The Very Best Things to Do in North Lake Tahoe

Enjoy fishing, zip lining and hiking on the northern side of Lake Tahoe.

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North Lake Tahoe in Winter, USA

The state line runs right down the middle of North Lake Tahoe, separating the gamblers from the gambler-nots. Casinos and bars await you on the naughty, raucous Nevada side, while ski resorts and spas adorn both sides. A promontory juts into the lake, separating the two states, as well as the Agate Bay and the waters of the Crystal Bay. 

It’s a place for all seasons. Try kayaking and other water sports in summer, while getting your skiing gear on in the winter. Go mountain biking and hiking in spring and fall, when the surrounding forest takes on a multi-coloured appearance. And year-round, there are all sorts of events where you can pretend to be cultured, including the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival in July. For a comprehensive overview, we at the Plum Guide have collated a list of the best things to do in North Lake Tahoe.

Adventures in the woods

As you can probably see, much of the lake is surrounded by forests at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Snap some photos of those undulating hills of green vegetation. The Tahoe National Forest is made up of sugar pines, coast Douglas firs and Ponderosa pines among other types of trees. Perhaps you’ll be able to recognise them and show off to your family, though we doubt the kids will care.

There are plenty of great walking trails around Lake Tahoe, USA

There are plenty of great walking trails around Lake Tahoe, USA

Delve into the forest and enjoy a picnic in the shade of the trees. Kids will want to take up some of the nature activities: take on the Tahoe Treetop Adventure Parks, allowing you to walk along sky-high planks of wood, because walking on the floor is so passé. Hike along the trails and reach the Inspiration Point Vista for a… well, a vista from a point that is inspirational. The Eagle Falls Trail is one of the top nature paths in the area. Or, you can skip the whole thing and just get a helicopter tour from the HeliTahoe tour operator. 

Go fishing

This may sound like an obvious one, given we’re on the lake... and it is. Fishing is a top activity when it comes to things to do in North Lake Tahoe. You could go with the Matt Heron Fly Fishing operator to learn about the fish in the area and maybe even catch some. Or go it alone, a lone ranger fighting against the machine, catching all the evil fish from the depths of the lake. Among the many types of aquatic creature you’re likely to encounter are the brown and rainbow trout and the Kokanee salmon. The Truckee River in the north-western corner of the lake is among the top places for fishing.

Balsam Fir, Plum Guide Home in North Lake Tahoe

Balsam Fir, Plum Guide Home in North Lake Tahoe

If fishing's your thing, why not stay near the edge of the lake at a Plum Guide home like Balsam Fir?

Whitewater rafting (and calmer rafting)

Fancy plummeting down a rocky river like a maniac? Us neither. Wait, you do? OK, well, let’s see… there’s the Tahoe Whitewater Tours. Just try to resist the urge to push your partner or kids in the water. We’re all in the same boat, after all. For something a little softer and more leisurely, try the Truckee River Raft Company, whose rubber dinghies float downstream in the tour operator’s eponymous waterway. Your self-guided tour leads you past imposing mountains and picturesque vistas of the forest, and you’ll be passing slow enough to actually make out what you’re looking at. Stop off at the various swimming holes and enjoy a picnic on the shore in this relaxing corner of North Lake Tahoe. 

It’s time to go skiing

Skiing in Lake Tahoe is a truly unique experience, and one of the very best things to do in North Lake Tahoe. In winter, the mountains around the lake are totally covered in fluffy white snow, making for a change in atmosphere and scenery. Just south of the Truckee Tahoe Airport in the North Lake Tahoe area is the Northstar California Resort. In summer, its cycling area, golf course and hiking paths are popular, but it really comes alive in winter. Zoom down the slopes like a James Bond hero or villain (depending on your role in the family unit). Take skiing and snowboarding lessons to become an expert, though don’t get too cocky, or you’ll fall off the edge of the mountain and land with egg on your face (or, more likely, die).

Lake Tahoe Gondola | © Allison Mickel/Flickr

Lake Tahoe Gondola | © Allison Mickel/Flickr

On the eastern side of North Lake Tahoe is the Diamond Peak Ski Resort. Bring the little ones to the Child Ski Center and enjoy the views of the lake from great heights. 

Skiers will love Plum Guide home Crystal Bay, with its floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing the surrounding snowy mountains.

Crystal Bay, Plum Guide home in North Lake Tahoe

Crystal Bay, Plum Guide home in North Lake Tahoe

Beaches

There's nothing quite like summer in Lake Tahoe. Bring your family to the North Tahoe Beach, and enjoy a picnic on one of the wooden tables on the grass at its rear. Play volleyball with some pals and go swimming in the calm, shallow water. Other top tips include the Sand Harbor (where you can do kayak and paddle board tours) and the secluded Secret Cove Beach.

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