17 minute read

Glossary of Things-to-do

Fun from A to Z !

Arcades

See “Casinos.”

Art Galleries

See “Shopping”

Beaches [Also– White sand, turquoise water, picnics, wading]

Tahoe’s shoreline features many lovely meetings of sand and water, some right off the road, others delightfully hard to find. South Tahoe boasts a string of public beaches and lakefront resorts, including Regan Beach and Lakeview Commons, Baldwin and Pope beaches to the west, and Zephyr Cove to north. Sand Harbor at Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park on the East Shore is the crème de la crème of Tahoe sand. The parking lot fills early on summer days, but shuttles are available. You can also bike to Sand Harbor on a scenic three-mile path from Incline Village. Sand-seekers in North Tahoe head for Kings Beach State Recreation Area and nearby Moon Dunes. Tahoe City’s Commons Beach has a playground and lawn. Meeks Bay Resort on the West Shore has a beautiful sand beach. Near Truckee, West End Beach at Donner Lake features a large lawn and shade trees.

Go to TahoePublicBeaches.org for more information and locations.

Sand Harbor/Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park

Bike Parks

Truckee has an excellent bike park with beginner to expert jump lines. Northstar California ski resort becomes an enormous mountain bike park in summer with jumps, features, single track and uphill transportation on ski lifts modified to carry bikes. Incline Village and South Lake Tahoe public bike parks have beginner to intermediate flow lines and pump-tracks.

Bike Paths [Also– Cruisers, E-bikes, inline skating, jogging strollers]

Smoothly paved and separated from vehicle traffic, bike paths are popular with locals and visitors alike. Curving along the lake shore, following the Truckee River, or meandering through forests, meadows and neighborhoods, these are lovely journeys by foot or wheels. Although called bike paths, pedestrians and their dogs have right of way, so the paths are not always appropriate for cranking it up on a racing bike.

South Lake Tahoe’s network of bike paths includes scenic rides to several beaches to the west. Incline Village’s path to Sand Harbor and Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park has stunning views and accesses several small coves. Tahoe City is the center of over 19 miles of connected bike path, including the popular route along the Truckee River to Squaw Valley and the 12-mile journey down the West Shore to Sugar Pine Point State Park and Meeks Bay. Truckee’s network of paths includes the Legacy Trail, a 4.4-mile ride along the Truckee River.

Bird Watching

In spring and fall, a number of migratory birds linger in this region. The larger wetlands of the Upper Truckee River, Carson Valley and Little Truckee host a wide variety of species. Year around, look to the sky for osprey, red-tail hawk and the occasional bald eagle. Or have mountain chickadee eating out of your hand on “chickadee ridge,” a short hike east of Nevada Highway 431 in Tahoe Meadows.

Boating [Also– Rentals, charters, launching, parasailing]

Boat rentals and launching, jet ski, kayak and paddle-board rentals are available at marinas surrounding Lake Tahoe, including in Tahoe City, Sunnyside, Homewood, Tahoe Keys, Ski Run and Tahoe Vista. Water sports rentals are also found near many hotels and lakefront restaurants, including the Beacon in South Lake Tahoe, Hyatt Regency in Incline Village and in Kings Beach State Recreation Area. Parasailing is available on both North and South Shores.

Pay attention to weather forecasts and wind direction before taking any boating trip on Tahoe. Be advised before diving headfirst into the middle of Lake Tahoe from a boat on a hot summer day that the water just four feet down might be a shocking 40 degrees F colder than the air.

If you’d rather experience Lake Tahoe from the comfort of a cruise boat, the M.S. Dixie in Zephyr Cove and Tahoe Gal in Tahoe City depart daily. Sailing charters are available in Tahoe City, Tahoe Keys and on the Sierra Cloud catamaran at Hyatt beach, Incline Village.

Casinos [Also– Arcades]

Stateline in South Tahoe is home to the region’s famous, large casino towers—Harrah’s, Harveys, MontBleu and Hard Rock Hotel—all adjacent to each other. All feature 24-hour slots and table games, plus entertainment, dining and lodging. Crystal Bay on the northern state line has 2 smaller casinos, with the Hyatt nearby in Incline Village. Those looking for Tahoe’s best arcades should also head to the casinos, Harveys being one favorite spot to play.

Cycling [Also– Road-biking]

Reno local Greg LeMond was the first non-European to win the Tour de France, and his legs muscles were built on punishing Tahoe climbs like the Mt. Rose Highway’s 4,400-foot ascent and 2,500-foot descent to Lake Tahoe. For those at ease on narrow mountain roads, the region is full of challenges. Chief among them is the infamous Death Ride bicycle race, winding over steep mountain passes south of Tahoe, and celebrating its 41th anniversary in mid-July.

