Things To Do in Lake Tahoe

Around Tahoe Tours

P.O. Box 5285, Incline Village, NV
(775) 560-5629

Around Tahoe Tours is your best bet for getting a true feel and knowledge of the local area. Created by Darin Talbot, the tour agency is a culmination of his knowledge that began in 1977 when he moved to the area with his fun attitude and amusing ways of sharing the tales of Tahoe. A musician and storyteller by heart, Talbot is able to create an entertaining and educational tour for the entire family. His tours range from in-person private tours to group tours to CD tours that are self-guiding. The tours focus on all of the various areas of the Tahoe Basin, from South Lake Tahoe to Truckee. Around Tahoe Tours also offers a GPS app to help visitors know the area and see hidden gems.

Lakeside Casino

Lakeside Inn and Casino
168 U.S. Highway 50, Stateline, NV
(775) 589-2313

The Lakeside Casino offers everything you could want in a gaming establishment, from poker and blackjack and roulette to slots and craps and a sports book. Look for the 3-to-2 odds on all blackjacks and the 10-times odds on all numbers at the craps table. In line with the philosophy of being the friendliest spot in town, there is the University of Lakeside, a weekly class that teaches the fundamentals of the games. The Lakeside is also a brighter, lighter atmosphere than some of the other Nevada casinos. The atmosphere continues the wood-cabin decor of the property with warm browns and earth tones throughout. On the main casino floor is also the Coffee Bar, serving locally roasted Alpen Sierra coffees as well as coffee alcohol beverages, smoothies, salads, bagels and more.

Northstar California Resort

5001 Northstar Drive, Truckee, CA
(530) 562-1010

Of course Northstar at Tahoe Resort has skiing, but its range of offerings make the longtime Truckee fixture a four-seasons must visit. With upgrades, remodeling and the addition of a mid-mountain Ritz Carlton hotel, Northstar has upped its game in recent years. Considered to be the resort for families looking to ski on the North Shore, there is now more challenging terrain to be had amongst the resort’s 3,100 skiable acres, 100 trails all serviced by 20 lifts. Nine advanced runs have been created on the backside of Northstar, which is called, yep, The Backside. There are seven snowboarding terrain parks and pipes to give beginner and advanced riders more room to shred. Of course there is a world-class view of Lake Tahoe from atop the mountain’s 8,600-foot summit. But not all the fun is had on the slopes. There is a 9,000-square-foot ice rink in the middle of the village accompanied by live music, snacks and beverages for those not into skiing. Visitors will find dozens of places to eat and shop from sushi and pizza to Patagonia and The North Face. There is even a movie theater for visitors and locals alike. For those into hiking in the snow and skinny skis, there are 35 km of groomed and tracked trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The fun doesn’t end when winter does, however. Northstar features one of the earliest — and now most extensive — lift-assisted mountain bike parks in the country. Northstar features an 18-hole golf course and has a variety of lodging options from luxury hotels, condos and home rentals.

Painted Vine

10770 Donner Pass Road #103, Truckee, CA
(530) 214-8935

Not sure if you swing toward realism or more toward the abstract? The folks at Painted Vine are more than happy to coax out your inner Rembrandt or Picasso — with a little help from Bacchus, god of vino, if you so choose. The Painted Vine is a combination wine bar/painting studio. It’s a well-appointed space where beginner and more advanced painters can take brush and palette to canvas and easel and create their own masterpieces. The no-pressure environment is aided by the well-stocked wine bar and friendly and knowledgeable instructors there to guide painters through the creative process. Painted Vine can host group events and offers a date night, where couples can break out of their normal routines and, perhaps, paint the town red.

Tahoe Donner

11509 Northwoods Boulevard, Truckee, CA
(530) 587-9400

The sprawling Tahoe Donner subdivision and its 6,000-plus homes above Truckee is many things to lots of people. For some it is their home neighborhood; for others it’s where they rent a house for a few days in winter or summer. Locals and visitors all take advantage of the Tahoe Donner Association’s 7,000 acres and equally vast amenities available to homeowners as well as to the public. The association’s clubhouses are members only, but the public can experience Tahoe Donner for free or pay-to-play at top-notch offerings such as the 18-hole golf course, the equestrian center for riding lessons, the cross-country ski center and its 100 km of groomed trails and kid-friendly snow-play area. The downhill ski center is ideal for little kids (and adults) to learn skiing and snowboarding. More than 60 miles of trails and fire roads wind through nearly 3,500 acres of open space and can be explored for free on foot, bike or snowshoes. And after all that exploring, Tahoe Donner has a variety of places to dine. The Lodge Restaurant and Pub has indoor and outdoor dining next to the golf course. Pizza on the Hill also offers other fare plus a full bar and game room for the kids. Also keep an eye open for events open to the public held at various times in the season.

Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Area

Tahoe Donner
15275 Alder Creek Road, Truckee, CA
(530) 587-9484

Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski is not only one of the most extensive and scenic Nordic ski centers in the West, but the brand new Alder Creek Adventure Center is open as of winter 2015-16. Check out the new café/bar, ski rental center and fat-tired bike rentals too. From lung-busting climbs to flat meadows, Tahoe Donner has more than 100 km of trails groomed for skate skiing and traditional cross-country striding as well as snowshoeing. Depending on snowfall and which trails are open, Tahoe Donner XC has dog-friendly trails as well as trails for people who want to ride fatbikes. Within the new adventure center there is the Alder Creek Café, a bar open Thursday through Sunday, and an expanded rental shop. Clinics and classes are offered for beginner and advanced skiers. Passes are required to access the trail system and are available for full or half days. 

Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area

Tahoe Donner
11603 Snowpeak Way, Truckee, CA
(530) 587-9444

One of the many hidden gems of Truckee is Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area. Compared to the many large, corporate ski resorts in the Truckee-North Tahoe area, the Tahoe Donner ski area is small. But then again, that’s like comparing apples to oranges. Ask locals where their kids learned to ski and there’s a very good chance it was on the slopes at Tahoe Donner. The ski area prides itself on being family oriented. It is the only hill area in the region that starts its instruction programs with children as young as 3 years old. The learning isn’t only for the young either. Ski and snowboard lessons are available for adults in individual or group settings. The ski area has recently invested in a number of upgrades including snow-making equipment and a new trail. The 120 acres of skiable terrain accesses 15 runs, three terrain parks by one quad chair, one double chair and three conveyor lifts.

Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center

Tahoe Donner
15275 Alder Creek Road, Truckee, CA
(530) 587-9470

One way for almost every person to explore Tahoe Donner’s nearly 3,500 acres of open space mountain scenery is on horseback via more than 100 km of trails. During the summer season Tahoe Donner’s equestrian center offers a variety of guided rides for members of the homeowners association, their guests and the public. Choose from 1-hour to 2-hour trail rides, with the latter best suited for those with riding experience. For the 2- to 6-year-old set the center has pony rides with mom or dad leading the way. Private lessons are also available on weekends only. All rides and lessons require reservations, and helmets are required for all riders younger than 18 and recommended for those 18 and older. Long pants and closed-toe footwear are a must for horse and pony rides. An on-site shop stocks sun screen, bug spray, water bottles and other horse-related accessories and souvenirs.

Tahoe Donner Golf Course

Tahoe Donner
12850 Northwoods Boulevard, Truckee, CA
(530) 587-9443

Tahoe Donner offers scores of amenities to its homeowner members, and the crown jewel is the championship golf course. What makes the 18-hole course even more special is that it’s also open to the public. Set on 200 acres of high-elevation, pine-shrouded beauty, the 7002-yard, par 72 course is open from spring to fall. But the fun no longer stops when the snow starts to fall, as Tahoe Donner now has a new Winter Golf Academy that offers “virtual” golf via a high-definition, interactive 142-inch screen. The academy offers coaching, swing analysis and an adjacent pub all winter. When the weather is warm Tahoe Donner has available PGA teaching pros for private lessons and a driving range.

Tahoe Donner Snowplay

Tahoe Donner
12790 Northwoods Boulevard, Truckee, CA
(530) 587-9437

If a day on the slopes is too much for the younger members of your brood, then Tahoe Donner’s Snowplay area could be your ticket to winter fun. Depending on Mother Nature, the snowplay area is open and groomed and rents sleds and tubes (no private equipment is allowed). The snowplay area is open and supervised daily during major winter holidays and then on regular winter weekends, but it’s a good idea to call ahead to confirm if the area is open. Cold and hungry? Grab a cup of hot chocolate and a snack from the food truck parked at the snowplay area. Be forewarned, solo tubers must be at least 3 feet tall. Sled riders less than 3 feet tall must be accompanied by a parent. Helmets are encouraged.

