Lake Tahoe is a year-round family vacation destination with plenty to do in the summer. You can enjoy the crystal-clear lake, take an exhilarating hike and, in some years, even go skiing in summer! The year-round ski resorts offer all kinds of fun and adventure, and you can enjoy boating on the lake and even get a taste of the casinos in South Lake Tahoe. The summer activities in Lake Tahoe offer something for everyone from outdoor enthusiasts to those who love casino nightlife! Check out these summer activities offered at the ski resorts and other spots both on the lake and around Lake Tahoe.
Summer Activities in Lake Tahoe at Heavenly
Heavenly is hopping summer fun. Take a scenic gondola ride to drink in the panoramic views of the striking Lake Tahoe and mountains beyond. You’ll have to buy a pass to take the trip, but the ride is included in a few of the adventure packages. Don’t worry about food because Tamarack Lodge at the top offers a full lunch menu and some grab-and-go items.
The gondola drops you off in the middle of fun at Epic Discovery. The Epic Discovery mountain adventure park offers zip lining, a ropes course, climbing walls, tubing without the snow, guided hiking tours and a mountain coaster. The Ultimate Adventure Pass gives you all-day access to the experiences and includes the Scenic Gondola. You can add on zip lining or purchase a zip-line tour separately.
The Scout Sampler Pack (under 42 inches) allows your tadpoles to choose three activities, choosing from:
- Red Tail Flyer Zip line
- Mini Tubing
- Gemstone Panning
- Climbing Wall
- Bear Cubs Ropes Course
- Coaster Passenger
- Scenic Gondola
Call 1-775-586-7000 (option 7) during reservation hours of 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. You can also purchase Activity Passes at the base of the Gondola in Heavenly Village. Heavenly offers full-day camps from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. for campers ages 5 to 12. You can also chill out in the village at the base of the Gondola with food, drinks, shopping, and more. If you are looking for close lodging in the heart of town near the Heavenly gondola and village, the luxurious Zalanta (as low as $489/night) is right across the street. The Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel is a short walk from both casinos and the Heavenly Gondola. The Lakeland Village Hotel (as low as $173 per night) has a beach and pier, and it's a little further from the casinos and has spacious accommodations with full kitchens. Book early for a lakeside unit.
Summer Activities in Lake Tahoe at Kirkwood
Kirkwood is further south from Heavenly and the town of South Lake Tahoe. You can get away from it all at Kirkwood and enjoy hiking, the mountain bike park, and fishing and boating at nearby Caples Lake, Silver Lake and Kirkwood Lake. Kirkwood offers a challenging Disc Golf Course if you are jumping for some family competition. You can also go rock climbing and horseback riding nearby.
Summer Activities in Lake Tahoe at Northstar
Northstar is one of the most family-friendly ski resorts in winter, and it keeps that title in summertime too! You discover plenty of fun for parents and tadpoles in the warmer months with camps, science learning days and fun activities. Northstar offers a specialized academy for mountain biking. If you’ve always wanted to go mountain biking, but are either lacking some skills, or if you are looking to take your skills to the next level, here’s your chance to learn. Northstar has E-bikes too, to help make those hills feel a little less steep.
Hop over to the Kid Zone which is bursting with fun summer activities for the whole family. The Summer Fun Day Pass includes:
- Roller skate rental
- Bungee trampoline
- Spiderweb climb
- Rock wall climbing
- Gem panning
- Mini golf (2 rounds)
Sign your little adventurers up for Kids Adventure Club, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. They’ll hike, learn about bugs, jump on bungee trampolines or climb the walls while you’ll get a day to do some activities on your own. Enjoy live music Friday through Sunday in the Village, do arts and crafts, take a yoga class or unwind at the spa. At nighttime, the family gather around a fire pit for stargazing at the Cosmoarium. There’s so much to do at Northstar! Just a reminder: It's not too early to start thinking about purchasing the Epic Pass for the next ski season. Buy in spring or summer for the best savings.
You can stay on-site at a Northstar California hotel (as low as $133 a night). Choose from a variety of accommodations from lofts in the village to condos and houses. If you are looking for luxury, The Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe has a pool for splashing and a “Marshmology” program for noshing. Yum! Sign me up! About 11 miles away from Northstar, you can stay on the north shore of Lake Tahoe at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe (as low as $190 per night).
Another great family resort in the area is actually closer to Palisades Tahoe, but it's only a short drive from Northstar. The Resort at Squaw Creek is a family-friendly hotel with great pools and hot tubs with views, a waterslide, fire pits, family dining choices and fun activities. You can play golf, FootGolf and tennis. There’s hiking, mountain biking (including some kid carts and cruisers for more mellow cycling) and horseback riding. Family members ages 6+ can Chillax at the spa. There’s a shuttle to the village at Olympic Valley, so let’s check out the fun at that year-round ski resort too.
