What To See When Visiting Lake Tahoe
Last summer we visited a few places in California and ended our trip with a few days in Lake Tahoe. We could have easily spent an entire week there and still have things left on our list of things to do. From hikes around the crystal clear lake to mountain top ropes courses, there’s something for everyone at Lake Tahoe.
What Activities To Plan
We only had a few days in Tahoe and I so wish we had planned to stay there a few more days. We spent a couple of our days exploring the lake and one of them on the mountain.
A must see while you are visiting is the picturesque Sand Harbor State Park. Keep in mind that parking is limited and fills up faster than you can imagine, especially on the weekends. When we plan our next trip, I will definitely aim for visiting Sand Harbor mid week if we can. If you don’t want to worry about parking or get a late start in the morning, you can also take the Sand Harbor Shuttle from Incline Village. Shuttle rides are a few dollars per person/per way (cash). Check out the details and shuttle schedule on their website.
Once you’re at Sand Harbor Park you can rent kayaks, paddle boards and more at Sand Harbor Rentals.
Another great spot for wading in the water is Chimney Beach which is located in between South Lake Tahoe and Sand Harbor Park. Parking is once again an issue so get there early to secure a spot. There is some parking along the road. Unlike Sand Harbor Park where the lake is very accessible, there is a hike required to get down to Chimney Beach. We accessed Chimney Beach from the Secret Harbor Parking Lot. Hiked down toward Secret Harbor and then kept exploring over to the right until we found the Chimney.
There were a few steep spots and I wouldn’t recommend this option for someone who isn’t comfortable hiking on uneven, hilly terrain. My six year old was fine making the trek down to the water, but luckily I didn’t have to carry her.
Once you get close to the water there are tiny little beaches where the water was shallow. The kids loved climbing around on the rocks and exploring.
I would love to have time to drive around the entire lake, next time ya’ll, next time.
On The Mountain Activities
Heavenly Resort offers some amazing Summer activities for all ages. I would suggest dressing in layers. It was a little chillier than we expected up the mountain and we were all glad to have jackets and sweatshirts as the day went on. I also believe they required closed toe shoes for the activities so make sure that you have those on before getting in line for the gondola.. not that we’re speaking from experience or anything. 🙂
We ended up purchasing the adventure passes for everyone because it was the most cost effective option for the different activities available. You do need to ride the gondola to get up mid mountain to the summer activities. After paying for a gondola ride and one or two activities, it just made sense to get the full day pass. I wish we had researched this a little more and got up the mountain earlier. Again, weekend lines were long and had we purchased tickets and filled out paperwork ahead of time, we would have had more time for the activities. I would suggest trying to get up to the activities early so you can get more than your money’s worth out of the pass.
There’s also a Scout Sampler Pass for younger visitors under 42″. If you don’t think you’re little tyke is up for a full day of adventure, this pass allows them to choose three activities to participate in.
To reach the summer activities you need to ride the gondola. There is a midway point with a beautiful lookout that I highly suggest you stop at. There is not access to the lookout on the ride back down to the base.
Ridge Rider Mountain Coaster
Mountain coasters are always a favorite with our crew and this one did not disappoint. We did have to wait in a fairly long line to ride, but we were visiting on a Saturday.
Riders need to be three years or older and between 38-54 inches tall. Drivers need to be over 54 inches if they are riding solo. If they are driving another rider they also need to be sixteen years old.
The Bear Cub Ropes Course is designed for younger children and keeps them a little closer to the ground.
Our six year old and her seven year old cousin loved completing the course over and over and over. HA
There is also a zip-line at the end of the ropes course that the kids can choose to go on. Our kids of course went multiple times and loved it.
They also offer more challenging ropes courses for the older kids and kids at heart.
Everyone had a blast with the Granite Peak Climbing Wall. Participants must be at least 3 years old and weigh between 30 and 250 lbs to participate. The older boys loved shimming up the wall trying different paths along the way.
They make it look so easy. They also weigh about a third of what I do HA.
Each Adventure pass comes with one ticket for gem panning. Which my kids have always always enjoyed. It also required no stretching out before trying it.
There are other activities available like summer tubing which we didn’t have a chance to try but it looked just like snow tubing without the snow! You can add on zip-line rides to your adventure pass for a fee. We weren’t able to fit that into our day on the mountain, but we were all eyeing it for next time.
Where To Stay
Although there are lodging options scattered around most of Lake Tahoe area, most of the hotels are in either North Lake Tahoe or South Lake Tahoe.
When we visited we stayed at the Marriott Timber Lodge located in the middle of Heavenly Village at Heavenly Ski Resort . We were within walking distance to a number of restaurants, shopping and right next to the gondola for to take you up the mountain for their fun summer activities. In North Lake Tahoe there’s the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe near Incline Village. We’ve had multiple friends stay here and have loved their experience. Hyatt’s private beach and family fire pits would make this a great option for summer time.
Where To Fill Your Belly
Now keep in mind we were only in Tahoe for a few days so we didn’t get to try a lot of different places. These are a few places that we tried or have our eye on for next time. If you are staying or visiting up in North Lake Tahoe near Incline village, Inclined Burgers was a great lunch spot with delicious burgers.
In South Lake Tahoe we would meet for breakfast each morning at Social House. They had delicious coffees and breakfast sandwiches.
Azul Latin Kitchen in Heavenly Village was delicious. They have a ton of outdoor and indoor seating available with games, fire-pits and live music and most importantly, their margaritas were spot on.
For dessert we tried Baked Bear. They offer fresh made-to-order ice cream sandwiches. It was absolutely delicious.
We can’t wait to plan our next trip to Lake Tahoe. It’s Definitely a great mix of different activities in an absolutely gorgeous setting.
If you’re traveling to California make sure to check out our post on Santa Cruz.