Lake Tahoe is an impressive 22 miles long and 12 miles wide. The largest alpine lake in North America, it straddles California and Nevada at a whopping 6,200-foot elevation. Big and beautiful, the pristine blue lake is surrounded by towering pine trees and snow-capped mountain tops. To call it picturesque is an understatement, making a summer weekend in Lake Tahoe travel bucket list worthy.
Spend The Perfect Summer Weekend in Lake Tahoe
Known as a world-famous ski destination, Lake Tahoe is equally fun in the warm weather months. With average temperatures in the 70s, a Lake Tahoe summer is perfect for hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding, or exploring the lake by boat. But that's not all—there's no shortage of things to do in Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is the perfect spot to spend a summer weekend from zip-lining, rope courses, and quirky movie theaters to concerts on the beach, aerial trams, roller skating, and even a castle. Here's everything you need to know for an epic summer adventure in one of the most Instagrammable destinations in the U.S.
Where to Stay in Lake Tahoe
Two popular places to stay in Lake Tahoe are South Lake Tahoe and North Lake Tahoe. Equally beautiful, both offer excellent outdoor adventure options, but South Lake Tahoe is home to more casinos, bars, and restaurants—perfect for travelers looking for a livelier atmosphere.
North Lake Tahoe is quieter. It's the perfect spot for a family vacation, a relaxing afternoon of pampering at a luxury spa, or resting beachside with a good book.
South Lake Tahoe
Marriott Timber Lodge
With a fitness center, an outdoor pool, a hot tub, and a prime location in South Lake Tahoe, the Marriott Timber Lodge puts guests in the middle of the action and promises massive summer entertainment.
The Landing Lake Tahoe Resort and Spa
Just steps from the beach, The Landing is the perfect spot for those seeking a quieter luxury hotel on the lively south side of the lake. It's got a pool and live music every night at the on-site restaurant, and it's conveniently located just down the street from the casinos, shops, restaurants, and bars.
North Lake Tahoe
Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort
A glass of champagne at check-in starts a stay at the Hyatt off on the right foot. An ideal Lake Tahoe summer hotel, the Hyatt offers a gorgeous private beach with lounge chairs and cabanas, two pools, a small casino, restaurants, and multiple firepits. S'mores anyone?
Edgewood Tahoe Resort
For the ultimate upscale experience, stay at Edgewood. The luxury boutique hotel is nestled on the shores of Lake Tahoe and is the definition of luxury on the lake.
Where to Eat in Lake Tahoe
With so many delicious eateries around the lake, it can be tough to decide where to go.
The Getaway Café serves made-from-scratch breakfasts and specializes in Mexican dishes, like Chilaquiles (fried corn tortillas with salsa, sour cream, avocado, red onion, refried beans, and two eggs).
Alternatively, the Driftwood Café has been a local hotspot since 1999, specializing in Eggs Benedict and potato pancakes.
Jason's Beachside Grill on Kings Beach is a great casual spot on the water. The family-friendly restaurant serves American classics with spectacular lake views.
For healthy lunch options, try Sprouts. Fresh sandwiches and salads are perfect to dine in or take to go and devour lakeside.
Celebrating a birthday? Anniversary? Or a fancy night out? Go to Edgewood Restaurant for fine dining with gorgeous views of Lake Tahoe.
For a casual and lively atmosphere, try Base Camp Pizza Co. Their outdoor patio is perfect for pizza, beer, and live music.
Things to Do in Lake Tahoe
Relax on the Beach
A day at the beach is a quintessential California summertime activity. And with 72 miles of shoreline, there's no lack of calm surf and sand in Lake Tahoe. The largest and best beach is Kings Beach. The beach has on-site water sports equipment available to rent and a choice of delicious nearby restaurants. And from June 16th to September 1st, enjoy free summer concerts every Friday night. Watch the sunset while listening to live tunes and sipping tasty cold drinks. It doesn't get much better than that!
Another popular spot is Baldwin Beach. Located between Emerald Bay and South Lake Tahoe, the water here is shallow, perfect for those who want to swim in warmer water.
Commons Beach is set on four acres, including a large lakefront grass area and playgrounds for the little ones. Summertime at Commons Beach is particularly great for families, with free summer concerts every Sunday afternoon and free movies on the beach every Wednesday night.
Zephyr Cove on the East Shore is perfect for those looking to party. The popular beach has a full-service resort with a beach bar, grill, and beach volleyball courts.
Go to an Adventure Park
Aerial Adventure Parks In Lake Tahoe are the perfect way to spend the afternoon for all ultimate adventurers over six years old. Try zip-lining, navigate rope swings, climb across wobbly logs and bridges, attempt tightropes, and climb walls as you progress through 2.5-hour courses ranging from easy to challenging. Work up a sweat, and get a little dirty, all while having the time of your life.
Kayak or Stand-up Paddleboard
Explore the scenic lake at your own pace. There are many places to rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, but the glass-bottom kayaks at the Hyatt in Incline Village let you peak below at the perfectly clear water. The lake is cold, so don't fall in!
Catch a Movie
There are a few movie theaters in Lake Tahoe, such as Heavenly Village Cinemas (a multiplex), Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema (a quirky cinema), and Incline Village Cinema (an old-style theater). If you have to pick just one, try the Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema. With comfy couches, leather rocking chairs, and a bar serving beer and wine, this unique theatre is a fun option when you need a break from the hot sun.
Explore Emerald Bay
Just a short drive from South Lake Tahoe, the beautiful Emerald Bay is one of the most photographed places in Lake Tahoe. And no wonder why – it's gorgeous. There's a visitor parking lot off Highway 89, and even the views from there are stunning. The area has a few hiking trails, but to access the beach, hike down a short 1-mile trail to the pristine shoreline. Much easier down than back up; the effort is worth it.
Visit Vikingsholm Castle
Located next to the beach at Emerald Bay, Vikingsholm Castle was a large mansion built in 1929. Considered one of America's most significant Scandinavian-style architectural buildings, visitors can tour the castle during the summer months.
Ride the Palisades Aerial Tram to High Camp
The Palisades Aerial Tram is a 10-minute scenic ride to High Camp (8,200 feet above sea level). At the top, the views of Lake Tahoe and the high Sierra Mountains are uninterrupted and simply breathtaking. While there, enjoy hiking trails, disc golf, geocaching, roller skating, and a market serving sandwiches and snacks.
Take a Hike
Hiking is the ultimate Lake Tahoe summer activity. A beautiful easy hike (2 miles round trip) is Eagle Falls. Right off Highway 89, this popular hike offers some of the most gorgeous scenery in California, like cascading waterfalls, big pine trees, lush greenery, and lake views. Since it's popular, weekdays and early mornings are best.
For a longer hike, try the Rubicon Trail. It's 9.2 miles and begins in D.L. Bliss State Park. The trail gradually descends down to the lake, all the while offering sweeping views of Lake Tahoe. When you reach the shore, you'll pass little coves, perfect for cooling off before braving the trek back up.
Any summer weekend in Lake Tahoe is one you'll always remember.
Nicole is a freelance writer based in San Francisco. As a former professional athlete, she gravitates toward active vacations, but also loves a great luxury hotel (The Palace Hotel in San Francisco is her favorite). In addition to travel writing, Nicole has published pieces about sports, parenting, entertainment, art, technology, and law. When she's not writing, she can be found reading a good book, hiking around the Bay Area with her son, trying to train their 70 lb. puppy, or watching reruns of I Love Lucy.