Tahoe Area Museums And Education Centers

Most people come to Lake Tahoe to enjoy the great outdoors, but the area also has a surprisingly large number of museums, some of which are located outside. For example, the Taylor Creek Visitor Center. This network of trails and interpretive markers provides information about Tahoe’s biodiversity and streams. The Tahoe Maritime Museum and the stunning Vikingsholm Castle in Emerald Bay are two other exhibitions that bring the outside in.

Donner Memorial State Park/Emigrant Trail Museum

Donner Summit   530-582-7892

The museum depicts the history of the area and the people who came into this part of the Sierra, including local Native Americans, the Donner Party, and builders of the Transcontinental Railroad. Open daily year-round, 10am to 5pm. Free admission. Parking $8/car.

Ehrman Mansion (Pine Lodge)

Sugar Pine Pt. State Park, West Shore   530-525-7982

San Francisco businessman I.W. Hellman purchased the property in 1897. In 1965 the house was acquired by the California State Park System. Today the house is maintained as a museum and as an example of the opulent tradition in Tahoe summer homes. May 26-June 22 and September 4-30, tours weekends 10am-3pm on the hour and weekdays at noon, 1pm and 2pm. June 23-September 3, tours daily 10am-3pm on the hour. The Sugar Pine Visitor Center will be open 11am-4pm, Monday through Friday.

Explore Tahoe – An Urban Trailhead

South Lake Tahoe   530-542-2908  

Interpretive programs feature indoor and outdoor, static and interactive exhibits directed toward local and guest audiences. The exhibits encourage participants’ learning and imagination through sensory and interactive displays and informal interpretive talks. Open year-round. Free admission.

Gatekeepers Museum

Tahoe City   530-583-1762

An eclectic collection of Tahoe history. Features the Steinbach Indian Basket Collection, with more Than 900 baskets from tribes west of the Rockies. July 2012, Ursus Among Us: The American Black Bear In the Tahoe Basin exhibit opens. Open Wed.-Mon., 10-5pm. $5 admission; $4 seniors; 12 & under free with paying adult. Active military families free.

KidZone Museum

Truckee   530-587-KIDS (5437)

The only children’s museum in the Tahoe region. They specialize in hands-on learning through play. Free bus service to the museum from Kings Beach on Thursdays.

Lake Tahoe Community College Demonstration Garden

South Lake Tahoe   530-543-1501 ext. 113

The garden is part of a community partnership designed to protect and preserve the Lake Tahoe basin. Free admission and open to the public.

Lake Tahoe Historical Society Museum

South Lake Tahoe   530-541-5458

Open six days a week from 11am to 3pm (closed on Tuesdays) from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Please call for winter hours. No admission fees. Call to arrange special tours. Photos may be purchased from the large historic collection and the museum shop carries books, cards and gifts.

North Lake Tahoe Demonstration Garden

Sierra Nevada College Campus
Incline Village, NV   775-586-1610 ext. 25

The garden collaborates with residents, community agencies, and private companies to demonstrate best management practices and landscaping options which work in harmony with Tahoe’s naturally beautiful but often fragile environment. Open year-round. Self-guided tours. Free admission.

Tahoe Maritime Museum

5205 West Lake Blvd., Homewood, CA   530-525-9253

Offers a variety of hands-on activities for children, guided tours and incredible exhibits – including historic classic wooden boats – displaying Tahoe’s rich maritime history.

UC Davis Historic Fish Hatchery

2400 Lake Forest Rd.   530-583-3279

Tour the UC Davis Tahoe City Field Station or Historic Fish Hatchery. Take the bike path a half mile east of Tahoe City and visit the restored wetland and stream, demonstration garden, Eriksson Education Center with exhibits about the hatchery, fish, invasive species, and current research at Lake Tahoe.

UC Davis Thomas J. Long Foundation Education Center

291 Country Club Dr.   775-881-7566

Tour the UC Davis Education Center. Discover what makes Lake Tahoe so unique. Investigate local science and explore how research is being used to restore and protect Lake Tahoe. Guided tours include a virtual research vessel, virtual laboratory, 3-D visualization theater and green building tour.

Thunderbird Lodge

Incline Village   800-GO-TAHOE (468-2463)

Offers visitors a peek back into the 1930s lifestyle of the rich and famous. Tours depart from the Incline Village/Crystal Bay Visitor Center. Children under the age of 6 are not permitted on public tours.

UC Davis Thomas J. Long Foundation Education Center

291 Country Club Dr., Incline Village, NV

Operates a small science education center with exhibits including a virtual research boat, biology lab, 3-D visualization lab, and docent-led tours of this award-winning “green” building. Open Tues.-Fri. 1-5pm and Saturdays during the summer. Free admission.

UC Davis Eriksson Education Center

2400 Lake Forest Rd. (at the Historic Fish Hatchery), Tahoe City, CA   530-583-3279

Open to the public during the summer months with tours of this historic building available on Saturdays. See videos of the former fish hatchery operations and current research. Learn about wetlands, restoration, best management practices (BMPs), and native plants. Memorial Day to Labor Day. Free admission.


Emerald Bay   530-525-9530

Vikingsholm is part of the Harvey West Unit of the Emerald Bay State Park. Open for tours in the summer months, and the grounds and magnificent scenery may be enjoyed all year around. May 26-June 22 and September 4-30, Tours 11am-4pm once and hour on the hour. June 23-September 3, Tours 10:30am-4pm on the hour and 1/2 hour.

Watson Cabin Museum

Tahoe City   530-583-1762

A Tahoe pioneer log cabin built in 1909, set up just as the family daughter remembered from childhood. Open summers Wed.-Mon., 12-4pm. Admission free.

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