Your next great summer vacation

The West's amazing beaches, drives, city getaways, and wild places

Tahoe summer getaway

Our favorite things to do and see, and memories (you can still make) of summer at the lake

Sand Harbor

With warmish water and picturesque boulders, Sand Harbor is the place to swim in Lake Tahoe.

David Fenton

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Tahoe map

The scene
Families dot the beaches, and boaters dominate the lake; traffic slows on State 89, and the Truckee River overflows with inner-tubers. Still, from North Lake to Emerald Bay, and South Lake to Incline Village, you'll find plenty of peace, quiet, and to-die-for beauty.
Cruise the lake
Skip the stern-wheeler paddleboats packed with tourists for a wine-and-cheese sunset sail on the Tahoe Cruz. Departs daily from Tahoe City Marina in Tahoe City, CA; $60; reservations required; or 530/583-6200.
Walk on water
Stand-up paddleboarding is the latest craze. Give it a shot, or go for a sit-on-top kayak from Tahoe Paddle & Oar (paddleboard or kayak rental from $20 per hour; 
8299 N. Lake Blvd./State 28, Kings Beach, CA; 530/581-3029).
Jump in
Lake Tahoe–Nevada State Park's Sand Harbor area is popular for its gentle turquoise coves and fine white sand. Get there before 10 a.m. to avoid the crowds. $8 per vehicle; on State 28, 3 miles south of Incline Village, NV; 775/831-0494.
For a quiet swim, hike 0.5 mile to Secret Cove and Chimney Beach, where those who hate tan lines like to hang out. Trailhead is off State 28, 2½ miles south of Sand Harbor; or 530/543-2600.

Wine and dine

Christy Hill ($$$$; closed Mon; 115 Grove St., Tahoe City, CA; 530/583-8551) serves a killer chile relleno with an equally killer lake view. The deck at Sunnyside Resort ($$$; 1850 W. Lake Blvd./State 89, 2 miles south of Tahoe City, CA; 530/583-7200) has a party scene and the best Hula Pie this side of Hawaii. Or make your own lake dinner menu.

Hang with the locals

Built in 1859, Chambers Landing Bar and Restaurant is set at the end of a pier. Arrive by boat or car, but if you're the designated driver, steer clear of the Chambers Punch. $; 6400 W. Lake Blvd./State 89, Homewood, CA; 530/525-9190.

Stay in a cabin

Carved wooden bears are everywhere at the woodsy Cottage Inn. From $158, including breakfast; just south of Tahoe City, CA; 800/581-4073.

Splurge on a room

Book a suite at the West Shore Cafe & Inn, then wait for a bald eagle to fly past your window. Rooms from $350, restaurant $$$$; Homewood, CA; 530/525-5200.

Pitch a tent

Easy swimming access and hot showers make for blissful family camping at D.L. Bliss State Park (from $25; or 800/444-7275). For views, the best sites are 148, 149, 151, 153, and 156. If Bliss is full, try Nevada Beach Campground, on the east side (from $28; or 877/

–Ann Marie Brown 

Next: Summers at the lake


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