The belt-notch Tahoe ride for many cyclists is circling the lake, a 72-mile journey that can be turned into a “century” with a 28-mile out-and-back to Truckee. The road around the lake features a mostly adequate, single-file shoulder, but there are also stretches with little to no shoulder on East Shore and near Emerald Bay. Ride clockwise if you want to maximize lake views. Highway 89 from Squaw Valley to Truckee has wider bike lanes and can be part of an alternate around-the-lake route that includes a 1,385-foot climb over Brockway Summit on Highway 267.

Other popular road rides include climbing Ward and Blackwood Canyons on the West Shore. Climb almost 1200 vertical feet in 3 miles on Old Highway 40 from Donner Lake over the Sierra Crest. Or to dial it back and cruise, see Bike Paths.

Dining

See “Dining Directory” on page 40.

Disc Golf

Challenging courses are found at Incline Village, South Lake Tahoe, Truckee and North Tahoe Regional Park in Tahoe Vista.

Dog Walks and Swims

Dogs the world-over drool to come to Lake Tahoe. No ticks, no poison oak, water everywhere, forests to bound through, squirrels to chase, and humans picnicking and dropping scraps. Dogs are not welcome on all of Tahoe’s beaches, however, so head for Kiva Beach in South Tahoe, Zephyr Cove on East Shore, Coon Street Beach in Kings Beach, Patton Beach in Carnelian Bay, or Hurricane Bay near Blackwood Canyon on the West Shore. Dogs on lease or under voice command are welcome on most trails in the area. Water-sprinkled hiking trails include Meeks Bay creek, Glen Alpine, Five Lakes, Shirley Canyon in Olympic Valley, Truckee River Legacy, and Donner Memorial State Park.

Drinking

Breweries throughout Tahoe and Reno produce award-winning “suds,” served up in brew pubs or in taprooms that also pour beer from around the world. Local favorites include Fifty/Fifty, Tahoe Cold Water and Alibi Ale. Craft brewery Tahoe National recently opened in Tahoe City.

Drives

The 72-mile drive around Lake Tahoe can be a scenic 2 to 3 hours or an all-day adventure with entertaining side trips. Lunch stops include lakefront restaurants, food trucks, or picnic at a beach park. Other scenic drives include Mt. Rose Highway 431 and highways winding through the mountains south of Lake Tahoe: 89, 88 and 4.

Highway 89 on West Shore travels this spectacular stretch.

Equestrian

Horseback trails rides are available from stables in Alpine Meadows, Camp Richardson, Zephyr Cove, Piping Rock and Tahoe Donner. Horses are allowed on many regional hiking trails.

Fishing [Also– Charters, fly-fishing]

Charter fishing boats leave from marinas around Lake Tahoe most every morning of the summer, many seeking large Mackinaw Trout. Fly fishing spots include the upper and lower Truckee River, Little Truckee River, and upper Carson River tributaries south of Tahoe.

Four-Wheeling [Also– Off-road vehicle, dirt biking]

The Rubicon Trail is an epic off-road journey, labeled “the crown jewel of all off-highway trails.” The route crosses the Sierra Crest for a technical 22-miles from McKinney-Rubicon, on Tahoe’s west shore, to near Georgetown in the California foothills. It rates a “10” difficulty on a scale of 10. Four-wheelers and two-wheelers seeking more wide-open spaces head toward Northern Nevada’s countless off-road trails and dirt roads.

Gambling

See “Casinos.”

Gliding [Also– Hang gliding, ultra- lights]

Commercial glider plane rides are available from the Truckee and Minden airports. Powered hang glider rides depart from Carson City Airport. All three operations usually take customers over parts of Lake Tahoe. Experienced hang gliders sometimes launch from Slide Mountain Highway off Mt. Rose Highway 431, where summer updrafts along the steep Eastern Sierra can power record flights.

Golf

Reno/Tahoe has a well-deserved reputation for great golf, from high-end championship courses to relaxed local links. Edgewood Tahoe at Stateline is the “Pebble Beach” of the mountains, home to the nationally televised American Century Celebrity Golf Championship. South Tahoe has three additional public links.

Numerous well-known golf architects have designed courses in Truckee and Northern Nevada. Public course options near Truckee include the Jack Nicklaus-designed Old Greenwood and Peter Jacobson-designed Grey’s Crossing. Entertaining and historic 9-hole courses are found at Tahoe City and in Kings Beach at Old Brockway, where in 1934 Bing Crosby created the pro-am tournament that is now the ATT National at Pebble Beach. Nearby, Incline Village has two beautiful courses.

