Top 15 Family Activities in Lake Tahoe

We had such a great response to our article on the Top 15 Family Activities in Breckenridge, we thought we'd apply our knowledge of beautiful Lake Tahoe to do the same for this stunning resort destination. Lake Tahoe is the ideal destination for families, with an endless array of activities, big and small. No matter what the size and orientation of the group, there’s an activity for everyone in the family. Whether you love camping and fishing or hiking and snowboarding, Lake Tahoe has it all.

Warm sun-soaked summer days allow you to explore the glacier-formed granite cliffs and Alpine forests of Emerald Bay, and all the amazing summer events that pop up around the Lake in June, July, August.  The snow-blanketed winters let you head up to one of the dozens of ski destinations, like Northstar Resort, and carve up the slopes.

In the fall, Lake Tahoe calms down, the colors come out, and the area hosts several events that celebrate the beauty of the season. See all there is to do in Lake Tahoe in Fall here

With roughly 3 million visitors heading to Lake Tahoe every year, it's one of the most visited places on earth. However, while there are plenty of things to do in Lake Tahoe with a loved one or friends, the following 15 family activities are some of the most popular in the area. Heading to Lake Tahoe in the summer? Check out our list of the 6 most incredible lakefront cabin rentals in Lake Tahoe

While Lake Tahoe is ideal for the entire family, some activities are more suitable for the family than others. While most of the resorts offer slopes that will be amenable even to the beginner skiers in your family, there are other things you can do with the entire group.

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What To Explore In Lake Tahoe

From the sights and sounds and smells of the Alpine Forest to the exhilarating white waters, hiking trails and gondola rides, this truly is an earthly haven that’s the ideal destination for everyone in the entire group.

Whether you’re in North Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, or on the east or west shores, you can find a great activity located just a hop, skip and a jump from you no matter what. From Lake Tahoe’s Beaches to the resorts and peaks, you can explore this breathtaking environment in its full beauty, whether you visit in the winter or the summer.

1. Alpine Meadows

Situated in Squaw Valley, somewhere between Tahoe City and Truckee, you’ll discover Alpine Meadows. This resort offers a resplendent haven for families in search of winter fun. Here, you’ll discover over 100 trails across 2,400 picturesque Alpine-and-Fir covered mountains.

Alpine Meadows offers down-home mountain luxury and hospitality. Think French chalets with an American twist. Here, you’ll find a variety of riding and skiing levels. From beginners to more advanced trails. You’ll find it all here.

2. Commons Beach in Tahoe City

Located in North Lake Tahoe, embedded in Tahoe City, is Commons Beach. Here, you’ll discover golden sands and four picture-perfect acres of vast Pine-engulfed parks and benches for the outdoor sun-seekers. Sprawling grassy knolls are an ideal spot for family activities, offering a haven for children amongst a huge playground.

Commons Beach features piers, where you can run out along thick wood planks that bake in the sun and jump into the pristine cool freshwater lake that shimmers and sparkles by day. Want to enjoy a picnic with the family? Commons Beach is an ideal spot to do that. There’s ample space here for up to 75 guests amidst the picnic tables that line the area.

Nearby, you’ll also discover a 65-seat outdoor amphitheater. Share it with the public or reserve it all to yourself as a private rental.

Featured Home: Big Buck Lodge

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Big Buck Lodge

Big Buck Lodge is ideally located between the beautiful neighborhoods of Dollar Point and Carnelian Bay, less than 10 minutes from Tahoe City and less than 30 minutes from the charming and historic town of Truckee. Perhaps best of all, this home is large enough to accommodate multiple families or large groups of friends, with 6 bedrooms that can sleep up to 18 guests. Click here to learn more and see booking information on Big Buck Lodge

3. Eagle Falls Trail

Another great activity for the family is Eagle Falls Trail. It’s situated in South Lake Tahoe. On the shores, you’ll find Vikingsholm Castle, gleaming in resplendent Emerald Bay. To locate the trail, all you have to do is look for the road that leads to Desolation Wilderness. This is a mild, beginner’s hike. Perfect for the family.

Eagle Falls Tail is roughly 2 miles there and back. That equates to roughly 3.2 km. It’s one of the most beautiful and picturesque hikes you’ll find where you’ll also glimpse the beautiful shimmering waters of Emerald Bay. Want more of an adventure? Veer off on a tangent, heading towards Desolation Wilderness.

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4. Emerald Bay State Park

Emerald State Park is where you’ll find the acclaimed Rubicon Trail. It wraps elegantly around Emerald Bay. At points throughout like Vikingsholm, Eagle Point campground and DL Bliss State Park, you’ll find trailheads. Here, you’ll find golden-sanded beaches with Pine trees that twist and spiral their way into the heavens.

