Planning a lake-side adventure this year? Find out all the best things to do in Lake Tahoe in summer in this helpful guide.
If you’re dreaming of visiting California or Nevada on your next summer holiday, then you might want to consider taking a trip to Lake Tahoe. This sprawling, deep-blue lake is surrounded by dramatic granite peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, sprinkled with alpine forests, wilderness, and beautiful clear skies all summer long. It’s a special place!
In the summer months, you’ll find it incredibly easy deciding on things to do in Lake Tahoe. Although it is well known for being the largest alpine lake in North America, visiting the lake in the summer is like visiting a completely different landscape.
With incredible hiking and biking trails, refreshing beach resorts, tons of action water sports, and historic sites that are only open in the summer, you won’t be short of options.
If you’re trying to decide on what to do in Lake Tahoe this summer read on to find out what are the best summer attractions.
Lake Tahoe’s summer is the ideal time to visit. In general the weather is warm and sunny, all day, every day.
On average, you can expect the weather from June to August to reach highs of 26-32°C (79-90°F) during the day, and drop to 10-15°C (50-59°F) at night. If you plan camping you might want to take some warm blankets with you.
If you struggle with humidity, you’ll be pleased to hear that humidity is at 0% in Lake Tahoe pretty much all year round. As well as the warm weather, there’s very little rainfall and almost constant clear skies to look forward to. Needless to say, you’ll be topping up your sun lotion regularly to protect you from the blazing sun.
If you’ve been deciding between a summer or winter trip, definitely have a read of my guide to visiting Lake Tahoe in winter too!
11 Amazing Things to do in Lake Tahoe in Summer
Being by a lake means there is an endless supply of fun summer activities. Whether you’re into fly fishing, boating, golfing, or biking, the best way to spend your summer in Lake Tahoe is to get outside and get active!
Head over to Emerald Bay State Park
One of the top things to do in Lake Tahoe is to spend a day wandering around the Emerald Bay State Park on the south shore. The bay itself has clear, pristine waters and glistening golden-sand beaches that are perfect for lounging on and enjoying the sunshine. You can take a kayak out to Fannette Island, or visit the former summer residence of a 1920s elite businessman, Vikingsholm. It’s a beautiful castle on the lake, so it’s a pretty spot for photos too!
If you enjoy hiking, the Lower Eagles Fall hike is a short and easy hike that takes you to the cascading waterfalls with panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake and mountains in the distance. If you want to see the scenery in all its glory, a helicopter flight over Emerald Bay will be an experience of a lifetime.
If it’s mountain adventures you’re after, but you’re not brave enough to tackle the mountains alone, then you need to add the Tahoe Via Ferrata to your itinerary. Think of it as an assisted mountain climbing activity, where ropes, ladders, steps, and suspension bridges allow you to pass complex terrain via a fun and accessible course.
You’ll be attached to a cable with a harness, so it’s much safer than traditional mountain climbing. If you’ve never climbed before and are not sure it’s for you, this would be a good introduction.
Palisades Tahoe Ropes Course
If you’re looking for some more unique things to do in Lake Tahoe to enjoy with your friends or family, how about checking out the Palisades Tahoe Rope course? It’s like a sky-high playground for adults and big kids! Located in Olympic Valley, the rope course has three 50-foot towers and two circuit courses connected by bridges and zip lines. Adrenaline junkies will love the vertical climbs and obstacles to cross. It’s fair to say, this epic summer activity in Lake Tahoe is not for the faint-hearted.
Lake Tahoe has a plethora of scenic biking trails from beginner, family-friendly trails to extreme mountain biking trails. If you’re looking for an easy ride admiring the stunning surrounding landscapes, then the South Shore bike path is a four-mile, mostly flat scenic trail that’s ideal for families and beginner bikers.
Adventurous mountain bikers may want to set their eyes to Northstar, where the Downhill Mountain Bike Park has more technical trails and challenging routes, including some anti-gravity-defying jumps.
If you love hiking, one of the best hikes in Lake Tahoe is the 13.6 miles (22km) Rubicon trail, which takes you along the South Shore of the lake from D.L. Bliss State Park to Emerald Bay State Park. Although the trail is 13.6 miles long, you don’t have to hike the entire trail.
The Rubicon Point Lighthouse trail is a 2.8 mile (4km) loop trail that offers some of the best scenery of the lake. It’s only open during the summer, so definitely give it a go! This loop trail starts and ends from the visitor’s centre near Callawee Cove Beach and is listed as a moderate level hike.
