Lake Tahoe in Northern California is one of my favorite places to visit, especially during Summer. From outdoor activities (like river rafting, hiking, and boating) to fine dining and leisurely recreation, there are so many fun things to do while there. To inspire you to hop in the car (or get on a plane) and head out to North Tahoe this season, here are some ideas to get you in the mood to travel.
In this Lake Tahoe travel guide, discover several of the best places to stay and play on the West and North shore of Lake Tahoe. Learn about a charming Airbnb cabin that is perfect for cozy nights-in and is located in a tranquil setting, find out which beach and hiking trail are superb for sight-seeing, and learn which gourmet lakeside restaurant in Incline Village is perfect for celebrating special occasions.
To celebrate my birthday a few weeks ago, we hopped in the car and headed up north for a few fun-filled, sun-drenched days in North Lake Tahoe. Knowing we’d only be there a couple of nights, we decided to make the most of our jam-packed itinerary by planning a range of activities to do. While I usually love to spend several days up in Lake Tahoe, knowing that we’d only have 48-hours to be there, we did as much as we could do. Let’s just say – by the time we headed home, we were thoroughly exhausted (and totally satiated!). If you love adventure, being active, and having fun as much as I do, then the following outings will surely inspire you to head to Lake Tahoe.
Where to Stay in Lake Tahoe on the West Shore
While there are many resorts and hotels in Lake Tahoe (which I’ve shared in previous Lake Tahoe travel guides on I&C), this time we decided to opt for a quaint and picturesque cabin that we found on Airbnb.
Located in Tahoma, which is based on the tranquil West Shore of North Lake Tahoe (which tends to be quieter and more residential than some other spots), this budget-friendly home was the perfect oasis after a long, busy day of outdoor activities. Starting at just under $300/night, this updated cabin was located in a peaceful suburban neighborhood that was surrounded by towering trees.
Just a few minutes away from the lake, it was a great place to stay, as it made it easy to access the lake, hiking trails, and other nearby attractions (including restaurants). Not only was the interior decorated in a chic and modern Scandinavian-style theme, but it also included a serene deck on the back of the cabin, which served as the perfect spot for a home-cooked meal one night.
While it was only a 2-bedroom cabin, it featured a beautiful updated kitchen, ample seating for multiple people, and a cozy living room complete with a fireplace. From rustic accents to cheeky coffee table books (including one home decorating book called Cabin Porn, which made me laugh), the entire place was decorated so well, I was inspired to take photos (as you can see here).
To be honest – many of the house rentals in Lake Tahoe tend to look outdated (nearly like they’re stuck in an 80’s time machine or something). So, I was pleasantly surprised to walk into this home and realize how updated and modern it felt. Plus, it was incredibly well-appointed and made us feel right at home, thanks to comfortable accommodations and all types of plush seating areas (including my favorite little reading nook in the living room, pictured below).
Where to Enjoy the Beach in Lake Tahoe
Shortly after we arrived at our cabin, we decided to head to the lake. Fortunately, I had found a nearby spot on the West Shore called Sugar Pine Point State Park, which included hiking trails and a brief walk down to the lake.
After meandering through the peaceful forest, we finally arrived at the beach. To our surprise, there were barely any people there. It was so incredibly peaceful and calming, we decided to take off our sandals and just walk into the water (which was rather temperate).
Shortly after, a flock of geese started swimming in our direction. At first, I was totally excited that they were coming our way (thinking that they wanted to hang out with us), but then we realized they had a plan and a strategy in mind. The next thing we knew, they started walking out of the water directly towards our bags on the beach. Apparently, these little rascals were in search of food! So the next thing I knew, we were racing out of the water just to shoo them away from our belongings. It was a very funny moment! But, they sure were cute.
Where to River Raft in Lake Tahoe
Another fun activity to do while in Lake Tahoe is to go river rafting on the Truckee River. Since there’s been ample rainfall over the past year, it was the perfect time to hop on a raft and start paddling. So, we booked a 3-hour river raft tour through Truckee River Raft Company.
This self-guided ride is a great way to relax and enjoy the beauty of Tahoe while meandering down a lazy river. Throughout the ride, you’ll encounter all types of wildlife, including playful ducks who enjoy swimming along next to you (as shown below). Plus, there are multiple deeper spots that are ideal for swimming in too. I highly recommend packing lunch and beverages (in a waterproof cooler), as it will make the whole experience that much more enjoyable.
Overall, it’s a mellow river (which makes it ideal for families with kids). There are a few rocky points that create some adrenaline-pumping rapids, but they’re pretty easy to navigate (especially if you can avoid getting stuck on a rock as we did at one point!). Just be sure to safely tuck away your cell phone (or other items that could get wet), as you are bound to get splashed.
Where to Hike in Lake Tahoe
Another fun outdoor activity while in North Tahoe is to go hiking and sightseeing. One of the most beautiful trails to explore is Eagle Rock Trail (located on the West Shore in Homewood). After a brief 20-minute hike up the tree-lined mountain, you’ll find yourself at the top of volcanic rock, with sweeping vistas of Lake Tahoe. This picturesque view is a great spot for taking photos and making memories, so be sure to enjoy your time while you’re up there.
Another great way to get outdoors and enjoy the sights is to take a walk, jog, or bike ride around the lake. There’s a lakeside recreational trail that makes it easy to get your exercise in while boasting incredible views from all angles.
Where to Eat in Lake Tahoe
Last, but certainly not least, there are all types of great restaurants and fine dining experiences in Lake Tahoe. One of my favorite lakeside restaurants is located in Incline Village at the Hyatt. The famed Lone Eagle Grille offers both indoor and outdoor seating with views of the lake just beyond the beach. Not only is it a popular place to visit (for drinks or dining), but it offers a wide variety of dishes to enjoy. From steak and seafood to all types of plant-based dishes, there’s something for everyone on their robust menu.
As you can see, there are so many ways that you can enjoy a fun-filled vacation in Lake Tahoe. To learn about other great places to stay and play in North Tahoe, check out this other Lake Tahoe Travel Guide on Inspirations & Celebrations.