14 Best Things To Do In South Lake Tahoe, California - Updated 2021

things to do in south lake tahoe california
Hannah
Hannah
Updated

South Lake Tahoe is known for being a highly touristic ski resort city. Its copious amounts of fine powdery snow and clear blue Lake Tahoe which is surrounded by the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains make it a picturesque winter paradise. It also has some of the best cabins and top luxury hotels for those looking for places to stay in. Its beautiful beaches make South Lake Tahoe a wonderful summer destination as well. No matter what season you visit, there will be no shortage of exciting activities. If you’re still wondering what to do in South Lake Tahoe, just read on to learn more about the best things to do in South Lake Tahoe, California.

Where to stay in South Lake Tahoe, California

Surrounded by the most stunning lakes and waterfront villas, Al Tahoe and Bijou are some highly recommended spots to stay in when visiting or traveling to South Lake Tahoe for the first time.

Al Tahoe

Al Tahoe is a great spot for budget travelers and solo travelers alike since it’s one of the most affordable neighborhoods in South Lake Tahoe. South Lake Tahoe attractions are plentiful - even stunning and are a haven for adventure seekers. This neighborhood sits right between the stunning Lake Tahoe and Trout Creek. Those who have big appetites will enjoy this spot since it’s a place surrounded by promising and unforgettable grub.

Bijou

This part of South Lake Tahoe gives travelers spacious accommodations to choose from. Bijou is a great rural community that boasts some of the safest and most tranquil neighborhoods. It’s also filled with a ton of natural scenery, and families will appreciate places like Bijou Community Park. There are also several beaches like El Dorado Beach for beach lovers to spend their afternoons in.

For a top-notch vacation in the South Lake Tahoe, we recommend booking these amazing places to stay:

1. Emerald Bay State Park

Emerald Bay State Park - panoramio (30)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Patrick Nouhaille... used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Emerald Bay State Park is one of the top hiking and trekking spots in South Lake Tahoe located in the perfect place to get simply breathtaking views of the area. While hiking in the park, you can look out and see the clear blue waters of Lake Tahoe surrounded by vibrant, deep green pines trees. The scene is made all the more magical during sunset and sunrise. In addition to admiring the beauty of the area surrounding Lake Tahoe, there are several other activity options. You can visit Fannette islands, scuba dive, go camping, or take a leisurely boat cruise.

Emerald Bay State Park

Address: 138 Emerald Bay Rd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Phone Number: +1 5305413030

Website: Emerald Bay State Park

2. Hit the slopes

Lake Tahoe from Heavenly
Source: Photo by Flickr user Ian Irving used under CC BY 2.0

Lake Tahoe is renowned for its winter sports, and for good reason. Its position in the Sierra mountains allows it to receive several hundred inches of snow per year and plenty of sunshine, making it ideal for skiing, snowboarding, etc. The lake, trees, and mountain peaks provide a wonderful backdrop for your snow activities. There is no shortage of ski resorts in the area, with some of the most popular including Heavenly Mountain Resort and Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort. Hit the slopes to experience what everyone is raving about!

Heavenly Mountain Resort

Address: 4080 Lake Tahoe Blvd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Hours: 9 am-5 pm

Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort

Address: 1111 Sierra-At-Tahoe Rd, Twin Bridges, CA 95735

Website: Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort

3. Relax at the beach

Pope Beach, South Lake Tahoe, California
Source: Photo by Flickr user Ken Lund used under CC BY-SA 2.0

El Dorado Beach, which is also referred to as Commons Beach, is a popular tourist destination during the warmer months. Plan a picnic or barbeque at the beach. Savor your meal while facing the crystal-clear waters and feeling the warm sad between your toes. Water sports equipment rentals on the beach make it convenient to explore the beach by boat or canoe. There is also a designated shallow area for children to swim, so the entire family is sure to have fun! Pope beach is another beach to consider visiting. It has relatively shallow waters, which is especially good for children and inexperienced swimmers.

