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No matter the season, Lake Tahoe is a haven for outdoor adventure. The ski resorts are world-class, the water sports are epic, and the hiking and mountain-biking options are some of the best in the country. Discover the unique towns that surround the lake’s crystal-blue water and explore as much as you can outside.
Get out on the water
Earn your water-sports diploma as you skim across Lake Tahoe’s glassy surface on a kayak, a wakeboard, or water skis. For 30-plus years, the High Sierra Waterski School has been teaching people to safely drive powerboats and Jet Skis and navigate with human-powered kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. Two locations, at Sunnyside and Homewood marinas, offer classes and rentals. Kayak rentals and tours are also available at Tahoe Adventure Company, Kayak Tahoe, and more.
Eat at Fifty Fifty Brewing Company
Fifty Fifty Brewing Company serves up inventive craft brews—pale ales, IPAs, porters, and an imperial stout aged in oak bourbon barrels—plus a hearty array of pub-style burgers, sandwiches, salads, and pizzas. Make your après-ski meet-up a progressive party by hitting a few more Truckee hot spots: Truckee Public House, Old Town Tap, and Moody’s Bistro.
Stay at The Village at Palisades Tahoe
You can stay in the center of The Village at Palisades Tahoe (formerly The Village at Squaw Valley) dining and shopping, in a comfy room with easy access to the slopes. Room sizes can accommodate big families and groups if needed, with suites and full kitchens available. In nearby Tahoe City, families love Granlibakken: It started as a sledding hill and ski jump in the 1920s, adding a lodge in the 1940s; today the 74-acre resort has a spa, a wide range of rooms and condo-style lodgings, and its historic warming hut. A little farther north in Truckee, The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe offers sweeping mountain views, ski-in/ski-out access to Northstar California’s slopes, and a sumptuous 17,000-square-foot spa. Diners can watch the culinary magic happen in the open kitchen of Manzanita or sip a cocktail from the frozen ice rail in its earthy, dark-wood bar. In summer, take advantage of Northstar’s mountain-bike park and nearby championship golf courses.
Bike the Truckee River Bike Trail
When the snow melts, Palisades Tahoe's (formerly Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows) to-do list heats up. An aerial tram soars 2,000 feet above the valley to an altitude of 8,200, to High Camp, where a lagoon-style pool lures swimmers and sunbathers with a summer-party atmosphere. Lace up roller skates and cruise around the outdoor rink, or hike on trails leading from the upper tram station to surrounding peaks. Down below in the valley, rent mountain bikes at Factory Bike and ride the Truckee River Bike Trail or miles of dirt trails in the surrounding forest.
Hike near Emerald Bay
From the drive-up overlook at Inspiration Point, it’s easy to shoot dramatic photographs of Emerald Bay punctuated by rugged Fannette Island. But get a fresh perspective on this glorious stretch of blue by hiking the Rubicon Trail from Emerald Bay State Park, watching for bald eagles along the way. Or walk the wide Vikingsholm Trail downhill to the lakeshore and dip your toes into the cobalt water. At the bay’s edge, tour Vikingsholm Castle, one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the United States; or rent a stand-up paddleboard and work your core as you explore the bay.