Nestled amidst the breathtaking Sierra Nevada mountains lies a haven of natural wonder, where sparkling azure waters meet towering evergreens and snow-capped peaks. Welcome to Lake Tahoe, a year-round paradise that offers families a wealth of unforgettable outdoor experiences. Whether it’s the sun-kissed days of summer, the vibrant hues of autumn, the powdery snowscapes of winter, or the rejuvenating aura of spring, this stunning destination beckons families with a wide variety of opportunities for bonding, exploration, and cherished memories. 

Today, we invite you to discover a treasure trove of family-friendly outdoor activities that embrace the unique beauty of Lake Tahoe. From thrilling water adventures that make a splash to hikes with stunning pararamic views, Lake Tahoe’s landscape transforms into a playground where children’s laughter mingles harmoniously with nature’s symphony. Let’s embark on a journey through the enchanting Lake Tahoe area, where the magic of outdoor exploration awaits!

kid-friendly outdoor activities lake tahoe

Discover the magic of the Lake Tahoe area

The Lake Tahoe area stands as a veritable paradise for outdoor family activities, offering a unique blend of natural wonders and recreational opportunities that make it an irresistibly attractive destination. What sets this region apart and draws families from far and wide is its unparalleled combination of stunning landscapes, diverse activities, community, culture, and a deep connection to the great outdoors. 

Nestled within the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Lake Tahoe boasts a striking alpine setting characterized by its crystal-clear, cobalt-blue waters reflecting the surrounding peaks. The picturesque beauty of the lake, flanked by lush forests and towering mountains, provides an idyllic backdrop for a wide array of family adventures.  The Lake Tahoe area offers a smorgasbord of activities that cater to families throughout all four seasons. Whether you’re basking in the sun on sandy beaches during summer, witnessing the vibrant foliage of autumn, skiing through powdery slopes in winter, or witnessing the rebirth of nature in spring, there’s always a reason to pack your bags and head outdoors.

The region’s diverse terrain paves the way for an endless array of activities suitable for all ages. Families can indulge in water-based fun like kayaking, sailing, paddleboarding, and fishing during warmer months, while winter opens up a world of skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and snowshoeing options. The Lake Tahoe area is well-equipped with family-friendly amenities, including picnic areas, campgrounds, and recreational facilities. These offerings ensure that families can enjoy their outdoor excursions with the utmost comfort and convenience.

Image credit and recommendation from Ashley @sage.and.summit

Top family-friendly activities in the Lake Tahoe area

The Lake Tahoe area is a veritable playground for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of activities that cater to every interest and season. From the sparkling shores of the lake to the towering peaks of the surrounding mountains, there are a myriad of activities that await.

In this post, we’ll cover our favorite hiking trails, some water activities and beaches, parks, resorts, and a few places a little outside of the lake that we love exploring with our families.  We hope this post will inspire you to explore the extensive network of hiking trails that wind through lush forests, alpine meadows, and rocky terrain, and embrace the inviting waters of Lake Tahoe through activities like kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, boating, and fishing. In the winter months, Lake Tahoe transforms into a winter wonderland, boasting world-class ski resorts and ample opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing (all of which we hope to cover in another post!). 

Image credit and recommendation from Araceli @roaminggonzalez

Best kid-friendly hikes in Lake Tahoe

Angora Lakes 

For a short hike with big payoff, check out Angora Lakes in South Lake Tahoe. There is a 1/2 mile (one way) sandy trail that leads to beautiful the Angora Lakes. You can also rent kayaks or paddle boards, jump from the rocks into the alpine lake to swim, and even purchase lunch (including ice cream and fresh squeezed lemonade) from the Angora Lakes Resort. As you can imagine, it gets pretty busy, so show up early and bring $10 cash for parking! 

Image credit and recommendation from Ashley @sage.and.summit

Rabe Meadows

Enjoy an easy 1.5 mile walk on a paved trail next to Lake Tahoe with beautiful pine trees, wild flowers, and beach access. Located in Stateline, in South Lake Tahoe, this is a great trail for families as it is nice and wide, with plenty of room for bikes and running. Stop and play at Nevada Beach with 180-degree views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and crystal-clear water! From Rabe Meadows you can also access a trail to Round Hill Pines Resort where you can stop for lunch, ice cream, and water sport rentals! 