El Dorado Beach

Address: Hwy. 50 South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Pope Beach

Address: Pope Beach Rd. (off Hwy. 89) South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

4. El Dorado Wine Country Tour (from USD 100.0)

El Dorado Wine Country vineyards have been producing wine for over 150 years. Take a tour to sample the wines that have been satisfying customers for over a century and a half. Visit as many of the fifty wineries in the area, learn about their history and the wine making process. Best of all, taste the exquisite wines and bring home a delicious souvenir of your time in El Dorado Wine Country.

El Dorado Wine Country Tour from South Lake Tahoe

Duration: 7 hours

10 reviews

5. Heavenly Mountain Gondola Ride

Heavenly Gondolas, Lake Tahoe, CA 9-2010
Source: Photo by Flickr user Don Graham used under CC BY-SA 2.0

You simply cannot visit South Lake Tahoe without going on the iconic Heavenly Mountain Gondola Ride. This gondola is a special one. It does not carry its passengers down a river, or any body of water for that matter. Instead, it is a glass cabin that hoists passengers in the air, allowing them to have a magnificent bird’s eye view from high above Heavenly Mountain. Between the height and the view of the Sierra Nevada Mountain and stately pine trees towering above the glistening Lake Tahoe, you will truly feel as if you are in heaven.

Heavenly Mountain Gondola Ride

Address: 4080 Lake Tahoe Blvd., South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Website:

6. Lower Eagle Falls

Lower Eagle Falls, Emerald Bay State Park, Lake Tahoe, California
Source: Photo by Flickr user Ken Lund used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Lower Eagle Falls is located right above Emerald Bay. The hike to the top is a leisurely one that is not too strenuous. Beginning hikers may find it to be somewhat steep; however, they should be able to complete. All hikers should wear shoes that are appropriate for walking on a potentially slippery waterfall trail. Once you reach the top, you will be completely surrounded by wilderness and natural beauty. Listen to the water roar and take in the aroma of the nearby pine trees.

Lower Eagle Falls

Address: Emerald Bay, South Lake Tahoe, CA

7. Ice skating

Ice skating
Source: Pexels

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Outdoor snow sports such as skiing and snowboarding are not the only winters ports that South Tahoe Lake has to offer. Head to South Tahoe Ice Arena for some indoor ice skating. Go there with family or friends, skate, play hockey and play the arcade games available at the rink. If you become tired, replenish your energy at the snack bar. After refueling, continue to have fun!

South Tahoe Ice Arena

Address: 1176 Rufus Allen Blvd., South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Phone Number: +1 5305447465

8. Himmel Haus

Bavarian Beer
Source: Needpix

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

During your time here, you most likely will have been engaging in the plethora of sports and a number of other South Lake Tahoe activities that are available in the area: skiing, snowboarding, swimming, hiking, etc. You may be in need of a hearty meal to restore your strength and prepare for another exciting day in South Lake Tahoe. Himmel Haus Restaurant is the place to do just that. Have some delicious and filling German food. Try some mouthwatering schnitzel, bratwurst, and sauerkraut, and pair them with ice cold, authentic Bavarian beer.

Himmel Haus

Address: 3819 Saddle Rd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150-8685

Phone Number: +1 5303147665

Hours: Mon-Fri: 4pm–12am Sat: 12pm–2am Sun: 12pm-12am

9. Vikingsholm (from USD 69.0)

Vikingsholm is a Viking style castle in Emerald Bay. Tour the castle and visit as many of the 38 total rooms as you can. Learn about the history of the castle starting with its construction in 1929. If you are visiting the castle between May and September, you can take one of the guided tours, where you can learn about the significance and history behind the metal and stonework, wood carvings, and other antiques that you see in the castle.

Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay Cruise on M.S. Dixie II

Duration: 2 hours

10 reviews

10. Lake Tahoe Historical Society Museum (from USD 70.0)

Lake Tahoe is a wonderful place with amazing views of nature, beaches, resorts, and plenty of winter sports opportunities. As you enjoy all that the city has to offer, do you ever find yourself wondering what Lake Tahoe was like before it became a ski resort capital? If so, the Lake Tahoe Historical Society Museum has some answers. The museum has an extensive collection of photographs and films about Tahoe’s history. Transform into a detective as you participate in the Mysteries of the Museum collection. Develop a deeper appreciation for the city and its history.

