Help us have fun at Lake Tahoe!
October 22, 2008 9:21 AM   Subscribe

What should a gaggle of people of varying ages do in Lake Tahoe this summer?

I and my sister-in-law are planning a trip to Lake Tahoe this summer for the family reunion but she and I are woefully unaware of things to do in the area. So I turn to you and ask, if you had a wide range of ages (from near-infant to folks in their near-70's) what kinds of things would you try to take part in?

My goal is to have one Thing planned a day (over about 5 days) where everyone can decide whether they want to go or if they want to do their own thing, so everything doesn't have to be applicable to all ages or interests.

I poked around some older threads, but they're just not hitting the high notes for me...

Is there a summer festival that we just shouldn't miss? A lovely spot within a close drive that would really Must See?
posted by oreonax to Travel & Transportation around Lake Tahoe, United States (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I live on the North shore.... Here are some family friendly options for you:

Float down the Truckee River (start in Tahoe City), really easy and fun and the rafting companies provide all the equipment and shuttle service. Bring food / drinks, stop on an island, swim, shoot passers by with water guns

Go to North Star, ride the cable cars to the top for great views and a picnic. The more athletic can mountain bike or hike down.

Ride the old steamer paddle boats around the lake at sunset.

Spend the day at the beaches.

Go hiking - buy the book about easy hikes around Tahoe.

Check out the ski resorts - in summer, they often have art festivals and outdoor movies at night.

Other things nearby but NOT at Tahoe:

Wander around the towns of Tahoe City and Truckee, take the trolley, shop, eat
Hit Virginia City for hokey fun - the kids love it, you can ride an old train, pan for gold
Hit the nearby hot springs, note some are clothing optional

You don't say where you are staying and WHEN you are coming, but there are 874,392 things going on in the summer, so check out the Tahoe websites in spring and the events will start popping up. There are lots of free local magazines that showcase what to see and do and often have discount coupons.

MeMail me for more options. I love Tahoe!
posted by HeyAllie at 11:12 AM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Damn HeyAllie, you pretty much hit everything I was going to say!

As a kid we used to go to Tahoe every summer (North Shore of course!). Honestly, we just spent a lot of time hanging out at the beach. Little kids like to make sandcastles and chase waves, and adults like to tan/read/talk/etc.

There used to be an arts and crafts fair on Sundays in Kings beach, that was always fun.

Virginia City is hokey but so fun! You can go on a tour of a real silver mine, and the kids will get a kick out of the penny candy store.

Even in the summer it can get nippy at the tops of the mountains, so the ice skating rink at Squaw is still so much fun.

I can't stand hiking, but I know my family used to love taking hikes. You can also rent bikes and take a bike ride along the lake (but probably not all the way around!). We used to go to a bike shop in Tahoe City (I think I bought a bike there one year, come to think of it) but I'm sure there are tons around.

Truckee is such a cute little town, there are lots of antique shops and the like. Also Tahoe City is awesome but I think Truckee is laid out better for wandering.

Out of curiosity, where are you staying?

OK now I am swimming in memories of my childhood....
posted by radioamy at 12:00 PM on October 22, 2008

Response by poster: My brother is hawking his timeshare locations at us: Eagle's Nest and Tahoe Village, NV. So, we're at the South Shore, it would seem...

Is it difficult to get up to the North shore from the South? We can always rent cars (the boy and I might drive down, in actuality) if it's necessary.

Can you swim at the beaches in June-August (if it's more likely later in the summer, that's when we're going - everyone else be damned)?

Are we going to regret staying at the South Shore?
posted by oreonax at 12:20 PM on October 22, 2008


Well, you've always got the raging North vs. South shore debate. South Shore has all the casinos and fast food restaurants. I personally hate it, but if you're into clubbing and that kinda stuff, oookay. If you want to drive around the whole lake, it's 77 miles, I think, and about 2 hours between stopping every photo opportunity.

Yes, get a car. It's about an hour's drive to the north shore, depending where you go, and about 20 minutes more to get to Truckee beyond Tahoe City or Kings Beach.

