Best Sightseeing in Tahoe

On and above the lake: 10Best sightseeing spots in Tahoe

The beauty of Lake Tahoe is easily accessible for sightseeing. Whether you want to be right on the water or thousands of feet above it, here are the 10Best ways to get to know Big Blue.

One of the best ways to see the lake up close and personal is on one of the various boat tours that take you to Emerald Bay. The M.S. Dixie II that launches from Zephyr Cove or the Wild Goose II will take you sightseeing with very little effort. If you want to get some exercise during your sightseeing, visit Adrift Tahoe in Kings Beach where they will outfit you for a paddleboard and oar to see the lake at your pace. Another action-oriented way to visit the lake is by parasail. Sail above the blue water with North Shore Parasail.

Families will have fun at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center where you will see spawning salmon and maybe even a brown bear. You can also take the little ones up to Squaw Valley's High Camp to do some swimming in the summer or skiing in the winter. If you really want to get the family away from it all (and they are good hikers) check out a variety of segment hikes on the famous Tahoe Rim Trail.


Soar Truckee is located near the Truckee, California airport and offers guided glider tours of North Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada. Soar Nevada is staffed by FAA-certified experts in the sport of soaring, so you are in good hands as you sail over Lake Tahoe. They also provide instruction, aero-tow, and other services for the clubs and individuals who love to fly. Soar Truckee also offers an on-site bunkhouse, shower, flush toilets and both on-site and adjacent camping facilities for pilots. Soar Truckee offers several soaring packages that range from $140 to $240 per person. Soar Truckee only offers tours in the summer months.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: Soar Truckee offers some of the best views of the lake and the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Christina's expert tip: The glider can be a bit tight for two people, but the ride up behind the tow plane is thrilling.

Read more about Soar Truckee →

Skydive Lake Tahoe offers tandem skydives over Lake Tahoe with professionally trained tandem instructors. Flights take off from the small town of Minden near Carson City, Nev. and take passengers up over 12,000 feet above Lake Tahoe. Each passenger will free fall for over a minute before the parachute deploys at 5,500 feet and lands them safely back on the ground. A Tandem Skydive Certificate jump costs about $200 per person. Pay an extra $70 for photos or videos or combine the two for only $120. Skydive Lake Tahoe is open all year long (weather permitting) but only on Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 7:00 am-7:00 pm.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: Skydive Tahoe is one of the best and thrilling ways to see Tahoe from above.

Christina's expert tip: You can book your dive and photo session with Skydive Lake Tahoe from their website.

Read more about Skydive Lake Tahoe →

The Taylor Creek Visitor Center is located near Camp Richardson on the south shore of Lake Tahoe. It is free to enter and offers both adults and children an up-close view of the local flora and fauna of the Tahoe rivers and creeks. The paved trails and bridges throughout the marshlands are stroller friendly and there are both guided and self-guided interpretive trails, an underground "aquarium" area where you can see an actual part of Taylor Creek. During the fall the Kokanee Salmon are spawning and visitors can watch the process through glass windows. There is also a 180 degree curved diorama that illustrates life above and below the water. In winter, the Taylor Creek area becomes a free cross-country ski area especially suited to beginners.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: Taylor Creek is best in the fall when the salmon are spawning.

Christina's expert tip: Both the parking and the park entrance fee are free at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center.

Read more about Taylor Creek Visitor Center →


This friendly and laid back rental store in Kings Beach rents and offers lessons on standup paddleboarding, kayaking, and surfing on Lake Tahoe's beautiful North Shore. They have standup paddleboards for rent and sale, along with all the accessories and clothing you need to for a fun day at the beach. In wintertime, rent your skis or snowboard equipment from this shop that is dedicated to making your winter vacation easy and fun. Call ahead the evening before and your gear will be ready for you the next morning. Hourly rates for paddleboards are about $25 per hour and Adrift also offers daily kayak and SUP sightseeing tours.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: Paddleboarding has become one of the most popular sports at Lake Tahoe and is a great way to explore the lake's secret locations.

Christina's expert tip: Adrift Tahoe also offers rentals on pedal kayaks where you use your feet rather than a paddle.

Read more about Adrift Tahoe →

Tahoe Rim Trail
Photo courtesy of Christina Nellemann

The Tahoe Rim Trail follows the highest crests around Lake Tahoe and is one of the world's premier trails. It passes through two states (California and Nevada), six counties, one state park, three National Forests, and three Wilderness areas. This spectacular trail is 165 miles of single-track multiuse trail, winding peak to peak around Lake Tahoe. Hiking and horseback riding are allowed on all portions of the trail, while mountain biking is allowed on the trail with the exception of the wilderness areas, the section that is in the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, and on the sections of trail that overlap with the Pacific Crest Trail.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: The Tahoe Rim Trail is a wonderful way to see parts of the lake that most people never see.

