Lake Tahoe Summer Activities Guide to South and North

Float the Truckee River lake tahoe summer activities

As you enter Lake Tahoe, you are captivated by the miles of shoreline and the Sierra Nevadas. The best way to experience Lake Tahoe Summer Activities is to jump in the car and drive around the lake.  

Its natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and recreational opportunities during the warmer months are unmatched, and for many, while we might not live in Tahoe, it is easily accessible. 

Beach day, or getting some fresh air on one of the numerous hiking trails, there is no shortage of activities at the lake. 

I will be completely honest I am not a Tahoe Person. Is it absolutely beautiful? YES. Absolutely breathtaking? ALSO YES!!! 

And it’s cold, busy, and overrun by tourists in the peak summer and winter seasons, but I will let you in on a little secret. I’ve since fallen in love with Lake Tahoe and want to share some of the best places and summer activities so you can experience Lake Tahoe’s Finest and best things. 


As a top travel destination in Northern California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe attracts visitors year-round, but summer is the ideal time to visit. The weather is pleasant, and the water temperature reaches a refreshing 70 degrees. It’s a great place to be on a really hot day. But what else is in Lake Tahoe besides enjoying the waters of Lake Tahoe?

We will share our top tips and other nearby activities later, but let’s dive into the top activities in Lake Tahoe for both North and South Lake. 


Lake Tahoe Summer Activities

Exploring Both Sides of Lake Tahoe in the Summer

Lake Tahoe is divided into two distinct regions: South Lake Tahoe, Nevada/California side, and North Lake Tahoe, the California side, each offering its own blend of attractions and activities. Exploring both sides of the lake allows you to experience the full spectrum of what Lake Tahoe has to offer and truly gives a completely separate experience in the different locations.

Regardless of which side of the lake you’re exploring, certain activities should not be missed. These include hiking to scenic viewpoints like Emerald Bay, enjoying water sports or paddleboarding at Sand Harbor, and taking in panoramic views from Heavenly Mountain. Additionally, don’t forget to indulge in local happy hour cuisine, attend summer concerts and events, and unwind with a leisurely cruise on the lake.

We will compare the two sides of the lake and the summer activities that both South Lake Tahoe and North Lake Tahoe offer. 


zephyr cove lake tahoe summer activities

Must-Do Activities in South Lake Tahoe During Summer

South Lake Tahoe consists of Nevada and California. It’s a little complicated because this wonderful lake, while mostly on the CA side from a bird’s eye view, is also a part of Nevada.

The Nevada Side consists of Zephyr Cove, Stateline, and Incline Village, although this is more considered “North Lake Tahoe”. The South Side of the Lake has Tahoma, Emerald Bay and Tahoe Keys. 

South Lake Tahoe offers a wide variety of activities to suit every interest, from adrenaline-pumping water sports to serene hikes and rich cultural experiences. Here’s a comprehensive list of top activities to enjoy during the summer months:

Main Spots to Focus on for Summer Activities in South Lake Tahoe

Focus on Stateline, Emerald Bay, and The Tahoe Keys

Heavenly Village for offering gondola rides, The Famous Emerald Bay, and Delicious drinks in the Tahoe Keys. 

Discovering South Lake Tahoe

​The Nevada side of the lake offers great food, lots of bike trails, and multiple Lake Tahoe beachfronts to hang out for the day. Lake Tahoe South Shore offers a vibrant blend of outdoor adventure, entertainment, and relaxation against the backdrop of one of the most stunning alpine landscapes in the world. 

kayaks in lake tahoe summer activities

Water Sports

Jet Skiing

  • Rental Locations: Tahoe Sports, Action Water Sports
  • Best Spots: Zephyr Cove, Emerald Bay
  • Tips: Early morning sessions offer calmer waters and fewer crowds.

Paddle Boarding

  • Rental Locations: South Tahoe Standup Paddle, SUP Tahoe
  • Best Spots: Baldwin Beach, Pope Beach
  • Tips: Take a sunset paddle for stunning views and a peaceful experience.

