Memorial Day Weekend signals the beginning of summer in Tahoe. Bright sunny days and fresh mountain air beckon all to enjoy all that Tahoe has to offer.
Kick off summer with the Tahoe Weekly’s checklist of must-do summer activities. Tahoe Weekly challenges our readers to complete each of these before the leaves start to turn for fall. Just remember this list barely scratches the surface of summer fun in Tahoe.
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Take a hike
There are hundreds of trails throughout the Tahoe Basin and Truckee area from Donner Summit to the Carson Range. Local visitors’ centers offer information on hikes, or pick up one of the dozens of hiking books at a local bookstore. Please, wear good shoes, be prepared with food, water, sunscreen and layers (the weather is unpredictable in the Sierra).
California State Parks
There’s something about sitting around a campfire, roasting s’mores and spending hours with friends and family that’s filled with magic. There are scores of area campgrounds (they fill up fast), wilderness camping in some back-country areas or try boat camping at Emerald Bay.
Head to the Beach
Pack a picnic and grab the family for a day at the beach. From the bustling scene at Kings Beach to a movie under the stars at Commons Beach, a day at the beach is always a good day.
Truckee River Canyon
The stretch of Highway 89 between Tahoe City and Truckee has one of the most peaceful and beautiful bike rides in the region. The paved path runs to Olympic Valley, where you can continue on Squaw Valley Road and ride through the valley. Or, you can follow the bike lane to Truckee.
Visit the Rocking Stone
The legendary rocking stone, one of only 25 known rocking stones in the world, sits above downtown Truckee on Keiser Avenue. Through it no longer rocks (it was cemented in place), the site has great views of downtown and the Truckee River.
Head to the river
The Truckee River Regional Park is one of the area’s gems. The park offers hiking and biking trails, a skate park, rodeo arena, picnic areas, disc golf and free concerts every Wednesday from June to August.
Climb the face
Rock climbers love Tahoe. Whether they’re climbing a rock face or heading to a boulder field, opportunities for climbers are everywhere. Sounds fun, but looks too technical to try on your own? Don’t worry. Many local guide services are ready to take you out and show you the ropes.
Throw some disc
Tahoe is home to several disc golf courses, whether it’s meandering along the river at Truckee River Regional Park or experiencing a high altitude game at Squaw Valley, there’s plenty of opportunity to get out and enjoy the fresh air. Feeling competitive? Join the Sierra Tahoe Series and test your skills at one of several summer tournaments.
Enjoy a dinner outdoors
Enjoy gourmet meals cooked with locally sourced ingredients during one of several Farm to Table events throughout the summer. Check our Events calendar in every issue for details.
Rip the single track
Northstar’s Mountain Bike park offers some of the only lift-accessed mountain biking in the area. Riders of all abilities will enjoy the opportunity to explore trails ranging from mellow cross country to adrenaline pumping downhill. First-time mountain biking? The Bike 101 package includes all the gear and instruction needed to get rolling.
Enjoy the view
Head to Emerald Bay
No visit to the area is complete without heading to Emerald Bay. You can drive by and marvel at this wonder from vista points, hike down to the beach or take your boat for a slow drive around the bay.
Hike to Eagle Falls
This is possibly the most well-known hike in the area. The trailhead is at Emerald Bay off Highway 89 with magnificent falls only a 5-minute walk away. Don’t stop there, however. Make the 1-mile trek to Eagle Lake for a great picnic spot. Everyone knows about this great spot, so visit early in the morning during midweek.
Climb Eagle Rock
This volcanic plug towers above Lake Tahoe along the West Shore. Park along Highway 89 for a short hike up for panoramic views of the Lake.
Ride the Flume Trail
One of the most popular, and well known, mountain bike trails is the Flume Trail. Pick up the trail at Spooner Lake State Park. For a tamer ride, enjoy the trek to Marlette Lake. There’s even a shuttle to get you back to your car.
Take to the sky
Soar Truckee offers breathtaking gliders rides over Lake Tahoe and Truckee. They can make the ride mild or wild (hold on to your stomach).
On the water
Visit Fannette Island
Fannette Island in Emerald Bay is the only island in Lake Tahoe and features the remnants of a stone tea house. Visitors may reach the island by boat or kayak only, and hike to the top (closed until June 15 for nesting birds).
Boating and sailing are among the most popular activities at Lake Tahoe, Donner Lake and Prosser, Stampede and Boca Reservoirs. If you don’t have your own, don’t worry, most marinas offer rentals. (Check conditions before making plans.)
Area lakes offer beautiful shoreline scenery you might miss in a speeding boat. So, bring a kayak or standup paddleboard, or rent one, and head out on the lake. Morning is the best time on Lake Tahoe with little wind. Check local rental shops for equipment and a lesson.
