Tahoe with Kids

As a service to our clients, we have collected a list of suggested activities for families visiting the Lake Tahoe Region. These are not links other businesses have paid to put on here, they are activities I have enjoyed over the years with my family and have heard good things about from clients. If you have experiences and suggestions you would like to share with other families, please e-mail them to Kirsten@AllAboutKidsMammoth.com.

Summer Activities

Beaches

Commons Beach, Tahoe City:
A fun easy spot for a picnic, some beach time and playground time located right in Tahoe City. There are picnic tables, an excellent playground, bathroom facilities and BBQ pits. They also host Farmers Markets in the summer, Movies on the Beach (all family friendly movies) and Sunday night free concerts.

King's Beach:
Another really easy spot to just stop off for a couple of hours or to spend the day. They have a climbing structure, bathroom facilities, sand volleyball courts and BBQ pits.

Sand Harbor, Incline Village/East Shore:
One of Tahoe most beautiful and most photographed locations. Sand Harbor is a little harder to get to, but worth the hassle if you can make a day of it. The parking lot does get crowded on weekends and holidays, so start early. No playground, but great rocks for climbing on and going crawdadding and a nice mellow shoreline perfect for wadding out into the lake and beginning swimmers. This is a fee area, but you get use of dressing rooms and showers, BBQ pits and they also host Shakespeare at the Lake which has been a Tahoe tradition for around 30 years.

Meek's Bay:
About 15-20 minutes south of Tahoe City and 20 minutes north of South Lake Tahoe on the West Shore is the Meek's Bay campground and beach. This is another family favorite, with plenty of shade which can be hard to find at some of the other beaches. This is a fee area and a little bit out of the way so plan to stay for a while. There is also a snack bar, and various boat rentals right on site.

Donner Lake West End Beach:
If you are staying in Truckee, this is the beach for you! Conveniently located just 5-10 minutes from Downtown Truckee and Tahoe Donner, this is a great family beach with a roped off swimming area, BBQ pits, restrooms and snack bar. There is plenty of sun or shade, and the sandy beach slopes gently into the water so even younger kids and less experienced swimmers can feel comfortable wading around. Donner Lake also tends to get warmer faster than Lake Tahoe does which makes a great spot for early summer beach days.

Zephyr Cove:
One of the best full service beaches around Lake Tahoe, this private resort offers boat rentals, a full service restaurant, volleyball courts and BBQ pits. Very conveniently located 5 minutes east of South Lake Tahoe on Highway 50. Visit www.zephyrcove.com for a full list of their amenities and fees.

Hikes

Shirley Canyon in Squaw Valley:
This is a great hike for families because you can go as far as you want and then turn around, plus Squaw Creek runs right along the trail, which is great for stick races and makes for nice picnic spots. The trail head is behind the cable car building, make a right at Plump Jack Inn and continue until the road dead ends. The trail head and path is well marked with paint and stacked rock trail markers.

Bike Rides

Bike Rides along the Truckee River:
Rent bikes in Tahoe City (or bring your own) there is a great paved path that runs from Tahoe City to Squaw Valley right along the Truckee River with minimal inclines and declines making it perfect for a family ride. (The path also runs south from Tahoe City along the West Shore, but is a little more involved in terms of ups and downs.)

Bike Rentals:
Olympic Bike Shop: 620 North Lake Blvd (Tahoe City)

Phone: (530) 581-2500

Tahoe City Bikes (The Back Country): 690 North Lake Blvd (Tahoe City) Phone: (530) 581-5861

Both these shops have good quality cruisers, mountain bikes and trailers for the little kids to rent by the hour or for the day. The shop guys are also very knowledgeable of local trails and bike maintenance if you have any questions.

Parks and Playgrounds

Truckee Regional Park:
Located on Old Brockway Road between old downtown and Northstar. Has a great playground area with structure for big a little kids, a grassy picnic and BBQ area, softball fields, a disc golf course, basketball court and an amphitheater with free shows for families on Wednesday evenings.

