The best things to do in Lake Tahoe in summer include great recreational activities and attractions you can enjoy right on and around the large freshwater lake. Immerse yourself in the beauty of this world-famous body of water straddling the California and Nevada border. Enjoy the magnificent scenery, outdoor adventures, and a host of attractions year-round.

    Lake Tahoe has 72 miles of shoreline, with the North Shore known for its more tranquil experience, as compared to the South Shore’s party atmosphere. No matter which side you’re on, the water shimmers in shades of deep emerald and Caribbean blue. When framed by long sandy beaches and secluded coves, it’s sure to impress. Read on for all the fun you can have in Lake Tahoe when the sun shines.


    M.S. Dixie II Paddlewheeler

    A popular cruise for stunning views of Lake Tahoe

    • Couples
    • Families
    • Photo

    The M.S. Dixie II Paddlewheeler is often named among the top Tahoe attractions. You can take in some of the most spectacular views of Lake Tahoe from atop the paddle wheeler as it steadily cruises over the sparkling blue waters.

    The M.S. Dixie II is one of the oldest and most popular vessels on the lake. It’s outfitted Mississippi-style with 3 decks, including an outside seating area at the top. Operated by the Zephyr Cove Resort & Marina, it’s been voted “Best Boat Cruise” at Tahoe by many. You can choose from sightseeing cruises or sunset dinner cruises with live entertainment and dancing.

    Location: 760 US-50, Zephyr Cove, NV 89448, USA

    Open: Friday–Sunday from noon to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 800-238-2463


    Heavenly Mountain Gondola

    Ride with spectacular views of Tahoe from above

    Heavenly Mountain Gondola offers a ride with stunning views over one of Tahoe’s top ski resorts. Those who come when the slopes aren’t blanketed in snow can enjoy spectacular views on the ride. During the warmer months of the year, you’ll be able to soak up panoramic views of the lake, Carson Valley, and Desolation Wilderness under typically brilliant blue skies.

    On the way up, you can stop to pick up a beverage at Café Blue and capture a photo of the lake from the Observation Deck. Once at the top, take the Tamarack Express chairlift for even better views of the lake and access to multiple hiking trails.

    Location: 4080 Lake Tahoe Blvd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150, USA

    Open: Daily from 8.30 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 775-364-1198


    Ridge Rider Coaster

    Heavenly’s gravity-powered alpine coaster

    • Couples
    • Families

    Ridge Rider Coaster offers big mountain thrills when skiing may not be a possibility in the summer. The exhilarating ride takes you soaring down in an alpine coaster, through cool rock formations and forest.

    On Ridge Rider Coaster, you’ll fly along 3,400 ft of track for more than a half-mile with 2 exciting lateral loops – taking in epic panoramic views of the lake throughout the joyride. As each automobile fits up to 2 riders, you can share the heart-pounding experience with your date.

    Location: Stateline, NV 89449, USA

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 775-586-7000


    Hike the Tahoe trails

    Discover a hiker’s paradise

    The Lake Tahoe region offers miles and miles of trails for hiking with some of the world’s most impressive views. Tahoe Rim is a 165-mile loop with 8 official trailheads creating segments ranging from 12 to 33 miles. Mount Tallac is an easily doable day hike, 10.5 miles out and back climbing to the top of one of the highest peaks surrounding the lake.

    The 4.1-mile Emerald Point Trail is a popular shorter option with fantasy-like views contouring the north side of picturesque Emerald Bay in Emerald Bay State Park. For a short family-friendly nature walk, the half-mile Glacier Meadow Loop features lake views and informational signs explaining how glacial action carved and polished the landscape.


    Concerts at Commons Beach Summer Concert Series

    Free live music on the beach

    • Couples
    • Families
    • Food
    • Budget

    Tahoe features several summer concert series that takes place around North and South Lake Tahoe, but the Concerts at Commons Beach highlight is North Lake Tahoe’s largest live music event series. Hosted at the 4-acre park in Tahoe City, it also offers what many call the best setting for free concerts there.