Get out the toy box
Water toys are a great way to enjoy the water. Rent a personal watercraft or enjoy an Aqua Trike (think a bike for the water).
Take a boat cruise
Boating on the Lake is a summer must, but if you don’t have a boat or any boat skills, don’t worry. There are many wonderful tours offered from wooden boat tours of the East Shore to cruises on the West Shore and Emerald Bay to sailing charters.
Fly above the Lake
Parasail over Lake Tahoe from one of the many companies around the Lake. Ride the boat out on the Lake, then glide off the back on a parasail. Don’t forget to take a friend, or two, or three.
Spend the day at Donner Lake
Access the beach next to the Donner Memorial State Park, or launch your boat or kayak and enjoy the day relaxing at one of the 37 public piers around the lake.
On the town
Shop, shop, shop
Shopping can be considered a sport with stores catering to every fancy. Driving along Highway 28 on Lake Tahoe‘s North Shore, keep your eye out for the many shops spread along the communities of the North Shore including Tahoe City, Tahoe Vista, Kings Beach, Crystal Bay and Incline Village.
Roll the dice
Tahoe shares its shores with California and Nevada, with lots of gaming options on the Nevada side. Crystal Bay is home to the Tahoe Biltmore, Crystal Bay Casino, Cal Neva and Jim Kelly’s Nugget. In Incline Village, head to the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe.
Meander through the Village
The Village at Squaw Valley is filled with specialty shops, restaurants and much more. There’s a mini-golf course through the Village, rock climbing wall, bungee trampoline, free movies in the summer, and loads of events and festivals.
Stroll through Northstar
Shopping, dining, fine art, roller skating, a ropes course and bungee trampoline are among the attractions at the Village at Northstar. Enjoy Star Tours, the Wine Walks and many special events throughout the summer.
Dance all night
Check out the local hotspots for a night of music. Whether it’s a bluegrass jam at Moe’s Original Bar B Que in Tahoe City or a night of rocking out at Moody’s Bistro Bar & Beats in Truckee, the options are endless. Looking to dance until dawn? The Crystal Bay Casino hosts late night after parties most weekends.
Explore the arts
Discover local artists
North Tahoe Arts Center in Tahoe City is the area’s only public art center featuring rotating exhibits by local artists. Cap off a summer of art during ARTour in September. Truckee artists invite the public into their studios during the inaugural Truckee Open Art Studios tour in July.
Greensky Bluegrass | J. Van Buhler
Enjoy a festival
Musicians from around the world converge to perform with Lake Tahoe as their backdrop. From a day of electronic music during BassCamp Festival to string pickin’ tunes of the Lake Tahoe Bluegrass Festival, this summer is the chance to catch your favorite artists.
See the dancers
The Lake Tahoe Dance Collective hosts the annual Dance Festival bringing some of the world’s most talented dancers to an open-air stage at Tahoe City’s Gatekeeper’s Museum in July.
Take in a play
Head to Sand Harbor State Park for the annual Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. Enjoy the sunset over the lake and a picnic dinner while taking in one of the Bard’s tales.
Free jams all week
Each summer brings the opportunity to enjoy live music almost every night in North Lake Tahoe and Truckee. From soulful blues at Squaw Valley to rocking out on the beach at Kings Beach or Commons Beach, a summer season full of free live music five nights a week brings talented music to the area.
Look for Tahoe Weekly’s Summer Music & Festival Guide in June.
Ditch the car
Take the trolley
Ditch the car; you’ll never see all of the sights that way. There’s an extensive network of bus and trolley routes that encircle the Lake.
Employ pedal power
Truckee-Tahoe is bike friendly with miles and miles of paved bike paths on the North and West Shores, and even more bike lanes encircling Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Donner Lake and many other areas.
Visit Historic Downtown Truckee
The area surrounding the Truckee Depot is a bustling shopping district with Commercial Row across from the Depot and Brickelltown a few blocks to the west. Historic homes and buildings date back to 1868. Unique shops and superb restaurants are now the main attraction. Pick up a map for a self-guided walking tour at the Depot. Also, enjoy the Truckee Railroad Museum located in a caboose next to the Depot.
Learn the Donner Party’s fate
The ill-fated Donner Party suffered through the harsh winter of 1846-47 camped around Donner Lake and Truckee. The Donner Memorial State Park features exhibits and artifacts on the Donner Party at the Emigrant Trail Museum (reopening in June) and the towering Pioneer Monument, built to commemorate those who came to California in the mid-1800s.
Revel in maritime history
The Tahoe Maritime Museum in Homewood features an unmatched collection of wooden boats, historic photos and artifacts, interactive exhibits and much more.
Explore the 20-mile Museum
Donner Summit is rich with historical sites. Visit the Donner Summit Historical Society for a guide to the 20-mile Museum. This driving tour explores Donner Summit via Old Highway 40.