Part of Emerald Bay State Park is Vikingsholm Castle, a stunning Scandinavian, 11th-century Scandinavian architecture that rests gracefully on the beach. It’s an ideal activity for the family when exploring Emerald Bay State Park.

5. Heavenly Gondola Rides

Located approximately 0.5 miles from Stateline, you’ll discover the scenic gondolas of Heavenly Resort in Lake Tahoe. Soar to an elevation of over 9,100 feet and witness the breathtaking beauty of Lake Tahoe with the entire family. The ride starts at roughly 6,360 feet and goes for about 2.4 miles. You arrive on a 14,000 square-foot deck, where you can witness the spellbinding beauty of the entire area.

The 8-passenger cabins can take you and your loved ones across vistas that include snow-capped mountains and shimmering turquoise and azure waters. Alpine forests spill out and cling to the hillsides that encase the area. Enjoy captivating sunsets and relax and unwind in an earthly haven, with memories staying with you for a lifetime.

Where to Stay in South Lake Tahoe: Sierra Shores

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Sierra Shores

The luxury townhome complex at Sierra Shores is unrivaled in all of South Lake Tahoe. From your large private deck, feel the breeze off the lake and take in the stellar views of the crystal clear water. Enjoy private beach access and luxury amenities throughout, and when you're ready to walk the town, it's just outside your door. In the winter, walk to the free shuttle route and you're just a few minutes away from Heavenly. Click here to see all 3-bedroom and 4-bedroom lodging options

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6. HeliTahoe Helicopters

Want to take the entire family on a tour of Lake Tahoe? HeliTahoe Helicopters offer tours that vary from an hour long down to 10 minutes. Explore the picturesque and scenic beauty of Lake Tahoe. Immerse yourself in guided heli-skiing. Go on fishing expeditions across the lake. Or simply explore the blissful surrounding area.

The long guided tours are perfect for those who want to see the complete experience of Lake Tahoe. From the waterfalls and golden sands of Sand Harbor to picturesque areas like Emerald Bay and Zephyr Cove, this is the perfect way to cruise the area in privacy and comfort. Enjoy incredible sunsets with explosive arrays of crimson and auburn-hued skies in true style.

7. KidZone Museum

Situated in Lake Tahoe’s, Truckee, California, the KidZone Museum is the perfect activity for the family. Children light up with joy when they discover all the inspirational learning and creative play at KidZone Museum. This is ideal for kids under 7-years old, with the school and camp perfect for children that are in elementary school.

KidZone Museum was incarnated in 1992, through an effort that spanned parents and educators and agencies who championed the cause. They opened a nonprofit called the Sierra Nevada Children’s Museum, which was also known as KidZone Museum. The museum’s mission is to inspire learning for kids by sharing creative learning opportunities together, while immersed in a safe and secure learning environment.

8. Kings Beach

Located along Tahoe’s north coastline, Kings Beach is an ideal destination for the family. It’s a place where golden sands are flanked by the shimmering freshwater lake. Where Pine and Spurs spiral their way into the heavens and Alpine Forests blanket the surrounding landscape.

You’ll discover Kings Beach by Highway 269 and 28. The beauty? You’ll unearth the entire Alpine Forest, completely accessible from Kings Beach.

9. Magic Carpet Golf

Opened in 1974, Magic Carpet Golf is located in Reno, Nevada, just 45 minutes or so from the northern shores of Lake Tahoe. Of course, trekking to Reno with the entire family for mini golf might seem far, but it’s most certainly worth it. This is definitely an activity that entire group will enjoy, no matter what the age.

Magic Carpet Golf offers a mini-golf experience. The site has been a family business since its inception, and it offers an exhilarating experience for the entire family. It’s most certainly worth the trip from Lake Tahoe, especially if you’re coming from North Lake Tahoe as opposed to South Lake Tahoe.

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10. Northstar Resort

Northstar Resort offers 19 ski lifts along with a PGA-worth golf course with 18 holes. Here, you’ll discover cross-country skiing at its finest along with high-end chalets and rentals. In the middle, a village that’s square in the center, boasting shopping, dining and entertainment for the entire family, for all ages.

Owned by EPR Properties, Northstar is a resort that oozes luxury. It was originally developed by CNL Lifestyle Properties, but sold in 2016. Here, you’ll discover a common house, which has been dubbed, “The Tree House.” It’s full of amenities that include a pool table, shuffleboard, high-end entertainment with flat-screens and Sonos sound systems, an espresso machine and so much more.

Where to Stay in Northstar

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Stella Nova

In the summer, Stella Nova is a hiker's and mountain biker's haven, and in the winter, it's a ski-in, ski-out paradise. Located directly on a run halfway up Northstar Calfornia Resort, you can step out your front door and onto the trails. At the end of the day, return to a beautiful modern home with incredible sunset views. Click here to learn more about Stella Nova

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Orion at the Ritz-Carlton Constellation

On top of Northstar Calfornia Resort sits the Ritz-Carlton Constellation, a collection of luxury residences with the space of a condo and all the high-end amenities of the Ritz. This particular condo sleeps up to 8 guests, and is excellent in winter or summer. Click here to see all photos and amenities, and learn more about booking. 

