It’s a shame if you haven’t been to Lake Tahoe and its neighboring destinations at least ten times every year. With hundreds of water recreation activities and the obvious mountain thrill, Lake Tahoe is probably the most incredible adventure you will take off to.
Lake Tahoe is a paradise on earth with rugged mountains, pine forests, steep valleys, underwater mysteries, snow-covered peaks, wild waterfalls, greenery, and miles and miles of topaz water. In winters, it paints the landscape with contrasting white snow and green trees.
During fall, the mountains reveal hues of golden, brown, yellow, and orange colors.
On the adventurous fact, imagine kayaking a lake of 122,000,000+ acres, snorkeling underwater through the mysterious Emerald Bay heritage, or river-rafting the great Truckee? Lake Tahoe presents you with the most spectacular landscapes and fun activities filled with an adrenaline boost.
Whether it’s hiking Mt. Tallac at an elevation of 9000+ feet or skiing the Diamond Peaks, Lake Tahoe will surprise you with its desolation wilderness.
Situated close to the Sierra Nevada and between California and the Nevada city, Lake Tahoe is one of the most historic water reservoirs on earth. It’s two million years old—we can only imagine the vegetation and wildlife that lies within!
Are you confused as to where to start and what things to do at Lake Tahoe? Well, my two summer and winter trips to the destination introduced me to many great adventures year-round. So, by chance, if you are traveling to California or Nevada, carry your gear toward Lake Tahoe and enjoy an entire week of relaxation and thrill.
Here are my picks for your time there—enjoy the drill!
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Things To Do In Lake Tahoe In The Fall
Witnessing Lake Tahoe’s fall foliage and autumn colors on foot is something I will never forget. Dried and golden yellow-orange leaves greeted us on roadsides, near the beach shores, and throughout the hiking trail.
I started my day with a morning trail to the cascading falls and visited Emerald Bay, Pope Beach, and Nevada Beach at noon.
The best way to experience fall in Lake Tahoe is through hiking, trailing, and boating. Here’s the list of six unique things to do in Lake Tahoe in September. September is the prime time to witness autumn with the right temperature—the water feels moderate and soothing; it’s not too chilly.
Eagle Lake and Eagle Falls Trail in South Lake Tahoe
Best enjoyed in late September, this Eagle Fall Trail will take you 3.1 km around the forest and toward Eagle Lake. Eagle Falls and lake are probably one of the most accessible trails to hit as a beginner or someone who isn’t fond of elevations. You will only be approaching a height of 450 ft.
The trailhead is located near the parking lot on the west side of C.S. Route 89. From there, start forward to witness small creeks running down. The cascading water feels like heaven on a sunny day.
We started our trail early in the morning to avoid the heat and crowd. Stop by and remove your shoes throughout your journey to feel the running water and cold stones—it’s soothing.
Five minutes into the hike, you will witness the waterfall cascading down at great force (probably the lower waterfalls). The water surge can depend on the weather. The trail includes rock stairs everywhere to facilitate easy paths for families and toddlers.
Right above Eagle Falls, you will come across a rustic bridge that will present you with a majestic panorama of the falls and the surrounding beauty. When the water level is low, you may also come across small ponds filled with clean lake water to swim.
I suggest continuing the trail until you reach Eagle Lake; it shimmers like a diamond in the fall. Plus, dipping and swimming in the water after trailing in the sun for so long feels rewarding and euphoric. We stayed at the lake for hours and only came down early in the evening.
Cascading Waterfalls—Bayview Trail
Another waterfall I visited in South Lake Tahoe was Cascade Waterfalls, running along the Bayview Trail. It’s a short 2.3 km hike, perfect for kids and the elderly. I started my trail from Bayview campground and onward. After climbing miles of rocky elevation, you can finally witness the magnificent 200-foot Cascade Falls.
Beyond the trail, Lake Tahoe’s view from the top was mesmerizing to witness in the sun. The fall season is perfect for trailing waterfalls because the water rush is moderate, and you may also find small ponds everywhere for dipping and swimming.
Hope Valley, Alpine County
Hope Valley is a beauty throughout the year, whether it’s winter or summer. However, visitors especially enjoy this destination in fall, given its wilder autumn mountains.
Hope Valley dances with golden-yellow and orange leaves. Sometimes, the mountains contrast with deep red leaves and green trees as well. Mostly, travelers who are enthusiastic about photography, landscapes, trailing, hiking frequent this locality.
I visited the valley to witness the glowing fall but stayed overnight for camping. Located near the Carson Pass, this valley is untouched by civilization. However, there is still a vintage resort to host your day with general amenities. Wylder Hope Valley Resort offers a restaurant, gift shop, sauna, cottages, and home rentals.
