In the hot days of summer, a drive around Lake Tahoe would not be complete without a few stops to visit the lake's best swimming holes. While Lake Tahoe itself remains chilly most of the summer months, if the temps reach into the 90s at the lake, that cold water becomes mighty refreshing. On this summer drive, you'll be able to jump into various lakes, creeks and the best Tahoe area waters - with some snacks in between.
The cold, blue water of Tahoe might require a wetsuit during early summer — Photo courtesy of Christina Nellemann
First Stop: Sand Harbor
The first place to stop is on the East Shore near Incline Village in Nevada. Sand Harbor State Park is one of the best beaches on the lake, but it also has a specific bay that is primarily used by scuba divers.
Diver's Cove is smaller than the main beach, but has lots of shade in the form of pine trees plus granite boulders for getting a good leap into the water. This spot is less visited than the more popular sunny spots on the beach.
If you want to have a breakfast or lunch picnic on the beach, head to Tunnel Creek Café beforehand for coffee or sandwiches.
Diver's Cove at Sand Harbor — Photo courtesy of Don Graham
Tours and Boats: Thunderbird Lodge
After Sand Harbor, drive south down Highway 28 toward South Lake Tahoe and turn off onto George Whittell Road toward Thunderbird Lodge. This beautiful stone mansion is now a museum that offers daily tours, boat rides and a small beach where you can access a private little bay. The rocky shores near Thunderbird Lodge are great for jumping into Tahoe's waters.
High Views: Emerald Bay
Continue south around South Lake Tahoe and head toward Emerald Bay. The views above Emerald Bay are some of the best at the lake and warrant a stop somewhere along the road.
If you get a good parking spot near the Eagle Falls trailhead, head up just a few hundred feet to the bridge above Eagle Falls. Just above the bridge is a small pool that is popular with sunbathers and children. It's cold and clear and perfect for a hot August afternoon.
Another pool is located across Highway 89 at the apex of Eagle Falls. Be careful of small children in these pools, as you are hundreds of feet above Emerald Bay.
A view of Emerald Bay from Eagle Falls — Photo courtesy of Sam Rushing
Dinner Break: Jake's on the Lake
On the way back west from Emerald Bay, you're bound to be getting hungry. A great place to stop for dinner is Jake's on the Lake, where you won't be very far from the water. Dinners include seafood and fresh fish dishes like Lemongrass Bouillabaisse, Tournedos of Beef with fingerling potatoes and great desserts like Kimo's Hula Pie. Their wine and bar list is extensive.
Sunset Swim: Truckee River
If you want one more dip before the sun goes down, head from Jake's in Tahoe City along Highway 89 to the Truckee River. Along the road and bike path, there are numerous deep pools in the river where you can take one last sunset dip.