I've had several people ask me what we like to do when we visit Lake Tahoe in the summer time. So I decided to put a list together of some family-friendly activities that we've enjoyed. I would LOVE your suggestions as well because I know we have not found all of the secret treasures there!
1- Where to stay
We prefer North Lake Tahoe as opposed to South Lake Tahoe. North Lake Tahoe feels more natural and undeveloped whereas South Lake Tahoe is more commercial. They are both great and, in some ways, South Lake Tahoe may have more "to do", but we just really like the feel of Tahoe City.
We love to lodge somewhere in/around Squaw Valley and hang out in Tahoe City (which is really no "city" at all). This past time we found a cabin on the Truckee River through AirBnB for a great price...less than what we would have paid for a hotel room for our family of 5.
There are also tons of places to camp at Lake Tahoe. Every time I talk to someone who likes camping, I get so inspired to want to try. It really does sound like such a wonderful experience, especially for children. But, truth be told, Andy and I just aren't much for camping. We're more the "glamping" type, with hot showers, real beds, and a toilets that don't require a flashlight. :-/
The Truckee River where our cabin was located
2- Hit the Beach
Tahoe City has an awesome park called "Commons Beach". There's a free parking lot so loading/unloading is simple. There is a beach where the kids can play in the lake (it's super shallow for a long way), a grassy area perfect for soccer, baseball, and picnics, and a great playground complete with swings, a rock wall, and jungle gym.
Commons Beach is pretty much our "Headquarters" whenever we go to Tahoe. We can literally stay there for 5 hours at a time without getting bored. There are typically other kids to play with and so much variety of activity that the kids are endlessly entertained.
We take a picnic, blankets, sand toys, a bat & wiffle balls, a soccer ball, changes of clothes for the kids, and a book for me & Andy.
3- Ice Cream at Gear & Grind Cafe
As a mid-afternoon treat, we will sometimes walk from Commons Beach up the path to Gear & Grind Cafe. It's just a small little coffee shop with a nice selection of ice cream and treats. There's a beautiful path along the lake to walk between the Cafe and Commons Beach.
4- Hike to Emerald Bay
This is a family friendly trail that even fairly young kids can do. It's about a mile one way and you'll be breathing heavy on your way back up, but it's not too steep and the path is wide. (Our boys are 5 1/2 and 7 1/2 and they did much better this time than when they did the same hike 10 months ago.) There's a beautiful beach at the bottom with a few cool areas to explore.
We also continued along the trail up to Eagle Falls which was less than a mile further. It's gorgeous. Andy & the boys ventured out beyond the guardrails right into the waterfall.
On the way back down from Eagle Falls, we stopped by the gift shop and got everyone an ice cream treat.
5- Rent a kayak
Andy and the boys have done this the last 2 times we have visited Lake Tahoe. It's about $45 for one hour of fun. The boys feel like they've had a big adventure out there trying to steer and paddle around! There are some other fun, adventurous activities that we've seen but not yet tried such as a ropes course or rafting. Maybe we'll do those another time.
6- Take out instead of dine in
This past trip, we stumbled upon something great. We typically eat breakfast at the hotel/cabin (we always try to find a place with a kitchenette), pack a picnic to take with us, and then eat dinner out. But all the parents out there can testify that it is not the most relaxing experience to try to eat dinner at a restaurant with 3 tired children. So one night we thought, "Let's do take out."
Andy & I wanted Thai food and I knew the boys wouldn't. So we picked up some delicious food from Thai Kitchen in Tahoe City and a movie from Redbox. I made the boys a hot dog back where we were staying and we all enjoyed dinner and a movie in our PJs. SO much more relaxing than trying to eat out! Another great restaurant that we enjoy is Fireside Pizza in Squaw Valley.
Caedmon & Sammy, feeling like they just conquered the world
Here's to family vacations, making memories, and enjoying the beauty of God's creation! If you are familiar with Lake Tahoe, please leave a comment with some of your favorite things to do there or places to eat.