Image credit and recommendation from @sara_mccarty

Eagle Rock Trail

If you want a relatively easy hike that ends with a bird’s eye view of Lake Tahoe and all the snow-capped peaks, we highly suggest the Eagle Rock Trail. This hike takes you up to some of the most stunning views in the area. This 0.7-mile out-and-back trail near Homewood, California is generally considered an easy route. It takes an average of 26 min to complete. This is a very popular area, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring. Parking is limited, so avoid peak times to get a spot at the trailhead. The views at the top are totally worth it – we felt like we were on top of the world! 

Image credit and recommendation from Ashley @sage.and.summit

Van Sickle Bi-State Park

Want to visit Nevada and California in the same day?! Check out the beautiful Van Sickle Bi-State Park in South Lake Tahoe. This park boasts over 700 acres of backcountry bliss! You’ll enjoy incredible views of the mountains and Lake Tahoe. Located just behind Heavenly Ski Resort and Village, there are four different trail options for hiking, biking, horseback riding and sightseeing. Depending on the time of year, you may even find some little waterfalls. There are some old barns and log cabins to check out, too! When you’re done, you can meander through Heavenly Village for some pizza and ice cream! 

Image credit and recommendation from Ashley @sage.and.summit

Tahoe East Shore Trail 

This newer trail (opened in the Summer of 2019) is a paved, 2.6 mile family-friendly trail that starts in Incline Village (near Tunnel Creek Cafe) and ends at Sand Harbor – Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. This trail is stroller and wheelchair-friendly. The views of Lake Tahoe are incredible, and when you get to Sand Harbor, the beach is one of the most beautiful in the area. You’ll find restrooms at the beginning and end of the trail, as well as food and drink options. Expect to pay a few dollars for parking and beach entrance.  Bring your sunscreen, as this is an exposed trail!

Image credit and recommendation from @sara_mccarty

Ridgeline Nature Loop

Another new trail, just outside of Truckee is the Ridgeline Nature Loop in the Sawtooth Recreation Area of the Tahoe National Forest. Built by the Truckee Trails Foundation, this 1-mile loop complies with accessibility guidelines and is perfect for kids of all ages and abilities. The trail is flat, but there are plenty of opportunities to climb giant rocks, splash in the vernal pools, look for wildflowers, take in stunning vistas, and let your child run wild!

Image credit and recommendation from Ashley @sage.and.summit

Water activities & beaches

Glistening like a sapphire jewel nestled within the embrace of towering mountains, Lake Tahoe isn’t just a breathtaking sight to behold; it’s also a natural playground where families can dive headfirst into a world of aquatic excitement. With its pristine waters stretching out under the open sky, Lake Tahoe beckons parents and children alike to embark on an exhilarating journey of water-based wonders. From thrilling escapades that send ripples of laughter across the lake’s surface to tranquil moments of connection beneath the sun’s warm embrace, this aquatic haven offers an array of unforgettable experiences that cater to every family’s sense of adventure.

In our exploration of aquatic delights, we invite you to dip your toes into the multitude of fun water activities that await you and your loved ones in the remarkable Lake Tahoe area. Whether you’re seeking the thrill of water sports or the serenity of lakeside relaxation, the options are as boundless as the lake’s shimmering expanse. Join us as we navigate the shores of Lake Tahoe, uncovering a tapestry of aquatic adventures that are sure to make a splash in your family’s memory book. 

Image credit and recommendation from Ashley @sage.and.summit

Ed Z’Berg Sugar Pine Point 

This state park is tucked away on the Western shore of Lake Tahoe, with close to two miles of accessible lake front! There are beaches, piers, trails, a small store for snacks and drinks, and even an historic estate on the property. During your stay, check out the Nature Center where your family can learn about birds, mammals, biology, and ecology of the Lake Tahoe area. There are also miles of trails within the park, both paved and dirt. Sugar Pine Point truly is a special area! Image credit and recommendation from Araceli @roaminggonzalez

Stand-up paddleboarding 

Lake Tahoe is (in our opinion) one of the BEST lakes in the world to stand-up paddleboard (SUP).  The crystal-clear waters of Lake Tahoe serve as an enchanting canvas for unforgettable family adventures in stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking. As you glide across the mirror-like surface, you’ll witness a captivating underwater world come to life beneath you, where curious fish dart through the translucent depths. The clarity of the lake not only adds a touch of magic to your paddleboarding and kayaking excursions but also provides a sense of security, allowing you to navigate with ease and peace of mind as you introduce your children to the joys of these water activities. With the backdrop of majestic mountains and the refreshing breeze against your skin, Lake Tahoe becomes the ideal playground for creating cherished memories while engaging in these soothing and invigorating aquatic pursuits.

