Things to Do at Lake Tahoe: Activities for Every Season

Lake Tahoe from from Tahoe Ski Resort
By Jeff Edwards, UNR Department of Art/Photography. Posted by Reno Tahoe/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Best Things to Do at Lake Tahoe Any Time

Lake Tahoe's weather has more extremes than the rest of California, with pleasant summers and snowy winters, but there are a few things to do at Lake Tahoe no matter when you're there.

One of the best ways to enjoy the natural beauty is by getting out in the middle of it. Use the boat cruise guide to find out more about your options and where they take off from

You'll get a different perspective by driving, using our Lake Tahoe driving tour guide

Squaw Valley was a scenic spot even before it gained fame when it hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics. Find out what to do there in summer and winter

Gambling is legal on the Nevada side of the lake, and it's one of the most popular things to do at Lake Tahoe. Find a casino that's best for you

Heavenly is the name of the ski resort at South Lake Tahoe and also a good descriptor for the view from the Heavenly Resort Gondola Ride

If you want to take a scenic drive, Some people say Old Highway 40 is one of the country’s most scenic drives, especially the section from Donner Lake to Donner Summit across the Rainbow Bridge. It is now called Donner Pass Road and runs from the west end of Donner Lake to Big Bend, paralleling I-80.

Best Things to Do at Lake Tahoe in Summer

Lake Tahoe is actually busier in summer than in winter, even though it may be better known for its ski slopes. Maybe all those visitors have figured out that there are more things to do at Lake Tahoe in the warmer months.

Summer is the time for water sports. You can rent almost any kind of watercraft from businesses along the lakeshore, or take a gentle, self-propelled rafting trip on the Truckee River just below the lake at Tahoe City. Heavenly Ski Resort also offers a variety of summer activities that include ziplining, a gravity-powered rollercoaster, and offroad tours.

Hiking and mountain biking are among the most popular things to do at Lake Tahoe in warm weather. Some of the most popular mountain bike trails are the Flume Trail, Van Sickle Trail, and the Downieville Downhill.

You can also hike on the Tahoe Rim Trail, but you don't have to do all of its 165 miles in one trip. You'll find some easy day hikes on it, too

The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival features classic plays in a setting so lovely that it almost upstages the performers

Best Things to Do at Lake Tahoe in Winter

Lake Tahoe winters mean snow, and hundreds of inches of the white stuff pile up around it every year - or at least the ski resorts hope it does. The bigger ski resorts usually open by Thanksgiving, even if they have to manufacture snow to do it. In the snowiest years, the season may last into April.

Snow skiing is by far the most popular of all things to do at Lake Tahoe in winter. Read about the best ski resorts for your style.

Go dog sledding with Wilderness Adventures, a no-effort way to get around the wintry landscape

You'll think it's a scene right out of Curries & Ives when you take a trip with Borges Sleigh Rides.

Best Things to do at Lake Tahoe for Families

If you've got the whole family along, you'll find plenty of things to do at Lake Tahoe to keep them entertained.

Kids love the old-fashioned Western atmosphere at Virginia City, a short side trip away from the lake

Northstar at Tahoe has a big ice skating rink and afterward, you can buy a s'mores kit and warm up around one of the outdoor fireplaces

Most of the larger ski resorts offer lessons for the kids, but if they don't want to ski, they'll enjoy playing the snow or snow tubing

Admission is free at the Tahoe Trout Farm, and you can get bait and tackle on the spot. Just be sure the kids know that they're going to have to kill the fish if they plan to take it home for dinner. They don't have a website, but they're at 1023 Blue Lake Ave in South Lake Tahoe, open end of May through early September, 530-541-1491

The self-propelled rafting trips on the Truckee River just at Tahoe City are one of the most fun things to do at Lake Tahoe, especially if the kids are old enough to help paddle. Or if you love the water, you can rent a kayak or stand up paddleboard at Tahoe Paddle & Oar and enjoy the calm water at Kings Beach.

Romantic Things to Do at Lake Tahoe

Dinner with a view at sunset. You can get it on a boat cruise or at the Squaw Valley High Camp December through March

Cuddle up on a hot air balloon ride over the lake - mornings only

Get married: Plan ahead for the big day, skip all the fuss and elope or just do it on the spur of the moment. Local wedding chapels can handle all the legalities in a jiffy.