Full-Day Lake Tahoe Circle Tour including Squaw Valley

Duration: 7 hours

10 reviews

11. Heli-Vertex helicopter tour

Lake Tahoe
Source: Needpix

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

See Lake Tahoe in an entirely different light by going on a helicopter tour with Heli-Vertex. Admire the beautiful mountains and the surrounding clear waters from above. View Emerald Bay and some stunning waterfalls, and even witness the captivating view of the sunset. Make your Lake Tahoe moments more special by taking the opportunity to tour this magnificent place in an extraordinary way.

Heli-Vertex

Address: 1901 Airport Rd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150, United States

Website: Heli-Vertex

Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (daily)

12. Marcus Ashley Fine Art Gallery

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Marcus Ashley Fine Art Gallery proudly features the creative works of both local and international artists. They showcase plenty of art forms from oil paintings to glass art. Join them in one of their special events and get the opportunity to meet a talented artist. Their events also include some light snacks and refreshments, so you will surely have a great time. Feast your eyes and make your trip to South Lake Tahoe memorable.

Marcus Ashley Fine Art Gallery

Address: 4000 Lake Tahoe Blvd. Suite 23, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Website: Marcus Ashley Fine Art Gallery

Opening hours: 10am - 6pm (daily)

13. Kayak Tahoe

Kayaking on LAKE TAHOE
Source: Photo by Flickr user Tendai used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

See the breathtaking beauty of Lake Tahoe close up. With Kayak Tahoe, you can rent a kayak or a paddleboard, so go ahead and glide through the lake waters and have a truly divine experience. If you are a beginner, fear not, as safety instructions will definitely be provided before you take your lovely ride. You can also join in on a guided tour for an even more enriching adventure.

Kayak Tahoe

Address: 3411 Lake Tahoe Boulevard, South Lake Tahoe, CA

Website: Kayak Tahoe

Price: Starts at 25 USD

14. Lake Tahoe photography tour (from USD 179.0)

Capture the wonders of Lake Tahoe when you go on this half-day photography tour. Your experienced host will definitely be glad to share some important tips and techniques on how to take the best shots of the scenic places you will be witnessing. See the unbelievable colors of the mountains, the trees, and the clear lake waters. Through this experience, you will learn to appreciate Lake Tahoe’s natural beauty; so ready your cameras and let the adventure begin!

Lake Tahoe Ultimate Photography Scenic Half-Day Tour in Small-Group

Duration: 5 to 6 hours

10 reviews

A city for all seasons

Lake Tahoe
Source: Wikimedia

There are a plethora of fun things to do in South Lake Tahoe - rain or shine, hot or cold. With amazing accommodations available, from luxe hotels to the best vacation rentals and camping spots, you’ll surely find a great home base as you check out the activities on this list to help jump start your South Lake Tahoe vacation!

Frequently asked questions about the best things to do in South Lake Tahoe, California

1. What are the top attractions to visit in South Lake Tahoe?

When you visit South Lake Tahoe, make sure to check out these top attractions: The Gondola at Heavenly, El Dorado Beach or Commons Beach, Emerald Bay State Park, and Vikingsholm, which are some of the most popular destinations in the area.

2. What are the best outdoor activities in South Lake Tahoe?

Whether you’d prefer to have an adventurious day or a more laidback one, there are options for you in South Lake Tahoe. Some popular outdoor activities include hiking to Lower Eagle Falls, taking a helicopter tour with Heli-Vertex, or kayaking in Lake Tahoe.

3. What are the most popular things to do with kids and family in South Lake Tahoe?

With your family, you can spend time outdoors, either by the beach or in nature. Your kids will surely have a memorable time riding the gondolas of The Gondola at Heavenly or just enjoying a day at El Dorado Beach or Commons Beach.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Hannah took her first international trip at one month old and has been traveling ever since. She loves being immersed in different cultures, trying new foods, meeting new people, and sharing her...Read more

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