23 Bucket List Must Do’s In 2023 at Lake Tahoe
By: Sam Pinsky
With 2022 in the rearview mirror and a new year in front of us, now is the PERFECT time to talk about essential Lake Tahoe experiences that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Read on for 23 things you must do in Lake Tahoe in 2023, in no particular order.
If you want to better understand all the views, trails, and beauty that South Lake Tahoe offers, you’ll need to plan a trip to Emerald Bay. You might be out of breath by the end of some of the great hikes in this area, but the views you get rewarded with will leave you speechless anyway! Consider visiting Emerald Bay on a weekday, as it can quickly become full of visitors.
Take to the skies and experience Big Blue from above Tahoe’s cool, clear waves with an unforgettable parasailing ride. Floating up to more than 500 feet, you can almost forget you are being pulled and zipped around by a powerful boat. Enjoy the leisurely sway as you look down at treetops, buildings, and the stunning landscape.
While most destinations talk a big game that they’re the most beautiful place to cross country ski, Lake Tahoe backs it up. As winter arrives, Camp Richardson provides visitors an opportunity to schuss their way right on the shores of Lake Tahoe. And if that isn’t enough, you also have the most prominent peak in the basin reaching thousands of feet high looking down upon you. How many places provide those kinds of views in winter? Only Tahoe. To learn more about Camp Richardson and other options, visit our cross-country skiing page.
Every fall, the mature Kokanee salmon make their journey up one of the many tributaries that flow into the crystal-clear waters of Lake Tahoe. One of the BIGGEST spawning destinations on the 72-mile shoreline is Taylor Creek. To celebrate this annual tradition, the Taylor Creek Visitor Center hosts the Fall Fish Fest.
THE quintessential way to get off the land and experience Big Blue. Beginning at Zephyr Cove, the M.S. Dixie II paddles its way past all the big attractions like Emerald Bay, Fannette Island, and Vikingsholm Castle. The Dixie is one of many boat tours offered on the south shore; click here to explore all of our boating options!
After suffering serious damage from the Caldor Fire in 2021, Sierra-at-Tahoe has finally reopened to the public! Boasting 2,000 acres and 2,212 vertical feet of skiable terrain, Sierra offers the freedom to explore and play on the mountain however you choose. Whether that means sending big mountain terrain via the Huckleberry Canyon Gates, carving down sunbathed groomers in West Bowl, learning a new trick in the Sierra Playgrounds, or the exhilaration of making your first turns on Sierra’s Sculpted Learning Terrain, there is a place for you at Sierra that’s just waiting to be found.
Pictures cannot visualize it. Words cannot describe it. Try it if you dare. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is the measuring stick for all expert mountain bikers. Seems like too much of a challenge, or want to try mountain biking for the 1st time? Check out our mountain biking guide covering a host of different trails to consider.
As of 2018, Emerald Bay State Park is home to an underwater maritime heritage cultural trail that history buffs can explore by diving through recreational watercraft and barges used in the park’s past. The collection is the nation’s largest and most diverse group of sunken small craft known to exist in their original location. In some cases, the vessels are over 100 years old.
Just a few miles north of Emerald Bay in the D.L. Bliss State Park, you’ll find the highest elevation lighthouse in the United States. Rubicon Point provides a great vantage point to take in views of Emerald Bay, Fannette Island, and even Nevada’s distant shore. It also gives you an up-close and personal view of the deepest point in all of Lake Tahoe.
First opened in June 2016, the gravity-powered mountain coaster located at the top of Heavenly offers an adrenaline-packed ride alongside amazing views of the lake. Sweeping around natural rock formations and descending 300 vertical feet while racing down a 3,400’ track, you’ll come back with memories AND a grin. Also available in the winter!
Whichever season you visit, the gondola in Heavenly Village is your ticket to a gorgeous ride to the top of Heavenly Mountain. Behind you, you’ll see the south shore and Lake Tahoe in all its beauty before you disembark at the top of the mountain. Whether you’re on your way to a snowy adventure or a summertime expedition, the gondola is a swinging staple of South Lake Tahoe and is the perfect way to travel to your next adventure.
Regardless of the time of year, Hope Valley is a land of contrasts. Just as the name dictates, natural beauty brings hope into your soul. With next to nothing when it comes to human development, the autumn countryside is alive with color from groups of Aspen, Black Cottonwood, and Willows that are a must-see. For more about Hope Valley and other places that are must-do in Lake Tahoe, check out our blog post “It’s beginning to look a lot like autumn.”
