11 Best Things to do in Lake Tahoe in Summer

11 Best Things to do in Lake Tahoe in Summer

Lake Tahoe in summer is heaven on the earth. It is such a romantic place in California that is equally popular in both the winter and the summer. However, I prefer Lake Tahoe during summer as there are far more options from hiking in the mountains to various outdoor activities.

Although it is a popular ski destination in the United States, summer is the time when you can see the real color of Lake Tahoe and can enjoy endless sunshine. In this post, I’ve shared the most popular Lake Tahoe summer activities along with travel tips to help you plan your next vacation. 

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Things to do in Lake Tahoe in Summer

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Know Some Facts before Visiting Lake Tahoe in Summer

  • Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America
  • During the summer months(June to August), Lake Tahoe’s temperature varies from 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day but can drop to 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night. 
  • It is 1,645 feet deep and the second deepest lake in the United States.
  • The water of Lake Tahoe is 99.994% pure, making it one of the purest lakes in the world.
  • Lake Tahoe is approximately 2 million years old.
  • The lakes’ 2/3 part is in California and 1/3 is in Nevada.
  • Lake Tahoe is very crowded on public holidays and summer weekends, hence visiting on a weekday is highly recommended. 
Please Note: Lake Tahoe is renowned for its natural beauty and incredible scenic views. Please carry a trash bag to keep your trash. Be respectful to nature and keep this gem preserved. 
Picturesque Lake Tahoe in august
Picturesque Lake Tahoe

How to Get to Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is not a cheap place in California. It is also expensive if you fly to Reno-Tahoe International Airport which is the closest airport to the Lake Tahoe area. But you can find cheap flights to Sacramento which is about a 2-hour drive from Lake Tahoe.

South Lake Tahoe is about 3.5 hours drive from the Bay Area. If you don’t have your own vehicle, you can rent a car for an awesome road trip to Lake Tahoe in summer. Check this road trip packing list before hitting the road.

Best Things to do in Lake Tahoe in Summer

Is Lake Tahoe worth visiting in summer when the ski resorts of this area are popular worldwide? What to do in Lake Tahoe in summer? These are very common questions people search in Google while planning for a summer vacation in Lake Tahoe.

The answer is YES! It’s more than 100% worth visiting in summer. There are plenty of beautiful places to visit and several adventure activities to do in Lake Tahoe during summer.

Hike to Eagle Falls and Lake

Lake Tahoe is a dream destination for many for its numerous scenic hiking trails. Leading into the heart of Desolation Wilderness, the Eagle Falls trail offers lush green forest, falls, a lake, and large granite peaks.

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It is one of the most beautiful Lake Tahoe hikes that end at Eagle Lake. The trail(3.6 miles) to the lower falls offers a magnificent view of tall granite peaks and fabulous Emerald Bay.

Another quarter-mile hike will reach you to upper fall. Follow the trail that gradually leads to Eagle Lake. You can swim in the lake, it is a very refreshing dip. Enjoy the views of the surrounding area. If you still have energy, you can continue the hike that eventually leads to Velmas, Dicks, and Fontanillis Lake.

Paid parking is available at the trailhead. Being close to South Lake Tahoe, the trail is very popular and can be heavily crowded. I recommend coming here early in the morning to enjoy the solitude of the place.

Best Things to do in Lake Tahoe in Summer | Lower Eagle Falls
Lower Eagle Falls – PC: Flickr

Hike Rubicon Trail

Another cool activity that you can do during your Lake Tahoe summer vacation is the Rubicon Trail. It is one of the most popular hiking trails in California with amazing views of Lake Tahoe. It starts from D.L. Bliss and ends at Emerald Bay.

It goes along the southwest shore of the lake. During this moderate hike, you can see secluded coves, stunning shoreline cliffs, and even an old lighthouse.

It is a 16.4-mile trail with undulating short elevation gains and drops. Tree coverage includes Jeffrey pines, ponderosa, firs, cedar, and Sierra juniper. There are restrooms at the beach parking area where the trail links up to the Lighthouse Trail. 

The park is open from sunrise to sunset. Visitors can park their car at the Visitor’s Center near highway 89.