Squaw Valley Park:
Located at the corner of Squaw Valley Road and 89 between Truckee and Tahoe City. A convenient starting or ending point for a bike ride along the river, this park has ample parking, a small but fun climbing structure and a huge astroturf sports field.

Commons Beach, Tahoe City:
A fun easy spot for a picnic, some beach time and playground time located right in Tahoe City. There are picnic tables, an excellent playground, bathroom facilities and BBQ pits. They also host Farmers Markets in the summer, Movies on the Beach (all family friendly movies) and Sunday night free concerts.

Public Pools

Squaw Valley's High Camp Lagoon:
Take the scenic cable car up to Squaw's mountain top paradise, complete with pool, hot tub and restaurant. Visit www.Squaw.com for pricing, schedules and more info. Be sure to bring your sunscreen!

Incline Village Recreation Center:
This indoor pool is open year round for lap swimming, fitness classes and water play. Visit www.InclineRecreation.com for schedules and fees.

South Lake Tahoe:
Indoors in the winter and outdoors in the summer, this pool offers recreational swim time as well as lap swim time. Visit www.recreationintahoe.com for more info.

On the Lake

Tubing and Wake Boarding:
Although the Lake is pretty chilly through mid-June, there is still plenty of summer left for getting wet in the lake. You can rent boats from a number of places, Tahoe City Marina, Sunnyside Marina and Tahoe Keys Marina to name a few complete with life jackets and tubes for a fun day on the Lake. Great places to find calm water are Hurricane Bay just south of Sunnyside on the West Shore and Carnelian Bay, just east of Tahoe City on the North Shore. After you brave the tube or wakebaord, stop by Sunnyside or GarWoods (in Carnelian Bay) for some good eats and liquid salvation.

Kayak Lake Tahoe:
Tahoe City Kayak: 1355 North Lake Blvd, Tahoe City. Phone (530) 581-4336. www.tahoecitykayak.net
Sales, rentals and guided tours of Lake Tahoe. Guided tours range from easy to strenuous, so be sure to talk with them about what your family is up for before booking a tour.

Parasail:
North Shore Parasail: 8290 North Lake Blvd King's Beach. Phone: (530) 546-7698. www.northshoreparasail.com.
They are experienced and conveniently located in King's Beach and also offer shuttle pick up and return. Kids can ride solo tandem with each other or with an adult for a little excitement.

Tahoe Queen and MS Dixie II Cruises:
Cruise the beautiful waters of Lake Tahoe on these historic ships. Cruises depart from Zephyr Cove in South Lake Tahoe or Tahoe City. They offer a wide variety of scenic tours and cruises, including a beautiful sunset dinner cruise. Visit www.zephyrcove.com for current cruise schedules and pricing.

Sailing Cruises and Charters:
Depart from Tahoe City on the "Tahoe Cruz" for a fun spin around the lake. They offer a variety of cruises including a sunset cruise which is quite breathtaking. Visit www.tahoesail.com for pricing and availability.

Activities and Adventures

Float the Truckee:
Perfect for families with young children (recommended for three and older but you could take younger ones.) This is a self guided river float with class one and two rapids. You can rent rafts right in Tahoe City that come complete with shuttle and parking or buy your own raft at one of the many stores in town and park for rafting put in just south of Tahoe City off of 89. Bring lots of sunscreen, life jackets (especially for the kids) and a picnic lunch to eat on the raft, or plan on having some delicious burgers and nachos at River Ranch right at take out. Trip time is 2-3 hrs depending on river flow, crowds and stops along the way.
 
Boat rentals:
Truckee River Raft Co www.truckeeriverraft.com
Truckee River Rafting with Mountain Air Sports www.truckeeriverrafting.com
Visit the above websites for pricing and dates of operation. Both outfitters offer quality rafts, life jackets and paddles, and provide shuttle transportation and parking included in the price.
 