The valley presented us with wild meadows, Crater Lake, and Scotts Lake for fishing and sightseeing.
I camped at an elevation of 7600 feet near Blue Lake Road during my stay in Hope Valley. The night was majestic at the height; the stars portrayed many untold stories at night. The Hope Valley campground offers basic amenities for camping.
You can always visit the destination during winter to enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and sledding.
Tahoe Adventure Company
7010 N. Lake Blvd. // +15309139212
Kayaking is a great experience to endeavor. With so much water around you, you are bound to witness the massive Lake Tahoe on Paddle. While I couldn’t cover the whole lake on kayaks, it indeed gave me hours of water relaxation.
Tahoe Adventure Company, located at the Tahoe Vista, offers multiple water recreation activities, including paddleboarding, SUP paddles, kayaking, sailing, etc. You can either rent equipment or the whole tour with an experienced guide. TAC organizes multiple voyages throughout the year.
My local tour guide took me to many beautiful locations and recited various historical stories.
In the morning, enjoy the vast expanse under the sun floating on kayaks. At night, witness the sunset, moon, star, and their intimate astronomy on paddles. So whether it’s Sand Harbor Beach you want to tour or the Emerald Bay, LTA has multiple packages to offer.
My personal favorite was the “Full Moon Tour” that allowed us to watch the lake at night, glimmering with moonlight and stars. The nights in the water felt so unreal and, at the same time, so ethereal.
If you want to Kayak every destination at the lake, Tahoe Adventure Company organizes two to three day trips for traveling the east, west, and north of the lake.
Profusely, take a break or swim in the water when you are not kayaking or paddling away. September is still a great time to enjoy swimming and occasional snorkeling.
The Great Reno Balloon Race
Imagine 100 hot-air balloons crossing Lake Tahoe early in the morning. It was colorful and festive. That’s what the Reno Balloon Race looks like up in the sky and at the time of the launch.
Every September, Reno in North Sierra holds a fall festival called “The Great Reno Balloon Race”, as hundred hot-air balloons race toward the said destinations. Located 40 minutes away from Lake Tahoe, this festival is held at San Rafael Regional Park in Reno—it looks like a massive colorful carnival from afar.
The crowd is exhilarating and ever-so-exciting. Expect to witness diverse hot-air balloons of multiple colors, shapes, and sizes—it’s like a rainbow of aircraft in the blue sky.
The event starts early in the morning when it’s still dark, so I reached it a little early. I got to the location at around 4 AM.
These balloons navigate 100 feet above the ground and water level. Although the race is to sit and enjoy from a distance, you can still apply as a driver in the air if you have the certification for it.
I will highly suggest visiting Reno to witness the festival up close with stalls and vendors everywhere—the carnival looks beautiful at the location.
Lake Tahoe Balloons
2435 Venice Dr. E. // +15305441221
Want to sit in a hot-air balloon and watch Lake Tahoe, its surrounding mountains, and valleys from above the water? Well, Lake Tahoe Balloons is the only service in the region to provide an unmatched flying experience.
Reaching over an elevation of 10,000 feet, Lake Tahoe Balloons will allow you the panoramic scene of the grand Emerald Bay, Fallen Leaf Lake, Cascade Lake, desolation wilderness, and the collective 360-degree view of Lake Tahoe and its massiveness.
Starting from Tahoe Key Marina, flyers board the balloon at the upper deck of Tahoe Flyer—the only government-approved service to take off and land on a boat.
I arrived a little early to witness the whole process of balloon inflation. The experienced guide will answer every question you have in mind about the location and the balloon you are flying in. Carry binoculars to mesmerize everything up close.
Fun Things To Do In Lake Tahoe In The Summer
Summer is all about floating in and around the water—chilling, relaxing, diving, and allowing Lake Tahoe to regenerate your energy throughout the hot weather. If I could, I would have stayed at Lake Tahoe longer than I did in the summer.
I toured Kings Beach, Nevada Beach, Sand Harbor State Park, Crystal Bay, Secret Cove, and more during the summer! Lake Tahoe is full of surprises wherever you go. Topaz water greets you at every shore, the artistic stones allow you to rest after hours of swimming, and the panorama is always breathtaking.
Our morning started with covering the Emerald Bay Heritage trail. The underwater location was full of historic antiquities, broken boats, and mysterious discoveries, along with the beautiful aquatic wildlife. Here are my top picks of things to do in Lake Tahoe in summer.