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Sierra Sanctuary

Sierra Sanctuary is a 4-bedroom mid-mountain townhome with an additional sleeping area that can accommodate up to 14 guests in total. The outdoor firepit and private outdoor hot tub are great in any season, and the views from the interior and outdoor decks must be seen to be believed. Click here to see inside and learn more about Sierra Sanctuary

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Aerials at Big Horn Lodge

If you want to stay in the heart of Northstar's charming mountain village, take a look at Aerials at Big Horn Lodge. Spend the day on the mountain, then walk to the shops and restaurants located directly below you. 1 parking space is included, and up to 6 guests can stay here in 3 bedrooms. Click here to learn more or book.

11. Tahoe Adventure Company

Tahoe Adventure Company is a travel company located in Lake Tahoe with an acute attention to outdoor adventure tours. From kayaking to hiking the local trails and mountain biking and more, their experienced and knowledgeable guides can help you navigate the oftentimes rough terrain of the surrounding Lake Tahoe area.

The company offers water adventures, land adventures, and custom adventures. No matter what activity you’re looking to enjoy with the family, the Tahoe Adventure Company can make your dreams a reality. This is definitely a must-use company in the Lake Tahoe for all adventure tour related activities.

12. Tahoe Jet Boats

If you’re looking for speed boat rentals or water skiing or jet skiis and everything in between, Tahoe Jet Boats is the go-to for summers in Lake Tahoe. They also offer tours and even all-inclusive packages that include captained ships and sightseeing on the resplendent lake waters.

Lake Tahoe’s fresh waters are ideal for boating. Whether you rent your vessel or watercraft from Tahoe Jet Boats or another business, boating has long been a draw for those who are visiting Lake Tahoe in the summertime.

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13. Tahoe Whitewater Tours

Founded in 1994, Tahoe Whitewater Tours is the ideal one-stop shop for whitewater rafting, kayaking and float tube adventures in Lake Tahoe. With well over 20 years in the business, they’ve focused on building out a family-friendly business that helps caters to those that are looking for adventure and memories that will last a lifetime.

The whitewater tours can range from beginner to the more advanced. From Class 2 rapids through Class 4, you’ll find them here in the Lake Tahoe area. These include rapids in the Truckee River, the American River, Carson River and beyond.

14. Tallac Historic Site

The Tallac Historic Site is open in the summer, with lots to see that includes the Baldwin Estate, Valhalla and the Pope Estate. Engulfed in gardens and indigenous fauna, along with sprawling Alpine forests, the Tallac Historic is one of the most ideal activities for the entire family that includes a museum with a Vintage Clothing Exhibit and a store where you can purchase gifts and trinkets that will help you reminisce about your time here in the Tahoe area.

15. Vikingsholm Castle

The Vikingsholm Castle is an 11th Century Scandinavian castle that was built by Lora Knight. It’s located on the shores of Emerald Bay, with easy access to the trailhead at Eagle Falls. The castle was built entirely from local materials. Knight built the castle because of how much the area resembled the fjords she saw on her trips to Scandinavia.

Located just a few hundred yards away from Vikingsholm Castle, in Emerald Bay, you’ll discover Fannette Island. This is the only island in Lake Tahoe. Over the years, it’s taken on many names. From Coquette to Baranoof to Hermit’s Island, Emerald Isle and more. On the island, Lora Knight also constructed a Tea House. You can still find its remains there to this very day.

And beneath the waters, an Underwater State Park where scuba divers can explore barges sunk deep into the bay. Nearby, camping for the entire family at Eagle Point Campground.

Want to keep reading?

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Lake Tahoe Beaches

Crystal clear water, soaring peaks in the background, and soft golden sand all come together to make Lake Tahoe's Beaches utterly remarkable. Learn more about them here. 

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10 Annual Lake Tahoe Summer Events Worth a Weekend Trip

Every year, dozens of events take place around the sparkling waters of Lake Tahoe, but which are worth a quick trip? Here we list 10 of our favorite summer events that easily warrant a 3-day weekend or week-long stay. 

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History of Lake Tahoe

Curious how deep Lake Tahoe is, or how it formed? Want to know more about the infamous Donner Party incident? It's all here in our History of Lake Tahoe

Tahoe is for Families

We have the ideal luxury home for your large family gathering

If you're planning a trip to Lake Tahoe with the whole family, or even multiple families, we have dozens of luxury homes that sleep between 10 and 25 people. Look through all of these below, and start planning your trip today. 

We have 26 homes in Lake Tahoe, click to start your search