Boat sales:
Almost all the stores you see in Tahoe City sell inflatables of one kind or another, if you are taking kids, be sure you get something large enough for them to move around in, and they are required to wear life jackets. For a family, going with an outfitter is probably your easiest bet.

Whitewater Rafting:
If you are looking for a little more excitement, children ages 6 and older are welcome on the guided trips further down the Truckee River offered by Tributary Whitewater Tours. They offer half day trips in both the morning and afternoon and provide transportation to the put in site from Truckee. The trip takes approximately two hours on the water, about 3-3.5 hours door to door. Tributary has an excellent reputation and has been in business for over 30 years. (I myself was a guide for them for many summers, and am looking forward to taking my son on this trip as soon as he is old enough). The trip does include some class 3+ rapids, but if the kids are uncomfortable, there is an option of walking around the two major rapids as they are right near the bottom. Advance reservations are required, call 1-800-672-3846 or visit www.whitewatertours.com for more information or reservations.

Horse Back Rides:
Horse back rides are offered at numerous different stables around the lake. Rides range from very family friendly to not, and several places offer BBQ and sunset rides which are really fun. Contact the stables below for information on your options, and be sure to tell them the ages and personalities of your kids to ensure a good fit for your family.
 
North Lake Tahoe:
Alpine Meadows Stables, Alpine Meadows: (530) 583-3905
 
South Lake Tahoe:
Camp Richardson's Corral, South Lake Tahoe near Emerald Bay: (530) 541-3113

Miniature Golf:
Squaw Valley:
The Village at Squaw has a really fun miniature golf course set up every summer, the holes are placed throughout the village and it is perfect to distract older kids while parents relax on a patio or do some shopping in the village.
 
Carnelian Bay:
Magic Carpet Miniature Golf 5167 N Lake Blvd (530) 546-4279. With two courses to choose from, and lots of fun and whimsical holes, this is sure to be a big hit with the kids!

Farmer's Markets:
These are lots of fun for kids, and a great place to buy fresh fruits, veggies and meats for your vacation. They usually run from mid-may through September.
 
Tahoe City: Commons Beach
Commons Beach Rd. & N. Lake Blvd.
Thursdays, 8 am - 1 pm, May 21st - October 15th
 
Homewood: Homewood Mountain Ski Resort
5145 Westlake Blvd on Highway 89
Saturdays, 9 am - 1 pm, June 20nd - August 29th
 
Truckee: Truckee River Regional Park
10500 Brockway Road off Highway 267
Tuesdays, 8 am - 1 pm, June 9th - October 13th
 
Kings Beach: Kings Beach State Recreation Area
Highway 28 at Bear Street
Tuesdays, 9 am - 1 pm, June 9th -September 1st

Places to Go

Spend a Day at Squaw Valley:
Squaw Valley is not just a winter paradise, it is also the perfect summer playground for families. There is a wide array of activities for kids in the Village including a Sky Jump, Candle Making Studio, Miniature Golf and a Climbing Wall in the Cable Car Building. Also not to be missed is a ride up the scenic Cable Car to High Camp, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierras, some short and easy hikes, ice skating and swimming at the High Camp Lagoon. For operation dates and lift ticket prices visit www.Squaw.com.

Spend a day at Northstar:
The new Village at Northstar has a lot to offer in both summer and winter. In addition to shopping and dining options, they often have live music and movies going on in the evenings. Check out www.NorthStarAtTahoe.com for a list of their upcoming events.

Virginia City:
If you want to get some culture and history on your trip to Tahoe, an easy hour or so drive will get you to Virginia City, Nevada, an old silver mining town. Although some of the attractions have become fairly "touristy" there are some cool museums and interesting historical sights. And for little boys who live trains, there is a working steam engine you can ride around to get the lay of the land.

