Looking for things to do in North Lake Tahoe, year round? You’re in the right place. I have family that lives in North Lake Tahoe, who we stayed while we were visiting the area, so we have all the insider local tips on things to do on the Nevada side of the lake.
North Lake Tahoe consists of a few small towns or communities – Truckee, Tahoe City, Incline Village, Crystal Bay and Kings Beach. Most are of these towns are apart of Nevada, except for Truckee which is in California.
North Lake Tahoe as a whole is much smaller than South Lake Tahoe (which is the more touristy area), but it is still a bustling little area with things to do – both indoor and outdoor, restaurants and places to stay.
South Lake Tahoe is only about a 25 minute drive, so you’re not far from the other side of the lake if you choose to venture there as well.
So, let’s jump in – things to do in North Lake Tahoe!
Things to Do in North Lake Tahoe
Here are some of the best things to do in North Lake Tahoe
1. Learn about North Lake Tahoe’s history at the Gatekeeper’s Museum
The Gatekeeper’s Museum is located in Tahoe City, which is on the west side of North Lake Tahoe and is run by the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society. The museum is a log cabin right on the lake, so you can enjoy a nature trail, short walk through a trail in the woods, and views of the lake while you’re there.
At the museum, you can learn about some of the families that lived in North Lake Tahoe, the 1966 winter Olympics, and a bit of the Native American culture of the area. The museum is small, but I would give yourself at least an hour to enjoy the museum, and the outdoor grounds outside of it.
Good to Know: The Gatekeeper’s Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10-4, and its $10 to get in (kids 12 and under are free.)
2. Take a leisurely walk and enjoy the views at the Lake Tahoe Dam
The Lake Tahoe Dam is right beside the Gatekeeper’s Museum, so I would plan to do them both together. There are some pretty views of the lake ahead from the dam and the bridge across from it. There’s also a some billboards where you can learn about the history of the dam, when and how it was built and its significance for Lake Tahoe.
3. Go bowling at Bowl Incline
One thing I love about Lake Tahoe is the old fashioned bowling alleys. Bowl Incline in North Lake Tahoe is the place to go for some retro, family-friendly bowling as well as axe-throwing and arcade games. Great thing to do if you’re in Lake Tahoe with kids, or a fun outing as a couple or with friends.
Bowl Incline is open every day except for Mondays, until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. They have food, drinks including cocktails,
4. Visit the beaches
A big draw to Lake Tahoe in general is the beaches, in order to admire the stunning coastline of crystal clear water, granite rocks and alpine mountains in the background. Regardless of where you are in Lake Tahoe, the beaches offer a gorgeous view. There are a few beach options in North Lake Tahoe, they are:
- Sand Harbour Beach – Very popular with families, and parking spots often fill up by 9am. Get here early. There are picnic areas and water sport equipment rental on-site
- Kings Beach – large and lively beach where events are often held in the summer. Very close to hotels and restaurants, and has amenities such as water sports equipment rentals.
- North Tahoe Beach – 540 feet of public shoreline, family friendly with volleyball nets. 39 parking spaces which get snatched up quickly, so arrive early.
- Moon Dunes Beach – sandy shoreline, mostly natural with very few amenities (portable restrooms provided in the summer months.) Entrance is free, with street parking only available
- Burnt Cedar Beach – this is a resident’s only beach, but some tourists are able to enter through staying at an Airbnb. Keep in mind, it can still get fairly busy even though its resident’s only. Regardless, its a great little beach. There’s a swimming pool, washrooms, water sport equipment rentals and kid’s playground on-site.
Good to Know:
- ALL beaches in Lake Tahoe (including the North Lake Tahoe beaches) get extremely busy in the summer months, and parking lots fill up early. Try to get parking spots and be there in the morning.
- Dogs aren’t allowed on any of the North Lake Tahoe beaches, except for a very specific area (end of Racoon street) on North Tahoe beach. So if you want to bring a dog, that is the beach to go to.
6. See a movie at Incline Village Cinema
Incline Village Cinema is an old-fashioned movie theatre (a one-man show) in Incline Village, which is a community in North Lake Tahoe. They typically have one movie playing at a time for a few set times per day, on certain days. Check their website to find out whats currently airing.
5. Take breathtaking photos from a lookout
There are some incredible lookout areas in North Lake Tahoe. In South Lake Tahoe, you have Emerald Bay, which is gorgeous, but there are some very scenic lookouts in North Lake Tahoe that are worth checking out as well.
Some of the best scenic lookouts in North Lake Tahoe area:
- Memorial Point Scenic Overlook, on the northeast side of the lake. There’s a parking lot, visitors center and a short dirt path to the lookout
- Stateline Fire Lookout, You’ll park on the road and from there its an easy, paved walking path of 1.8 miles (2.8 km) to a beautiful lookout of the lake
- Tahoe East Shore Trail / Impossible Trail (details below – its a tip in itself)
Good to Know: There are also a few spots to turn off on the highway heading towards Reno from North Lake Tahoe, for gorgeous panoramic views of the lake below (that is where I took the photos above, which don’t do it justice.)
