There are a lot of reasons Lake Tahoe, on the border of California and Nevada, is an amazing family vacation destination. First, it offers many year-round outdoor activities for kids. Second, it has tons of other kids attractions in Lake Tahoe for family fun. Third, the scenery surrounding the largest alpine lake in North America is stunning. Fourth, the kids might get to spot Tahoe Tessie. The serpent-like creature reportedly lives in the deepest depths of Lake Tahoe.
Need more convincing you should put the area on your family vacation short list? Here are the best things to do in Lake Tahoe with kids.
Kids Attractions in Lake Tahoe
Many of the best kids attractions in Lake Tahoe sneak learning in with fun. So, say goodbye to family vacation brain drain.
Tahoe Science Center has neat interactive exhibits to teach kids about the lake’s ecosystem, how to keep it blue and new environmental research from UC Davis. Note: best for ages 8-up. Open Tuesday – Friday, 1 to 5 p.m; open Saturdays Memorial Day – Labor Day, 1 to 5 p.m. Admission: free, donations welcome. Read reviews of Tahoe Science Center.
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Epic Discovery at Heavenly Mountain Resort is one of the most thrilling things to do in Lake Tahoe with kids. There are ropes courses, zip lines, a mountain coaster and more. The kids will love the Animal Ability stations, where they can learn about six animals native to Lake Tahoe. In addition, the views from the scenic gondola are gorgeous. Open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: $74-$99 for full-day pass depending on height. $159 for multi-hour zip line tour. Sample packages also available. Note: You will need to buy a scenic gondola ticket to access on-mountain activities. They range from $39-$52. Read reviews of EPIC Discovery.
KidZone Museum is another place to sneak in learning and fun, especially for kids 7 and under. Hands-on exhibits let them climb, explore and create. There’s a special section for infants to crawl, roll and play, too. Open Tuesday – Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission: $8, infants free. Read reviews of KidZone Museum.
See how wealthy vacationers lived in the early 1900s at Tallac Historic Site. Wander the beautiful lakeside grounds, learn local history, peek into gilded-age homes and picnic on the shore. Guided, self-guided and private tours are available. Open daily through Sept. 30, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission: free. Read reviews of Tallac Historic Site.
Tahoe Tot Spot is a great kids attraction in Lake Tahoe for newborns to 8-year-olds. It offers open play, a ball pit, trampoline, costumes and an art room. The Baby Spot offers a quiet place for feeding and tummy mats, books and age-appropriate toys.
Open Thursday – Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Wednesdays. Admission: $15; $10 kids under 9-months or free with older siblings. Read reviews of Tahoe Tot Spot.
Outdoor Activities in Lake Tahoe for Kids
Thanks to its location in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Lake Tahoe is a great family vacation destination all year round. Summers are warm and dry, perfect for hiking, swimming and tons of other outdoor activities in Lake Tahoe for kids.
However, winters are chilly with regular snowfall, so you’ll be drawn to Lake Tahoe’s many slopes. There are a lot of contenders for best ski resorts in Lake Tahoe for kids. For instance, Squaw Valley is a historic family-friendly ski resort where the 1960 Winter Olympics took place.
But, Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Resort is one of the best ski resorts in Lake Tahoe for kids. Especially for novice skiers and little ones as instructors at this smaller resort are adept at teaching kids as young as 3 to ski. In summer, the resort offers water activities, horseback riding, golf and more. Hours vary depending on activity. Read reviews of Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Resort.
Many of the best beaches in Lake Tahoe are family-friendly. But Round Hill Pines is super kid-friendly. There’s a playground, lots of grass and tasty food and drinks (be sure to try the Pain Killer). You can also rent kayaks, jet skis, boats and stand-up paddleboards. Or, take a kid-friendly cruise on Tahoe Serenity, a 63-foot luxury yacht. Open May – September, 8 a.m. to sunset. Parking is $12 per day. Watercraft rentals vary. Tahoe Serenity cruises: $69 adults, $35 ages 12-under. Read reviews of Round Hill Pines.
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Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park is a great attraction in Lake Tahoe for families. You’ll navigate the courses via climbing, zip lining, rope swings, shaky bridges and more. Minimum age to participate is 5. Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: ranges from $40-$63 depending on which of the three locations you choose. Read reviews of Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park.
Obviously, hiking and swimming are big attractions in Lake Tahoe for families. Taylor Creek has four self-guided trails that are easy on littler legs. Be sure to check out the Stream Profile Chamber on Rainbow Trail. The kids will love watching ducks, fish and other underwater wildlife through the aquarium-like windows. Though the buildings close in winter, the grounds are open for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Center open daily Memorial Day – October, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Read reviews of Taylor Creek Visitor Center.
