Nicknamed “America’s Year Round Playground,” Lake Tahoe is home to iconic landmarks surrounded by jaw-dropping natural beauty. With a variety of outdoor activities from skiing and snowboarding to hiking to parasailing, there is always something fun to do at Lake Tahoe. And if you’re looking for entertainment, the 24-hour excitement of the South Shore’s casino nightlife, clubs, and concerts is just a few miles away.
What to do at Lake Tahoe
- Alpine Skiing & Boarding
- Horseback riding
- Water Skiing
- Lake Fishing
- Fly Fishing
- Casino Gaming & Nightlife
- Fine Dining
- Ice Skating
- Cross Country Skiing
- Mountain Biking
- Beach Volleyball
- White Water Rafting & Kayaking
Top Lake Tahoe Landmarks
Emerald Bay: Emerald Bay is one of Lake Tahoe’s most photographed and popular locations. When people see pictures of Lake Tahoe in travel magazines, Emerald Bay is usually the most prominently featured. Combined into a State Park, Emerald Bay features include Fannette Island, Eagle Falls, and Vikingsholm, a 38-room mansion that is considered one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the United States. The park contains the only island in Lake Tahoe, Fannette Island. In 1969, Emerald Bay was recognized as a National Natural Landmark by the federal Department of the Interior. In 1994, California State Parks included the surrounding water of the bay as a part of the park, making Emerald Bay one of the first underwater parks of its type in the state. It is the landing place for many boats, launches, and barges used in the lake before the turn of the century, during the heyday of Emerald Bay Resort and used in the construction of Vikingsholm. Visitors to Emerald Bay State Park enjoy hiking, swimming, kayaking, scuba diving, boating, sightseeing and touring Vikingsholm in the summer months.
Heavenly Gondola: A 2.4-mile ride up the Heavenly Mountain Gondola will leave you breathless as you take in panoramic views of Lake Tahoe. On your way up, stop at the Observation Deck – a 14,000 square foot mid-station observation platform, located at 9,123 feet. Enjoy views of South Lake Tahoe, Desolation Wilderness, and from shore to shore of Lake Tahoe. The Gondola generally operates from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend (weather permitting). At the top of the gondola, explore hiking trails, grab lunch at the Tamarack Lodge, and choose your EPIC Discovery activities, including zip lines, ropes courses, tubing, and Ridge Rider Mountain Coaster. Tickets are required; check Heavenly’s website for details.
Cave Rock: Highway 50 goes right through Cave Rock, a huge rock formation that is the neck of an old volcano. The name comes from the small caves on the west side, cut by waves when the lake was 140 feet higher during the Ice Age. Cave Rock is also a spiritual site of the region’s earliest residents, the Washoe Indian Tribe. A small day-use area is tucked beneath the rugged volcanic face of Cave Rock. Facilities include a boat launch ramp and dock, comfort station, picnic sites, and a small sandy beach. Hike to the top for the best overview, it is short but steep with amazing views.
Logan Shoals: A popular place for weddings with its sweeping backdrop of Lake Tahoe, Logan Shoals Vista Trail is a hidden gem on the Nevada shoreline, just north of Cave Rock on Highway 50. The site provides a panoramic vista across the lake, where you can see the broad u-shaped valleys carved out of glaciers. The main path is paved with informative placards about Tahoe‘s geography and history along the way. The best views, however, are found on the unpaved paths that go just beyond where the paving stops. In particular, there is a gorgeous panoramic view of the whole lake if you walk just behind the large rock formation in Logan Shoals.
Sand Harbor: With 55 acres of long sandy beaches, rocky coves, shady forested areas, and panoramic lake views, Sand Harbor offers visitors unparalleled opportunities to enjoy Lake Tahoe. It is arguably one of the most beautiful and easily accessible from Lake Tahoe’s beaches. The sand is soft and the waters are crystal clear. There are multiple beaches and coves you can explore and set up your towels on the sand. The water is calm for kayaks and standup paddleboards, and there are rentals available on-site. There’s also a visitor center, parking, bathrooms, and a restaurant/cafe with a shaded deck on site.