Summer Activities in Lake Tahoe at Palisades Tahoe
Palisades Tahoe is one ski resort that can stay open well into summer on years with great snowfall. In addition to summer activities, you might just get to ski or snowboard too! Hit the slopes and then hit the High Camp pool. That’s how we do California skiing on such a summer’s day!
Make a splash with the tadpoles at the frogtastic High Camp Pool and hot tub. To access High Camp, take the aerial tram to High Camp and soak in the water and the views of Lake Tahoe. You can purchase a Sightseeing Package that includes the Aerial Tram ride, roller skating, geocaching, disc golf, lawn games and hiking at High Camp (kids 4 and under are free). Adventure packages include everything in the Sightseeing Package, plus include access to the pool, hot tub and roller skating. Check out the Olympic Museum while you are visiting High Camp.
Bring your hiking shoes and do some exploring while you are up there. You can look for boulders, waterfalls and swimming holes in Shirley Canyon! For really adventurous families, if you hike from the base to Shirley Lake and then to High Camp, your ride back down on the aerial tram is free! It's a challenging trail with an elevation change of 2,000 feet.
Down in the village in Olympic Valley, let your tadpoles do the Sky Jump bungee trampoline and sign them up for the Kids Adventure Camp from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. You can enjoy food, taste some wine and even visit a candy shop in the village. Unwind with some yoga and a trip to the spa. Be sure to check the events calendar to see the musical and other fun events taking place this summer.
You can find lodging in the Village at Palisades Tahoe (as low as $191 per night). Squaw Valley Lodge, adjacent to the village and aerial tram, has a pool, six hot tubs and is a great location for families.
Summer Activities to Do on the Lake
Lake Tahoe's blue and aqua water is beautiful and so clear, but we aren’t going to lie to you. It’s cold! We prefer sunbathing on a beach (such as the free Kings Beach State Recreation Area) and wading in the water to cool off rather than swimming. A wetsuit can definitely help take the chill away. With 75 miles of shoreline and incredibly clear water, there's plenty of lake to explore. You can find frogtastically fun water activities to do ON the lake including the following:
- Jet Ski — rental locations in South Shore, North Shore and Incline Village.
- Rent a boat and cruise Lake Tahoe
- Take a boat tour (kick back and let someone else show you around)
- Wake board, waterski, tube and more (but toadally wear a wetsuit)
- Kayak and stand-up paddle board.
Emerald Bay is particularly stunning and home to the lake’s only island, the castle-like Fannette Island. The North shore has glassy waters. Kayaking and paddle boarding make a good morning or early evening activity, when the winds are calmest.
If you are looking for lakefront lodging, Lakeland Village by Heavenly (as low as $216/night) has condominiums right on the lake. The resort has a lakeside pool, a dock and a private beach. Keep in mind that larger units and lakefront units cost more than smaller units not on the water and can book up a year in advance.
All the year-round ski resorts offer hiking, but there are many great spots to hike all around the Lake Tahoe area. The trails all have breathtaking views of the lake or surrounding mountains. In South Tahoe, the Emerald Bay Trail is popular. In North Tahoe, check out the Squaw Valley Trail and the Glacier Meadow Loop Trail. The 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail loops around the whole Lake Tahoe Basin. You can choose a segment to explore. Some spots have ancient lava slows and cinder cones.
Lake Tahoe is home to many mountain biking trails. Parts of the Tahoe Rim Trail are bike accessible. The 22-mile Flume Trail offers incredible views. Hop on a bike to explore beginner, intermediate and advanced trails in both the North Shore and South Shore areas plus other spots around the lake. In North Tahoe, the Resort at Squaw Creek (as low as $252/night) offers guests family-friendly cruiser bikes, mountain bikes, kid carts and tag-along rentals for family outings. You can ride a relatively flat path to the village in Olympic Valley.
Gamble on Some Fun
South Lake Tahoe sits on the border of California and Nevada. The Nevada side of town has casinos, which are more fun for adults than kids. Here’s a compromise: parents can hit the casinos while the kids are playing hard at the Heavenly. It’s a win-win! The Montbleu Resort Casino and Spa and the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel are just a few blocks from the Heavenly village and gondola.
Whether you visit South Lake Tahoe, North Lake Tahoe or a little of both, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the variety of summer activities in Lake Tahoe. If you'll be skiing or snowboarding in winter, be sure to purchase your Epic Pass or Ikon Pass as soon as possible to save money. The Epic Pass is good at Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in Lake Tahoe as well as at other great family ski resorts. The Ikon Pass is good at Palisades Tahoe along with many other ski destinations.
Related: How to Pick the Best Tahoe Ski Resort for Your Family