How to Plan a Lake Tahoe Summer Getaway

Kayaking on Lake Tahoe
Squaw Valley Lodge/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Lake Tahoe is the perfect summer destination and an excellent place to take a quick getaway.

There's plenty to do in and around the lake when it's warm. All of the roads will be open, and you can go hiking in your shorts.

Why Should You Go in the Summer? 

Lake Tahoe is popular with all kinds of people, especially those who enjoy the great outdoors, but it's also a great place to take a lazy drive along the shore.

Summer's warmer temperatures and long days also bring out lots of concerts and other evening events.

Best Time to Visit

Lake Tahoe can get annoyingly crowded on long holiday weekends. Try to go mid-week if you can. Or pick a non-holiday weekend if you can't.

Don't Miss

Any time of year, a ride to the top of the mountain on the Gondola at Heavenly is the Lake Tahoe must-do. It offers the most stunning views you can imagine and lives up to the name Heavenly. The only reason not to go is if you suffer from altitude sickness. Or fear of heights. It's at 9,123 feet.

6 Great Things to Do

  • Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival: Even if you don't think you like Shakespeare, give this lakeside festival a try for its gorgeous surroundings and laid-back ambiance. Bored? Just lean back and look at the stars.
  • Take a boat cruise: There's no better way to see the vast lake and its surroundings than to get out in the middle of it.
  • Drive around the lake: See the top sights with a Lake Tahoe photo tour.
  • Visit Vikingsholm: This Scandinavian-style house on the edge Emerald Bay is the former summer home of a millionaire heiress and worth a stop for its unique architecture and history.
  • Hang out at a resort: Squaw Valley and Northstar are just as beautiful in summer as they are in winter. They also offer a full range of summer activities for the whole family, such as miniature golf and roller skating. You will also find excellent prices for lodging.
  • Go rafting on the Truckee River: If you're uncoordinated, you might get a little wet, but a self-propelled raft trip down the Truckee River is a fine way to spend a morning or afternoon.

Annual Events

To celebrate Independence Day, South Lake Tahoe hosts Lights on the Lake, the most impressive Fourth of July fireworks display in the western United States.

The Tahoe Summer Music Festival offers a variety of music: classical orchestral, jazz, bluegrass, country, pop, and Broadway hits outdoors under the stars.

Tips

  • Lake Tahoe is even busier in summer than it is in winter. Plan ahead as much as you can, and if you don't like crowds, avoid holiday weekends.
  • You may also want to check the average temperatures and climate at Lake Tahoe before packing.
  • Yes, Lake Tahoe casinos are popular, but why spend time inside a smoky, dark place with all the natural beauty outside? At the very least, try to start your casino time after the sun sets.
  • Bring plenty of sunscreen. It's easy to get sunburned at the high altitude. Make sure you have the right gear before you go to the mountains.
  • The lake is extraordinarily beautiful and romantic at sunset and in the moonlight. Plan ahead.

Best Brunch

People who live in Incline Village say the Hyatt has one of the best brunches in town. The Log Cabin in Kings Beach at North Lake Tahoe serves great traditional breakfasts, and if you give them a call at 530-546-7109 when you leave your hotel, they'll put your name on their waiting list. On the south side of the lake, try Ernie's Coffee Shop or Cafe Zenon in Tahoe City.

Where to Stay

With a variety of places to stay, you're sure to find a place that's just right for you. Research the pros and cons of the many areas where you can find lodging. You can also find the perfect place to go camping here.

Getting There

The nearest airport is in Reno, Nevada. From there, you can either drive or take a shuttle bus to Lake Tahoe.