3 Other Things to Do in Lake Tahoe with Kids
We’ve just scratched the surface of all the things to do in Lake Tahoe with kids. Here are a few other attractions we think you may like.
This Scandinavian-style landmarked castle on Emerald Bay was another wealthy vacation home. You’ll love seeing the estate—and the only waterfall that flows directly into Lake Tahoe. Two things: parking can be a nightmare, and it’s a steep uphill hike to leave. But, it’s worth seeing—and not just because you’ll have very tired kids. Open daily May – September, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission: $15 adults; $12 ages 7-17; free ages 7-under. Parking is $10 per day. Read reviews for Vikingsholm Castle.
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Before or after Vikingsholm, explore the rest of beautiful Emerald Bay State Park. You can camp, picnic, fish and more. In addition, there’s a beach for swimming and awesome things to see underwater if you have scuba divers in the family. There are restrooms with showers and drinking water available, too. Open sunrise to sunset. Parking is $10 per day. Read reviews of Emerald Bay State Park.
You can always ice skate no matter when you visit Lake Tahoe with kids. South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena offers daily public skate sessions on an NHL-sized rink. Public skate hours vary, so check website. Admission: $15 adults with skate rental or $13 without; $6 ages 4-6 with or without skate rental; free ages 3-under with paid adult. Read reviews of South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena.
Best Restaurants in Lake Tahoe for Kids
Like we said, Lake Tahoe is a great place for a family vacation. As a result, there are a bunch of good restaurants in Lake Tahoe for kids.
Pizza isn’t all your family will enjoy at Base Camp Pizza Co. There’s plenty of pastas, salads and apps, too. It has a good menu for kids 8-under as well, and live music daily. Open Sunday – Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Read reviews of Base Camp Pizza Co.
Head to Sprouts for healthy quick bites in South Lake Tahoe. There are great options for all dietary preferences and a really good kids menu. Open daily, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Read reviews of Sprouts.
Breakfast or lunch at Driftwood Café will fuel you through a day exploring Lake Tahoe with kids. The portions and options are sizable, and so are the omelets. We recommend the High Sierra, with bacon, turkey, avocado, tomato, spinach and Swiss.
Open daily, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Read reviews of Driftwood Café.
Kids craving tacos, but you want barbecue? Chimayo fuses both deliciously. The street corn is a must-have. And leave room for the cinnamon apple churros with Mexican chocolate. Open Sunday – Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Read reviews of Chimayo.
Blue Angel is great for après ski or after any kids activities in Lake Tahoe. The innovative menu has something for all dietary preferences. And, the kids menu includes a Kobe burger, chicken strips, hot dog on a stick or quesadilla. Plus, you’ll love the ample drink menu. Open daily, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Read reviews of Blue Angel.
Best Hotels in Lake Tahoe for Kids
It can be hard choosing among the best hotels in Lake Tahoe for kids. So here are three hotels with great amenities for kids in Lake Tahoe. The ones for mom aren’t bad either.
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Thanks to Camp Hyatt, this is one of the best hotels in Lake Tahoe for kids. Activities for ages 5-12 can include nature walks, art projects, beach trips, stargazing, movies, campfires (with s’mores!) and more. In addition, the hotel is gorgeous, has family-friendly restaurants—and bars and a spa where you can make the most of your kid-free time while they’re at Camp Hyatt.
Camp Hyatt sessions must be booked 24-hours in advance. Available daily, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 5 to 9 p.m. Cost: $80 for full session; $50 for 8 a.m. to noon or 1 to 5 p.m. Discounts available for families with three or more kids. Note: kids must be potty-trained. Read reviews of Hyatt Regency.
The Resort at Squaw Creek offers great family accommodations in Lake Tahoe. Choose from deluxe rooms or multi-bedroom fireplace suites or bi-level penthouses. There are tons of amenities, and we bet there’s not many family resorts in Lake Tahoe with a FootGolf Course. Its Mountain Buddies program for kids is awesome. They’ll exert all their energy swimming, hiking, biking and playing sports in summer. In winter, they can go sledding, ice skate, cross-country ski and have snowball fights. Kids must be 4-12 and potty-trained to participate. Contact the concierge for Mountain Buddies info. Read reviews of Resort at Squaw Creek.
You’ll love the spacious rooms and suites at Forest Suites Resort. Suites have fully equipped kitchens and a living and dining area. Breakfast is included, and the resort has a game room kids of all ages will love. Plus, you’re steps from the gondola to Heavenly Mountain Resort, where you can enjoy year-round family fun. Read reviews of Forest Suites Resort at Heavenly Village.
If you’re flying with kids to Lake Tahoe, make sure you check out our guide before you leave.