Must-do’s in South Lake Tahoe before summer finally ends

With summer just about over and many people gearing up for the “Pumpkin Spice” season alike, don’t turn your back on the warm weather quite yet.

There’s still plenty of sun and summer adventure to be had in South Lake Tahoe.

South Lake Tahoe

It might almost be fall, but South Lake Tahoe is still hanging onto Summer. Photo: David Sandel

Heavenly Adventure Zone

Of course the main draw to South Tahoe during the winter is Heavenly Ski Resort, but did you know you could spend an entire day (or more) there in the summer and never get bored?

The Epic Discovery Zone features several ropes courses, a climbing wall, an alpine roller coaster, a tube slide, zip lines and even a scenic gondola ride.

When you get tired from a day of activity, Tamarack Village is open for all your dining (and drinking) needs.

Mountain Biking

South Lake Tahoe Mountain Biking

Seemingly endless mountain biking trails right from the Inn by the Lake hotel. Photo: David Sandel

I don’t know if you know this, but you should know this: South Lake Tahoe has a ton of trails (upwards of 100 miles to be exact).

And the terrain? Everything from big meadowy logging trails with fun rollers to technical singletrack that make everyone but the truly elite walk their bikes. 

But the best part of mountain biking in South Tahoe? You can ride to most of them from the center of town and all the action.

Paddleboarding and Kayaking

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Lake Tahoe is nearly 200 square miles of pristine fresh water. The middle of the lake can get pretty choppy, especially on a windy day, but with 72 miles of shoreline to explore, why bother venturing out that way in a kayak or standup paddleboard?

The coolest features, secret spots and cliffs to jump off are along the shore too.

A View from the Sky

Parasailing, hang gliding (powered and unpowered), or sky diving … choose your own adventure.

However, the easiest and most accessible of these three is parasailing. If you’re hanging out at any of the popular beaches around the lake, there’s probably a kiosk for you to sign a waiver, get a driver and then head out on the lake and into the sky.

Wakeboarding and Other Water Sports

Ski Run Boat Co., Action Watersports and several others will rent you a boat for however long you want while visiting. If you want to get out and ski, wakeboard, tube, or do any other water sport requiring a boat, they’ve got you covered.

They also have an arsenal of personal watercraft for your riding pleasure.

Pontooning

I would have included this in the section above, but where I come from, pontooning is a slightly different event than getting rad behind a boat.

Pontooning is a pretty laid-back excursion meant for coolers of food, snacks and drinks. Lay out, laugh, stop to jump in the crystal clear water, and take your time getting places. Pontooning is all about leisure.

Hiking

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Whether you’re on a budget or not, you’d kick yourself if you didn’t see the lake from atop of the cliffs and mountains that surround it. You can either take the gondola to the top of Heavenly or start at any one of the many, many trailheads.

Water Taxi and Bike Back

Head on over to Camp Richardson Marina with a bike and reserve a spot on the Water Taxi to Round Hill Pines Beach. Once there, you can lay out on the beach, have some beers, or rent any number of different types of watercraft.

When you’re done, ride back along the bike paths and bike-friendly roads to checkout all the local bars, restaurants and shops.

Live Music and Events

Now that Labor Day has passed, you’d think the town dies until the snow flies … this is just not true.

On Oct. 1-2, there’s an Oktoberfest in Camp Richardson and a Fall Fish Fest at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center. On Oct. 21-23, WordWave, a three-day festival held on the grounds of Valhalla at the Tallac Historic Site will feature oral storytelling, theater performances, free readings, a novel writing camp for kids, as well as panels on crafts and yoga.

Where to Stay

968 Park Hotel

It might be early fall, but the temps at 968 Park Hotel are still pool friendly. Photo: David Sandel

South Lake Tahoe has a place to stay for any budget.

On the high end, there’s 968 Park Hotel with fine dining and spas on the hotel grounds.

For a family-friendly, budget-friendly place to stay, Inn by the Lake has clean rooms, secure bike and ski storage, is located across the street from a beach and offers free bike rentals to cruise around town.

There are numerous campgrounds and RV parks around the lake, but make sure to reserve them well in advance. And if you’re really on a budget, there’s national forest just outside of town.

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