Jet Skiing—Tahoe Sports
2435 Venice Dr. // +15305448888
Although slightly expensive, jet skiing will give you an enthralling experience. Ride through Lake Tahoe and cover almost all the destinations at high speed.
Tahoe Sports provide multiple water activities for adventure enthusiasts. I tried their kayaking and super boat tour, jet skiing, and parasailing.
Among them, jet skiing was the scariest of them all. With zero experience, riding the boat at such a high speed on the lake was surprisingly fun! You don’t need to have a boating license to drive. However, experience with land vehicles is a must while jet skiing.
Reaching a speed of over 60mph, I covered miles and miles of Lake Tahoe with wind splashing by and water sprinkling away. Jet skiing was still a chilling ride in summer; the water was unexpectedly cold but comforting.
Apart from jet skiing, I also discovered tubing and wake surfing behind the super boats. Wakesurfing is a closer adventure; you can truly feel the water and waves beneath. Every massive wave brings a new drill and adrenaline surge.
Lake Tahoe is the perfect water reservoir to experiment with new techniques and play if you are a pro surfer.
Tahoe Sports organizes jet skiing at two locations—Tahoe Key Marina and Ski Run Marina. They have three highly-classed rides—Class Y, Class Z Supercharged, and a personalized Emerald Bay Tour.
Marina, 700 N. Lake Blvd. // +15305837245
After viewing the magnificent Panorama of Lake Tahoe on a hot-air balloon, parasailing was the second-best option I took to view Lake Tahoe at the height of 1000 ft.
I felt so small compared to the immense beauty that passed beneath me. Lake Tahoe was majestic with its divine neighborhood. With acres of greenery, mountains, valleys, and water bodies around, it truly felt magical. I realized I could be lost here forever.
Parasailing Tahoe is an affordable company for water recreation activities. Providing parasailing services in two locations, namely King’s Beach and Tahoe City Marina, the parachute will take you 800 feet above sea level. The whole package includes a one-hour boat ride and eight to ten minutes of air-time with the traditional toe-dipping experience.
The organization charged $100/person, which I found remarkably affordable. PARASAILING Tahoe also provides cheaper jet skiing and kayaking rentals at the mentioned destinations.
I began parasailing at around 4 PM to enjoy the view without excessive heat. The organization continues its tour every afternoon from 12:30 PM-4:30 PM.
Emerald Bay Maritime Heritage Underwater Trail
Underwater exploration is genuinely a different world with a complex habitat, no air, water everywhere, aquatic life, etc. I first snorkeled on my St. Petersburg Tour—it was a wild experience.
If you enjoy underwater diving, Emerald Bay’s maritime heritage underwater trail has a hidden treasure for you—historical remnants of sunken boats, barges, and shipwrecks. Every underwater relic is under protection by Nevada’s government.
These shipwrecks and boats date back to the 1900s—probably when water recreation activities initially advanced in Lake Tahoe. Most of these boats were intentionally sunken when they served their useful time.
The government has released four additional sites called the wooden fish boat, passenger launches, barges, and hard chine Skiff; I was lucky enough to visit them all. Each remnant resides at a different altitude.
It’s best to visit the sites with a local. Don’t forget to carry the map, diving equipment, and safety instruments while visiting Emerald Bay Trail.
Emerald Bay Maritime Trail first opened in 2018 and is one of the largest sunken sites in Lake Tahoe. Some of the shipwrecks are at least 100 years old.
D.L. Bliss State Park
D.L. Bliss State Park is a popular location in Lake Tahoe. The park is attached to some of the most incredible trails, including the Balancing-Rock trail, Rubicon trail, Lighthouse trail, and many others.
I visited the park as a rest stop after my lengthy Rubicon trail. It’s located 17 miles south of Tahoe City and north of Emerald Bay.
While you’re there, enjoy swimming and boating. D.L. Bliss State Park also comprises the rubicon point—one of the deepest locations in Lake Tahoe.
There’s a recreation center featuring “touch me” exhibits, wildlife, and water beauties at the destination. Given its popularity, crowds frequent the park to swim, sunbathe, and enjoy picnics throughout the summer. To avoid the masses, I visited D.L. Bliss a little early. After enjoying the shore and water bodies, I took off to the Rubicon trail.
The connecting Rubicon trail is equally picturesque, with gorgeous stops every five minutes. Big rocks and stone stairs greeted me throughout the course. Carry your swimwear to dive in every waterbody you encouter; blue-green topaz water looks terrific in the glistening sun.
Lake Tahoe Boat Cruise
760 US-50 // +18002382463
Traveling with MS Dixie II will offer you breakfast on the water, lunch on the deck, evening starters at sunset, and dinner dance festive underneath the starry night.