One of the top ways to take in Lake Tahoe’s scenery is by trying some water sports! Choose from paragliding, water skiing, jet skiing, and power boating. If you don’t fancy doing any action sports, you can rent kayaks and paddleboards from the shore and stay close to the beaches. Whatever you do for fun, Zephyr Cove is all about being on the water.
One of the most romantic things to do in Lake Tahoe in summer is to relax and enjoy a scenic boat cruise. If you opt for a sunset cruise, you’ll experience a landscape that you’ll never forget. Sit back and enjoy a bottle of wine as you watch the pink and orange skies reflect across the waters.
Remember, most days in Lake Tahoe in the summer will have clear skies, so you can expect to see some incredible sunsets!
If you’re looking for a memorable summer activity in Lake Tahoe then you’ll love water rafting down the Truckee River from Tahoe City to River Ranch. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is going to be an adrenaline-fuelled activity though, it’s actually more of a leisurely boat ride. It’s a great option for families too, as it’s suitable for anyone over the age of 2-years old.
If you’re travelling with friends or family, then you’ll love sharing a self-guided raft for up to 8 people and spending 2-3 hours meandering down the gentle rapids. The Truckee River passes through picturesque meadows, past jagged mountains and woodland forest – what a perfect setting for a summer’s day!
The Tallac Historic site, also known as The historic Pope-Baldwin Estates, was the grandest resort in the area over 100 years ago and the place that most elite members of society travelled to for their summer holidays. The remains of the resort are available to visitors only during the summer season.
As well as experiencing an era long forgotten, visitors can also enjoy a picnic on the grounds, explore the nearby walking trails, and if you time your visit right, experience demonstrations and history talks. The site is located just 3 miles north of the charming mountain town of South Lake Tahoe.
No visit to Lake Tahoe would be complete without taking some time to explore the lake! One of the spots to start from is Sand Harbor State Park. Here there are gorgeous and well-kept, gold-sand beaches, as well as Kayak tours around the lake. If you want to step your holiday up a notch, you can even rent a boat from here.
The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival has been operating every summer in Sand Harbor since the 70s. The festival runs throughout July and August and showcases not only works by Shakespeare, but also contemporary plays and musicals.
This open-air evening event is the perfect activity to help you unwind after a day of exploring. So why not pack yourself a picnic blanket and some wine and enjoy a world-class Shakespearean production on the lake? What an amazing experience!
If you’re looking to stay in North Lake Tahoe, the Firelite Lodge is the ideal choice. Situated close to King’s Beach in the Tahoe Vista, this luxury hotel and spa is just a 1-minute walk to the beach, popular hiking trails, and bike paths.
It has an outdoor hot tub, swimming pool, and on-site sailing school. There are also kayaks and stand-up paddle boards available to rent in the summer – perfect for families visiting Lake Tahoe with kids. Rooms are spacious with a small kitchenette, a fridge, microwave, and coffee machine. Tahoe international airport is just a 50-minute drive away.
If you’re looking for the full 5-star Lake Tahoe experience, check out the Edgewood Tahoe Resort. Many of the stylish rooms here have spectacular lake views. Plus, there’s a serene swimming pool moments from the shore.
The architecture of this hotel alone will make you want to visit! The restaurant has church-like pointed windows, offering panoramic views. The lobby is airy, with huge glass frontage too. Pretty much wherever you turn, you’ll be met by stunning views!
The restaurant at The Edgewood has an excellent reputation too. It’s the perfect place to relax and unwind after an adventurous day by the water.
For those looking to stay in South Lake Tahoe, Postmac Hotel and Spa is just a two-minute walk to the beach and it offers free bicycle rentals in the summer. If that’s not enough, each room comes with a spa tub, a living area, and a microwave.
The guest’s lounge has free hot drinks throughout the day. The decor is cosy and romantic, which makes for the ideal place to stay in Lake Tahoe for couples. If you’re on a California road trip, no worries because Postmac Hotel has free parking.
The Coachman is one of the best places to stay in Lake Tahoe for couples, offering an intimate environment where you can curl up with your other half on a romantic break.
Offering excellent value, comfortable rooms, outdoor hot tubs and cosy fire pits, this lovely hotel is one of the best places to stay in South Lake Tahoe, and is located close to the Heavenly gondola.
I hope this guide has given you lots of inspiration for what to do in Lake Tahoe in summer. It’s a huge area (spanning two states, California and Nevada) so no doubt you’ll discover lots more great activities during your trip!
If you haven’t decided when to visit, be sure to read my guide to visiting Lake Tahoe in winter. The two seasons are SO different, and offer varied experiences. You might want to try both!