Being the largest alpine lake in North America means one very big thing for Lake Tahoe; that it is a disgrace! And not only that, nestled between snow-capped mountains and surrounded by magnificent pine forests, it is a total gem to visit. Although, in my experience, it can be inconvenient to determine the best things to do in Lake Tahoe during your trip. That’s why I wanted to share my favorite places to explore in and around Lake Tahoe itself.
I loved visiting Lake Tahoe and was the first to slap the view across the California side in the middle of summer. It was amazing and I loved every second of my stay around the lake. We have visited since then the best places in California i Nevada countless times, with Lake Tahoe firmly a favorite.
Packed to the top with a sightseeing spot, Lake Tahoe is one of the best places to travel in the country if you are a fan of great outdoor activities.
It has everything from dizzying nature walks, high-octane water sports, dusty ski trails, and even arduous climbs. Trust me, Lake Tahoe and the surrounding area is stunning and well worth a look a trip around California or while you are inside Nevada.
Check out the best things you can do on Lake Tahoe below when you visit it. Have fun exploring!
1.) Emerald Bay State Park
Many trails around Lake Tahoe lead to Emerald Bay State Park, a national natural landmark and underwater state park because of its beautiful natural beauty.
Located on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay State Park is a popular place to visit because of its trails and exploration destinations for Villa Vikingsholm (which hosts summer tours) which is great to explore.
In addition, from here you can kayak along the pristine shores of the Emerald Bay itself. Kayak rental from Kayak Tahoe and head out into the open water for the best morning adventure. Everything is so calm.
Also, for some epic views, head to Emerald Bay, Lookou State Parkt. From here you will get some epic views of Lake Tahoe and it is the perfect starting point for a walk to the very shore.
For some tunes, go to the historic Tallac area (near the park). It is a set of historic estates that are festivals where the hosts have made it more popular.
The two-day Gatsby Festival, held in August, is certainly one of the best. A series of jazz concerts, themed events and Roaring Twenties parties.
By the way, the Valhalla estate also hosts the cult festival of art, music and theater of Valhalla. It contains a full schedule of cultural performances, shows and events in various spaces within the estate.
Finally, after so much research, head to Eagle Point Camp. Be sure to camp responsibly, as black bears often annoy Emerald Bay on a regular basis.
2.) Kings Beach
Located on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, a visit to Kings Beach is a necessary part of a wider journey between California and Nevada.
Packed with independent boutiques and food venues, it’s a place to anchor for a few days of travel around the north coast.
Afterwards, head to Kings Beach State Recreation Area, which is dotted with picnic spots to cool off on the waterfront. In addition, you can rent a paddle or kayak if you want to go out on the lake itself.
Alternatively, spend some time on the famous speedboat beach or hiking to look at Historic Stateline Fire Lookout. Yes, it can be steep at times, but it’s a relatively short and easy hike for most hikers.
3.) Echo Lake
About a 25-minute drive from the shores of Lake Tahoe, Lake Echo is worth guaranteeing a few hours of gallantry.
Popular in the warmer summer months, Lake Echo is the perfect place to go for water, while there are plenty of hiking trails in the area; especially the Lake Aloha trail which is so beautiful.
The Lower Echo has a wonderful picnic area and is completely chilled. Best of all, you won’t find mass crowds or pantry people here. It’s pretty quiet.
Depending on the visit, you can combine this with a ski trip to the Sierra-at-Tahoe resort, which is about 8 km away. Just be sure to book a pass for the lift and ski rental and watch out for gourmet places at the top of the mountain – they can be expensive!
4.) DL Bliss State Park
Shy of Emerald Bay, a visit to DL Bliss State Park is one of the best things you can do on Lake Tahoe if you’re looking for peace and quiet. You see, it’s an area that’s not actually built at all and feels like a million miles from the city bustle.
Do you want to sleep over? The camp is available if you want to sleep, with plenty of space for tents, fireplaces and showers.