Hiking [Also– Escaping the crowds, forest-bathing, adventure treks]

From spring through late-fall, Tahoe has ideal hikes for most every day and your every mood. The Tahoe Rim Trail is one of three iconic trails that originate or pass through the region, the others being the John Muir and Pacific Crest trails. You can pick up sections of the Rim Trail at 12 trailheads, enjoying out-and-backs or pointto-point with a shuttle. Popular trailheads include Tahoe Meadows, off Nevada Highway 431 above Incline Village, Brockway Summit on Highway 267, Echo Lakes near Interstate 50, and Spooner Summit on Interstate 50. The Pacific Crest Trail can be accessed at numerous trailheads in the region. All three trails travel through the spectacular granite landscapes of Desolation Wilderness, the nation’s most visited wilderness area (requiring permits for overnight stays).

Many lovely hiking trails wind through the woods at lower elevations, some in state parks, others accessed from neighborhood roads. Look to our recreation map on page 24 for suggestions.

For adventurous, off-trail hikers, the Sierra Nevada Range offers endless peak-bagging and backcountry route finding. As with all travel in Tahoe backcountry, go prepared with cellphone charged and adequate water and clothing.

Ice Skating

The South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena is an excellent indoor facility with an NHL-sized rink. Check tahoearena.co for their updated summer schedule.

Jet Skiing

See "Boating"

Kayaking

See “Paddling”

Kite Boarding [Also– Windsurfing, Hobiecatting]

Lake Tahoe and other nearby lakes often have summer afternoon winds, but only rarely at a velocity to excite kite boarders or windsurfers. That can change as storm fronts brush the Northern Sierra, whipping up whitecapped action off Kings Beach, Tahoe Vista and South Lake Tahoe. Wet suits are advised, even on warm afternoons, as lake surface temperatures can drop on windy days.

Miniature Golf

Find minigolf fun at Kings Beach Miniature Golf or Magic Carpet Golf locations in South Lake Tahoe and Carnelian Bay. Heavenly Village lays out holes on its plaza during summer months.

Heavenly Village

Mountain Biking [Also– Single track, fire roads]

The entire Northern Sierra is a mountain biking mecca of single-track and fire road fun, from classic granite descents to newly built routes that curve and bounce fluidly down mountain sides.

Flume Trail is the most iconic of Lake Tahoe routes, a breathtaking trek along mountain ridges and cliff side, including single-track following the route of an old lumber flume. This classic fat-tire ride is made more accessible with a shuttle service that cuts out the painful road climbing part of the loop.

Turn to the map on page 24 for more information on popular trails. Bike shops are great sources for in-depth information on adventures to match your goals.

Museums

Interesting area museums include Donner Emigrant Trail Museum outside Truckee, Tahoe City’s Gatekeepers Museum and Native American basket collection, and Tahoe Environmental Research Center in Incline Village.

Nearby museums and historic sites include Nevada Museum of Art and National Auto Museum in Reno, Nevada Museum and Nevada Railroad Museum in Carson City, and tours and museums in Virginia City.

Paddling [Also– SUP and kayaking]

Lake Tahoe’s crystal-clear waters—every shade of blue from near-black to turquoise—are a magnetic attraction for paddle boarders and kayakers. There are multiple Tahoe marinas that offer launching and rentals. Many of the most popular beach locations have rentals and convenient parking. East Shore’s mix of undeveloped shoreline, numerous coves, hidden beaches, and huge granite boulders make it a favorite adventure, normally accessed through Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, with rentals available there or at the Hyatt Regency beach in Incline Village. Emerald Bay is the great paddle adventure on the West Shore, accessed from D.L. Bliss State Park to the north or Baldwin beach to the south.

As with all boating on Lake Tahoe, pay attention to weather forecasts and wind direction. For information on multi-day paddles around the lake go to LakeTahoeWater- Trail.org.

Photography

Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park and Old Highway 40 above Donner Lake are classic Tahoe vistas. The scenic pull-out on Nevada Highway 431 above Incline Village has gorgeous views, day or night. The Heavenly gondola provides spectacular lake vistas and Palisades Tahoe tram travels up a mountain ridge that inspired Walt Disney’s design for Frontier Land.

Day trips include silver mining boomtown Virginia City, the ghost town of Bodie, and high desert landscapes around Pyramid Lake and Black Rock Desert.

Playgrounds [Also– Playing fields]

South Lake Tahoe has an excellent recreation and swim center with three nearby playing fields. Kings Beach and Tahoe Vista have numerous playgrounds and play fields, both along the lakeshore and at the North Tahoe Regional Park. Tahoe City Commons Beach has a playground and lawn. In Truckee, head for Truckee River Regional Park.

