Ultimate Tahoe Summer Bucket List

Courtesy Squaw Valley

I’ll admit it, summer is my favorite season in Tahoe. I love them all and I am excited at the arrival of each one, but summer is my what feeds me. The hard part is making a list each summer of the things I want to experience, which is how the Ultimate Tahoe Summer Bucket List started many years ago.

It’s a mix of my favorite places to explore and my favorite summer events, and places and events I would like to see and experience this summer. I add in favorite outings and events from our staff and our writers, and, over the course of a year, the Ultimate Tahoe Bucket List is created. Yes, it takes me a year to put together this list; I started the 2020 list already. We have links with all of the details at TheTahoeWeekly.com.

Go skiing

  1. Ski and ride until July 7 at Squaw Valley. This special treat doesn’t come around often.
  2. Cross-country ski Memorial Day Weekend at Auburn Ski Club.
  3. Heavenly is open through May 27 with sweeping views from every turn.

The great outdoors

4. Explore Webber Falls, Webber Lake & Lacey Meadows in one day. Or, camp overnight.
5. Hunt for Machados Post Pile at Silver Lake.
6. Backpack the Tahoe Rim Trail segment from Big Meadows to Echo Summit.
7. Explore the OHV trails at Prosser Hills.
8. Try rock crawling on the Rubicon Trail.
9. Hike into the quiet beauty found in the Granite Chief Wilderness.
10. It’s a wildflower wonderland on the Mount Judah Trail in mid to late July.
11. Paddleboard around Lake Tahoe in five days.
12. Hike or bike to bluegrass at Lost Trail Lodge.
13. Take in the views from Thimble Peak.
14. Enjoy the trails on horseback.
15. Make the trek to the newly renamed Hungalelti Ridge.
16. Camp at Fontanillis Lake in Desolation Wilderness.
17. Volunteer to work on a trail crew.
18. Search for the Chinese Catfish Pond on Donner Summit.
19. Take in the tranquility of boating camping in Emerald Bay.
20. Explore the wonders of Coons Canyon and Basin Peak.
21. Hunt for Tahoe’s Big Trees; you’ll need the Big Tree Register.
22. The wilds of the aptly-named Thunder Mountain await.
23. Enter the Labyrinth at Black Wall.
24. Scale Tahoe’s Via Ferrata.
25. Trek the high peaks and deep canyons of the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness.
26. Climb the Sierra Buttes.
27. Go birding with Tahoe Institute of Natural Science.
28. Share your observations with Truckee River Guide.
29. Sink your toes into the sand dunes at Washoe Lake State Park.
30. You’ll need your scuba certification to explore Tahoe’s newest trail – Emerald Bay Maritime Heritage Trail.
31. Hike to the Rubicon Point Lighthouse.
32. Golf one of the historic courses: Tahoe City Golf (1918), Bijou (1920), Old Brockway (1926) and the private Glenbrook Golf Course (1925).
33. Take a round at one of the nine disc golf courses. (Hint: Markleeville’s is the longest).
34. Go whitewater rafting on the American or the Truckee rivers with our local outfitters. It’s an exhilarating experience.

Cycle through Tahoe

35. Bike through South Shore on the 11-mile Forest Bicycle Trail passing a string of beaches from Stateline, Nev., to the Taylor Creek Visitor Center.
36. Enjoy the scenery of Sierra Valley on the Tour de Manure.
37. Ride the Tahoe-Pyramid Trail to Reno once it’s completed this summer.
38. Hone your skills with a local mountain bike clinic.
39. Enjoy wildflowers and single track at Burton Creek State Park.
40. It’s a classic: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
41. A Truckee classic: Hole in the Ground.
42. Ride the Powerline Trail; it’s great for beginners.

