Great Things to Do in Lake Tahoe With Kids
It's time Tahoe to the lake! The kids'll love that one...
With its varied terrain and countless activities, Lake Tahoe is a paradise for children (and adults alike, especially those that can enjoy the beach while the au pair takes the kids for the day/week/month). It's an adventure hub that resembles one of those American summer camp movies from the 90s with Lindsay Lohan (or whichever other child star was around at the time).
Skirting this vast lake is a number of sandy beaches and harbours, while the adjacent forest offers all manner of activities, from ziplining to trekking. Gondola rides transport you high above the water and the Sierra Nevada mountain range, while down below, water sports rentals are available to take you out on the lake. In the winter, it becomes a skiing haven. So, as we zoom down the slopes of the internet (what does that even mean?), we at the Plum Guide have put together this list of things to do in Lake Tahoe with kids.
Play on the beach
When it comes to things to do in Lake Tahoe with kids, you can’t really go wrong with the beach. And the lake makes for a nice change from the drying effect of salty seawater. (It's all fresh water here, baby). The Kings Beach State Recreational Area has a wide sandy area for sunbathers, plus space for all sorts of ball games. Go parasailing or rent a kayak, before enjoying a bite to eat at the restaurant. The Sand Harbor is a more tranquil spot for… quiet kids (if there is such a thing). Scramble after your kids as they clamber over the rocks and threaten to jump in the water from medium heights. Get there early, before the beach starts to fill up.
The southern side of the lake offers all sorts of activities, but nothing quite beats the beaches down here. There's the grassy Regan Beach (for those who don’t want sand filling up every crevasse) and the tree-lined Pope Beach. As you head north, you’ll encounter the excellent Commons Beach.
Take the Lake Tahoe Bleu Wave, a massive yacht, out on the water. Yes, we also notice how they spelt blue the French way… how prétentieux. Take a private or public tour of the lake in this stylish vessel, with its bar, private lounge and fireplace among the top amenities. The kids won’t even realise how spoilt they are, so make sure to keep reminding them.
The forest is totally packed with fun activities the kids will love. Take on the obstacles of the Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park on the western shore of the lake. Go zip lining between the trees from great heights, and remember not to look down. Well, you can if you want, just make sure they’ve tied you up right. They’ve got some sort of super harnessing system that they claim makes it impossible to be disconnected. Better you than us.
Another entertaining complex is the EPIC Discovery in the Heavenly Mountain Resort. Access it via their gondola, which provides gorgeous views of the lake that your children probably won’t care about. But they will care about the rope courses, zip lines and mountain roller coasters.
Meet snow with ice
In winter, the Lake Tahoe region and its Sierra Nevada mountain range are covered in a thick, white layer of snow, making skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports great options when it comes to things to do in Lake Tahoe with kids. In fact, skiing is one of the best things to do in Lake Tahoe, period. If you know what you’re doing and have the equipment, you can go cross-country skiing with your family in Taylor Creek. It’s suited to beginners. Otherwise, head to one of the ski resorts, including the Heavenly Mountain Resort or the world-renowned Squaw Valley resort. Northstar Ski Resort is also a big name around these parts, while Sugar Bowl Ski Resort, Kirkwood Ski Resort and Mount Rose Ski Resort are all good options, too.
Turn to ice (ice, baby), at the South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena. It has an Olympic-sized ice rink, with lessons and rentals available. It is perfect for children’s parties, with its locker rooms, snack bar, arcade and party rooms.
It’s unlikely to rain in summer, but if it does, we’ve got you covered. Bring your curious little monsters to the Taylor Creek Visitor Center, by Camp Richardson on the southern shore of the lake. Its subterranean part will shield you from any rain or bad weather, and what’s more – it has its very own aquarium. The tanks aren’t really tanks, but rather glass windows allowing you to peer into part of the Taylor Creek, where Kokanee salmon are zigzagging around, teasing you with their tasty flesh (too weird?). Show your kids the 180-degree curved diorama that teaches them (and you) about life in the water and the forests of this region.
Another rainy day option is the KidZone Museum, for those around 10 and under. It has workshops and classes for kids, as well as interactive exhibits to help them with problem-solving and other aspects of social development. Let them frolic on the Jungle Gym play area. It even has barn animals in summer, and offers plenty of outdoor activities.