11 Best Things to do in Lake Tahoe in Summer
Lake Tahoe in summer is heaven on 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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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.
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 are about a 2-hour drive from Lake Tahoe.
If you are looking for the cheapest flights, then I highly recommend choosing WayAway. Its innovative search finds the best option for specific travel dates, so you will definitely find the most low-cost tickets!
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 the 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 the 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.
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 carrying a water filter bottle so that if you run out of water, you can directly drink from the river.
Visit Gatekeepers Museum
A tiny museum located northwest of Lake Tahoe on Highway 89, Gatekeepers Museum is a place of historical relevance. The site is a memorial of the real Gatekeeper’s Cabin that got destroyed in the 80s. The cabin was intended to be the house of the Watermaster, who was in charge of controlling the lake’s water flow.
You can find plenty of historical memorabilia of the Washoe people in the museum. Some of the items include resort memorabilia, Native American baskets, archival documents, clothing, artifacts, oral histories, historical photographs, and much more. They even showcase the 1960 Olympics and skiing exhibits. While there, you can also explore the Sand Harbor situated on the northeast shore of Lake Tahoe in Washoe County.
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. I will recommend wearing hiking boots to keep your feet safe from the hard surface. 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.
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.
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
Explore Fannette Island
The lone island in Lake Tahoe is Fannette Island, located on the lake’s western bank. As part of the Emerald Bay State Park, the island is situated in lovely Emerald Bay, nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains. It is reachable via canoe, boat, or kayak. As the water is extremely cold and due to nearby boat traffic, you won’t be able to swim to the island.
The island also houses the famed Tea House. You can kayak to the Tea House on the island. The island’s shoreline is rocky, with little to no trace of a beach. You will need to find a space to park and secure your kayak when you get closer to it.
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 book a paddleboarding tour.
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.
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.
The calm and easy water of South Lake Tahoe is perfect for kayaking and canoeing. You can book Kayak and Paddleboarding Tour and explore the beautiful coastline of Lake Tahoe. Click here for North Shore kayak rentals and classes.
Cost: Kayaks cost around $20/hour.
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.
Lake Tahoe is a great place for adventure and you should come here with a GoPro to capture the moments of your adventure activities. In case, if you find it expensive, check out these GoPro alternatives.
There are various parasailing providers of different budgets found all over Tahoe. Go for parasailing at these three locations in Tahoe South – Zephyr Cove Marina, Action Water Sports, and the Ski Run Boat Company.
Cost: Parasailing are available for $75-95.
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.
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. You can rent a hybrid bike and enjoy a self-guided tour.
Heavenly Mountain Gondola Ride
A 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.
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. You can book a sightseeing cruise of Emerald Bay and enjoy the surrounding views with your loved one either at sunset or during the daytime.
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
Located in the northern part of the lake, Kings Beach is a popular summer attraction in Lake Tahoe. It is one of the best beaches in 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.
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 California 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 in your travel backpack:
- Sweatshirts, Sweatpants, Leggings, Coat(Lake Tahoe summer outfit)
- Hiking boots
- High-quality rain jacket
- 2 swimsuits for lake activities
- Hydro Flask Water Bottle
- Lightweight Backpack
- Snacks (like energy bars, pre-made sandwiches)
- DSLR Camera & Portable USB chargers
You can also check our ultimate road trip packing lists if you are planning a road trip around Lake Tahoe.
Lake Tahoe gives you plenty of opportunities to spend your summer vacations away from the city bustle. You can indulge in fun activities like hiking the trails, soaking in the sun on the vast beaches, and exploring the Tahoe City region for a panoramic view. So, this summer, pack your bags to have the adventure of your life in Lake Tahoe!
Quick Links for Vacation in Lake Tahoe
Best accommodations in Lake Tahoe
- Basecamp Tahoe South (hotel, located in the best-rated area, private beach)
- Postmarc Hotel and Spa Suites (hotel, top location, free bicycle rentals are available during the summer, 1.250 feet from El Dorado Beach)
- Marriott Grand Residence Club, Lake Tahoe (hotel, located in the best-rated area, a guest beach is 1.2 mi away)
Best activities in Lake Tahoe
- Get to know Lake Tahoe while keeping your eyes on the road and the magnificent scenery with this Ultimate Lake Tahoe Self-Driving Audio Tour
- Grab a paddle and voyage along the scenic west shore of Lake Tahoe on this Guided Kayak Tour of Historic Lake Tahoe West Shore
- Enjoy the magnificent views via this Sunset Hike and Photography Tour in South Lake Tahoe
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FAQ: Lake Tahoe in Summer
1. Which part of Lake Tahoe is best for summer?
A: Due to its abundance of stunning beaches, hiking paths, and fun activities, Incline Village is the ideal destination to explore in the summer. Additionally, lovely and much less congested lodging options near the lake are South Lake Tahoe, Carson City, and Truckee.
2. What is there to do in Lake Tahoe in summer for free?
A: You can visit Taylor Creek Visitor Center, Emerald Bay State Park, Fannette Island, and Echo Lake for free. Hiking Mount Rose is another activity that you can indulge in free of charge.
3. Can you swim in Lake Tahoe in the summer?
A: Yes, you can swim in Lake Tahoe in Summer. A lot of people definitely prefer it to other activities in Tahoe. You may find an abundance of water sports operators and well-known sites in this region as most people love to swim in the lake during summer. The lake is typically between 40 degrees in the winter and 70 degrees in the summer. The water in Lake Tahoe is never warm, and you may want to wear a life vest while swimming.
4. Is Lake Tahoe crowded in the summer?
A: Lake Tahoe is typically crowded during July and August. It is strongly advised that you reserve your Tahoe lodge or apartment early for July. You will need to get there very early if you want to get a parking spot at some of Tahoe’s most famous attractions, like Emerald Bay, on weekends between June and August. And be prepared for crowded eateries, motels, and beaches during summer.
Lake Tahoe is a very beautiful place to visit during late winter. Its on the border of nevada and california. We haven’t visited there in summer anytime. To get a beautiful view of the lake its recommend to take the Gondala ride, its bit costly though.