The Village at Squaw Valley

1750 Village East Road, Olympic Valley, CA
(800) 403-0206

The Village at Squaw Valley is northern California's example of a ski hamlet, offering a little bit for everyone. The rooms all have views of the mountains and are located a few steps from the various base area ski lifts. Rooms are situated above the plethora of shops and restaurants with balconies looking out over the hustle and bustle below. The variety of restaurants and shops is created to connect with the needs and wants of the variety of guests that visit the area. For example, for the 20-somethings there are three different bars that are busy on weekends and holidays. For couples, there are romantic restaurants and couples activities like sleigh rides to inspire connection. For families, there are a variety of restaurants and shops that keep all ages occupied plus a museum highlighting the area's ski heritage, miniature golf, climbing walls, the Trilogy Spa, Sky Jump (an acrobatic bungee play gym for all ages) and the Wanderlust Yoga Studio. The Village is also the launching place for the aerial tram, which flies another 2,000 vertical feet up, to High Camp located at 8,200 feet. Here you will find hiking, disc golf, the High Camp Pool & Hot Tub as well as dining and bar options. In February, the Village is host to a week-long, kids-focused event, Kid-O-Rama. The non-stop fun that focuses on youngsters offers fire trucks, snowplows and grooming equipment plus dancing to street concerts and children-centric concerts, or they can get artistic at the craft and game room. The entire Village becomes a virtual ghost town during mid-October to early-November. If quiet doesn't bother you, this is an excellent time to get incredible discounts on rooms.

Truckee Bike Park

Truckee-Donner Recreation & Park District
12200 Joerger Drive, Truckee, CA
(530) 582-7720

Go to the Truckee Bike Park and you’ll see teens and adults pulling off high-flying stunts and toddlers pushing their strider bikes. The bike park was designed for all ability types, so it’s a perfect place to spend several hours while the little ones get a feel for riding on easy tracks and the older and bigger ones take advantage of berms and jumps on the park’s pump tracks, flow trails and dual slalom course. A pump track, by the way, is a small, looping trail system that one can ride continuously without pedaling. It’s an ideal way to master bike handling and have fun at the same time. There are also drops of differing heights to ride over to practice before getting out on the trail. Helmets are required; knee/elbow pads are optional but suggested. 

Truckee-Donner Recreation & Park District

8924 Donner Pass Road, Truckee, CA
(530) 582-7720

Take a look around and it’s clear that Truckee is a special town: history, mountains, lakes, river and forests. But there are many hidden gems known mostly to locals. The thing is, those gems are kept shining by the Truckee-Donner Recreation & Park District for the enjoyment of locals and visitors. Some of the amenities and facilities managed by the district are accessible for free, others for a fee. Either way, the district has received awards for its facilities, and after discovering a few it’s easy to understand why. From the nine-hole Ponderosa Golf Course and an ice rink in winter to super-kid-friendly West End Beach and the public piers on Donner Lake, discover what locals keep to themselves. The crown jewel is the 40,000-square-foot Community Recreation Center with, among other things, a two-court gymnasium, indoor running track, exercise equipment and two climbing walls (one is 29 feet tall). Soon there will be a new, state-of-the-art aquatics center attached to the Rec Center. Want to find Truckee’s soul? Head to Regional Park every Wednesday evening in the summer for free concerts in the grassy amphitheater. Also check out the new bike park at Riverview Sports Park and the popular disc golf course and skate park in Regional Park.

West End Beach

Truckee-Donner Recreation & Park District
15962 South Shore Drive, Truckee, CA
(530) 582-7720

Lake Tahoe, 15 minutes away, gets all the attention, but Truckee has a gem of its own: Donner Lake. While not as big and broad as Big Blue, Donner Lake offers up a good bit of watery fun too. One of the best places to access Donner is West End Beach. In summer months during the day, there is a modest admission fee to enter the 10-acre west end area, but the sandy beach and roped-off, kid-friendly swim area is the place to take youngsters to build sand castles and splash in the water all under the watch of life guards. Operated by the Truckee Donner Park and Recreation Department, West End Beach also has paddleboards, kayaks and pedal boats available to rent. There is plenty of free fun once into the beach area: two playgrounds for kids to get their kicks on, a sand volleyball court, tennis court, a basketball court and horseshoe pits. A snack bar serves up soft drinks, hot dogs and ice cream. Get there early and stake out a picnic table and grill. There are shady group picnic areas available by reservation. Local's only tip: If you can wait until after the summer operating hours, access to the beach is free, but gates close at sundown so do your grilling quickly.