On the flip side of the seasonal coin are spring and early summer when wildflowers are in full bloom. As the winter’s snow fades away, you’re gifted with Mother Nature’s fireworks that your eyes will gladly enjoy. No matter how much time you have, there’s an option that everyone will enjoy. For a few of our favorites, check out our Lake Tahoe Wildflower Hikes page.
If there’s a one-of-a-kind winter adventure that’s unlike any other it’s a snowmobile tour high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. On the roughly two-hour journey, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of Hope Valley and the surrounding peaks while twisting your way down scenic trails. For more about this adventure and others, visit our snowmobiling in South Lake Tahoe page.
It may sound difficult, but if you can stand on one foot, you can paddle. And if you can breathe, you can do yoga. Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga or SUP Yoga is your chance to push your limits in a safe environment and make you feel reinvigorated once you’re done. Join Jenay Aiksnoras of Lake Tahoe Yoga all summer long at Lakeview Commons. Be sure to reserve a spot ahead of time because SUP Yoga classes fill up fast.
When it comes to golf courses, Lake Tahoe’s Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course is one of those rare places that combines picture-postcard scenery along with a challenge. In fact, it’s the ONLY Lake Tahoe golf course that exists on the shores of the lake. It features three holes that run along the shoreline and for the remaining holes the lake is still in sight. For more than three decades, this course hosted the American Century Golf Championship. The only downside is a round of golf can range from $225 to $300 depending on the time of day and season. But as they say, you only live once right? To learn more about Edgewood Tahoe and all the other golfing options available to you, visit our golfing page.
Heavenly mountain resort is a hulking brute of a mountain. At 4,800 skiable acres, the highest elevation in Lake Tahoe, the BIGGEST vertical drop, and the ability to ski in TWO states, you know you’ll be in for an adventure. Being so massive means it can be a bit challenging to navigate especially on a snowboard so check out our article “How To Traverse Heavenly Mountain Like A Pro.”
Summer isn’t really summer until you’ve gone to the beach in Lake Tahoe. While the jaw-dropping views of Sand Harbor filled with aqua-colored water, reminiscent of the Caribbean surrounded by smooth granite boulders is amazing, parking lots fill EARLY by 8 am on most weekends. Luckily, there are a host of other beaches to consider as well. And if you have a bike, that’s an even better way to get to them.
When it comes to scenery, the Eagle Falls trail offers up some of the most beautiful landscape the Lake Tahoe Basin has to offer. Cascading waterfalls, large granite peaks, lush vegetation, and most of all, lots and lots of evergreens. There really isn’t a more perfect hike to start with than the short jaunt to Eagle Falls.
The extinct volcano jutting out of the shoreline known only as Cave Rock isn’t just the most prominent feature on the east side. It provides one of the best views of Lake Tahoe any time of day, but sunsets are where it shines. As the sun dips below the horizon, the colorful tapestry in the sky will help you understand why Mark Twain wrote, “Lake Tahoe would restore an Egyptian mummy to his pristine vigor.”
While there is a plethora of family fun options, one of the oldest family traditions in the Lake Tahoe region is held by the Tahoe Trout Farm. One of the best things to do in Lake Tahoe for kids, they’ve been helping teach kids of all ages how to catch fish and about Tahoe’s ecosystem for over 70 years, and it’s the perfect place to get them hooked for life. For more about this adventure and many others, check out our ideas for family adventures.
For those that have seen it all and are wondering what to do in South Lake Tahoe now, we’ve got one for you that you most likely have never done – a birds-eye view of Lake Tahoe from a hot air balloon. Considered by many as one of the most unique air balloon rides in the world. It’s the ONLY balloon operation that begins AND ends on the deck of a boat making it even safer (removes hazards like power lines out of the equation). Departing at sunrise, you climb to over 10,000 feet providing unparalleled views of attractions like Desolation Wilderness.
This Lake Tahoe bucket list wouldn’t be complete without listing the be-all and end-all of hiking in Lake Tahoe. Summiting Mt. Tallac. It’s something that every physically fit person can do within a day and say, “I climbed that peak!” Being the tallest mountain on the lakes’ immediate shoreline (9,738’), the 10-mile round-trip hike gives hikers views of not just the basin but also the Crystal Range and Pyramid Peak within Desolation Wilderness.
If this Lake Tahoe bucket list isn’t enough to inspire you, be sure to also read our article “8 Things That Are The Quintessential Tahoe Experience.”