Best Things to Do with Kids in Tahoe

10Best Things to Do with Kids in Lake Tahoe and Truckee

Lake Tahoe may be the ideal playground for lovers of the outdoors, but it is also a fantastic place to take children. Not only does this alpine haven have hiking, biking, kayaking and water sports for children of all ages, but the beaches, ski slopes, sledding areas and snow parks will keep them active until bedtime.

For children of all ages, take them to the EPIC Discovery at Heavenly Mountain Resort. Adults and older kids can take to the skies on a zip line or mountain coaster. Younger children can take shorter hikes to learn about Tahoe's animals. If the kids can't get enough of ziplines check out the Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park at Granlibakken. Other active children and teens who love the ice (all year long) will also love the South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena where they can practice turns. Other active events include the hike from Emerald Bay to Eagle Falls (or even up to Eagle Lake) or the hike down to the Vikingsholm Castle at the foot of Emerald Bay.

Smaller children will get a kick out of the KidZone Museum in Truckee where they can play with art supplies or cuddle farm animals. The museum also has an area for babies and toddlers. For kids who just want to play in the sand, take them to Sand Harbor on the East Shore or Kings Beach on the North Shore for fun in the sun.


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 adult and children an up-close view of the local flora and fauna. 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. Be sure to look for the raccoon, crayfish, bats, frog, Stellar Jay, Bald Eagles, butterflies, and the slug. In winter, the Taylor Creek area becomes a cross-country ski area especially suited to beginners.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: There is an easy and beautiful interpretive hike behind the Taylor Creek Visitor Center. This is a good place to see Tahoe's black bears.

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

Read more about Taylor Creek Visitor Center →

South Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe Bleu Wave is a Million Dollar Classic Yacht built in 1966. This 70-foot long boat has already sailed around the world but is now available for both public and private tours of Tahoe and Emerald Bay. The boat can fit 47 people and contains a full bar, fireplace, private lounge, stateroom, flybridge, restrooms and climate-controlled indoor area. Both summer and winter tours include breakfast and sunset tours as well as lunch and wine sampling tours. Lake Tahoe Bleu Wave also offers free shuttle tours to the boat dock from a variety of hotels.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Lake Tahoe Bleu Wave allows kids on their public tours. Children under the age of three sail for free.

Christina's expert tip: Lake Tahoe Bleu Wave offers tours of the entire lake during both summer and winter.

Read more about Lake Tahoe Bleu Wave →

Kings Beach State Recreation Area
Photo courtesy of Christina Nellemann

Although it's open year-round, this park really comes into its own when the weather turns warm. At that point, its 700 feet of lakeshore are inundated by sun worshippers, who lounge on the beach, splash in the water, tool around the lake, and engage in sports on the shore. Kids can take advantage of playground equipment, and families and groups relish the opportunity to spend time together laughing, eating, and basking in the beauty of the lake. Kings Beach is a great spot to go on a parasail ride or rent a kayak or paddleboard. Several companies have huts on the beach where you can book a day trip. There are a ton of restaurants and bars near the beach as well as a small theater and many hotels and lodges to choose from.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Kings Beach is the place to book a parasailing trip or kayak tour.

Christina's expert tip: Kings Beach is called the Banana Belt of Tahoe because of its sunny location and is a great spot even in the winter.

Read more about Kings Beach State Recreation Area →


The South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena is Tahoe's only full-size Olympic ice rink. This full-service ice skating facility offers a regulation National Hockey League (NHL) size sheet of ice, locker rooms, a snack bar, a retail store, an arcade, and party rooms. They also offer public skating times for adults and children, lessons, private lessons, a skate school, hockey games and even curling events. For public skating, adults can rent both hockey or figure skates for around $15 and skate for $15. Children can rent skates for $8 and skate for $8. Buckets and assists are available for both adults and children who are new to ice skating.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Both experienced and newbie skaters will find this a great rink to practice on.

Christina's expert tip: Night and black light skating are available on the weekends.

Read more about South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena →

Emerald Bay State Park on the southwest area of Lake Tahoe is home to park is home to 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. The park is accessible by State Route 89 near the southwest shore of the lake. 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. Parking around the bay is small and will cost you about $12 for the day. You can also access the popular Desolation Wilderness hiking and camping area from the Eagle Falls parking area.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Emerald Bay is perfect for families who love hiking and the outdoors.

