In the good ole summertime, North Lake Tahoe is the place to go for those in the know. You’ll find easy access to wide sandy shores and discover hidden beaches tucked between boulders.
Explore small historic towns with good shopping, family restaurants, and fine dining. Whether your passion is boating, biking, hiking, or lying all day on warm sand, the north shore of Lake Tahoe is a grand destination for your summer vacation.
Lake Tahoe’s North Shore is dotted with unique communities that have much to offer visitors and residents alike. If you’re fond of small towns, pristine shores, and wide-angle vistas from forested trails, the North Shore of Lake Tahoe is all this and more. Its natural beauty has long captured the imaginations and hearts of visitors. In 1861, when Mark Twain first laid eyes on Lake Tahoe, he wrote: “At last the lake burst upon us… I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole world affords.”
Washoe tribes who inhabited the shores for centuries called the area Da-ow-a-ga, meaning “edge of the lake.” Early explorers interpreted the phrase as Tahoe. Lake Tahoe became the official name in 1945.
North Shore Attractions
At North Lake Tahoe there are plenty of places for action and relaxation. Shops in Kings Beach and Tahoe City rent ski boats and water skis, jet skis, paddle boards and kayaks. You might even take to the skies for a high-flying parasail ride over the lake – up, up and away! Or just relax on the beach with a picnic, building castles in the sand, swimming in shallow waters, and enjoying a game of beach volleyball.
In July, North Lake Tahoe celebrates Independence Day with a joyful, all-American spirit. Small-town parades are followed by fireworks in each community. In Truckee, you can view the display from West End Beach at Donner Lake. In Incline Village, take a short hike to the deck of Snowflake Lodge at Diamond Peak for a bird’s-eye view of the fireworks below. Or lie back on the sands of Kings Beach or Commons Beach in Tahoe City to watch the sky light up — up close and personal.
The more days you stay, the more fun comes your way. Charter a boat to catch fish; rent bikes for easy peddling on paths by the lake and along the Truckee River; play a round of golf on many championship courses; take a short stroll in Tahoe Meadows or longer hikes on the Flume Trail or Tahoe Rim Trail, where you’ll find panoramic views of the lake and mountains.
Art lovers will find their fill at many galleries in Tahoe City, Truckee and the villages at Northstar and Squaw Valley, USA. The Lake Tahoe Music Festival presents concerts in various locations, and the Shakespeare Festival at Sand Harbor stages music performances as well as works by the Bard in a natural outdoor amphitheater with the lake as a backdrop.
History buffs can explore museums and tour historic mansions around the lake. At the Gatekeepers Museum in Tahoe City, woven baskets by Native American Dat So La Lee are a must-see. Near the historically rich town of Truckee, the Emigrant Trail Museum in Donner State Park houses history of local Native Americans, the transcontinental railroad, and the Donner Party.
If your preference is for nightlife and gambling, there is plenty of action at the Hyatt Regency in Incline Village and casinos in Crystal Bay, Nevada. The Crystal Bay Club books headline musical groups nightly. Tap your toes or dance up a storm if the spirit moves.
In Incline Village, the Mark Twain Cultural Center presents everything Twain, including performances by professional actor McAvoy Layne, Lake Tahoe’s self-proclaimed “Ghost of Mark Twain.” Hands-on exhibits at the Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences on the Sierra Nevada College campus reveal the natural history, ecology, and inhabitants of the lake. Visitors can take a self-guided or docent-led tour and don 3-D glasses for a virtual fly-through of the Lake Tahoe basin.
Incline Village is a residential resort community that is the “Tahoe place” for locals and second homeowners alike, with the population swelling to over 10,000 in the summertime. Located on the beautiful North Shore of Lake Tahoe, Incline Village/Crystal Bay offers some of the best views, some of the most spectacular homes, and the most exciting activities anywhere. Whether you’re looking for great skiing (water or snow), hiking, biking, or golfing, Incline Village has it all.
Incline Village is a fairly young community with some very interesting history. The iconic western classic TV show Bonanza was filmed in part right here in town as were several episodes of Lassie. The local ski area was the first on the West Coast to install snow-making equipment! And the residents here have included famous musicians, gangsters, and business moguls.
