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Year-Round Fun in Lake Tahoe

by Eugenia Lazaris

Aug 2, 2018

© Valentin Armianu | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / North America

High in the mountains between California and Nevada lies a shining blue gem — Lake Tahoe. The picturesque lake is famous as a resort destination year-round thanks to its beautiful, shimmering waters in the summer and fantastic ski slopes in the winter. Surrounded by quaint mountain villages, rolling green forests and the majesty of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, it is a place of breathtaking natural beauty and outdoor adventure all year long.

Hit the Water

With the largest alpine lake in North America, Lake Tahoe has a seemingly endless supply of aquatic activities to offer families that are looking for summertime fun. Memories are just waiting to be made at places like Emerald Bay State Park, D. L. Bliss State Park and Kings Beach State Recreation Area.

Emerald Bay State Park dates back millions of years when it was first created by melting glaciers. The result is a peaceful cove surrounded by the green blanket of the forest. At the center of the inlet is Lake Tahoe’s only island, Fannette Island, accessed by boat from the park. While swimming is idyllic in the calm waters, the real water attraction is the underwater park. Visitors can bring their own snorkeling and scuba gear to explore the underwater ship graveyard at the bottom of the inlet. The ships at rest here were used to help build Vikingshom, a well-preserved summer home built in the late 1920s with a Scandinavian-style architecture that draws many visitors to the park.

D.L. Bliss State Park, just north of Emerald Bay, is home to the famous Balancing Rock. The 250,000-pound boulder perches precariously on a perch of granite and awes visitors from all over the world. The park also boasts beautiful beaches with crystal-clear waters and a series of hiking trails that let you experience the natural beauty of the lake and surrounding forest. The park is a great place to spend the day exploring and swimming or you can stay a little longer at one of the park’s campgrounds.

Kings Beach State Recreation Park on the north shore of the lake offers 13 acres of waterfront fun. Its sandy beaches are a great place to spend the day sunbathing, swimming or just relaxing in the cool mountain breeze. There are fishing, boating and water sports available as well. Public restroom facilities are available along with picnic tables and barbecue pits that are free to use but are first come, first serve. The park is open daily and free to use, but parking comes with a small fee.

Lake Tahoe sunset

Lake Tahoe sunset © Mariusz Blach | Dreamstime.com

Hit the Slopes

Whether you visit Lake Tahoe in summer or winter, Heavenly Ski Resort on the southern side of the lake offers plenty of outdoor fun. The resort is perfect for first-timers or families with young children. Day care programs are offered so your little ones will be safe and entertained while you take to the fresh powder on your snowboard during the winter months. Lessons are available so don’t be intimidated if you’ve never strapped on a pair of skis before.

During the warmer summer months the resort runs the Epic Discover Adventure Area, a place where kids of all ages can have fun in the fresh mountain air. Some of the activities available are zip lining, rope courses, gemstone panning and even a mountain coaster. They offer guided hiking tours so you can explore the Sierra Nevada wilderness with a seasoned guide who can teach your family all about the local plant life and wildlife. If the summer heat gets to be too much to bear on the hiking trails, the cool water of the lake is just a few miles away.

The Heavenly Gondola is the resort’s biggest draw for visitors. This ride carries guests in a suspended cable car through the trees to an observation deck at an elevation of 9,200 feet overlooking the lake and the forest surrounding it. There is an Ultimate Adventure Pass available that includes a day of fun at the Epic Discovery Zone, activities (except the zip line) and the Heavenly Gondola ticket for a flat rate of $99 for guests more than 54 inches — passes for smaller guests are only $74. Family Adventure Passes are available as well and include a variety of great pricing options depending on the height of each family member.

Take to the Skies

Hot-air balloon rides over the sparkling waters of Lake Tahoe offer some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. Lake Tahoe Balloons offers sunrise flights from May through October. These incredible rides let you see a side of Lake Tahoe you could otherwise only imagine. If you’ve ever taken a hot air balloon ride before you will have to leave your expectations behind and be prepared for a unique experience. Lake Tahoe Balloons begin and end on the lake itself, launching and landing from the deck of a boat on the lake. The photo opportunities are endless and the memories your family will have soaring through the skies will last a lifetime.

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