Take in the sights

43. Look for the Truckee Memorial Masonic Arch in downtown.
44. Explore the gardens and tour the historic Watson Cabin in Tahoe City.
45. Look for the Washoe Galis Dungals, or traditional winter homes, erected in locations throughout Tahoe.
46. Step back in time at the Pope-Baldwin Estates at the Tallac Historic Site.
47. Explore the Boca Historic Townsite. All that remains is an interpretive trail.
48. Watch a blacksmith use 100-year-old tools to create masterpieces at the Pope Estates.
49. Drive to explore the 20 Mile Museum.
50. Take a walking tour of historic downtown Truckee.
51. Explore Tahoe’s public art; it’s everywhere.
52. Hire a private boat and captain to show you the sights by water.
53. Take a guided free walking tour in Truckee or Tahoe City; see Events Calendar.
54. Take a tour of historic Markleeville.
55. Kayak or boat to Fannette Island in Emerald Bay. Climb to the Tea House and have a picnic. (Closed until June 15 for nesting birds.)
56. Explore the Lake Tahoe History Museum featuring a 1930s log cabin.

It’s a kids’ world

57. Boulder at D.L. Bliss State Park with the family.
58. Kids can compete at the Kids Adventure Games at Northstar.
59. Earn a Junior Ranger Badge at one of Tahoe’s six state parks.
60. While you’re at it, go for the Junior Forest Ranger badge, too, at Taylor Creek.
61. Foster young pilots. Take a free flight with the EAA Young Eagles.
62. Explore creative play at the KidZone Museum.
63. Take a ride on the kids train at Truckee Regional Park.
64. Take the kids to the pool. They love it.
65. Enjoy story time at the local library.
66. Pack a picnic and enjoy the free summer concerts around the Tahoe Sierra with the family.

Come with an appetite

67. Enter the Homebrew for the Homeless contest for the Tahoe Beach Bash.
68. Learn to bake scones in an early 20th Century kitchen at Tallac Historic Site.
69. Dine out at one of Tahoe’s oldest restaurants: Swiss Lakewood (1925), Chambers Landing (late 19th Century) or Bacchi’s Italian Dining (1932).
70. Take a tour of Tahoe’s Best Burgers; try our picks at TheTahoeWeekly.com.
71. Learn how to make cheese with a cheesemonger.
72. Try one of Chef Smitty’s recipes. They are amazing.
73. Try wines recommended by Sommelier Lou Phillips from his wine column. We’ve done the research; he knows what he’s talking about.
74. Food editor Priya Hutner is a health-conscious foodie that creates delectable dishes. Stay tuned for her pop-up dinners.

Enjoy the best of Tahoe

  1. Celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad. There are events planned throughout the season. Click on Transcontinental Railroad under the Explore Tahoe menu at TheTahoeWeekly.com.
  2. Shop local, and then go ahead and shop some more.
  3. Support local artists and buy locally made artwork.
  4. Interact with the artists at the Art Tours in July (and buy more art).
  5. 79. Take an art class.
  6. Eat out, a lot. We have great restaurants from the high-end, lakefront to the side street taquerias. Take a culinary adventure and dine somewhere new.
  7. Continue your culinary adventure at the farmers markets (we have a lot of them). They offer a lot more than fruits and vegetables.
  8. Plan a day of doing absolutely nothing at one of our breathtaking beaches. You deserve it.
  9. Relax at the spa.
  10. Soak in the hot springs: Grover Hot Springs State Park or Sierra Hot Springs (this one is clothing optional).
  11. Enjoy the festivals – food, art, wine, beer, dance and, of course, lots of music. The summer is jam-packed with them. Read our Tahoe Music, Events & Festival Guide each season at TheTahoeWeekly.com; click on Festivals under the Music Scene menu.
  12. Try something new: rock climbing, kayaking or paddleboarding. There are guides for anything you want to try; you don’t have to do it alone.
  13. Take a cruise, rent a boat, go sailing. It’s not a trip to Tahoe if you don’t get out on the water.
  14. Enjoy time with family and friends.
  15. Get tickets to the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival.
  16. Take the kids to the Lake Tahoe Dance Festival.
  17. Enjoy classical music at breathtaking outdoor settings at the Lake Tahoe Music Festival.
  18. Go hang gliding over Big Blue.
  19. Take a hot air balloon ride.
  20. Become a fighter pilot with Sky Combat Ace.
  21. STOP for pedestrians; they have the right of way.
  22. STOP flicking cigarette butts out of car windows & douse all fires with water; that how wildfires start.
  23. Please, don’t feed the bears. They don’t learn to forage for themselves and can’t survive. (Also, they shoot nuisance bears.)
  24. Tip your servers and your guides.
  25. The entire point is to have fun.
  26. Come back and see us again.