Do you feel active? On Lester Beach there are a bunch of opportunities for kayaking, and hiking the Rubicon Trail to see the Historic Light of Rubicon Point is a must for views.
Oh, and don’t forget the cozy Calawee Cove beach you can spot at the bottom of the park.
5.) Tahoe Rome trail
If you are up for the challenge, the Tahoe Rim Trail will provide all the fun, excitement and sore calves you are looking for.
At an incredible 165 miles, this loop of trail revolves around Lake Tahoe and can be completed in parts or in one big move! Personally, for such big hikes, I just choose the sections I want to visit the most. This way you can go through many smaller daily hikes on several trails, instead of getting exhausted on one long trail.
Passing through the Valley of Desolation and the Carson Chain, the Tahoe Rim trail will provide you with side-by-side panoramas of mountain peaks, lakes and meadows. It’s amazing.
Just make sure you pack a good pair of hiking boots, lots of SPF and always hike responsibly, because bears call Lake Tahoe a home as well.
6.) Mt. Tallac Hike
At 9,735 feet, Mt. Tallac is one of the highest mountain peaks around Lake Tahoe.
Although the route itself is challenging for the average hiker, the whole trip and the view of the top will be so valuable. Leading you through loose rocks and crushed granite, Mt. Tallac Hike will give you a great view of Fallen Leaf Lake and a casual encounter of Lake Gilmore and Lake Cathedral.
At the top you will see several epic views of Lake Tahoe. Plus the panorama of Lake Granite, Lake Fallen Leaf and the desolation that also takes your breath away!
Just remember, as I said before, this is a hike for the most experienced hikers among us.
7.) Sand Harbor State Park
Located on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, fifty or more acres of Sand Harbor State Park is absolutely beautiful to enjoy.
With sandy beaches, fragrant pine forests (I still remember the smell) and hidden coves; it’s one of the best things to do in Lake Tahoe when you’re in Nevada.
Perfect for a slow day of sightseeing or for a more adventurous time filled with water activities, it is a place that has something for everyone.
For the latter, Sand Harbor Rentals is a destination if you want to rent a kayak. In addition, the Sand Point Nature Trail and the Memorial Point Trail offer stunning views of the bays and beaches.
Oh, and don’t forget to book tickets for Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival which hosts a couple of outdoor epic performances in the park itself.
8.) Eagle Rock hiking trail
Located a few hundred meters above the main area of Lake Tahoe, Eagle Rock is a volcanic outcrop that has some dazzling views of the area.
Now, because it is on the west shore of Lake Tahoe and only four miles away from the city of Tahoe, the Eagle Rock hiking trail is an affordable and very popular hiking trail in Lake Tahoe. This means you can finish the trail in about 20 minutes and be instantly rewarded with a great view of Lake Tahoe and how big the area actually is.
However, the only drawback is that it can be quite busy at peak times. To avoid a crowded trail, start first in the morning and avoid weekends.
9.) Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine State Park
Whether you’re looking for an indoor tour or an outdoor adventure, Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park has it all. Plus, it’s one of the best things to do in Lake Tahoe if you’re traveling from the city of Tahoe to the southern borders of the coast.
Be sure to explore the Hellman-Ehrman Mansion which is absolutely amazing. It used to be the holiday residence of the lavish family of financier Isaias W. Hellman. When you get here, you can tour the castle and take a walk inside. You will meet authentic Navajo rugs and mahogany dining room trim.
If you’re visiting in the summer, you’ll probably want to take some of its trails.
During the winter or colder months, move close Homewood Mountain Resort which has some of the best ski trails that surround Lake Tahoe. The views are phenomenal and have a bunch of running for all abilities.
10.) Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park (Tahoe City / Granlibakken)
A completely different kind of outdoor activity, Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park is a place you must visit to stretch your beauties.
Featuring tree platforms, ziplines and bridges (up to 50 feet high), the Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park is so much fun. Even though you look like you’re exercising muscle groups you didn’t even know you had! It hurt so much afterwards!