Christina's expert tip: The Tahoe Rim Trail can be hiked in multiple segments from seven to over 30 miles long. Several sections meet up with the famous Pacific Crest Trail.

Read more about Tahoe Rim Trail →


One of the most fantastic views of Lake Tahoe is from the seat of a parasail. North Shore Parasail is the original parasailing company on the lake, so you'll certainly be working with experts. The trip starts out with a boat ride along the North Shore and your parasail launches from the back of the boat. You can choose from several different parasail heights as well as pickup and drop-off service from your hotel. There is also free parking at Tahoe Paddle & Oar. The cost is $50 per person for a 600' flight, $60 per person 900', flight, $70 per person 1400' flight.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: One of the best views of the North Shore can be had from a parasail--if you are not afraid of heights.

Christina's expert tip: Sometimes, North Shore can fit you in at the last minute, so check with them the day before or early in the morning.

Read more about North Shore Parasail →

Olympic Valley

High Camp at Squaw Valley is a destination unto itself. It sits on a mountain in Olympic Valley and high above Lake Tahoe. High Camp is accessed via an aerial tram that travels 2,000 vertical feet, delivering visitors to a village that features the free Olympic Museum, swimming pool and hot tub, restaurants, observation decks, and even provides entrance to high altitude ski runs. During the summer, High Camp has its own set of high altitude hiking trails. Activities are available day and night, summer and winter, and the views of the lake and the mountains are stunning from the pinnacle and from the aerial tram.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: High Camp has year-long activities and some of the best views of the entire area.

Christina's expert tip: High Camp is accessible all year long by a spectacular tram ride to the top of the mountain.

Read more about High Camp →

The M.S. Dixie II offers a 2-hour cruise around magnificent Lake Tahoe from Zephyr Cove to Emerald Bay. The narrated Emerald Bay Sightseeing Cruise offers non-stop photo opportunities that will delight everyone in your family or group. As you cruise to, through and back from Emerald Bay, you will learn how it was formed and some of its fascinating history. The ship is available for daytime cruises, dinner cruises, private charters and special events such as the very popular Fourth of July fireworks tour. The M.S. Dixie II is climate controlled, but it's much more fun to hang out on the outside decks.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: The M.S. Dixie is one of the oldest and most popular sailing vessels on the lake.

Christina's expert tip: The M.S. Dixie sails from Zephyr Cove Resort & Marina which has parking for paddlewheel guests for $10. The Dixie also offers complimentary shuttle pick-up and drop-off service.

Read more about M.S. Dixie II Paddlewheeler →

The Gondola at Heavenly is open during the winter for skiers and non-skiers and open all year long for visitors to the lake who want a spectacular view of Lake Tahoe. The ticket to the top is a little pricey ($38), but you can stay at the top as long as you want. Each 8 passenger car leaves from Heavenly Village on the Southeast side of the lake and takes about 5-7 minutes to get to the top of the mountain. At the first stop, you can get out and walk around on the platform. There are seats and some picnic tables as well. You can buy a ticket with a lunch voucher for the Tamarack Lodge at the top of the resort if you want to get something to eat or you can bring your own food to the first platform and just sit and enjoy the view. At the top of the mountain is a snow play area for children.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: At the top of the Heavenly Gondola is an outdoor playground of ropes courses, ziplines and tube rides.

Christina's expert tip: If the weather is nice, bring your own picnic to the first platform and eat at one of the outdoor tables.

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Emerald Bay is one of Lake Tahoe's most photographed and popular locations. Emerald Bay State Park on the southwest area of Lake Tahoe is home to the lake's famous Eagle Falls and Vikingsholm, a 38-room mansion that is one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the western hemisphere. The views from any part of the bay are fantastic. The park contains the only island in Lake Tahoe, Fannette Island, where a small teahouse was built by the owner of the Vikingsholm Castle. There are several camping areas in Emerald Bay including Eagle Point Campground, Bayview Campground and the boat-in campground on the West side of the bay. You can also access the popular Desolation Wilderness hiking and camping area from the Eagle Falls parking area.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: No trip to Lake Tahoe is complete without a stop at Emerald Bay. You can spend an entire day here hiking and swimming.

Christina's expert tip: Emerald Bay has the lake's only underwater trail. Throw on a snorkel and check out several sunken barges just a few feet under the surface.

Read more about Emerald Bay State Park →


Meet Christina Nellemann

Christina has lived in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area since she was a baby. A first-generation Nevadan, her Danish parents instilled in her an intense love of travel and the wild, rugged outdoors...  More About Christina