Entry Fee: $10 per vehicle to enter the State Park.

summer in lake tahoe | Hike Rubicon Trail
Rubicon Trail_Lake Tahoe in April

Discover Hidden Castle Vikingsholm

Vikingsholm Castle is one of the best places to see in Lake Tahoe in summer. This rare masterpiece is one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture. This spectacular mansion has 38 rooms and was originally constructed to accommodate Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight in the summer.

Limited parking is available in the Vikingsholm parking lot which costs $10. Then walk down a one-mile road to Vikingsholm. The trail is very scenic with plenty of places to take a rest. It is a very charming family-friendly place with beautiful scenery around. You must visit this gem if you are with your kids.

Vikingsholm Castle | attractions in lake tahoe in summer
Vikingsholm Castle

Visitors can explore this gorgeous castle by taking a 30-minute tour, offered several times daily from May to September. Keep an eye out for the rare Scandinavian antiques. The history of the castle is very interesting. You can learn the importance and many interesting facts about this castle from the guard while enjoying the tour.

If you want to see Vikingsholm without crowds during your trip to Lake Tahoe in summer, it is best to reach there as early as possible.

Cost: $15 for adults and $12 for kids

Hours: 10:30 AM to 4 PM, Tour begins every 30 minutes

Go Paddle Boarding

One of the top reasons for visiting Lake Tahoe in summer is its adventurous water activities. You can bring your own paddleboard or can rent one from the nearby shops(Tahoe Adventure Company, South Tahoe Standup Paddle).

With the clear waters, deep blue sky, snowcapped mountains in the backdrop, and the picturesque cabins lining the shores – Lak Tahoe is unarguably one of the best paddleboard destinations in the world.

Cost: Paddleboards around Lake Tahoe can be rented for $20/hour. First-timers can take lessons before hit the ocean.

Lake Tahoe in summer | Paddle Boarding in Lake Tahoe
Paddle Boarding in Lake Tahoe

Enjoy Kayaking and Canoeing in South Lake Tahoe

If you’re looking for a more relaxing way to explore the lake, you can rent a Kayak instead of a SUP. Kayaking is a fun way to explore the water at your own pace. You can choose a two-seater if you are traveling with your better half. It also reduces the possibility of any unexpected falls into the lake as it requires less balance.

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The calm and easy water of South Lake Tahoe is perfect for kayaking and canoeing. Kayak rentals and classes are offered by Kayak Tahoe, Sunnyside, and Homewood marinas.

Cost: Kayaks cost around $20/hour.

Kayaking in South Lake Tahoe
Kayaking in South Lake Tahoe

Enjoy Thrilling Parasailing and Jet Skiing

Lake Tahoe is one of the best lakes in California which offers different scenic views from different angles. How would it be to fly over the lake and enjoy the whole scenery of the Lake Tahoe area from a bird’s eye view? It is very relaxing, at the same time very thrilling to cherish the panoramic views of the lake.

There are various parasailing providers of different budget found all over Tahoe. Go for parasailing at these three locations in Tahoe South – Zephyr Cove MarinaAction Water Sports, and the Ski Run Boat Company.

Cost: Parasailing are available for $75-95.

Parasailing in Lake Tahoe
Parasailing in Lake Tahoe

Jet Skiing: For adventure seeker people, jet skiing is one of the best things to do in South Lake Tahoe. It’s an adrenaline-pumping experience while cruising around the lake freely at 60 miles per hour speed. Stay away from the swimming areas to avoid any accidents.

Tahoe Sports offers great jet ski rental services and allows its customers to explore any part of the lake freely.

Cost: Jet skiing in Lake Tahoe starts at $149.

Mountain Biking

This has become one of the most popular activities around Lake Tahoe in summer. There are plenty of paved and dirt bike trails around Tahoe. Some popular bike trails are Flume Trail, Tahoe Rim Trail, and South Shore Bike Path.

Flume trail is about 14-miles with elevation ranges between 7000 feet to 8100 feet, whereas South Shore Bike Path is a paved bike trail that passes through Camp Richardson.

Mountain Biking around Lake Tahoe
Mountain Biking around Lake Tahoe

Heavenly Mountain Gondola Ride

Gondola ride in Heavenly mountain is one of the best summertime activities in South Lake Tahoe. Heavenly is one of the best ski resorts in California, and during the summer, the gondola runs at Heavenly Village and Squaw Valley.

It’s about a 10-15 minutes peaceful romantic ride that offers amazing aerial views of the forest below. There is a lodge with a restaurant at the top of the mountain.