I took MS Dixie II on my first day; the journey began at Zephyr Cove Resort and revolved towards Emerald Bay. With a capacity of over 600 passengers, the cruise fills up with energy and beach-party people quickly. Offering warm and cozy sitting areas, MS Dixie presented many scenic views throughout the ride.
We took the sunset cruise to witness the ocean and stars at night on a boat. There’s a unique dance dinner performance that you can participate in to enjoy a Titanic-like feel.
The ride is 2.5 hours long and reaches the scenic Emerald Bay as the final stop. There, you can visit the Vikingsholm Castle and be mesmerized by its stone-carved house.
Mrs. Lora was a fan of Scandinavian architecture and built Vikingsholm castle with a similar aspect in 1929. The court is open for tours every summer and looks majestic inside and out.
It’s the perfect blend between nature and Scandinavian architecture, adorned with multiple flowers, plants, and trees on the outside. Plus, the oceanfront further enhances its beauty. To me, it was like a miniature Hogwarts.
Vikingsholm Castle is considered one of the best Scandinavian architectures in the whole of North America.
Located in North Lake Tahoe, Kings Beach is a wholesome destination to visit. With multiple recreation opportunities, Kings Beach offers sandy shores, blue-heavenly waters, high snow-capped mountains (in winter), numerous trails, kids’ playground, restaurants, street vendors, farmers market, North Tahoe event center, art fairs, etc.
In summers, Kings Beach is considered the warmest lakefront to visit. I experienced tubing, boating, paddleboarding, and swimming in the lake. To enjoy the panorama, find yourself on the parasailing parachute and engulf the high mountain peaks with the majestic lake view underneath.
In winter, take on the multiple hikes and trails that Kings Beach leads to. At Northstar California Ski Resort, I enjoyed skiing with over 100 routes to surf through. I took a chairlift to witness the high mountains and the scenic view of the freezing lake beneath.
While you cannot enter Lake Tahoe in winter, Kings Beach is an excellent location for boating and looking at the sunset.
If you appreciate art, visit the North Tahoe Event Center for art and photograph exhibits throughout the year. Then, wander off to the farmers market and purchase locally produced goods. At night, sit beside the shore near a campfire and enjoy your dinner. Kings Beach is the wholesome hub of Lake Tahoe.
Sand Harbor State Park
Another beautiful beach at the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe is the Sand Harbor State Park. Famous for summer recreation activities, visitors and locals frequent this beach in high attendance during summer. To enjoy Sand Harbor without a crowd, I visited the destination a little early.
Starting my journey from the East shore trail, Incline Village, I took off to the Sand Harbor early in the morning. Nevada on foot is majestic; the mountains and steep valleys are everywhere, the sun-filtered canopy on the top offers a cooling picnic relief to travelers hiking in the sun.
Sand Harbor Beach also offers horse-sleigh riding to travelers in winters.
The two ramps present at the beach launch boats and are perfect for fishing. After the energy-draining day at the lake, take a rest under the canopy of cedar pines—there are multiple great picnic spots beneath.
Sand Harbor hosts the stunning Shakespeare festival with live stage performances, romance, music, and art during summer. It’s a must-visit if you enjoy dramatic, Shakespeare-style performances. A sunset and nightlights adorn the stage at about 4:30 PM.
Adventurous Things To Do In Lake Tahoe In The Winter
Sweet, cold winter at Lake Tahoe is euphoric to behold. Whether it’s the rock formation in the lake, the sandy beaches, or the high mountain trees, snow covers every beauty at the destination.
Lake Tahoe, albeit cold, was surrendering. I took various rides to engulf the neighborhood; the frozen islands and lakes served picturesque memories, the trails felt exhilarating, and skiing felt liberating.
I started my journey with a horse sleigh to witness Lake Tahoe’s winter beauty. Later, I got on the chairlift and enjoyed acres of the sacred landscape covered in snow, nature, trees, and beauty.
Upon reaching some high peaks of the North Californiaand Squaw Valley Resort, I enjoyed my beginner’s skiing skills at the pro peaks; Lake Tahoe is full of lofty heights, trails, and skiing opportunities.
As the last stop, I hiked the scariest mountain in Lake Tahoe, called Mt. Tallac. The elevation was crazy, but Lake Tahoe’s view from atop told a rewarding and majestic story. A soulful space that I can never forget!
While there are multiple things to do in Lake Tahoe in December, my top picks for the location are here.