    The concert venue is right on the beach with a vast lawn for tossing down a blanket and enjoying a picnic with good tunes, or you can buy tasty food and drink (including beer and wine) from the local onsite vendors. A family-friendly event, kids’ activities are available too.

    Location: Commons Beach Rd, Tahoe City, CA 96145, USA

    Open: June–September: Sundays from 4 pm to 7 pm

    Phone: +1 530-583-3348


    SUP yoga

    Bring your yoga practice onto the lake

    SUP yoga (stand-up paddleboard yoga) is one of the newer twists on yoga, offering a unique practice in the middle of water that’s become increasingly popular among yogis who already enjoy paddleboarding. Even so, anyone can give it a try. It’s best done on a calm body of water like a lake, and Tahoe is ideal.

    Tahoe City Kayak was the first to offer lessons on the lake, requiring only an easy-to-moderate level of fitness. All you need is to be comfortable in the water – it’s a great activity providing a good mix of exercise, relaxation and nature. Just imagine practicing your downward dog while gazing at the endless blue of the lake.

    Location: 521 N Lake Blvd, Tahoe City, CA 96145, USA

    Open: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday from 8 am to 9 am

    Phone: +1 530-581-4336


    Waterfall-hopping around Lake Tahoe

    Discover waterfalls and tranquil pools

    A hot summer day is ideal for waterfall-hopping in Tahoe. Particularly in early summer, the many waterfalls gracing the area will have massive amounts of water plunging over shelves of granite and ancient stone, thanks to the snowmelt.

    You can make a day out of visiting the top falls, like Lower Eagle Falls which requires only about a 1-mile trek while bringing views of 60- and 90-ft cascades. Just off Highway 50 is Horsetail Falls, with an 800-ft drop as Tahoe’s tallest, while Glen Alpine Falls at Fallen Leaf Lake spills about 80 ft over multiple outcroppings and rocks before flowing into a river below.


    Kayaking around Lake Tahoe

    Paddle around the shores to discover hidden treasures

    Paddling out in a kayak is a great way to discover Lake Tahoe’s more hidden treasures. The lake offers around 75 miles of shoreline to explore. The eastern shores are especially impressive, scattered with huge boulders that are reflected in the water on calm mornings. If you don’t have your own, kayaks are available for rent through multiple outfitters like Tahoe Adventure Company which provides delivery service.

    The 2 most popular routes include the 13-mile paddle between Sand Harbor and Cave Rock and the 6-mile paddle between Nevada Beach and Cave Rock. You can also paddle over to the lake’s only island, Fannette. This granite islet rises 150 ft above the water and is topped by the “Tea House” that looks like a mini castle.


    Vikingsholm Castle tour

    A rare architectural masterpiece

    • History
    • Photo

    Vikingsholm Castle is a magnificent 38-room mansion that was originally built as the summer residence for Mrs Lora Josephine Knight. She had been impressed by her architect nephew’s Nordic-inspired home and traveled to Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway to research ideas, viewing ancient stone castles and old wooden churches to build her own version on Tahoe’s shores.

    Vikingsholm Castle was constructed in 1929, and nearly a century later, as a visitor you can take tours for a closeup look at its hand-forged metalwork, detailed stonework, dragon heads, and intricately carved wooden beams. It also displays rare Scandinavian antiques Knight brought back from her travels.

    Location: CA-89, Tahoma, CA 96142, USA

    Open: Daily from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm

    Phone: +1 530-525-9530


    Sand Harbor Beach

    Spend the day at the beach

    Sand Harbor is one of the most popular beach parks along the shores of Lake Tahoe, part of Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. You can’t visit Lake Tahoe in the summer and not enjoy at least one day at the beach. It’s a gorgeous crescent of golden sands that stretch for several miles and includes several secluded bays perfect for spending an entire day out.

    There are showers, restrooms, a bar and broil, store, picnic tables, BBQ broils, and plenty of room to put down a blanket for sunbathing. The clear aquamarine water is some of the best for bathing, and there are even some neighborhoods with rocks for leaping in.

    Location: 2005 NV-28, Incline Village, NV 89452, USA

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +1 775-831-0494

    K.C. Dermody | Contributing Writer

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