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Your All-Season Travel Guide to Lake Tahoe

10 unique things to do in Lake Tahoe for an unforgettable vacation

The Vacationeer
Gorgeous mountainous vista,  Lake Tahoe, California.

Four-season fun draws families, solo travelers and couples alike to Lake Tahoe’s shoreline, where California and Nevada cradle the largest freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Lake Tahoe is one of the most picturesque places to vacation in the American West and home to plenty of engaging outdoor recreation and indoor relaxation.

So, whether you’ve arrived ready to hit the snowy slopes or soak up the summer sun, don’t miss out on these once-in-a-lifetime activities ideal for your travel bucket list.

Yellow Jet Skis® dotting Lake Tahoe, sunset painted skies overhead, California.    

California Side

Spend an afternoon in Lake Tahoe and see why it’s one of California’s most desirable vacation destinations. Cool blue waters, quiet hiking trails, and mountainous backdrops create a laid-back environment ripe for relaxation.The top things to do in Lake Tahoe include museum hopping, scuba diving and sampling craft beer.

Explore the region’s history one museum at a time

The Tallac Historic Site was regarded as the “Grandest Resort in the World” over a century ago and is still a lovely place for a picnic. In Tahoe City, you can fill an afternoon visiting the Watson Cabin Museum, Museum of Sierra Ski History, the SNOW Sports Museum and the Gatekeeper’s Museum.

See Lake Tahoe’s history from below scuba diving near Emerald Bay

Stunning aerial view of Lake Tahoe on sunny summer day, California.    

One of the most unique things to do in Lake Tahoe combines outdoor adventure with local history: diving to the Maritime Heritage Underwater Trail offshore of Emerald Bay State Park. After you’ve visited Vikingsholm, scuba dive or snorkel beneath Lake Tahoe to view the sunken boats, barges and launches used during the Vikingsholm’s construction. Get up close and touch artifacts dating back to the 1880s through this unique experience.

Tackle the South Lake Tahoe Beer Trail

California is one of the best states for craft beer so take the opportunity to sip your way around the South Lake Tahoe Beer Trail. Eight breweries make up this tasty trail in Tahoe South, including South of the North Brewing Company and Stateline Brewery & Restaurant. Although this ale trail is a fun thing to do in Lake Tahoe, it also encourages you to explore everything South Lake Tahoe offers. You can add in activities like a stop at the Tahoe Trout Farm, the family-friendly Tahoe Tot Spot and Tahoe Bowl

Admire the mountains from a hot air balloon

The Sierra Mountain Range creates an amazing backdrop against the lake, and one of the top things to do in Lake Tahoe is to appreciate your surroundings from the sky. Lake Tahoe Balloons sails you past the lake and mountains in the Tahoe Flyer, the world’s only balloon aircraft recovery vessel. Spend an hour cruising across the sky, taking in panoramic views of Cascade Lake, Emerald Bay and even the peaks of Yosemite National Park if the weather allows.

Point of view shot of the Milky Way as seen looking up through tall Red Wood trees, California.    

Stand in awe of Lake Tahoe’s starry sky

You don’t need to visit Hollywood to see California’s stars.

Lake Tahoe is a fantastic place for unobstructed stargazing, and Tahoe Star Tours offers an intimate glimpse into the cosmos.Gaze through Celestron telescopes and learn about the constellations with guided lectures.

Then, you can sit around fire pits with s’mores in hand, listening to stories and viewing choreographed astronomy shows. 

Nevada Side

The serenity of the Sierra Nevada mountains is not lost on Nevada’s side of Lake Tahoe – but you will find yourself spoiled with creature comforts as well. Golf courses bookend the lake at the state lines, corralling casinos, beaches and unique sites along the shoreline. Nevada has no shortage of fun things to do in Lake Tahoe, and these five activities are no exception.

Discover the Seven Sacred Sights of Tahoe

Traveler skiing downhill towards Lake Tahoe, tree-lined ski slope, blue skies overhead and mountains in the distance, Nevada.    

Get to know the lay of the land with a day tour highlighting unique things to do in Lake Tahoe. Around Lake Tahoe can take you to the Seven Sacred Sights of Tahoe. Sign up for a six-hour or eight-hour tour around the lake and you’ll learn about the 1960 Olympics hosted in the Squaw Valley, hear the entertaining story about The Skiing Mailman, and make a stop at the Fleur de Lac Estate which was featured in the film The Godfather: Part II.

Play golf on both ends of the lake

Hang gliding is a thrill, but if your definition of extreme sports is playing eighteen with a 10-club set, Lake Tahoe’s golf courses are ready for your round. Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course on the lake’s south end is a Fazio-designed course with one-of-a-kind challenges for all handicaps. Head north if you want to play like a pro; the Incline Village Golf Course features two courses.

The Mountain Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., is ideal for casual players as this old-growth course is the site for family-friendly events throughout the year. Robert Trent Jones, Sr., ups the ante with his Championship Course. It’s regarded as one of the country’s best for its distinctive design and jaw-dropping views.

Beautiful aerial image of Lake Tahoe, fall folliage and blue waters with orange sunset skies overhead, Nevada.    

Hang glide over Lake Tahoe

Hanging gliding is one of the ultimate bucket list travel ideas you can add to your Lake Tahoe itinerary. Hang Gliding Tahoe affords you a view over the freshwater lake like no other.

Hop into an N66PH Evolution Revo trike and sail above Lake Tahoe’s blue waters – then take control and fly the aircraft yourself. The aircraft is outfitted with cameras, so you can live in the moment without worrying about capturing memories.

Drink in the lake on a sunset cruise

Lake Tahoe in the daylight is a picturesque backdrop, and the twilight hours add more magnificence to the area with the setting sun painting masterpieces across the sky. See the colorful sky from right on the water during an evening cruise on the M.S. Dixie II. This authentic paddle wheeler offers a sunset dinner cruise while the Tahoe Paradise yacht hosts a Sipping at Sundown cruise with light bites and champagne.

Dance and drink around the state line

When the moon comes out, so does the revelry. Spend time on this side of the state line, and you’ll find a good time on the casino floors of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino® and Bally’s. Knee-slapping and gut-busting fun take the stage at The Improv at Harveys, while you can exercise your mind trying to escape the Puzzle Room.

What’s the ultimate Lake Tahoe bucket list addition that positions you to see and do it all? Hike the Tahoe Rim Trail, a 165-mile loop that winds around the entire Lake Tahoe Basin. The trail has multiple segments, making it easy to hop on and off at trailheads on both sides of the lake. Trek a new leg each time you return or make an adventure out of your holiday and tackle the full loop on a single trip.

Capture the dazzling beauty of Lake Tahoe, and all of your other adventures, with these expert tips for taking better vacation photos.

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The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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