Skiing Lake Tahoe—Palisades Tahoe
1960 Squaw Valley Rd. // +18004030206
Formerly known as the Squaw Ski Resort, Palisades Tahoe is the most extensive skiing destination in the whole of Lake Tahoe. Located in Tahoe City, Northwest of Lake Tahoe, the resort offers a wild terrain of 6200 ft. with runs for every skier.
With over 3000 acres of skiing terrain, Palisades is probably one of the most daunting peaks to skate and ski.
However, the resort is renowned for having the world’s best skiers. Palisades Tahoe hosts multiple winter recreation competitions, like skiing, skating, etc. The retreat once hosted the Winter Olympics in 1960.
The mountain offers six peaks for skiers, including 43 chairlifts and 270 trails. Each chairlift will take you to different destinations—the easy, green skiing runs, blue runs, and black diamonds. Among them, the Tramway and Funitel are people’s favorite—the flights go all the way to 9000+feet above sea level, offering a sumptuous panorama of Lake Tahoe.
Other skiing resorts in Lake Tahoe:
- Heavenly Mountain Ski Resort: If you are in South Lake Tahoe, this is one of the most outstanding resorts in SLT.
- Northstar California Ski resort: The resort is situated in Truckee and offers excellent skiing terrain. I went there for the ice rink. The performances held at the facilities are mind-blowing.
- Diamond Peak Ski Resort: Situated in Incline Village, Nevada, this retreat gave us the lake’s beautiful view while skiing.
Lake Tahoe Adventures—Snowmobile Tour
Located in Hope Valley, Lake Tahoe Adventures offers sledding activities throughout the year. In winter, the organization is famous for providing snowmobile tours at an elevation of 8000+ ft.
I first visited Hope Valley in summer to get acquainted with the beautiful autumn in Lake Tahoe. It was just as equally gorgeous in winter.
LTA offers two featured trips in Hope Valley and the Sierra Nevada, covering up to 10,000 ft. elevation and hundreds of terrains. In addition, there are two snowmobile tours—a Summit tour for beginners and an Ultimate tour for pro drivers.
Taking the latter, I sledded across the most challenging routes of Sierra Nevada with the most majestic sceneries of the states.
The journey was two hours long and offered multiple views and skillful opportunities; the whole ride was exhilarating and so much fun! You can also choose a private rental to drive alone if not with family and friends.
Hiking Mt. Tallac
Situated in El Dorado County, Mt. Tallac is probably one of the steepest mountains to climb, especially in winter.
Reaching an elevation of 9000+ feet, Mt Tallac was uphill with little to no wide terrains. I started my journey early in the morning and experienced one of the most heavily snowed mountain panoramas in Lily Lake at Glen Alpine road.
After filling the Desolation Wilderness form, the trail began immediately with scenic views at every corner. I passed multiple cabins nestled amidst the cold, including the Glen Alpine Resort. Frozen lakes, waterfalls, water bodies, and paths greeted Mt. Tallac throughout the journey.
Although nicely marked, it’s still best to carry your navigation equipment to avoid getting lost. After three miles of hiking, I reached Gilmore Lake and took a quick rest to heat my body and prepare myself for the steeper mountain climb.
The latter half was extremely dangerous, but once I reached the tallest peak of Mt. Tallac, it was worth it! Every second of my sore toes and frozen fingers felt worth it.
The view was dangerously magnificent. Mt. Tallac offered the most breathtaking panorama of Sierra Nevada mountains covered in snow. Everywhere I looked around, I could see the earth in its glory, and it was so unreal! If you have solid experience in hiking in winter conditions and with the proper gear, Mt. Tallac should undoubtedly be your go-to destination.
Wrap Up On The Things To Do In Lake Tahoe, CA
If you’ve ever been to Lake Tahoe, you know that there are plenty of things to do in just about every month of the year, regardless of how many times you’ve been.
I saw some untouched beauty from afar that still bestows me with bliss—the Secret Cove Nude Beach, Tallac Historic Site, Hellman-Ehrman Mansion, Gatekeeper’s Museum, and Glen Alpine Falls in summer. Lake Tahoe is hidden heaven that might take years to explore properly.
Until then, you can enjoy these awesome things to do in Lake Tahoe.
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Which of these Lake Tahoe activities do you want to do first? Let us know in the comments section below!
Igor Jovanovski is an aspiring digital nomad, travel blogger and graphic designer who really loves food. He also has a creative side, and he works as a freelance graphic designer in his spare time. He has traveled across Europe quite a few times since he was young and recently started his mission to visit every country in the world! Igor’s favorite thing about traveling is the way he gets to know new people, food, places and cultures.
This exciting experience helps him create his own stories and make memories that will last forever