Emerald Bay:
Emerald Bay is another of Tahoe's signature vistas and is really a sight to see. Located about 30 minutes south of Tahoe City and 20 minutes north of South Lake Tahoe on Highway 89, this is an excellent place for a scenic drive or picnic. Also in Emerald Bay is Vikingsholm Castle, originally built as a summer home in 1929. They offer tours of the castle and grounds in the summer, but be ware the 1 mile hike from Emerald Bay falls is very steep, so may not be suitable for small kids. Once you make it down the path though, you are in for a treat as you can picnic on the shores of beautiful Emerald Bay.

Winter Activities

Skiing

Lake Tahoe has some of the world's best skiing and with 12 different ski resorts around the area, there is something for everyone. Below are some of our favorites with descriptions of what makes them great for families:

Alpine Meadows: Since JMA took over as the new owners of Alpine, they have really stepped up the game. Alpine has always had great terrain and it is only getting better with better operations and ski school to go along with it. They have excellent beginner and first timmer packages and terrain, but they also have programs to challenge kids (and adults) who want to progress.

Heavenly Valley: Heavenly is the only resort located in South Lake Tahoe, and is easily accessible by all stateline lodging. They are also the only resort around the lake to offer full service daycare facilities for infants and toddlers.

Homewood: Homewood has long been considered a local's secret. Devoid of crowds for the most part but still with challenging and diverse terrain and a good ski school program, this is a great place to bring little kids for their first ski experience. It also has the best views of Lake Tahoe of any of the resorts.

Northstar: Northstar has improved in leaps and bounds with the addition of their new village which is great place for families to stay, dine or just hang out. Their beginner ski programs are top notch with brand new facilities and fairly convenient drop off location (if you are skiing too). Northstar's terrain isn't ideal for the extreme skier but has something to offer everyone in most families. Northstar does get VERY busy on holiday weekends, so if you really don't like the crowds, come midweek or go somewhere else.

Squaw Valley: Squaw arguably has some of the most extreme and challenging terrain in the United States and beyond, but they also have some really great intermediate and beginner slopes. For families staying right in the Village at Squaw, getting kids too and from ski school couldn't be easier, although for beginner programs, this may not be the best mountain in Tahoe. For families who come up often and have kids who want to push themselves, this is the place to be. Check out their mighty might, ski team and snowboard team options for the best coaching around. Squaw also has a great apres ski scene, with lots of activities for kids and parents alike.

SugarBowl: SugarBowl was the first ski resort in Tahoe, founded in 1939 by Walt Disney. They have an excellent array of terrain, and have really worked hard to create a place for freestyle skiers and snowboarders without taking away from the traditional skier's experience. With recent expansions and improvements they have improved an already stellar resort. Family notes: Sugarbowl is one of the only places that will take "little kids" for daycare in their Sugarbears program. Their ski school program is also very conveniently located in the parking lot for easy drop off, sign in and pick up. Be sure to make reservations early becuase their programs do fill up.

Tubing and Sledding:

Tubing is available at both Squaw Valley and Northstar with tubes and pulleys to get you up the hill. The Resort at Squaw Creek also has a very mild sledding hill with sleds for rent.

For the good old fashioned sledding experience, there is a hill on Donner Pass Road in Truckee on the south side of the road between Tahoe Forest Hospital and the I-80 entrance. Be sure to bring your own sled and be prepared to share the hill with others. You can also go just south of Tahoe City on 89. Park by 64 Acres park and across the street you will find two great sledding hills. Beware both of these spots get busy on weekends, if you have little kids it might be better to just build a path in the backyard.

Snowmobile Rides:

Snowmobile rides can be fun for the whole family, or for an adults only advenutre. There are several outfitters around the lake, but for spectacular views convenient location and quality equipment check out Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours at http://www.laketahoesnowmobilingtours.com/ or call them at (530) 546-4280.

Dog Sled Rides:

Dog Sled rides are offered daily by Wilderness Adventures in Squaw Valley. Each sled can accomodate up to two adults and two children, so it is perfect for a family of four. The tours last about an hour and take you over trails in the beautiful Squaw Valley Meadow. For reservations or more information call The Resort at Squaw Creek at (530) 583-6300.

Ice Skating and Hot Chocolate

Squaw Valley offers some of the most spectacular Ice Skating with views from the top of the mountain at High Camp after a fun ride on the Cable Car.

Also in Squaw, the Resort at Squaw Creek has an ice skating rink open in the winter. Make an evening of it and eat at one of the three restaurants available on site and let the kids enjoy some hot chocoalte and marshmellow roasting around one of the outdoor firepits.

The Village at Northstar has an ice skating rink in the winter which is also open for roller skating in the summer. Similar to the Reort at Squaw Creek, it is a great place to spend an evening or unwind after skiing. Dine in one of the many restaurants, enjoy ice skating and warm your feet and fingers by the outdoor firepits.

Indoor Activities:

KidZone Museum (Truckee): Located at 11711 Donner Pass Road in Truckee, this indoor children's museum is a wonderful place for kids to learn, explore and grow. Great for snowy days or just for a break from the slopes. They have a themed exhibit which changes annually, an arts and crafts room and an indoor climbing structure. Recommended for ages toddler through 6. Visit http://KidZoneMuseum.org for current hours and rates.

BowlIncline(Incline Village): North Shore's only bowling facility, they also have an arcade, air hocky and pool tables. Be sure to call ahead to verify there is no league bowling going on and to reserve a lane. Although it is located in Nevada, the entire facility is smoke-free so it is pretty family friendly until the locals take over the lanes and the bar later in the evening. Located at 920 Southwood Blvd in Incline Village. Phone: (775) 831-1900

Tahoe Bowl (South Lake Tahoe): Self proclaimed "Tahoe's Favorite Family Fun Center!" They have bowling, bumper bowling, pool, an arcade, an onsite pizza parlour and a sports bar with several flat screen TV's. Located at 1030 Fremont Ave, South Lake Tahoe. Phone: (530) 544-3700.

Movie Theaters: North Lake Tahoe has three small movies theaters located in Incline Village, King's Beach and Tahoe City. Each theater usually only shows one movie at a time and has limited showtimes. Call (530) 546-5951 for showtime listings for all three theaters. South Lake Tahoe has the Horizon Cinemas which has several screens offering a wider selection of movies and showtimes. Reno has many movie theaters, so if you want to see something in particular and you can't find it in Tahoe, Reno is your best bet.

Movie Rentals: In Tahoe City, Video Stop is located in the Safeway shopping center, they are usually open from 10-9 daily. They have a good family section and the owners have kids too so tend to make good recommendation. In Truckee, All the Best Video is located in the shopping mall on the corner of Donner Pass Road and Highway 89. In addition, most grocery stores and 7-11s have Red Box or equivalent for quick rentals.

Visit Reno: Reno offers lots of fun activities for kids and adults. A visit to Circus Circus casino for some arcade and fair type games was always a favorite activity for my family growing up. The new Grand Sierra Resort also has a bowling alley, bumper cars, go carts and arcade for more family fun.

Dining

Truckee:

Zano's Pizzeria
50/50 Brewing Company

Northstar:

Rubicon Pizza Bistro in the Village
Mikuni's Sushi in the Village

Squaw Valley:

Fireside Pizza
Mamasake
Blue Coyote

Tahoe City:

Evergreen
Lakeside Pizza
Blue Agave
Bridge Tender
Rosie's Cafe
Firesign Cafe
Sunnyside

Carnelian Bay:

GarWoods Grill and Pier

King's Beach:

Caliente

South Lake Tahoe

Riva Grill

Lake Front Dining

GarWoods Grill and Pier (Carnelian Bay)
Sunnyside (West shore Lake Tahoe 1 mile south of Tahoe City)
Riva Grill(South Lake Tahoe)