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- Fun Summer Things to Do in South Lake Tahoe
- 11 Reasons to Visit South Lake Tahoe in the Summer
- 1. Enjoy a Boat Cruise from Camp Richardson’s Marina
- 2. Explore Tahoe’s Hidden Castle
- 3. Swim in Emerald Bay’s Idyllic Little Cove
- 4. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at Camp Richardson’s Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor
- 5. Unwind on the Deck at the Lake Tahoe Resort
- 6. Paddle Along the Lake Tahoe Shoreline in a Transparent Kayak
- 7. Hike in Van Sickle Bi-State Park
- 8. Enjoy Dinner and a Show at the Loft Theater
- 9. Experience All that Epic Discovery Offers at Heavenly Village
- 10. Relax in a Hot Tub at the Ridge Resorts
- 11. Zip Around the Coves in a Jet Ski
South Lake Tahoe is lake living at its best and nature living at its best. Summer in South Lake Tahoe is an especially great time to enjoy a delightful variety of family-friendly outdoor activities in glorious nature. From guided kayak tours to Jet Ski adventures, these things to do in South Lake Tahoe will keep kids smiling. Here are the top 11 reasons to visit South Lake Tahoe during the summer.
Disclosure: The writer paid for these activities at a reduced rate.
Fun Summer Things to Do in South Lake Tahoe
- Enjoy a boat cruise from Camp Richardson’s Marina
- Explore Tahoe’s Hidden Castle
- Swim in Emerald Bay’s idyllic little cove
- Satisfy your sweet tooth at Camp Richardson’s old-fashioned ice cream parlor
- Unwind on the deck at the Lake Tahoe Resort
- Paddle along the Lake Tahoe shoreline in a transparent kayak
- Go on a hike in Van Sickle Bi-State Park
- Enjoy dinner and a show at the Loft Theater
- Experience all that Epic Discovery offers at Heavenly Village
- Relax in a hot tub at the Ridge Resorts
- Zip around the coves in a Jet Ski
11 Reasons to Visit South Lake Tahoe in the Summer
South Lake Tahoe is a splendidly beautiful vacation destination. My family visited in August. I’m not entirely sure what I expected from our trip to this lovely resort town, but I certainly didn’t think it would be as picturesque as it was. I was constantly in awe at the majesty of it all.
As the largest alpine lake in North America, Lake Tahoe boasts crystal clear bluer-than-blue water that’s 99.9% pure. Temperatures in the summer months stay in the 70s during the day. Outdoor activities are a must-do on your Lake Tahoe summer adventure list.
Read on for kayak tours, jet ski adventures, magic shows, day hikes, zip lines, and other fun things to do with the kids in this lovely resort town.
1. Enjoy a Boat Cruise from Camp Richardson’s Marina
The first and one of the best things to do in South Lake Tahoe with kids is to enjoy the crystal-clear waters of the lake. That’s where Lake Tahoe’s natural beauty truly shines. We took a boat cruise for effortless access to the lake. The small boat departed from Camp Richardson Marina, which is located on the south shore of Lake Tahoe.
For this boat cruise, bring a beach towel, some flip-flops, and a snack. We cruised to Emerald Bay State Park. It’s a popular spot, so parking is tough to find. That means arriving by boat is a great choice. The cove is calm, clean and offers picturesque lake views. There’s easy swimming, calm shores for little kids and lots of nearby hiking trails if you’re eager to explore.
2. Explore Tahoe’s Hidden Castle
The three-hour Action Watersports of Tahoe boat tour took our family to Vikingsholm, a beautiful historic home located in Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe. This hidden castle is an exceptional example of Scandinavian architecture outside of the Nordic countries. It’s no wonder that Vikingsholm is now a national and California landmark. The castle is open daily for tours from June to September.
3. Swim in Emerald Bay’s Idyllic Little Cove
I was in awe of the beauty of Emerald Bay’s cove, and my family really enjoyed swimming off this idyllic sandy beach. Picture-perfect Emerald Bay is one of the most photographed spots in the United States.
4. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at Camp Richardson’s Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor
The Ice Cream Parlor is right next to Camp Richardson’s historic hotel. The ice cream sundae our family shared here really hit the spot after all that swimming. I absolutely adored the old-fashioned atmosphere here. It was as quaint and charming as a small-town ice cream parlor can be.
5. Unwind on the Deck at the Lake Tahoe Resort
We decided to stay at the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel. At nine stories, it is the largest hotel South Lake Tahoe has to offer. We explored the hotel and enjoyed a free breakfast, which was included in our hotel stay (a family travel essential).
I particularly loved this hotel because it’s just huge and was packed with families. We felt welcomed and right at home.
