In summer, Lake Tahoe offers kayaking, hot-air ballooning, and great places to eat lakeside and take in the scenery.
Photo creditPhoto: Robin McElroy
Photo creditPhoto: Courtesy of Napa Valley Balloons
Photo creditPhoto: Jeff Dow
Photo creditPhoto: Seth Lightcap
Photo creditPhoto: Hazen Woolson
Lake Tahoe is Northern California's favorite skiing destination. But the blue lake beckons in the summer months, too. Whether you're on, above, or along the water, here are ideas for warm-weather fun in the mountains.
Lake Tahoe ON THE WATER
Choosing between kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding depends on how you want to see the water. Tucked inside a kayak, with the low angle, you can spot the tiny wakes of mergansers and admire how the sunshine flings diamonds across the waves. Tahoe Adventure Company offers kayak tours to the most spectacular East Shore spots: Sand Harbor and Thunderbird Lodge. tahoeadventurecompany.com.
The higher viewpoint of stand-up paddleboarding gives you hawkeyed vision through the water's surface to the lake bottom, where sand ridges and craggy boulders appear in surreal magnified tableaux. At Watermans Landing, rent SUP boards and take a lesson. watermanslanding.com.
LAKE TAHOE ABOVE THE WATER
On a sunrise hot-air balloon flight with Lake Tahoe Balloons, drift in silence, peering like Phileas Fogg over the basket edge as Emerald Bay and Desolation Wilderness shrink to puzzle-size shapes beneath you. laketahoeballoons.com.
Fly a little lower with parasailing, harnessed to a parachute and pulled by a custom speedboat motoring 500 feet below. Coast Guard–licensed captains with Parasail Tahoe leave from Tahoe City Marina and Kings Beach State Recreation Area daily. parasailtahoe.com.
LAKE TAHOE ALONG THE WATER
Lake Tahoe's sand varies from wave-molded pebbles to soft golden grains. Next to soft-sand Pope Beach, chomp down all-American burgers and Humboldt Bay oysters at the Beacon Bar & Grill at Camp Richardson Historic Resort & Marina. The Beacon serves lunch and dinner. camprichardson.com.
On Tahoe City's Lakeside Trail, explore stone bluffs and piers that jut far across the water, then nibble on picnic-style snacks like burgers and fries at Christy Hill SandBar, watching sailboats race past mountains stained pink with alpenglow―the rosy light of a high-altitude sunset. christyhill.com.
Connect to the lake's historical roots by enjoying Mayala Watah wings or Tahoma roticcini at the Wa She Shu Grille on the beach at Meeks Bay Resort & Marina, a 1930s resort run by the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California. meeksbayresort.com.
This article was first published in March 2016 and updated in February 2019. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.