Christina's expert tip: Plan to get to the park early in the morning to get parking. This is the most popular area of the lake.

Read more about Emerald Bay State Park →


Every summer for over 30 years, Tahoe residents have been entranced by the timeless words of William Shakespeare, set against the dramatic backdrop of Lake Tahoe and a starry sky. Comedies, tragedies, and even a special performance featuring Shakespeare's complete condensed works delight patrons who settle into Adirondack chairs and munch on gourmet fare from the "food court" â€" actually, several booths set up by local restaurants inside the gates. Perfect for a first date or a family outing. Families can also bring their food to the event. Get to the beach early to enjoy the water and get a good spot in line for general seating.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Shakespeare at Sand Harbor is one of the most popular summer events at the lake.

Christina's expert tip: The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival will also have children's events, such as short adaptations of famous plays, in the afternoons before the main production.

Read more about Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival →

Sand Harbor
Photo courtesy of Christina Nellemann

Sand Harbor is considered the most beautiful beach in Lake Tahoe. It is located on the Nevada side of the lake in the Lake Tahoe National Park. The beach has a small museum and store, bathrooms, showers, parking, a boat launch, picnic tables and BBQs and plenty of golden sand to put down a blanket and umbrella. Some areas around the beach have rocks that you can jump off into the water. During the summer season, Sand Harbor has beach lifeguards and a small store is available for food purchases. The boat launch area of Sand Harbor is located on the North side of the beach and launch fees and boat inspections apply. There is also a bay just for SCUBA divers called Diver's Cove.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Sand Harbor is really large and has several different beach areas.

Christina's expert tip: The rule of thumb for Sand Harbor is to get there before 10 a.m. on summer weekends. Parking fills up fast.

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The KidZone Museum in Truckee is an interactive museum for children under the age of 10. Exhibits are designed to provide play that encourages a child's development of social, imaginative, physical and problem-solving skills. Specific activity centers include the Baby Zone with nature themed soft area, an art studio with paper, clay, paint and markers and classes like Messy Art and Messy Science. There is also a Jungle Gym play structure that increases gross motor skills and the Exploration Station where children can do science projects and learn more about the natural world. The Museum has traveling events as well including TakeFlight and summer barn animals. Parents are encouraged to be with their children in the museum. It is closed on Monday, but open Tuesday-Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Admission for children and adults is $8. Infants are free.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Many activities at the KidZone Museum take place outdoors in the natural world.

Christina's expert tip: The Museum has free bus pickup from Kings Beach.

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The Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park is located at the Granlibakken resort on the west shore of Lake Tahoe and is run by North Tahoe Adventures. This is the first aerial park in California and is comprised of a series of courses linked between large pine trees in the Tahoe forest. The Treetop Adventure Park offers a variety of courses, from kids' zip lining to thrilling adventure ropes courses. All Treetop Adventure Park participants will be outfitted in climbing harnesses and helmets and be connected to a belay system making it virtually impossible to completely disconnect from the safety cable. The park is family friendly and has over 50 platforms and bridges, monkey courses and several zip lines, some of them over 300 feet long. If you participate in all the courses you will have zipped 2,618 feet through 16 zip lines.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: The Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park is perfect for older children and teens.

Christina's expert tip: The first 30 minutes of each session will be a safety and ground lesson and is part of the entire program.

Read more about Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park →

South Lake Tahoe

EPIC Discovery is the Heavenly Mountain Resort's mountaintop playground. It can only be accessed via the Heavenly Gondola but offers a day's worth of activities for the entire family. The EPIC Discovery includes a variety of ropes courses for all levels. Two zip lines are also available to send flyers over the lodge or above the mountains with views of the lake. The latest addition to the EPIC Discovery is the mountain coaster. This wild ride careens riders around the edge of the mountain top and offers excellent views of the lake below. There are also climbing walls, both summer and winter tubing and hiking trails. The Tamarack Lodge is available for barbecue lunch.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: EPIC Discovery has both paid and free activities. Check out the free Animal Abilities interpretive center for younger children.

Christina's expert tip: There is no need to go back down the gondola for lunch. The Tamarack Lodge has a great barbecue buffet.

Read more about EPIC Discovery →


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