Lake Tahoe is a breathtakingly beautiful freshwater lake nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains straddling the California Nevada state line. Tahoe is a great year-round travel destination, but this guide focuses on summer or the warmer months. Below you’ll find family-friendly itinerary ideas for a trip to Lake Tahoe with (or even without) kids in summer.
Before you dive into the guide, you may want to first read Understanding a Quick Itinerary Guide. This will provide you with details on our trip planning philosophy, why it’s a quick guide, and what resources we use to plan. It also details what we mean by family-friendly, and further explains each of the sections included in a Quick Itinerary Guide.
Our trip details
- Length of stay: 3 nights, 3.5 days
- Accommodation: Airbnb near Heavenly Ski Resort
- Type of trip: family travel with kids (2.5 year old & 9-month-old)
- Month visited: July
- How we got in/out: fly in, fly out
- How we got around: rental car from National
Family-Friendly Itinerary Ideas for Lake Tahoe, CA/NV
- El Dorado Beach – beach just off of downtown South Lake Tahoe
- Emerald Bay State Park – the most popular park to visit in the Tahoe region, stunning views with hiking trails, kayaks, beaches and more
- Vikingsholm – Scandinavian style mansion in Emerald Bay State Park, short steep hike down to it, tours end of June to end of September
- Inspiration Point – viewpoint overlooking Emerald Bay
- D.L. Bliss State Park – beautiful park directly north of Emerald Bay State Park with hiking, beaches, camping, lighthouses and more
- Rubicon Trail – moderate hiking trail bordering Lake Tahoe that continues south to Emerald Bay, the whole out and back trail is over 16 miles, but you can just go as far as you want
- Cascade Falls Trail – about 1.5-mile moderate hike, out and back trail, near the south side of the lake with a waterfall and lake views
- Sand Harbor Beach – picturesque Tahoe beach with crystal-clear water and big boulders, popular for paddle boarding and other water spots. During high season weekends, this beach can reach max-capacity and they’ll close the entrance within ½ hour of opening.
- Nevada Beach Campground – sandy beach on the southeastern side of the lake for day and overnight use, tent and RV campsites available
- East Shore Trail – paved boardwalk walking trail along the lake near Incline Village, good for strollers, parking lot at the north end of the trail
- Kings Beach State Recreation Area – beach park on the north side of the lake, kayak rentals available
- Kings Beach Miniature Golf – fun family-owned mini golf course
- Take a scenic cruise – there are lots of boats on Lake Tahoe, many private, but there are some companies offering scenic tours to the public. Check out Zephyr Cove cruises, Tahoe cruises, and Tahoe Bleu Wave cruises
- Heavenly Village – lively village of shops, eateries, activities, and more – don’t forget to check the calendar for events
- Scenic Gondola – take the gondola up Heavenly Mountain for breathtaking views of the lake and mountains, plus more fun activities available at the top
- Heavenly Ridge Rider Mountain Coaster – alpine coaster through the rocks and trees (kids allowed with an adult rider)
- KidZone Museum – indoor hands-on children’s museum and play center, in Truckee (about 20 minutes north of the top of the lake)
Food Ideas for Lake Tahoe, CA/NV
- Heidi’s Pancake House – homey restaurant styled after a Swiss chalet
- Azul-Latin Kitchen – Latin American restaurant with a large patio and sometimes entertainment
- Blue Dog Pizza – casual pizza place offering creative and classic options
- Himmel Haus – Bavarian restaurant most known for its bratwurst and beer
- Gus’ Open Pit Barbeque – Santa Maria-style casual BBQ restaurant with indoor seating and outdoor deck seating
- T’s Mesquite Rotisserie – casual counter-service Mexican restaurant with rotisserie meats
- Empanash – traditional Argentine empanadas
- Sweet Tahoe Time Ice Cream – great outside space to relax, eat your ice cream and let the kids play (giant connect 4, tricycles, and more)
Top Tips for Lake Tahoe, CA/NV
- Wear layers, even in summer, the morning and evening temperatures can be chilly.
- Make sure to get out on the lake for the full Tahoe experience. There are so many options for all different interests and abilities.
- Bring a baby carrier for little ones. It will be much easier to maneuver and do more without being restricted by a stroller.
- Plan your days efficiently, grouping things by location. The lake is large and it takes about 45-60 minutes to drive from one side to the other without traffic. And there can be a lot of traffic during the busy summer season.
Lake Tahoe was on my travel bucket list forever, and it was even more amazing than I imagined in summer. I’m excited to return during different seasons someday. Have you been to Lake Tahoe? What other things should we add to our family-friendly itinerary list?
- Understanding a Quick Itinerary Guide
- Quick Itinerary Guide: Vancouver, BC, Canada
- Places in San Francisco not to miss for the best Golden Gate Bridge views
- Day trip to Bavarian Christmasland from Seattle
- 6 easy and beautiful family-friendly hikes near Seattle
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