It is an activity you must add to you list when planning your visit to Lake Tahoe. With an endless pristine shoreline and endless beaches to select from you will absolutely be blown away by these waters. Some of our favorite locations included the following: Sand Harbor State Park, Emerald Bay, and Zephyr Cove. Paddleboard rentals are available throughout the lake including daily tours and expeditions.   

Image credit and recommendation from @sara_mccarty

Clear kayaking

If you have the chance, we HIGHLY recommend a morning kayak trip on the lake with Tahoe Paddle Sports. This is a “must do” adventure when you’re in Lake Tahoe. The clear kayaks let you see 60 feet down into the clear blue water. Our guide was knowledgeable and great with the kids. We learned a ton about the history of the area, the lake, conservation efforts, local wildlife and marine life. But the BEST part…he took tons of photos of all of us kayaking together and sent them to me after the trip. They were such a lovely surprise!

Image credit and recommendation from Ashley @sage.and.summit

Boca Reservoir – Lake Tahoe National Forest 

If you’re looking for a place where you can drive right up to the water, camp, and bring your furry friends, Boca Reservoir is a great option! It is especially pretty during the mornings and evenings, when the wind is calm. Your family will enjoy swimming, picnicking, kayaking, paddle boarding, and boating. There are plenty of hiking options near the reservoir, and Lake Tahoe is just a short drive away if you want to make a day trip there. In the springtime you’ll find meadows with wildflowers nearby. The town of Truckee is just a 15 minute drive West, with tons of food, drink, and shopping options.

Image credit and recommendation from Araceli @roaminggonzalez

Fallen Leaf Lake 

From Highway 89 turn onto Fallen Leaf Road, there are parking options along the road in dirt pullouts, and the lake is about a 15 minute walk through the trees. There are spots along the water to picnic and play. You’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of Desolation Wilderness and the water is clear and crisp! Generally from Memorial Day through the end of September, the Fallen Leaf Lake Store and Marina is open, and a great place to grab lunch and rent a paddle board or kayak.  

Image credit and recommendation from Araceli @roaminggonzalez

Emerald Bay State Park 

Along the western shores of Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay State Park is a breathtaking natural sanctuary that beckons with its awe-inspiring beauty and rich historical significance. The centerpiece of the park is the iconic Emerald Bay, a pristine jewel-like cove framed by rugged cliffs and adorned with an enchanting island, Fannette Island, crowned by the charming Tea House. From this location hike to Eagle Falls and Eagle Lake.  You will see gorgeous views of Emerald Bay as well as falls, and at the top you will be treated to the most beautiful alpine lake – Eagle Lake. 

Visitors are treated to panoramic vistas of the azure lake waters against a backdrop of lush forests and towering peaks. The park offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking trails that lead to stunning viewpoints, picnicking areas, and opportunities for kayaking and paddleboarding. Whether exploring the historic Vikingsholm Castle, capturing the serenity of the bay’s crystal-clear waters, or delving into the park’s captivating stories, Emerald Bay State Park invites you to immerse yourself in the splendor of Lake Tahoe’s natural and cultural heritage.

Image credit and recommendation from Araceli @roaminggonzalez

Image credit and recommendation from @sara_mccarty

South Lake Tahoe beaches

With 72 miles of Lake Tahoe shoreline, the beaches of South Lake Tahoe beaches are plentiful and diverse in their offerings. If you’re staying in South Lake, you can easily soak in the rays as you take in the panoramic views of the towering mountain peaks that surround Lake Tahoe. Nevada Beach is 0.7 miles long and the widest sandy beach on the lake. It is one of Lake Tahoe’s dog-friendly beaches, has picnic tables, camping areas, and is wonderful for large groups and a popular place for kiteboarding. The sandy beach at Zephyr Cove is more than a mile long, has a huge grassy group event area, beachfront cabins, a campground, a ton of watersport rentals available. Baldwin Beach is a local favorite and has amazing views of Mt. Tallac. Camp Richardson Resort Beach and Marina also has a lot to offer, with lakeside restaurants, a family-friendly sandy beach and swim area, and a variety of water sport rentals.

Image credit and recommendation from @sara_mccarty


If you’re up for a water adventure with kids, Tahoe Sailing Charters offers cruises on the crystal clear lake multiple times a day all summer long. Cruises leave out of the charming and picturesque Tahoe City and are the perfect way to experience the beauty of Lake Tahoe in comfort and luxury. The staff at Tahoe Sailing was top-notch and were great about letting the kids get involved and answering their questions. My kids got to steer the boat, help with the rigging, explore the cabin and even help pick the playlist! Watching the sunset on the sparkling water and feeling the wind through your hair was an incredible experience! It also worked up our appetites. So, we headed over to Za’s for dinner and drinks on their waterfront patio, surrounded by twinkle lights.

Image credit and recommendation from @sara_mccarty

Fly fishing

The Truckee River, meandering through the stunning landscapes of the Lake Tahoe area, offers a fly fishing experience that is both exhilarating and serene. This iconic river, renowned for its crystal-clear waters and diverse aquatic life, presents anglers with plenty of opportunities to cast their lines and immerse themselves in the art of fly fishing. With its riffles, pools, and deep runs, the Truckee River provides an inviting habitat for a variety of trout species, including rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout. Whether you’re a seasoned fly fishing enthusiast or a novice eager to learn, the Truckee River’s tranquil currents and picturesque surroundings create an idyllic setting to refine your angling skills. 

Image credit and recommendation from Michelle @wonderclubexplorers


There are a number of places you can rent a powerboat around Lake Tahoe. If you get a chance to rent one, do it! Lake Tahoe is huge, and there’s no better way to appreciate the surrounding mountain views and the great expanse of the lake than to cruise in the middle of it on a fast-moving boat with the wind in your hair. When renting a boat, dockhands will walk you through the basics of operating a boat. Boats come equipped with radios for emergency communication, life vests for kids, and fenders should you wish to dock the boat and grab lunch at one of the public piers with lakeside dining.

Image credit and recommendation from @sara_mccarty

Image credit and recommendation from Michelle @wonderclubexplorers

More Lake Tahoe outdoor adventures for kids

Horseback riding

Located on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe are the family-friendly Zephyr Cove Stables. Horseback riding in the Sierra’s is an amazing way to take in new and panoramic views of Big Blue. Kids ages 7 years and above can take in scenic views after being fitted for a horse and departing on a wilderness trail ride. Their courteous cowboys guide groups in and around the mountainous trails stopping on a plateau to take photographs of this awesome adventure. For the littles, kids can pet ponies back at the stables and adults can book dinner rides with good old-fashioned campfire barbecue.

Image credit and recommendation from Michelle @wonderclubexplorers


When it comes to towering rock faces that are so grandiose that they catch a person’s eye, Tram Face of Palisades Tahoe ranks up there. This omnipresence of orange and red rock is a masterpiece of beautiful natural perfection. Now families can enjoy her beauty up close and personal with Alpenglow Expeditions’ Tahoe Via Ferrata. In inspiration of European mountain routes that use ropes, cables and fixed lines to assist groups in ascending majestic peaks, Tahoe Via Ferrata allows the same experience on Tram Face. The route is professionally executed to ensure a fantastic guided adventure that delivers on views, fun and adrenaline. The experience includes a harness, helmet and safety lanyard provided by Alpenglow Expeditions, and all guides are AMGA trained. Learn to navigate the rock face on the protected climbing route with permanent steel anchors and cables that keep participants safely connected to the rock 100% of the time.

Image credit and recommendation from Ashley @sage.and.summit

Exploring a little farther out (just beyond Lake Tahoe)

Carson Valley, Nevada

In the Carson Valley, you’ll find the charming towns of Genoa, Minden, and Gardnerville. These quaint towns offer incredible hiking options, eateries, camping, biking, and so much more. Just 30 miles from Lake Tahoe, this area is a quiet option when you want to get away from the bustle of Tahoe for a bit. Some of our favorite areas are Mormon Station State Historic Park, Dangberg Ranch, and Topaz Lake. You’ll find plenty of local food and drink options in the Carson Valley, as well as incredible scenery. 

