To most people, Lake Tahoe is known for its amazing winter ski resorts and vast icy lake. In the winter season, outdoor sports enthusiasts and their families fill the snowy destination in hopes to cut through fresh powder on the slopes.
Growing up just a few hours away, I’ve always thought of Lake Tahoe as a winter destination myself. I have spent a few winters here sipping hot chocolate by the fire after a full day of skiing. However, summer is a whole different kind of fun – full of outdoor activities, lakeside beaches, hiking and exquisite mountain views.
The possibilities of summer activities in Lake Tahoe are endless! The aroma of pine trees and crisp mountain air follows you as you hike the Sierra Nevada mountains, kayak the large freshwater lake, or enjoy the fine dining the city has to offer.
I like to call Lake Tahoe the ultimate luxury adult summer camp. It’s located only 45 minutes from the Reno Airport in Nevada yet Lake Tahoe is the perfect escape from the busy lifestyle of a major city.
Things To Do in Lake Tahoe In The Summer:
1. Hike the Sierra Nevada mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is 21.75-miles long and every hike surrounding the lake is unique in its own way.
A popular Lake Tahoe destination to hang out at in the summer is the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park near the North East side. The Spooner Lake and Sand Harbor Beach located at this park are the perfect places to spend a full day in the summer filled with great hiking trails and fun adventures. For a shorter hike, try Shirley Canyon nearby (pictured below).
The Tahoe Rim Trail surrounds Lake Tahoe in its entirety, a total of 165 miles if you’re up for it!
2. Visit the famous Emerald Bay and Fannette Island
Photographers and tourists alike come from all over the world to see the Emerald Bay State Park for its stunning views. The one-mile path down to the lake and Vikingsholm Mansion is well worth the time and effort. Visitors can also take boats and kayaks around the crystal clear waters of the bay.
The Emerald Bay and Fannette Island are located in the southern part of Lake Tahoe. Parking is available along the road but can fill up quickly.
3. Take a boat ride around Lake Tahoe during sunset
One of the best ways to spend an evening at Lake Tahoe in the summer is by enjoying a peaceful boat tour around the lake. From the boat, you can check out the Howard Hughes Estate, Thunderbird Lodge, Fleur de Lac where many scenes from the Godfather II were filmed, and more well-kept celebrity lodges. Not to mention, watching the sunset from the lake is unreal!
4. See where the Winter Olympics of 1962 took place
From the Village at Squaw Valley, you can take a tram 8,200 ft high up in the mountain. At the top, you can enjoy a casual lunch or hang out at the pool and spa with a breathtaking 360-degree view of the lake.
5. Go stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking in the freshwater lake
Paddleboarding and kayaking is the perfect way to spend a fun day at the lake. If you don’t own one, there are plenty of shops around the lake that offer rentals.
One of the local shops, Willard’s Sports, offers all types of winter and summer gear if you’re looking for a good deal. Conveniently, they also have the perfect spot to launch the rental paddle boards and kayaks from.
Tip: The best time to enjoy these activities is before 11 am to avoid boats and high winds. Oh, and the water is chilly if you decide to jump in!
6. Enjoy a meal with a gorgeous view at Jake’s on the Lake
If you’re a culinary enthusiast, you can find just about anything your heart desires in Lake Tahoe. See Tahoe City Downtown Association’s list of dining venues here. Not only is the food delicious, but your dining experience is topped off with spectacular views lakeside and mountain-tops.
7. Go for a bike ride along the Truckee River
The lake isn’t the only body of water that’s attractive for tourists during the summer season. In the recent years, Lake Tahoe has experienced record snowfalls and the water level in the river remains high during the summer.
One of the best bike rides in the area is the 2.5-mile bike path by the Truckee River. The difficulty level is medium so be prepared to break a sweat! Take a break to swim in the river or bring an inflatable floating device or water raft, summer just got more fun.
8. Enjoy a Relaxing Stay at The Squaw Creek Resort
Located just above North Lake Tahoe, The Resort at Squaw Creek is tucked in amongst the trees and meadows of Squaw Valley. The unique architecture of the hotel is purposely built to maintain Lake Tahoe’s beauty. Each suite at The Squaw Creek Resort is equipped with endless luxuries, exquisite food, mountain views, and top-notch service.
Some awesome things to do at The Resort at Squaw Creek in the summer:
- Take a guided hike – ranging from easy to difficult
- Rent mountain bikes – for adults and kids
- Learn how to fly fish
- Set sail on a sunset cruise
- Relax by the pool complete with a waterslide
- Get pampered at the spa
- Visit the resort’s unique stores
- Golf at the championship golf course
- Enjoy the hydroponic gardens throughout the resort. Most of their veggies are home grown!
In the winter, aerial lifts arrive right outside the hotel rooms and can take the guests all the way up to the mountain peaks. After a fun day of winter activities, guests can ski back to their rooms to relax by the fireplace and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of wine.
Lake Tahoe is a must visit place for those who love the feel of a small town with endless amounts of adventure. Whether you love the warm summer heat or the cold winter frost, Lake Tahoe has all you need for a weekend getaway. The friendly people in town make you want to stay forever. Who knows, someday I might retire here. As for right now, I know I definitely want to go back soon.
By Priscilla Lam