4 minute read

Tahoe's Top Summer Attractions

Scenery, history, trails and beaches.

Emerald Bay

Tahoe’s iconic view, Emerald Bay is surrounded by steep mountain sides and dotted with an island topped by a stone tea house. Highway 89 hugs the cliffs above the lake, with parking in 3 lots, plus a few highway-side spots. Eagle Falls tumbles down cliffs below the road into Emerald Bay State Park. A 1.7-mile hike leads to the lakeshore and Vikingsholm “castle,” constructed in 1929 and one of the finest examples of historic Scandinavian architecture in the Western Hemisphere.

Sand Harbor State Park

A marvelous combination of protected cove, rocky point, giant granite boulders and a long, sandy beach, this state park fills its parking lot quickly on many summer days. Transport alternatives include five-time daily buses from Reno and free micro-shuttles hailed by a TNT-TMA app.

Heavenly Village & Stateline Casinos

Heavenly Village and nearby casinos, bars and shops are Tahoe’s nucleus of man-made fun. Many spots feature live music, with 24-hour gaming across the Nevada stateline. An incredibly scenic gondola ride travels up to 9,123-foot elevation and viewing platform, mountain lodge, ropescourse and “mountain-coaster.”

Downtown Truckee

Truckee’s authentic “Old West” downtown, bisected by the Transcontinental Railroad, has an entertaining variety of quality restaurants, unique shops and modern-day “saloons.” Trails and bike paths head out in multiple directions, including along the Truckee River and to nearby Martis Valley.

Tahoe City, State Park & Museums

Lake Tahoe’s only outlet is the Truckee River in Tahoe City, where a dam controls the top six feet of the lake. Lean over the railing of “Fanny Bridge” to watch the giant trout below. Bike paths and sidewalks lead from Gatekeeper Museum throughout this scenic town of unique shops, restaurants and “watering-holes.”

Sugar Pine Point State Park

This park gives a glimpse back in history with its lovely Hellman-Ehrman Mansion, surrounding grounds and boat houses. But it is also features a beautiful shoreline and trails through a forest populated with its name-sake tree.

Olympic Valley, Palisades Tahoe

This beautiful alpine valley was the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. Palisades Tahoe Village features outdoor dining spots and a spectacular aerial tram, traveling up 2,000 vertical feet to a high mountain lodge with a small Olympic museum.

Donner Memorial State Park

A statue and museum at this state park tell the stories of the infamous Donner Party and other Western pioneers. A trail leads to the sandy shoreline of Donner Lake.

Mt. Rose Highway Scenic Viewpoint

A short drive above Incline Village on Nevada Highway 431 is a scenic pull-off with unobstructed views of the Lake Tahoe Basin, spectacular day or night. The road from here heads north to Reno, with a winding descent and expansive views.

Tallac Historic Site & Beaches

Connected by bike trail with South Lake Tahoe, the Historic Site’s white sand beaches and green lawns extend down a long stretch of lakeshore. Stroll past historic mansions or dip your toes in Lake Tahoe.

Old Highway 40

This route parallels Interstate 80 on the path taken by pioneers and the Trans Continental railroad over the Sierra Nevada Range. The highway curves up between steep cliffs to a scenic bridge and views over Donner Lake. Near the top of the pass are the original, now-abandoned train tunnels and “Chinese wall” constructed in the 1860s.

At press time, another Tahoe favorite, D.L. Bliss State Park, anticipated closures this summer due to installation of a new water supply system.