5 MUST DO Tahoe Summer Experiences

Lake Tahoe is one of my favorite places. I have been going up there since I was 2. My grandparents have a house and I would always go spend up to 3 weeks with them in the summer, doing swim lessons, being on the lake, and winning library reading contests. 

Did you know Lake Tahoe is the second deepest lake in the U.S? It has a ton of cool history and was even frequented by Frank Sinatra. 

The lake goes across the California and Nevada border so it’s easy to spend the day going back and forth between states depending on what adventures you are having.

There are apparently a ton of cool trails for hiking but as I am not at all a hiker, I have compiled a list of fun things to do that do NOT involve hiking.

Nevada Side

Clearly Tahoe

This was a new thing I did this summer that I have been wanting to do since I saw it existed. 

Clear. Kayaking.

The company has tours all around the lake, morning, afternoon, and night in completely see-through kayaks. They are made out of airplane windows to give you the best views straight through to the bottom of the lake. The sunset and stargazing tours have colorful LED lights attached to the kayaks and I want to do it next time for sure.


I did the 8 am Bonsai Rock Tour located in Incline Village in Nevada. It is an hour-long tour to paddle up and back from the Bonsai rock, aptly named for the one bonsai tree that grows on it, and a place many like to jump into the water from. The kayak includes a small cooler with a granola bar and some water in case you need it during the tour.

The day I went the sky was so clear that the lake shimmered and had great viewing conditions. I can’t even describe how cool it was to be able to look through the bottom of the kayak. Some people have seen engagement rings on the bottom of the lake. I saw some small fish and a crayfish- which I didn’t even know the lake had. I went with my brother in a two-person kayak, perfect to trade off who has to paddle when you get tired. Our tour guide did an awesome job at making it fun and gave us a ton of cool Tahoe Trivia.

If you go up to Tahoe I HIGHLY recommend checking this company out. You get a great view of the lake, plus a bit of exercise without it feeling like work.

Tahoe Shakes

Also on the Nevada side of the lake at Incline Village is the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. They have plays and concerts throughout the summer and the views are spectacular. You get to sit facing the lake, see the sunset over the lake and watch the moon rise over the mountain behind it. 

I have seen two shows there and they were both amazing. Fun fact: the first show I saw four years ago my very first college professor was in so I saw her perform before I even stepped foot on my college campus 2 weeks later. It was a crazy experience to move to Ohio and then have her walk into my class. What a small world we live in.

California Side

Magic Carpet Mini golf

Located in South Lake, it has been open since 1971. My brother and I have insisted on going golfing there every time we are up in Tahoe. They have 3 courses and each is great. My favorite is the dinosaur course. You can see photos of it from my Lake Tahoe post here.

The course we did this summer was the Fantasy course which has 36 holes. I think the hardest holes are on this course but it is really fun to try and beat all the tricks, like the whole that has 3 holes to try hit into but only 1 will get you to the real hole.

One of the holes has a jumping spider that will try and hit your ball away from the hole. Another is a chicken coop. 

We even won a free game for the first time ever at the final hole inside where you put your ball in a slot machine and see if you hit the jackpot. 

Mini Golfing is the perfect thing to do with the whole family, even my 81 year old grandpa likes to go with us. 

Paddleboarding

I love to paddleboard, but I only go when in Tahoe because the ocean has sharks. I also go down to El Dorado beach because it has a section just for swimmers and paddle boarders and you can rent the board or a kayak right on the beach.

Just know depending on what year you go this beach is very much at the mercy of the previous year’s snow fall. Some years there is practically no beach at all because the water level is so high. Other years you can walk all the way out past the mast because the water is up to 5 feet lower than usual, as was this year. The only upside is it means the water may be slightly warmer than the usual going to get hypothermia degrees it can be at. 

El Dorado has a snack bar or you can walk right down the street to some other restaurants, or ice cream. Which leads us to…

Sno-Flake!

I scream, you scream, we all scream to get first in line at Sno-flake. Ice cream at Sno-Flake is a summer staple. Time in Tahoe can not be complete without a stop there. They sell a multitude of ice cream choices, from shakes, to malts and freezes, to the classic soft serve in a cone. But what is the best choice you ask?


Soft serve swirl on a cone. 

Nothing compares to the goodness of chocolate vanilla swirl with a crunchy cone. My mouth is watering just thinking of it. Note- The servings are huge so I get a kids cone and it’s still too much. 

They also have real food like burgers, but who cares for that when you can eat ice cream instead!

There are so many more awesome Tahoe things to do but here are five to get you started.

Have you ever been to Tahoe? What is your favorite thing to do?

BONUS TAHOE STORY

Bears live in Tahoe, in case you were unaware. Well there is this bear who would trek on through my grandparents neighborhood, that everyone named Cinnamon. Years and years of Tahoe going I had never once come across a bear, until one year. Maybe 6 years ago now. Minding our own business, my brother, grandma and I sat around the firepit in the back making s’mores. Mallow slowly roasted to golden brown please. The sun was not even getting ready to set, when we heard my grandpa open the slider and say the words you never want to hear in your own backyard. “There is a bear.”

Now my brother and I are inside before he can even finish getting out those four little words, but there he was. Really, truly, a decent sized black bear making his way through the backyard straight towards where we were sitting. 

I guess our race to get inside scared him off because when we looked through the window safe inside, Cinnamon was seen grabbing onto the tree and jumping the fence. It was an experience I would never forget, and since that moment we no longer like going out to the backyard anywhere near dusk. 

We have never seen him in real life again, but there is a different beat to your heart when you see a couple hundred pound black bear walking in your direction. 

What would you have done?

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