Kayaking

  • Rental Locations: Clearly Tahoe, Kayak Tahoe, Tahoe Adventure Company
  • Best Spots: Incline Village, Sand Harbor, Meeks Bay
  • Tips: Explore hidden coves and crystal-clear waters; guided tours are available for beginners. Clearly Tahoe, has clear kayaks and LED Glow Night Tours
emerald bay summer activities lake tahoe

Hiking

Eagle Falls Trail

  • Length: 2 miles round trip
  • Highlights: Waterfall, panoramic views of Emerald Bay
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Mount Tallac Trail

  • Length: 10 miles round trip
  • Highlights: Spectacular views of Lake Tahoe and Desolation Wilderness
  • Difficulty: Strenuous

Rubicon Trail

  • Length: 16.4 miles round trip (sections can be done)
  • Highlights: Scenic lakeside trail, wildflowers, historic Vikingsholm Mansion
  • Difficulty: Moderate
beach days lake tahoe summer activities

Beach Days

Sand Harbor

  • Features: Clear turquoise waters, sandy beaches, swimming areas, picnic facilities
  • Activities: Snorkeling, picnicking, paddle boarding

Pope Beach

  • Features: Long sandy shoreline, shaded picnic areas
  • Activities: Swimming, paddle sports, beach volleyball

Zephyr Cove

  • Features: Beachfront bar and grill, rental facilities for water sports
  • Activities: Swimming, jet skiing, parasailing
Vikingsholm Castle lake tahoe summer activities

Outdoor Adventures

Heavenly Mountain Gondola Ride

  • Experience: Panoramic views of Lake Tahoe, hiking trails at the top, observation deck
  • Seasonal Notes: Open during summer with special events and activities

Zip Lining and Ropes Courses

  • Locations: Heavenly Mountain Resort
  • Features: Multiple zip lines, rope bridges, treetop courses
  • Suitability: Family-friendly with various difficulty levels

Mountain Biking

  • Best Trails: Flume Trail and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. No, we aren’t talking Disneyland. 
  • Rental Locations: Over the Edge Tahoe, South Shore Bikes
  • Difficulty: Trails range from beginner to expert
lake tahoe Shakespeare festival summer activities in lake tahoe

Cultural Experiences

Vikingsholm Castle

  • Location: Emerald Bay
  • Highlights: Guided tours Offered 7 days a week, May 25 – September 30, 2024, Scandinavian architecture, beautiful grounds
  • Tips: Accessible via a scenic hike or boat tour

D.L. Bliss State Park

  • Location: d.l. bliss state park
  • Highlights: It is open seasonally from the end of May to the end of September. It has a Natural history collection of plants and animals. 
  • Tips: Currently under construction, so accessibility and availability are limited or prohibited. 

Tallac Historic Site

  • Features: Restored estates from the 1920s, guided tours, cultural events
  • Activities: Historical exhibits, nature walks, arts and crafts workshops

Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival

  • Location: Sand Harbor
  • Experience: Outdoor theater, stunning backdrop of Lake Tahoe, performances of classic Shakespeare plays
  • Season: July to August
  • Tips: Bring your own wine and cheese board. 
hiking trail lake tahoe summer activities

On-Mountain Activities

Heavenly Mountain Resort

  • Activities: Scenic gondola rides, zip lines, mountain coaster, hiking, Tubing, Rock Climb
  • Features: Epic Discovery Adventure Park with ropes courses and climbing walls
  • Tip:  Buy the Heavenly Gondola Bundle ticket to save a little money and add one of the A La Carte activities. 

Northstar California Resort

  • Activities: Hiking, golf, mountain biking, scenic chairlift rides
  • Features: Village with shops, restaurants, and summer events
  • Tips: Children 4 and under are free

Tahoe Blue Event Center

  • Activities: Concerts, Shows, and entertainment
  • Features: Disney Jr. Live, Monster Jam and more

