At the top of the must-do list for any Lake Tahoe traveler: the quest to Mount Tallac. Perched high above the lake, this 9.5-mile hike involves 3,500 feet of elevation gain and takes about nine hours, with stops at the three alpine lakes along the way. Bring a picnic, a lot of water and enjoy an alfresco lunch with unparalleled views. If you’re traveling with kids, consider the 1.6-mile East Peak Trail instead, which combines a gondola ride to the top of the peak at Heavenly Mountain Resort.
If you like to hike and bike, head to the Tahoe Rim Trail. Called “a trail like no other,” the 165-mile trail circles the lake. Mountain bikes are permitted on certain sections of the trail, including the longest uninterrupted biking path on the southeastern side of the lake.
On the Water
Travelers who prefer the water can rent a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) and see for themselves why Lake Tahoe is considered one of the clearest lakes in the world and is known as the “jewel of the Sierra” for its clear emerald hue. Flatwater SUPs are great for any adventure level and most ages. Local shops, like South Tahoe Standup Paddle, will help determine which board is best for you based on your age and skill level.
For a prime view of one of the most photographed spots in all of Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay, rent a kayak and take the short paddle out to Fannette Island. Then hike up to the “tea house,” which offers a charming view of Lake Tahoe and Emerald Bay framed by a window in the historic stone remains. Follow your lake adventures back toward South Lake Tahoe with a short 15-minute drive southeast on State Route 89, where you can refuel at Coldwater Brewery. A handcrafted, locally brewed beer and a brisket chili will have your tired muscles feeling like new in no time.
With Your Family
If you’re vacationing with the family, head to Commons Beach in downtown Tahoe City. The grassy beach has evolved into a lakefront playground, with play structures for kids, fountains and barbecue grills. Enjoy live music on Sunday evenings in the summer.
After working up an appetite from hiking, biking or playing at the beach, enjoy a progressive dinner at Heavenly Village, where you can choose from a huge variety of eateries. For example, grab pizza and an ice cream brownie sundae for the kids at Basecamp Pizza Co., or a pint of beer, lamb lollipops and crispy pork belly for the adults at Gunbarrel Tavern and Eatery.
Where to Stay: