Lake Tahoe is a wonderful place to take the whole family. In just a few days, you can hike to the top of a mountain, splash around in the cold, crystal clear waters of the lake, see a few of the local bears or just hang around a resort swimming pool. Most attractions, restaurants and hiking trails are all within a one-hour drive of each other in this compact area in the mountains.
Sand Harbor is a family-friendly beach at Lake Tahoe — Photo courtesy of glenngould
A great Tahoe itinerary begins with your hotel or resort. Some great, family-friendly resorts include the Hyatt at Lake Tahoe which has the Club Hyatt day camp for kids and the unique Clair Tappaan Lodge that is run by the Sierra Club. This historic, rustic lodge is perfect for active families who love to hike or snowshoe. If you want to splurge a bit, the Ritz-Carlton Highlands at Northstar has some great ski programs for children as well as a beautiful, heated outdoor pool.
Before hitting the slopes or the trails, grab some food at some of the local restaurants around the lake. Buffets, like the Forest Buffet at Harrah's is popular with kids as well as the pancakes at Heidi's or the bagels at Rude Brothers in South Lake Tahoe. Kids will also get a kick out of the fudge at Sweet's Homemade Candies in Truckee or the ice cream at Gear and Grind in Tahoe City.
The Tahoe backcountry has hundreds of mile for snowshoeing — Photo courtesy of AlexiUeltzen
If the kids want to see some wildlife, take them to the Taylor Creek Visitor Center near Fallen Leaf Lake. The center features an underground viewing window of Taylor Creek that includes the fish and spawning salmon who live in there.
Taylor Creek also attracts the local brown bear in the summer and fall. A great local hike for smaller children is around Fallen Leaf Lake, or try the Eagle Falls hike in Desolation Wilderness. You can't miss Emerald Bay and the hike down to Vikingsholm Castle to feed the Canada geese.
One of the most popular things for families to do at Lake Tahoe is have a picnic and go swimming at Sand Harbor on the Nevada side of the lake. The water can be cold in the early summer, but is perfect later in the summer and in fall. The beach can be crowded, so get there early for good parking. During the summer, the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival performs their evening programs and also has special afternoon programs for children and young adults.
Whether you're heading to Tahoe for a summer or winter vacation, you'll be able to find numerous things to do with your family on the lake or in the mountains.