Top 10 + 1 Summer Activities in South Lake Tahoe 

  1. Experience Heavenly Mountain: Ride the gondola for panoramic views, hike scenic trails, or enjoy on-mountain activities like zip-lining and ropes courses or an adrenaline rush as you ride down the hill coaster.
  2. Relax at Zephyr Cove: Spend a day at this popular beach destination, known for its sandy shoreline and opportunities for water sports like jet skiing and parasailing.
  3. Explore Emerald Bay State Park: Take a scenic drive along Highway 89 to view the iconic Emerald Bay, visit Vikingsholm Castle, and hike to Eagle Falls.
  4. Enjoy Heavenly Village: Shop, dine, and take part in live entertainment at this vibrant, pedestrian-friendly area at the base of Heavenly Mountain.
  5. Hit the Casinos: Test your luck at the various casinos located near the state line on the Nevada sides of the lake. These casinos offer gaming, live entertainment, and dining options.
  6. Visit Edgewood Tahoe Resort: Play golf on a championship course, dine at award-winning restaurants, and enjoy lakefront luxury at this upscale resort.
  7. Discover Outdoor Adventures: Go paddle boarding, kayaking, or hiking in the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains, or take a scenic bike ride along the Tahoe East Shore Trail.
  8. Attend Summer Concerts: Catch live music performances at venues like Lakeview Commons or the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena.
  9. Experience the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival: Enjoy Shakespearean plays and other theatrical performances in a stunning outdoor setting at Sand Harbor State Park. Together with your partner or with a group of friends, head to the lake for the perfect place to enjoy some food and drinks with a great performance. 
  10. Eat at a New Restaurant: Wolf by Vanderpump or Hell’s Kitchen are great newer upscale restaurants by famous chefs and Reality TV Queens. Or go really local and stop into Chocolate and Champagne for a sweet treat and delicious bubbles. 
  11. Indulge in Dining and Nightlife: Sample delicious cuisine at local restaurants, unwind with cocktails at lakeside bars and experience the vibrant nightlife of South Lake Tahoe.

Tips for a Perfect Visit

  • Weather: Summer temperatures are generally mild, but mornings and evenings can be cool. Bring layers.
  • Crowds: Weekends and holidays can be busy, but it feels like summer is always busy because everyone at the lake is inside during the winter. Visit popular spots early in the day to avoid crowds.
  • Reservations: For activities like boat rentals, guided tours, and campsites, make reservations well in advance.
  • Safety: Always wear life jackets during water activities and carry plenty of water and sunscreen for hikes.

South Lake Tahoe in summer is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, families, and anyone looking to enjoy the natural beauty and diverse activities the area offers.


Float the truckee river in lake tahoe for summer activities

Must-Do Activities in North Lake Tahoe During Summer

North Lake Tahoe consists mostly of California. Where the lines fall, and the road takes you, most of it is in California. Incline Village is considered North Lake Tahoe, and the California side consists of Truckee, Tahoe City, and Kings Beach. The Nevada portion of North Lake Tahoe is Crystal Bay, Incline Village, and Sand Harbor. 

North Lake Tahoe is known for its serene beauty and a plethora of outdoor activities. Whether you are seeking thrilling adventures or peaceful retreats, this area has something for everyone. Here’s a list of top activities to enjoy during the summer months:

Main Spots to Focus on for Summer Activities in North Lake Tahoe

Focus on Tahoe City, Incline Village, and King Beach. 

Tahoe City offers a relaxing rafting river float, Emerald Bay State Park, Fannette Island, and scenic spots like Sand Harbor. 

Discovering North Lake Tahoe

jet skis summer activities in lake tahoe
Paddle boarding lake tahoe summer activities

Water Sports

Jet Skiing

  • Rental Locations: Action Water Sports of Incline Village, North Tahoe Watersports Inc., Tahoe Aquatic Center
  • Best Spots: Kings Beach, Tahoe City, Incline Village
  • Tips: Opt for early morning rentals for the calmest waters and fewer crowds.

Paddle Boarding

  • Rental Locations: North Tahoe Paddle, Tahoe City Kayak & Paddleboarding, Waterman’s Landing
  • Best Spots: Kings Beach, Carnelian Bay, Commons Beach
  • Tips: Sunrise and sunset paddles offer beautiful views and tranquil conditions. Grab a burrito and coffee from Tahoe Waterman and head out on a paddleboard.

Kayaking

  • Rental Locations: Tahoe City Kayak, Adrift Tahoe
  • Best Spots: Sand Harbor, Donner Lake
  • Tips: Guided tours are available for exploring hidden coves and learning about the local ecology.
hiking trail in tahoe

Hiking

Tahoe Rim Trail

  • Length: Various segments (total 165 miles)
  • Highlights: Panoramic lake views, wildflower meadows, alpine scenery
  • Difficulty: Ranges from easy to strenuous depending on the segment

Eagle Rock Trail

  • Length: 1 mile round trip
  • Highlights: Panoramic views of Lake Tahoe from the summit
  • Difficulty: Easy