River Rafting [Also– Inner-tubing, white-water kayaking]

The relatively gentle stretch of the Truckee River between Tahoe City and River Ranch offers multi-generational rafting and tubing fun. There are two commercial rafting operations serving this stretch—book ahead. If you’re riding your own floatation, you’ll want to leave a car near River Ranch (but not in their parking lot unless you’re dining or staying there).

The Truckee River below River Ranch is much more technical and dangerous, but becomes gentle again downstream in Truckee, where inner tubers launch near the junction of Highway 89 and West River Street and float to Legacy Trail Bridge or Glenshire Bridge.

Portions of the upper Truckee River in Meyers are also gentle enough for inner tubers, but beware of obstacles on the way to Tahoe Keys.

If you’re seeking taller whitewater, portions of the Truckee River Canyon between Truckee and Verdi feature Class Three and Four rapids. Tahoe Whitewater Tours runs commercial day trips through Truckee River Canyon, Carson River, and forks of the American River.

Rock Climbing [Also– Bouldering]

Tahoe’s most popular climbing destinations are Donner Summit, near Truckee, and Lover’s Leap, off Highway 50 west of Echo Summit. Old Highway 40 travels up from Donner Lake to numerous granite cliffs with traditional routes of all grades. Lover’s Leap is renowned for multiple-pitch routes reaching up to 600 feet. Climbers have ferreted out excellent granite bouldering around Tahoe’s woods—look to web or print climbing guides for the continually expanding areas.

Ropes Courses [Also– Adventure parks, ziplines]

Tahoe Treetop Adventure parks have three locations—Tahoe Vista, Olympic Valley and Granlibakken Resort in Tahoe City—with rope courses, zip-lines and a “leap of faith.” Heavenly in South Tahoe has a fun ropes course and alpine slide at the top of the gondola lift.

Sailing

See “Boating”

Scenic Rides [Also– Aerial tram, gondola lift]

Tahoe boasts two breathtakingly scenic aerial rides. Heavenly’s gondola travels from near Stateline in South Lake Tahoe straight up the mountainside and connects with another lift, trails and rides. Palisades Tahoe’s large aerial tram is a spectacular ride up a cliff face to the resort’s High Camp lodge.

View on Heavenly Gondola ride

Skate Parks

Fun skate parks are found in Truckee and South Lake Tahoe.

Shopping

Boutiques, art galleries, gift and souvenirs shops are clustered in Truckee’s downtown, Heavenly Village/ Stateline, Tahoe City, Incline Center and Kings Beach, all with lunch and coffee spots. Look to our Directory, page 46, for more information on shops and galleries.

Swimming [Also– Open-water]

Lake Tahoe is DEEP and COLD, but its top 3 feet can become refreshingly swimable during most Augusts and Septembers, the surface water temperature near 70 degrees F and warmer in sandy shallows on summer afternoons off South Lake Tahoe, Kings Beach, Tahoe Vista and Sand Harbor beaches. To enjoy Tahoe’s water clarity, wear swim goggles or a mask. Or take a dip in the lower Truckee River, basically Lake Tahoe in motion.

There are excellent indoor public pools in South Lake Tahoe, Truckee and Incline Village

Trail Running

See “Hiking”

Walking [Also– Handicap access]

Paved walking and bike path options are found throughout the region, with popular stretches found from South Lake Tahoe to Tallac Historic Site, West Shore bike trail between Meeks Bay and Tahoe City, Truckee River bike trail from Tahoe City to Palisades Tahoe, and the lakeside trail from Incline Village to Lake TahoeNevada State Park. Most sections of these trails are relatively flat and handicap accessible. Sugar Pine Point State Park has a Family Discovery nature trail. Near Truckee, the paved Truckee River Legacy Trail and trails in Donner Memorial State Park and Martis Valley are delightful places to raise your heart rate a bit.

Incline Village to Sand Harbor Trail

Water Skiing [Also– Wake Boarding, Wake Surfing, Lessons]

On calm summer mornings, Tahoe’s surface is an almost perfect mirror to the green forests and blue sky—a waterskiing nirvana. West Shore locations are often wind protected, with lessons and rentals available at Sunnyside Marina and High Sierra Waterski School at Homewood Marina, and rentals from Tahoe City Marina. Around the lake, numerous companies and marinas rent boats for wake boarding or wake surfing—the latter fun even in minor windchop because it requires slower boat speeds. Pay attention to current weather forecasts before planning any boating trip on Lake Tahoe. Other area lakes with boat launches include Donner Lake and Fallen Leaf Lake.

Zoos

To see animals from around the world, head to Animal Ark, located north of Reno, providing sanctuary for orphaned, injured, or non-releasable wildlife.