I really enjoyed hanging out on the outdoor deck of the hotel’s Echo Restaurant. It’s the perfect place to enjoy some live music and an “adult beverage” as you watch the world go by on a lovely summer day.
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The hotel rooms were all suites, and it gave our family ample room to spread out and relax. It was near everything, so last minute drug store and late night snack stops were no problem.
6. Paddle Along the Lake Tahoe Shoreline in a Transparent Kayak
One of the highlights for our family was kayaking on the lake. The Scenic Shoreline Tour we booked with Clearly Tahoe was super fun because we got the unique opportunity to see all the marine life underneath our transparent kayak.
The morning tour we booked started at 8am. That’s the best time for transparent kayaking since the water is calm and glassy. The guided kayak tour is great for beginners because the transparent kayaks are super stable and safe. All the kayaks have a flat bottom, so we felt like we really couldn’t tip these things over.
Being on the water is such an invigorating way to experience Lake Tahoe. And getting to peek into a bunch of luxury backyards from the calm lake was an additional boost of fun.
7. Hike in Van Sickle Bi-State Park
Right behind Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel is an amazing bi-state park with trails that spoke to our inner nature enthusiast. We walked to Van Sickle Bi-State Park from the hotel, so parking isn’t even an issue.
A bonus is that the park’s Rim Trail Connector ties in to the top-rated Tahoe Rim Trail. The park’s trails range from easy to moderate. Some even walk past waterfalls. The park is right at the bottom of the Heavenly Mountain Resort gondola entrance. If you decide not to hike, you can watch others go up and down from the comfort of a gondola ride view.
8. Enjoy Dinner and a Show at the Loft Theater
I really adored the experience we had at the Loft Theater. We got to see a magic show, which we did on a lark. While it never really occurred to me to catch a magic show for a family activity, this ended up having a great payoff.
The magic show itself was so much fun, very inclusive of audience members, and all the magicians were theatrically engaging. The woman next to me was called on to go on stage, she declined and I was surprised to wind up there in her place. A great dose of family friendly nightlife that can be enjoyed in any season and with nearly any age range.
I loved the theater’s intimate setting. All the food we tried was tapas-friendly, so we sampled a variety of dishes.
9. Experience All that Epic Discovery Offers at Heavenly Village
I would definitely recommend spending a day enjoying all the activities of Epic Discovery’s Ultimate Adventure Pass. It is, without a doubt, one of the best things to do in South Lake Tahoe with kids.
First, you take a 2.4 mile ride up in the Heavenly Mountain ski gondola and stop at the observation deck where photo opportunities abound. If you buy the Ultimate Adventure Pass, at the top of the mountain, you will have access to ropes courses, tubing, a mountain coaster, the Red Tail Flyer Zip Line, and the Granite Peak Climbing Wall.
We only had time for three activities since we didn’t get up early enough: the mountain coaster, zip line, and tubing.
You don’t need any sort of a travel guide to navigate your way around. It’s all obvious. We figured it out as soon as our son saw the activities and started screaming out what he wanted to do first.
TravelingMom Tip: Arrive when it opens at 11am to take advantage of all the activities the adventure pass includes.
Look pretty as you go up on this Heavenly Moutain Resort; you definitely will want to snap some family photos here. It offers some of the best views of Lake Tahoe available, short of taking a helicopter tour. We could see far beyond the stateline. We got a glimpse of some of the trails others might enjoy for snowboarding, biking, and of course skiers doing other seasons.
10. Relax in a Hot Tub at the Ridge Resorts
Ridge Resorts was a perfect choice for our family vacation. It was a lovely place to hang out in a hot tub and enjoy the breath-taking mountain views surrounding us.
It’s located in Nevada, overlooking the Carson Valley, but we decided to stay here because it was up in the mountains and gave us a different Lake Tahoe experience. We kicked back, stayed in, watched a movie, and hung out in the hot tub and swimming pools. We couldn’t have had a more pleasant experience here.
There’s a cafe that serves easy, family friendly meals for nights you don’t want to cook, although most apartments come with a full kitchen for the times when you do want to cook.
There are lots of hiking trails nearby, and our son had a great time exploring the nooks and crannies of this resort.
11. Zip Around the Coves in a Jet Ski
My absolute favorite part of this entire trip was the jet ski reservation we made with Zephyr Cove Marina Team. It was speedy fun zipping around the coves in a Sea-Doo Jet Ski. After our water adventure, we enjoyed lunch and some people watching at the Zephyr Cove Marina.
We spent our entire last day on and in the lake, enjoying the water, the people, and the awe inspiring beauty of the land. As we soaked in the splendor and surprise this ski resort area offers during the summer, we made a family vow to return as soon as possible.