Five Lakes Trail

  • Length: 5 miles round trip
  • Highlights: Scenic alpine lakes, forested paths
  • Difficulty: Moderate
beach in tahoe summer activities in lake tahoe

Beach Days

Kings Beach State Recreation Area

  • Features: Sandy beach, picnic tables, playground
  • Activities: Swimming, paddle boarding, beach volleyball

Sand Harbor

  • Features: Crystal clear waters, rocky coves, sandy beaches
  • Activities: Snorkeling, picnicking, paddle sports

Commons Beach

  • Features: Family-friendly beach, grassy areas, playground
  • Activities: Swimming, kayaking, community events like concerts and farmers markets
Float the Truckee River lake tahoe summer activities
floating the river lake tahoe summer activities

Outdoor Adventures

Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park

  • Locations: Tahoe City
  • Features: Zip lines, rope courses, treetop obstacles
  • Suitability: Family-friendly with courses for all skill levels

River Rafting on the Truckee River

  • Rental Locations: Truckee River Rafting Co, Tahoe Whitewater Tours
  • Features: Gentle float trips to more adventurous rapids but still mild for beginners. 
  • Seasonal Notes: Best in early summer when water levels are higher. Take your time and enjoy the scenic route, and spend some time at River Ranch Lodge & Restaurant 

Mountain Biking

  • Best Trails: Flume Trail, Tahoe XC Center Trails
  • Rental Locations: Olympic Bike Shop, The BackCountry
  • Difficulty: Trails for all levels, from beginner to expert

Cultural Experiences

Gatekeeper’s Museum

  • Location: Tahoe City
  • Features: Native American artifacts, Tahoe history, Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Museum
  • Tips: Check for special exhibitions and events

North Lake Tahoe Historical Society Museums

  • Location: Tahoe City, right next to Gatekeeper’s Museum
  • Features: Three different museums covering local history, maritime artifacts, and historic sites
  • Tips: Purchase a pass to access all museums at a discounted rate

Lake Tahoe Music Festival

  • Location: Various outdoor venues around North Lake Tahoe
  • Experience: Classical and contemporary music performances in stunning outdoor settings
  • Season: Typically held in July and August

On-Mountain Activities

Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort and Mountain

  • Activities: Aerial tram rides, hiking, mountain biking
  • Features: Kids Adventure Camp, Olympic Museum,
  • Tip: High Camp Pool & Hot Tub is closed indefinitely 

Northstar California Resort

  • Activities: Scenic gondola rides, hiking, mountain biking, golf
  • Features: Village with dining, shopping, and summer events like live music and family activities

Tahoe Donner

  • Activities: Hiking, mountain biking, equestrian center, golf
  • Features: Adventure park, archery, disc golf, summer camps for kids
Garwoods Wet Woody lake tahoe summer activities

Top 10 + 2 Things to Do in North Lake Tahoe

  1. Explore Emerald Bay State Park: Visit Fannette Island, hike to Vikingsholm Castle, and take in panoramic views of the bay.
  2. Enjoy Water Sports at Sand Harbor: Swim, kayak, paddleboard, or relax on the sandy beach of this scenic state park.
  3. Discover Tahoe City: Stroll along the waterfront, shop at local boutiques, and dine at charming cafes with views of the lake.
  4. Mountain bike or Hike the Tahoe Rim Trail: This iconic hiking trail offers breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
  5. Visit Incline Village: Play golf at championship courses, unwind at private beaches, and explore nearby hiking trails.
  6. Experience Outdoor Adventures: Go mountain biking, horseback riding, or hiking in the scenic wilderness areas surrounding the lake.
  7. Attend Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival: Enjoy live theater performances under the stars during the summer season.
  8. Discover Hidden Beaches: For a more intimate lake experience, seek out secluded spots like Secret Cove or Speedboat Beach.
  9. Explore Historic Sites: Visit Thunderbird Lodge, a historic estate with gardens and lakefront views, or learn about local history at the Gatekeeper’s Museum.
  10. Relax and Unwind: Treat yourself to a spa day, take a leisurely cruise on the lake, or simply enjoy the serene beauty of North Lake Tahoe’s alpine surroundings.
  11. Head to Pallisades Tahoe, originally Squaw Valley, was home to the 1960 Olympics. 
  12. Float the River: Rent or bring your own tube and float the Truckee River. You can rent large rafts from two rental companies in Truckee, California. They give you the raft, and you float to the bottom on the River end, drop your raft off, and then get bussed back to your car. While bringing your own raft saves money, there is nothing better than having everything taken care of for you. 

