Lake Tahoe Attractions

On Ground or by Air, Lake Tahoe Attractions Offer Eye Candy


Emerald Bay

When it comes to Lake Tahoe attractions, seeing is just as important as doing. Whether you hike Lake Tahoe’s trails, swoop over the lake in a helicopter or balloon, mush behind a dog team across the frozen landscape, or visit historic settlements and monuments, you’ll want to keep your camera within arm’s reach at all times.

Emerald Bay State Park the Crown Jewel of Lake Tahoe Attractions

You’ll have to rub your peepers to make sure you’re not staring at a postcard. Yes, Emerald Bay State Park is that eye-popping, and for this reason deserves top billing among Lake Tahoe attractions.

What makes this glacially carved 3-mile-long, 1-mile inlet on Lake Tahoe’s southwest shore a must-see is a unique combination of natural beauty, geology, and history.

But first things first: How to get there. That’s easy. Emerald Bay State Park is located 22 miles south of Tahoe City on Highway 89. You can’t miss it; you’ll practically be veering off the road by the time it comes into view because you won’t be able to wrest your gaze from this vision of loveliness. (Plus there’s plenty of signage to keep you alerted.)

Emerald Bay State Park consists of several components, none of which you’ll want to miss. Here, we break it down so you’ll be sure to maximize your visit to this standout among Lake Tahoe attractions.

Life’s a Beach at Some Lake Tahoe Attractions

The name says it all – if you’re looking for a blanket of white, fine-grained sand, picturesque boulders, and great swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving, Sand Harbor State Park –a one-of-a-kind beach on the Nevada side of the lake — is your Lake Tahoe attractions go-to spot.

Barbecue up some tri-tip on the grill in the pavilion, then launch your speed boat, if you have one, for a spin around the lake before you crash on the sand for an afternoon snooze. To make this Lake Tahoe attractions visit really special, time it around the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, which takes place at Sand Harbor the last five weeks before Labor Day.

Sand Harbor State Park is located 3 miles south of Incline Village on State Route 28. If you’ll be parking your car, get there before 11 a.m. or after 3 p.m.; once the general lot is full, the entire lot is closed, even if open spots remain in the group parking area.

Lake Tahoe Attractions Bring History to Life

At the Tallac Historic Site on Highway 89 just north of Camp Richardson Resort, you can catch a glimpse of the lifestyles of Lake Tahoe’s early rich and famous. The site, run by the U.S. Forest Service, has three historic properties built by wealthy families between 1894 and 1923.

The place comes to life in the summertime with the Valhalla Summer Arts Music Festival, which features concerts, art exhibits, live performances, and classes for all ages. Admission is free except for special concerts.

More info: (530) 541-4521;

Rim Trail a Mecca Among Lake Tahoe Attractions

Hikers, bikers, backpackers, and horseback riders should plan on communing with nature along the Tahoe Rim Trail, a 165-mile single-track multi-use pathway that crosses the ridgeline of Lake Tahoe’s peaks, passing through two states, six counties, one state park, three national forests, and three wilderness areas.

During early summer, the trail is awash with wildflowers, and you can get primo views from places like Christopher’s Loop and Freel Saddle. Pick up a map from the Tahoe Rim Trail Association to help you locate trailheads and plan your route.

For more info:

Lake Tahoe Attractions Include Donner Memorial

At Donner Memorial State Park, just off Interstate 80 near Truckee, you can contemplate the hardships of those who crossed the Sierra Nevada during the 1800s. Have a look at the Pioneer Monument, then mosey over to the Emigrant Trail Museum, where you’ll learn about the plight of the Donner Party, who in 1846 and ’47 were forced to spend a brutal winter on Donner Lake.

We have to add that we’re biased in saying that Donner Memorial is one of the best campgrounds of all-time. The campsites are large, and the kids have a ball catching crawdads in the river with pieces of cut-up hot dogs. Donner Lake also has a public boat ramp and ample opportunities for fishing and swimming.

Bonus: Longs Drugs is right up the road in case you forget your sunscreen or need an extra case of beer. Extra bonus: Bears, while still a concern, aren’t as plentiful here as in some of the more remote campgrounds around Lake Tahoe.

More info: 12593 Donner Pass Road, Truckee, CA 9616193858; (530) 582-7892;

Pros Teach How to Capture Lake Tahoe Attractions on Film

With a Tahoe photographic tour, you can expect an experienced professional to let you in on all the secrets Lake Tahoe photographers know – all the best locations and the best times to be there.

Sparkling waterfalls, back-country lakes, high mountain vistas, mesmerizing wildlife – these are just a few highlights you get to experience at your own pace, whether you’re a camera nut or simply a nature lover. All tours include service to and from your hotel in a luxury SUV and a personalized DVD of all photos taken during your tour.

More info: (530) 577-5264;

Some Lake Tahoe Attractions Are Made for the Water

A stern-wheeler paddleboat is the touristy thing to do, but you can escape the crowds on the “Tahoe Cruz,” a 50-foot sailing yacht that sets sail daily from the Tahoe City Marina, 700 N. Lake Blvd., on Lake Tahoe’s north shore.

Take the $65 Sunset Cruise, complete with free Chardonnay, premium beers, plus an assortment of appetizers, while you ooh and aah over the alpine twilight.

More info: (530) 583-6200;

Another boat to try: The 49-passenger “Tahoe Bleu Wave,” a beautiful classic yacht that offers an Emerald Bay Lunch Cruise for $59; $49 Internet special. The crew has been known to hand out a free drink to anyone they think is a celebrity look-alike. Call 1-866-413-0985 for details.

Lake Tahoe Attractions Capitalize on Crazes

We’re talking stand-up paddleboarding, a hit during Lake Tahoe summers – give it a try!

More info: (530) 581-3029;

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