Keep in mind that's it's pollen season from June to about the middle of July. A mist of yellowy, green pollen coats everything. Just a minor annoyance.

Considering I'm used to swimming in the lake, I'd say the best time to go swimming in July / August. June it's still cold and it can still snow. Yes, you read that right.
posted by HeyAllie at 12:41 PM on October 22, 2008

Response by poster: *sigh* I was afraid of that. I suppose I can break out the clubbing gear for one night and the older folks will probably appreciate the hustle/bustle/mall/etc. At least one subset of the folks going will want to go shopping and squee over cute kitsch that has a different location printed on it than their local kitsch.

Thanks for the pollen heads up - be sure to pick up some pharma stock, I'll be single handedly raising their market value around then.

Is lake swimming at Tahoe similar to lake swimming in Michigan?

(This is like getting many many questions for the price of one. Awesome!)
posted by oreonax at 1:19 PM on October 22, 2008

Angora Lakes makes a great side trip. It's a 1/2-mile hike UPhill, but once you get to the top, there's this great, scenic little lake with a sandy beach, surrounded by mountains. There's a snack shop that sells wonderful fresh-squeezed lemonade. Nice place to spend part of the day.

I suppose I can break out the clubbing gear for one night and the older folks will probably appreciate the hustle/bustle/mall/etc.

I'm not a clubby person, but you can accomplish all the clubby stuff right at Stateline (where the casinos are). They're all on one block, so you can go from place to place until you find one you like.

I'm also not a shopper, but I'd bet that Heavenly Village would be a good place to go for those who are. It's right next to the casinos. It'd be a good place to start the day -- the shoppers can do their thing, the gamblers could do theirs, and it's a 10 minute walk to the lake for people who want to see the water. All the casinos have free parking.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:27 PM on October 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

You can do the paddleboat steamer thingie from Zephyr Cove, which is closer to South Lake. Check with Richardson's Camp too. They have little festivals like Renaissance Faires, but I'm not sure when it is. They are very family friendly.

Vikingsholm is another option - a mansion built right on Emerald Cove, very historic. But it's a steep climb up hill coming back to the parking lot.

One more option at South Shore - DL Bliss State park. Beautiful beaches and only a short hike to get to them. By default, the harder to get to a beach, the more beautiful and less crowded.

I'd say go, wing it and have fun no matter what. I have no idea what it's like to swim in Michigan, but the beaches up at North Shore are particularly beautiful, like the Caribbean (again, some are clothing optional, like Secret Cove, but Secret Cove I think is the most beautiful spot on the lake). Except that the water is much cooler - in July and August though, it's so hot (in the 80s / 90s) that it actually feels good to jump in.
posted by HeyAllie at 2:35 PM on October 22, 2008

Seconding Angora Lake as a very fun and easy hike for just about anyone who can walk. If you go, bring money for awesome hand squeezed lemonade and homemade brownies. Caveat: that area was devastated by wildfire 18 months ago, though I understand the lake property itself may have been spared (???), so ask the locals about its status before setting out.

We always took our family vacations in Tahoe when I was growing up, and my wife and I continue to visit Tahoe once ot twice each year. It's a great place -- loved a bit too much by just about everyone, but still great.

Personally, I like staying in Tahoe for the nightlife and such, but prefer to spend the day hiking and fishing in the lakes over the hill in Hope, Faith, and Charity valleys (approx. 45 minutes from South Shore in Alpine County), and the nearby Carson Pass area. But that may be too outdoorsy for your family.
posted by mosk at 2:55 PM on October 22, 2008

Caveat: that area was devastated by wildfire 18 months ago, though I understand the lake property itself may have been spared (???), so ask the locals about its status before setting out.

Yep, it's fine. I was there in late August. There's some damage on the drive up, but the destination itself is A-OK.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:30 PM on October 22, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks y'all, that's great for starting points. I think I can manage One Thing A Day for 5 Days on what you've handed me!

(I'm afraid there's no best answer as they're all helpful.)
posted by oreonax at 5:42 PM on October 22, 2008

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