You will find here many Lake Tahoe summer activities such as riding zip lines, doing rope courses, climbing rock walls, and tubing.

Heavenly Mountain Gondola Ride
Amazing View from Heavenly Mountain Gondola Ride

Enjoy the View of Emerald Bay

Whether you are planning to visit Lake Tahoe in April, June, or August, your Lake Tahoe summer itinerary is incomplete without visiting Emerald Bay. Surrounded by forested hills of carved granite, the Emerald Bay State Park is one of the best places in Lake Tahoe to visit in summer. The shallowness of the bay creates an incredible blue-green color of the water which can be seen from many viewpoints.

Emerald Bay State Park has two campsites: the Boat-In Camp, and the Eagle Point Campground, which is popular for lake view and its secluded beach. To get the best pictures for your Instagram feed, visit Inspiration Point, and take some amazing pictures of Emerald Bay from 600 feet above.

Relax at Kings Beach

Kings Beach is located on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, where you can swim or just relax and enjoy the direct sunlight. This sandy beach is a perfect family-friendly place in Lake Tahoe that offers water activities, kid’s playgrounds, shaded picnic areas, and public restrooms. Visitors can also enjoy weekly live music on the sandy shore.

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Kings Beach at South Lake Tahoe
Kings Beach at South Lake Tahoe – PC: Flickr

The town of Kings Beach has many hotels, restaurants, retail shops, and colorful street vendors within walking distance. It is a perfect place to enjoy a day during a Lake Tahoe summer getaway.

Cost: Parking fee is $10.

Explore Truckee(Day Trip from Lake Tahoe)

Truckee is a charming mountain town near Donner Lake which you must check out while visiting Lake Tahoe in summer. The town has a lot of summer attractions such as Donner Lake, Donner Memorial Park, and the historic Donner Summit Bridge.

The downtown Truckee features some cute little boutique shops, local art galleries, and wonderful restaurants. Exploring this magical town hand in hand with your partner can be a very romantic idea.

Donner Lake, Truckee
Donner Lake, Truckee

Where to Eat? Best Restaurants in Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe has great nightlife and casinos, whereas, North Lake Tahoe is more laid back. But you will find a bunch of restaurants with lakeside views and fine dining options. You can check out the below restaurants to satisfy your hunger while visiting Lake Tahoe in summer.

Lone Eagle Grill: You can enjoy the stunning views of Lake Tahoe from both indoor and outdoor of the restaurant. Their menu features local delicacies including seafood and vegetarian options.

Jason’s Beachside Grille: Located in North Lake Tahoe, It is a fun family-friendly restaurant where you can order classic American fares like prime rib, chicken dishes, grilled sandwiches, hamburgers, and soups. They have an outdoor seating option and live music on weekends.

The Bistro: It is located inside Edgewood Tahoe in South Lake Tahoe. You will be blown out by their flavorful items. Their fruit bloom salad and toasted bagel are highly recommended. They also offer vegan and gluten-free foods.

South Lake Tahoe food

Where to Stay in Lake Tahoe in Summer

You will find cabins, hotels, campgrounds to luxury family resorts, and lodges on both shores(North and South) of Lake Tahoe. If you go for lakeside options, it may be pricier but the view from the hotels justifies the high price.

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe is one of the best Lake Tahoe resorts which has a private beach and features lawn chairs, cabanas, a fun dock bar, and countless trees all around the property. They also offer spa and body massage services in a serene atmosphere.

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe
Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe – PC: Flickr

Lake Tahoe is not a cheap place in California. Finding a cheap hotel could be a daunting task. I will recommend Hotel Azure which is pretty affordable and just 3.2 km from Heavenly Ski Resort. Many of its rooms offer lake views from the private balcony. They also have a seasonal outdoor pool and a cozy cafe located on-site. You can use their free bikes to explore the surrounding bike trails.

What to Pack for Lake Tahoe Summer Vacation

Even if you visit Lake Tahoe in June, you can expect a low temperature in the mountains. The weather in Lake Tahoe in summer is pretty charming. Still, you should be prepared for unexpected situations. So, while driving to Lake Tahoe in summer, make sure to bring these items:

You can also check our ultimate road trip packing lists if you are planning a road trip around Lake Tahoe.

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Lake Tahoe in Summer Activities

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