Image credit and recommendation from Ashley @sage.and.summit

Mount Rose Wilderness Area 

This incredible outdoor area is just 40 minutes from Reno, Nevada, and less than 30 minutes from Lake Tahoe! This is an incredibly diverse area for hiking, camping, skiing, and snowshoeing. You’ll find mountain peaks over 10,000′ as well as alpine lakes and meadows. In the winter, this is a great area for snowshoeing, sledding, and cross-country skiing. Chickadee Ridge is a favorite for its stunning views of Lake Tahoe. The Chickadees will eat sunflower seeds right out of your hand after a fresh snow, too! You’ll find hiking trails, campgrounds, wildflowers, and restrooms here. Parking is free along Mt. Rose Highway. For food, head down to Reno or to Incline Village at Tahoe. 

Image credit and recommendation from @sara_mccarty

Markleeville, California

What’s left of the little mining town of Markleeville is about as cute and quaint as can be. Despite only being a few blocks long, Markleeville has a rich history and a lot of charm. We had the pleasure of meeting local historian and author Karen Dustman for a personal tour of Markleeville and the nearby Emigrant Trail.  Karen and her husband were fantastic guides through the history of the town, its inhabitants, and local lore. We learned how the Comstock Lode found near Virginia City, NV and the subsequent silver boom triggered the city’s growth in the mid-1800s (and then led to its near demise when the industry collapsed).

The Alpine County Museum in Markleeville held the cleverly curated history of the area, from the silver boom to the present day. It’s home to the original school house, jail, and the only fully operational stamp mill.  We then went on a short hike up the Emigrant Trail, where we experience first-hand the route taken by the earliest settlers, straight up the mountains. The route isn’t difficult to hike, but nearly unfathomable when you think of hauling wagons full of everything you own over these mountains. There are places along the trails where you can still see wagon wheel tracks on the rocks and date markings from the crossings.

Image credit and recommendation from Ashley @sage.and.summit

Truckee, California 

While still right on Lake Tahoe, we thought the town of Truckee deserved its own shoutout. The area around Truckee is a great option for families exploring the Lake Tahoe area. There are dozens of lakes, biking, and hiking trails. Truckee is well known for its year-round outdoor adventures. Hiking, biking, skiing, climbing, skiing, fishing, and watersports, to name just a few. It’s the perfect place for any family looking for an active outdoor vacation. In the spring, hike through wildflowers; in the summer, enjoy the alpine lakes. During the Fall, enjoy the cool nights and warm days, and during Winter, there are a plethora of options for skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, and sledding! Some of our favorite things to do include rafting the Truckee River, playing at Donner Lake, and biking the Legacy Trail. 

We also highly recommend checking out the historic downtown Truckee area. This gem of a town is straight out of a postcard, with boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, book stores, coffee shops, and more. We had the most amazing pizza at Best Pies, and the kids loved the complimentary tabletop games. They also loved the old-fashioned soda shop and the toy store. I could have spent hours browsing the bookstore and checking out the little boutiques. But, of course, our favorite was the fly fishing shop. The staff was super kind to the kids and outfitted my son with a few favorite local flies and tips for fishing the area.

The town of Truckee is rich with history and there’s no better place to learn about it than the Museum of Truckee History and Old Jail Museum. We took a tour of both with the super knowledgeable and charming Greg Zirbel, President of the Truckee-Donner Historical Society. Dressed the part and in full character, we got to hear tales of the past and learn a ton of history in a fun and entertaining way.

Image credit and recommendation from @sara_mccarty

Best outdoor things to do in Lake Tahoe with kids

In the heart of the Lake Tahoe area, a world of wonder awaits families seeking unforgettable outdoor adventures. From the exhilarating rush of paddling across crystal-clear waters to the joyous laughter echoing through scenic hiking trails, this enchanting destination caters to every family’s dreams of bonding, exploration, and shared experiences. As the seasons change, so do the opportunities, presenting a tapestry of activities that range from snowy slopes to sun-dappled shores. 

Whether you’re marveling at the mysteries of nature, engaging in heart-pounding activities, or simply relishing the tranquil moments together, Lake Tahoe offers a treasure trove of kid-friendly family outdoor activities that will ignite a love for the outdoors and create cherished memories for years to come. So, pack your sense of adventure, embark on this journey, and immerse your family in the breathtaking beauty and boundless opportunities that the Lake Tahoe area has to offer. We hope this post, filled our favorite outdoor activities to do with our families has helped inspire you to visit soon! 

Image credit: Araceli @roaminggonzalezImage credit: Michelle @wonderclubexplorers

Have you visited Lake Tahoe with your family?