soon

      • Aswani on June 25, 2020 at 12:19 am

        Thank you so much! It is definitely an amazing place to visit! 🙂

  11. Kim on June 21, 2020 at 3:33 am

    This looks so dreamy! O’d love to visit, great tips!

    • Aswani on June 21, 2020 at 8:11 am

      It is a beautiful place. 🙂

  12. Josy A on June 21, 2020 at 7:16 am

    Goooorgeous! I would love to do al of those hikes and see all the waterfalls.

    p.s. Hehehe a blogging friend visited me and gave me an I ❤️ Lake Tahoe coaster…but I have never been there, so I always feel a bit fake having it. Now I have seen how beautiful it is, I am sure I really would love to visit. 😀

    • Aswani on June 21, 2020 at 8:11 am

      haha. That’s funny. Yes, you should visit to make it a reality! 🙂

  13. Travelling Tam on June 21, 2020 at 7:51 am

    Wooww this is the epitome of summer! Love it! The water and scenery is just so beautiful and you’ve captured it wonderfully in your photos! I really want to visit!

    • Aswani on June 21, 2020 at 8:10 am

      Thank you so much 🙂

  14. Arielle Kurtze on June 22, 2020 at 1:57 am

    What a great list of things to do in Lake Tahoe! Such a beautiful area. Can’t wait to go back and we’ll definitely use your list! Thanks for sharing.

    • Aswani on June 25, 2020 at 12:20 am

      Thanks a lot Arielle! I hope you do! 🙂

  15. Steph on June 22, 2020 at 8:49 pm

    Your photos are incredible! They really make me want to visit Lake Tahoe and to do all the things you listed!

    • Aswani on June 25, 2020 at 12:20 am

      Thanks a lot Steph! Glad you enjoyed the post! 🙂

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