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Things to do in Lake Tahoe

Things to do in  Lake Tahoe

Welcome to Lake Tahoe

Set high in the Sierra Nevada range, spanning the California/Nevada border, Lake Tahoe is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the US and one of the deepest in the world. Surrounded by pine forest and steep, alpine peaks, Tahoe is famous for its dazzlingly clear, blue-green water and epic winter snows. With easy access from the Bay Area and Sacramento, Lake Tahoe National Recreation Area attracts roughly three million visitors year-round. Lake Tahoe's many activities are divided by weather and season. In winter, powder-hounds flock to its numerous ski resorts and snowboarding trails. Summer season is great for watersports of all sorts—swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking—as well as hiking, camping, and mountain biking. With just one narrow, winding road along the 72-mile (116-kilometer) shoreline, a chauffeured "circle-the-lake" tour is the best way to take in the scenery. South Shore, home of Heavenly Mountain Resort, Emerald Bay State Park, and Eagle Falls, makes a popular base. Start in Zephyr Cove and capture those famous views from the deck of an old-fashioned paddleboat or even from the cockpit of a helicopter—the choice is yours. Many day trips begin in South Shore, from wine tasting in El Dorado to a Wild West adventure, complete with steam train ride. It also offers nightlife, casinos (on the Nevada side), and easy access from Reno airport. North Shore's Tahoe City and Squaw Valley are generally quieter and more upscale. A few good restaurants are found here, with many more options in nearby Truckee.

Top 10 attractions in Lake Tahoe

#1
Emerald Bay State Park

Emerald Bay State Park

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Emerald Bay is the jewel of Lake Tahoe’s natural sights—and not just because of its name. Its waters are a bright turquoise color, owing both to the clarity of the lake and the shallowness of the bay. Emerald Bay is also home to the lake’s only islet, Fannette Island. This scenic patch of land surrounded by water is what gives the bay its jewel-like shape and name. Visitors flock to the area in summer for boating, swimming, and hiking opportunities.More
#2
Heavenly Gondola

Heavenly Gondola

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Whether you're an adventure junkie or a relaxation-seeking traveler, Heavenly Gondola—at Heavenly Ski Resort—is a can't-miss Lake Tahoe attraction. Take it to the top of the mountain, then gaze out over panoramic shore-to-shore views of aqua-blue Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains from up high.More
#3
Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

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The largest alpine lake in North America, and the second-deepest lake in the United States, Lake Tahoe is Northern California’s winter playground. known for its several ski resorts, and a summer getaway. The lake straddles the California-Nevada border, with roughly two-thirds of its mass in California.More
#4
Vikingsholm Castle

Vikingsholm Castle

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Vikingsholm Castle is a historic mansion and architectural highlight of Lake Tahoe. Located in beautiful Emerald Bay State Park, the majestic home overlooks the lake’s scenic Emerald Bay and Fannette Island. Blending seamlessly with its surrounding natural environment, Vikingsholm is considered to be one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the western hemisphere.More
#5
M.S. Dixie II

M.S. Dixie II

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To truly experience Lake Tahoe, take a trip aboard theM.S. Dixie II, a paddle-wheel boat that plies the lake’s stunning, cobalt-blue waters. From its vantage point on the lake, take in views of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Emerald Bay, charming Fannette Island, and Vikingsholm Castle.More
#6
Sand Harbor

Sand Harbor

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With its pristine waters, long stretches of sandy beach, rocky coves with giant boulders, and stunning panoramic views, Sand Harbor is one of the most popular beaches at Lake Tahoe. It’s the ideal place for the whole family to enjoy a day of fun in the sun surrounded by some of Lake Tahoe’s most spectacular scenery.More
#7
South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe

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South Lake Tahoe, perched on the largest Alpine lake in North America on the California–Nevada border, is one of the region’s most popular hot spots. The city offers stellar water views and serviceable accommodations with easy access to the lake, plus casinos, great skiing, beaches, and bike trails.More
#8
Fallen Leaf Lake

Fallen Leaf Lake

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Though only one mile south of its much larger neighbor Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Lake holds its own, scenically surrounded by tall pine trees and mountains. It was created centuries ago by a glacier from the Glen Alpine Valley, and a lack of commercial development here means a very high quality of water, the clarity of which means visibility up to 50 feet. The bottom is even often visible from the shore!Boating and fishing are both popular activities, with a variety of small boats available for visitors to rent. There are also several fantastic hiking trails around the area, and though there are no designated areas the lake is great for swimming. The proximity to Lake Tahoe and remaining relatively unknown means fewer crowds and less bustling activity. There is also a campground for those seeking full immersion into the peace of nature here.More
#9
El Dorado Wine Region

El Dorado Wine Region

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California’s El Dorado wine-producing region is situated at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. With a low-alpine climate—warm days and cool nights are ideal for growing grapes for wine—the area is home to about 50 wineries, producing dozens of celebrated wine varietals.More
#10
Squaw Valley