Tips for a Perfect Visit

  • Weather: Summer temperatures are generally pleasant, but be prepared for cool mornings and evenings. Layered clothing is recommended.
  • Crowds: Weekends and holidays can be busy, especially at popular beaches and trails. Visiting early in the day can help avoid the crowds.
  • Reservations: Book ahead for activities like water sports rentals, guided tours, and accommodations, especially during peak season.
  • Safety: Always wear life jackets for water activities and carry plenty of water, sunscreen, and snacks for hikes.

North Lake Tahoe offers an ideal blend of adventure, relaxation, and cultural enrichment, making it a perfect summer destination for all types of travelers.


emerald bay hike lake tahoe summer activities

Overview of Lake Tahoe Summer Activities

Lake Tahoe offers year-round activities, but when it comes to summer activities, there are a few things you want to keep in mind. 

While Lake Tahoe boasts activities for every season, summer brings its own unique charm. The warm weather and clear skies create the perfect conditions for outdoor exploration, water sports, and leisurely days spent basking in the sunshine.

Before setting out, it’s important to plan your trip accordingly. Consider factors such as weather forecasts, accommodation availability, and any special events or festivals happening during your stay. Booking accommodations and activities in advance can help ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.

The 4th of July Weekend is one of the busiest weekends up at the lake, with many people planning almost a year ahead of time for this weekend. If you will be there during peak season, plan for activities and accommodations ahead of time. 


Paddle boarding lake tahoe summer activities

Top Tips for Lake Tahoe in the Summer

Here, we will share some top tips and things to know before your next Lake Tahoe Summer visit. 

Consider some insider tips to make the most of your Lake Tahoe summer adventure. Arrive early to popular attractions to avoid crowds and secure parking, pack plenty of sunscreen and water for outdoor activities, and be prepared for changing mountain weather conditions. 

Additionally, don’t hesitate to ask locals for recommendations on hidden gems and lesser-known attractions off the beaten path. There is nothing better than walking into a coffee shop and chatting with a local. 

Insider Tips and Tricks for a Perfect Lake Tahoe Summer Vacation

Accommodations

  • Book Early: Secure better rates and availability by booking well in advance.
  • Midweek Stays: Cheaper and less crowded than weekends.
  • Stay Outside Main Hubs: Consider Truckee, Incline Village, or smaller towns for better deals.

Activities and Deals

  • Package Deals: Check resorts for bundles that include activities and dining.
  • Local Discount Cards: Available at visitor centers for savings on dining and activities.
  • Early Bird Specials: Many activities offer discounts for early morning bookings.

Dining

  • Happy Hour Deals: The best deals on drinks and appetizers are available at many local spots.
  • Food Trucks and Farmers Markets: Affordable and delicious local options.

Navigating and Avoiding Crowds

  • Parking Tips: Arrive at popular spots before 9 AM, or use TART or bike rentals.
  • Less-Known Gems: Visit Secret Cove and Angora Lakes for fewer crowds. These public beaches are hidden and a little harder to get to, but, a perfect way to enjoy some of the best water in North America.
  • Avoid Peak Times: Visit early morning or late afternoon.

Best Views and Scenic Drives

  • Scenic Drives: Lake Tahoe Scenic Byway and Mount Rose Highway offer stunning views.
  • Best Views: Hike Eagle Rock and visit Sand Harbor Overlook.
  • Photography Spots: Emerald Bay State Park and Hidden Beach.

Resources for Planning

  • Travel Guides: Lonely Planet: Lake Tahoe & Reno; Moon Tahoe: Including Reno & Yosemite.
  • Online Resources: Tahoe South, Go Tahoe North, Tahoe.com.
  • Visitor Centers: Tahoe City and South Lake Tahoe Visitors Centers.

Additional Tips

  • Pack Smart: Bring layers, sun protection, and comfortable shoes.
  • Stay Safe: Stay hydrated and acclimate to high elevations; follow wildlife guidelines.
  • Plan Ahead: Check for required permits and book popular activities early.

Following these tips’ll maximize your enjoyment and make the most of your summer vacation in Lake Tahoe.

We would love to know what your favorite thing is from the list!

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