Great Things to Do in Tahoe City
A town for all seasons: check out our guide to Tahoe City.
It may be full of shops, restaurants and hotels, but Tahoe City is actually a town; not a city, as its name might suggest. Think about that for a moment, and then forget it. It’s time to explore, whether it be a town, a city or simply yet another destination around which you have to chase your misbehaving children. In any case, you’ll be treated to glorious views, even as those little ones continue to escape your grasp and wreak havoc on the local environment. Surrounding the lake are the dramatic mountains of the Sierra Nevada, which are snow-capped much of the year.
You can explore the forests and go on all sorts of adventures (including zip lining, for the lionhearted), or just browse the museums at the rear of the beach. For something a little more relaxed, plonk yourself down on the sand and close your eyes for a week, until it’s time to go home. Plum Guide has put together something special for you here: our top tips on things to do in Tahoe City.
Spend the day on Commons Beach
We all wanna live like common people. At least, that’s how the song goes. This beach is one of the best on Lake Tahoe, and one of the top spots to hang out during a Lake Tahoe summer. Primarily, it’s known for its concerts with bands from all around the world in summer – the free Concerts at Commons on Sunday afternoons. There’s also a movie night (also free – we like that word) on Wednesday nights.
Well, ‘primarily’ seems a little unfair on the other highlights of the beach; namely, its sand, sun and great swimming area. Rent paddle boards and kayaks to take out on the water or simply sunbathe on the strand, making sure to apply enough suncream in this high-altitude spot. It doesn’t get too hot at these heights, making for a pleasant temperature; but you can still burn and end up like a big tomato with legs.
Set up a picnic by the lake or pick up some beer, wine and food from some of the vendors situated around the sandy stretch. There’s also a barbecue area that hosts up to 75 people and a large amphitheater. Your little ones will love clambering all over the climbing frames of the children’s playground.
Hang out in the museums
It rarely rains in this lovely destination (although it snows a fair bunch in winter), but if you do happen to have arrived in wet weather, you’re in luck (well...'luck' is a bit of a push, but glass half full) – there’s still plenty of things to do in Tahoe City on a rainy day. Phew. The Gatekeeper’s Museum is presented by the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society, its exhibits tracing the history of the region. Learn about Native American weavers and other parts of the history and culture of the American West.
Walk north for a few minutes from the complex to reach the Watson Cabin Museum, which is the oldest edifice in the whole Tahoe area, dating back to 1909. The person who lived here – Robert Montgomery Watson – actually built the Gatekeeper’s Museum. Visit for free in summer and take a look around, you nosey so and so.
Explore the forest
Hooray, the rain only lasted five minutes. Time to head back outside again and enjoy the great outdoors. Delve into the Tahoe State Recreation Area by the lake, setting up a picnic on a wooden table between the trees. Bring your binoculars to check out the birdlife, and rent a bike to zoom down the cycle paths. There’s a camping area and a pier that rolls out onto the lake.
Embark on a pleasant hike through the Paige Meadows, whose sloped fields and mountain views look like something out of The Sound of Music. In winter, it turns into something more akin to the setting of a James Bond film, covered in snow on which you can cross-country ski. Take on the paths of the Alpine Meadows and enjoy the serenity in the Burton Creek State Park.
Skiing in Lake Tahoe is unbeatable, and there are plenty of ski resorts in the Tahoe City area. Ride the chairlift up to the top of the slopes of the Squaw Valley Ski Resort and whiz down the mountains at top speeds. Go for a meal and some drinks at one of the many après ski restaurants and bars. You can also visit the Granlibakken Ski & Sled Hill, a slope that is perfect to take the little ones on a snowy winter’s day. You can ski, snowboard and sled down the slope. For something adventurous, play games and try the ice rink of the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park.
Get involved in activities
There is a whole range of fun activities and things to do in Tahoe City. Float downstream on the Truckee River Rafting, which makes for a leisurely rafting experience. Practice your swing and lie about your score at the scenic Tahoe City Golf Course. Gaze at the water from the top of the Lake Tahoe Dam and snap up your catch of the day with the Matt Heron Fly Fishing.