Squaw Valley

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One of the top ski resorts on the West Coast, Squaw Valley was the host of the 1960 Winter Olympics. With 3,600 acres (1,457 hectares) of terrain, over 170 trails, and a village boasting over 50 restaurants and 40 shops, as well as a multitude of activities and festivals in the summer, there’s plenty to keep visitors occupied year-round.More

Trip ideas

Top Hiking Trails in Tahoe

Top Hiking Trails in Tahoe

Lake Tahoe Ski Resort Guide

Lake Tahoe Ski Resort Guide

Recent reviews from experiences in Lake Tahoe

star-5
Amazing lake tour
Wides_V, Oct 2020
Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay Cruise on M.S. Dixie II
we want to repeat on next summer hopely .
star-5
Great experience
Cheri_C, Oct 2020
Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay Cruise on M.S. Dixie II
It was a beautiful fall day and the lake did not disappoint.
star-5
A MUST!
Linda_T, Oct 2020
Private Boat Charter on Lake Tahoe with Captain Half Day
Such a fabulous way to see Lake Tahoe and all of its beauty and history!
star-5
Fun time
Michelle_C, Aug 2020
2 Hour Small Group Sailing Cruise Lake Tahoe
It was a really different way to see Lake Tahoe.
star-5
Excellent Photography tour
DebbieP, Jul 2020
Lake Tahoe Ultimate Photography Scenic Half-Day Tour in Small-Group
This tour was excellent and not only gave us an opportunity to see the best of the best in South Lake Tahoe but we also learned a lot about how to take a great photo.
star-5
So serene! Can’t beat the view.
fitzclaire03, Sep 2019
South Lake Tahoe Parasailing
Great experience to see Lake Tahoe that way!
star-5
We only had a short time in the Lake...
Candace J, Aug 2017
M.S Dixie II Sunset Dinner Cruise
We only had a short time in the Lake Tahoe area and this cruise was a great way to see a good portion of the lake.
star-5
The tour driver was very...
Hendry, Jul 2015
Full-Day Lake Tahoe Circle Tour including Squaw Valley
The tour was a comfortable and convenient way to visit different sightseeing spots around Lake Tahoe.
star-4
This was a great way to visit...
STEPHEN B, Sep 2015
Wild West Day Trip from Lake Tahoe with Train Ride
This was a great way to visit Virginia City while in Lake Tahoe!
star-4
Nice tour on Lake Tahoe
SamB, Jul 2020
Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay Cruise on M.S. Dixie II
I was expecting to see more around the lake and after an hour it got a little boring.
star-5
This tour was awesome! I've been to...
HV, Nov 2015
Lake Tahoe Ultimate Photography Scenic Half-Day Tour in Small-Group
I've been to Lake Tahoe several times but with this tour was able to see different areas and viewpoints.
star-5
Enjoyable and Informative
Liz L, Oct 2019
Full-Day Lake Tahoe Circle Tour including Squaw Valley
It was a charming town on the water; was very clean, and had lots of character and spectacular fall color, There were restaurants and shops as well.
star-5
Excellent day trip to experience Yosemite
Passport65038407217, Jul 2019
Small-Group Day Trip to Yosemite from Lake Tahoe
Highly recommend this trip if you are in Lake Tahoe and want to see and explore Yosemite - in the comfort of a guided tour bus.
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Lake Tahoe Cruise
decollins2, Sep 2019
Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay Cruise on M.S. Dixie II
This is a beautiful way to see the majesty of Lake Tahoe with all of its splendor.
star-4
We had a very nice day. The driver...
Carol H, Jul 2014
Wild West Day Trip from Lake Tahoe with Train Ride
We got to see terrain in Nevada that we wouldn't have seen otherwise.
star-5
Was a beautiful day and enjoyed...
Sharon S, Sep 2017
Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay Cruise on M.S. Dixie II
We would recommend this to anyone who wanted to see the lake by cruising on it.
star-5
Amazing tour of Lake Tahoe, our tour...
Ronica N, Jan 2015
Lake Tahoe Ultimate Photography Scenic Half-Day Tour in Small-Group
Got some great photos but can't wait to see the professional ones!
star-5
What a wonderful experience to see...
Therese J, Oct 2016
Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay Cruise on M.S. Dixie II
What a wonderful experience to see the beauty of nature so close up.
star-5
We had a great trip. Although we...
Calvin D, Jun 2012
Lake Tahoe Ultimate Photography Scenic Half-Day Tour in Small-Group
We really enjoyed the time and would suggest it to anyone that wants to see more of the natural beauty of Lake Tahoe.
star-4
The tour of Lake Tahoe is beautiful...
Keith T, Sep 2016
Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay Cruise on M.S. Dixie II
the back window to see the paddlewheel was so dirty could not get a good photo

Frequently Asked Questions

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