7. Go for a walk along the Impossible Trail
The Impossible Trail’s official name is the “East Shore Trail” and as the name suggests, it runs along the east shoreline of the lake, starting in Incline Village. In North Lake Tahoe, you’re only about 5 minute drive away from parking areas.
There are a few designated parking areas long the trail, which spans a total of 3 miles (4.8 km.) You can do as much or little of the trail as you want at a time. Its a relaxing and easy paced walk, and especially beautiful at sunset.
Fun Fact: The East Shoreline Trail is called “The Impossible Trail” by locals, because of how long it took to build the trail!
8. Head to the Alibi brewery for beer, food and events
Alibi is popular with tourists and locals alike. They’re a brewery which makes their own beer and homemade kombucha. They have their signature pretzel which is matches their moustache-shaped logo. Alibi holds trivia nights and other events on a weekly basis. Check their schedule of events here.
9. Visit Palisades Tahoe
The Olympics were held in Palisades. In the seasons with snow (December through as late as June or July) you can ski here. In the months where the ski resort is closed, Palisades is still a nice ski resort village to walk through. You’ll find restaurants, souvenir shops, cafés, and Olympic relics.
10. Visit Truckee
Truckee, California is about 15 minutes from the main North Lake Tahoe area, and is considered to be apart of the North Lake Tahoe. Truckee also has a lot of historical significance; being the location for the construction of the first transcontinental railway in America, and the location of the fall of the Donner party. It also has a quant and walkable main street with old fashioned 60s style diners, souvenir shops.
For ideas of unique things to do in Truckee, read my post about things to do in Truckee.
Good to Know: There’s an amazing educational kid’s museum in Truckee, which is especially perfect if you’re in Lake Tahoe with toddlers or young kids
11. Go on a day trip
In North Lake Tahoe, you’re actually closer to a lot of the towns/cities worth checking out nearby than in South Lake Tahoe. Here are some of the towns nearby that I’d recommend, and their approximate driving distance from the general North Lake Tahoe area (these driving distances are approximate because it depends where in North Lake Tahoe you are.)
- 45 minutes to Carson City, Nevada (the state capital) – known for scenic hiking, boating and gambling
- 1 hour to Virginia City, known as the ‘haunted town’ and ‘city of silver.’ There are a number of things to do including a mine tour, haunted tour, museums, and riding an old fashioned steam train. Read my post on things to do in Virginia City with kids – a lot of it can be applicable to adults too!
- 1 hr, 20 minutes Nevada City, known for its preserved ‘gold rush era’ downtown
Where to Stay in North Lake Tahoe
There are some great places to stay in North Lake Tahoe, which are well suited to the attractions there are to do in the area. You can have a fulfilling time in North Lake Tahoe staying at one of these highly rated places
- Budget: Nordic Retreat -Well priced apartments with outdoor pool right near Kings Beach
- Mid-Range: Gravity Haus Truckee-Tahoe Coszy and rustic hotel located in Truckee
- Luxury: SpringHill Suites by Marriott Truckee Free breakfast, and outdoor pool in Truckee
North Lake Tahoe: FAQs
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about visiting North Lake Tahoe, and comparisons with South Lake Tahoe
What is North Lake Tahoe known for?
Lake Tahoe is known for being as beautiful and scenic as many areas in South Lake Tahoe, but its smaller and less touristy than the south. Most parts of North Lake Tahoe are located in California,
Is North or South Lake Tahoe better?
Neither of them is better or worse, it just depends on your personal preference and priorities. There are a lot of things to do in South Lake Tahoe, but the same can be said about North Lake Tahoe. They both have beaches, and hiking trails. South Lake Tahoe has Heavenly Village, and is close to Emerald Bay and boat cruises that can take you out onto the lake. North Lake Tahoe is a lot closer to tourist towns like Truckee and Virginia City.
What is the difference between North and South Tahoe?
South Lake Tahoe is in California, whereas North Lake Tahoe is in Nevada. South Lake Tahoe has a population of about 20,000 – its much more touristy, with more attractions and things to do. North Lake Tahoe’s population is has some attractions too, but its smaller, and quieter than South Lake Tahoe.
Things to Do in North Lake Tahoe: Conclusion
Whether you’re travelling to Lake Tahoe as family with kids, or as a group of adults- there’s enough to do in North Lake Tahoe to make your trip memorable. There are some gorgeous scenic spots, beaches, ski resorts (open year round for various activities) as well as restaurants and places to stay.
North Lake Tahoe is just as worthwhile of a place to visit or stay as South Lake Tahoe. It provides a lot of great things to do in and around the Lake Tahoe, which is the 2nd deepest lake in the United States (second to Crater Lake, which is about a 6 hour drive from North Lake Tahoe.)