Today, Incline Village is known for its community feel and well-rounded activities. It has fine dining, great dive bars, and everything in between. Spread out among the beautiful natural landscapes are multiple shopping centers with many treasures to offer.
Christmas Tree Village, located on Highway 28, has a great mix of tourist shopping, restaurants and bars. A little farther down on Hwy. 28, also known as Tahoe Blvd., you will find Raley’s Center with great choices as well. Located across the street from the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Casino and Spa is the Country Club Mall, located on Country Club Drive. Browse the galleries and wine shops and enjoy the fabulous cuisine in gourmet and casual restaurants. Tucked away in the heart of Incline Village is Village Center, where locals shop and neighbors meet each other at the post office. Off the beaten path, this center has many great things to offer.
There are many other wonderful businesses located throughout the town as well. Incline Village is truly a place to spend several days. This area is often the warmest spot on the lake. Known as the Banana Belt, North Lake Tahoe averages higher temperatures than anywhere else around the Lake. Remember – you’re in Nevada now, and this 24-hour town has something to offer everyone!
Cross-country centers in Tahoe City, Spooner Summit, and at many resorts provide miles of trails and teach beginners. Tahoe Meadows, near the summit on Mt. Rose Hwy. (Rte. 431), is ideal for family snow play, sliding, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. A short trek through the woods on the Tahoe Rim Trail reveals stunning lake views and flocks of chickadees that eat seed and nuts from your hand.
Winter at Lake Tahoe
Winter at Lake Tahoe means world-class downhill skiing and snowboarding. Lake Tahoe has the largest concentration of ski resorts in North America, a dozen in all, with two-thirds on the North Shore.
Squaw Valley USA
Ski the “steep and deep” at world-renowned Squaw Valley USA and discover less-known Mt. Rose/Ski Tahoe where double- and triple-black diamond Chutes challenge experts from around the world. These resorts and all others offer plenty of gentle slopes for beginners, cruising runs for intermediates, multiple terrain parks for shredders, and good ski schools for all ages. Seniors, age 50+, will find special classes and clinics at Mt. Rose/Ski Tahoe.
Wide-open bowls and scenic trails are hallmarks at Alpine Meadows, Northstar-at-Tahoe, Sugar Bowl, and Squaw Valley. Smaller, family-oriented Homewood has stunning views of Lake Tahoe from many runs. If it’s views you’re after, it’s hard to beat the panoramic picture of Lake Tahoe from the ridge run at Diamond Peak. This small family resort is one of Tahoe’s most scenic and affordable. It won’t challenge experts, but families with small children, ages 3 to 7, will love the Child Ski Center, and intermediates will find enough challenge to step up their game.
Backcountry Adventure Center
Sugar Bowl’s new Backcountry Adventure Center offers guided sidecountry tours for powder skiing and much more. Visit www.alpineskills.com for information on year-round mountain adventure courses and tours.
Complete ski villages at Squaw Valley and Northstar-at-Tahoe offer lodging, restaurants, art galleries, and boutique shopping. Northstar’s multilevel village is built around an outdoor ice rink. From Squaw Valley’s High Camp, visitors enjoy sweeping views of the valley, multiple restaurants, an Olympic ice rink, and an Olympic Museum, which houses memorabilia from the 1960 Winter Olympics.
SnowFest in early March is ten fun-filled days and nights of family fun. Activities for all ages, on and off the slopes, include parades, races, parties, concerts, theater, and plenty of good wine and food. For dates and details, visit www.tahoesnowfestival.com.
The Hyatt Regency in Incline Village and casinos in Crystal Bay provide gaming and a vibrant nightlife. Dance ‘til the wee hours to live bands at the Crystal Bay Club, but keep in mind that tomorrow is another sunny day and time to hit the slopes again!
North Lake Tahoe is a region rich in history and heritage, excitement and adventure. Explore all there is to see and do on www.GoTahoeNorth.com.
Lake Tahoe has been called the “Jewel of the Sierras,” inspiring photographers and painters with an endless canvas of colors and light. The pastels of summer give way in September and October to yellow/orange aspens and cottonwoods, glowing brilliantly against a background of deep green pines and furs. In December the region is stunning in winter white. Visit North Lake Tahoe in any season and you may marvel — if there is a Heaven on earth, I am here!