5 Things: A Local’s Guide to Lake Tahoe (Summer Edition)


In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). Today, Domonique Matthews of the The Simple Proof shares her favorite spots for a summer visit to beautiful Lake Tahoe.

5 Things: Lake Tahoe
Domonique Matthews of The Simple Proof

I’m so happy to be back here sharing some of our family’s favorite things to do there with you.

Lake Tahoe shines in the summer months—literally, with it’s crystal clear waters, green mountainside trails and clean alpine air. The lake is calling, and we must go!

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During the summer months, we eat most of our meals outside—at home, on our deck, or as a picnic as we hit the trail or the beach.

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When we do go out to a restaurant to eat, it is often somewhere lakeside, where we can enjoy watching the sun set over the lake. On the west shore we love to boat over to The West Shore Café, or cruise up to the north shore to The Lone Eagle Grill—both have beautiful lakeside dining.

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Other top picks:

Sunnyside. Casual and fun: you can’t beat listening to the Eagles while enjoying a cold beverage on their deck overlooking the lake

The Dam Café. Breakfast burritos and lattes before you hope aboard a raft to float the Truckee River.

Fire Sign Café. Best breakfast on the west shore—go early if you are in a hurry, otherwise enjoy a cup of coffee while you wait in the pretty garden.

Obexe’s General Store or the PDQ. Picnic fixings to get you all set for a fun day out on the water.

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While I don’t do much shopping in the summertime, and would find it hard to recommend it as an activity over spending the day on the mountain, there are a few places around the lake that are handy if you forgot something, or if you need a little time out of the Sierra sun.

Tahoe City Kayak + Paddleboard

Tahoe City Farmer’s Market: 8am-1pm on Thursdays, May-October

Geared for Games (The Boatworks Mall Toy Shop)

Village Board Shop

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This is by far the best part of any day on the lake. There is just so much to do—with all activity levels in mind.

Desolation Wildernes

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Hiking: one of our family’s favorite ways to play together. Try Five Lakes, Emerald Bay, Desolation Wilderness, or Quail Lake.

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Mountain Biking: My husband and oldest love mountain biking; my girls and I are still warming up to it. The Flume Trail is a popular spot. For a more mellow version try Sugar Pine Point State Park.

Boating/Waterskiing: Baby, that water is cold, but all of my tribe love it. (Wetsuits recommended for kids.) We recommend High Sierra Waterski School. In Homewood, ask for Captain Steve!

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Swimming/Cove Climbing: A favorite past-time since they were each babies. Splashing at the shore and gradually learning to climb the surrounding boulders. Now my oldest is into climbing for the sake of jumping from the tallest peak he can brave. D.L. Bliss is a favorite west shore swimming spot and Sand Harbor on the east shore is gorgeous.

Crawdad-ing: Cold water in the the shadows of boulders or boat docks are where your kids will delight in catching—and releasing or not—Tahoe’s own mini lobstah’s (as we’ve come to call them).

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Touring a historic mansion: There are several mansions remaining on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Check out the Ehrman Mansion at Sugar Pine Point State Park, Vikingshom at Emerald Bay, and The Thunderbird Lodge on the lake’s east shore in Nevada.


Discover a secret cove. The East Shore is full of fantastic little coves that can only be accessed by hiking or boating in. (There’s never a crowd at the road less traveled.)

Enjoy a play with a view! Lake Tahoe’s Shakespeare Festival is set in scenic Sand Harbor: right in the sand, overlooking the lake, you will enjoy dinner and a show like no where else.

5 Things Tahoe Summer

Challenge yourself on a ropes course at Granlibakken’s Treetop Adventure Park. There are two different courses—The Flying Squirrel Course for beginners and younger children ages 5+ (although my youngest did it at 4, you just need to be tall enough and enthusiastic for a solo zipline ride!), and The Monkey Course (min. height 56″).

Kayak: Rent a kayak from one of the shops listed above, and paddle out for a beach picnic along the west shore.

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I always recommend that visitors stay at the lake when coming to Lake Tahoe in the summer months.  If you can start and end your day looking out on the beautiful lake, you will be guaranteed a good vacation! Before we bought our cabin we stayed at the Hyatt Incline Village every summer. Although we haven’t stayed at the other recommendations here, they all have unbeatable access to the lake.

Hyatt Incline Village. Book early to snag one of the few lakeside cottages. [Ed note. We celebrated an anniversary there!]

Mourelatos (Tahoe Vista)

West Shore Inn (Homewood)

The Coachman Hotel (South Lake Tahoe)

Or, if you are traveling with extended family or friends, a vacation rental might be a good fit for you.


When spending a few days in the Sierra sun, always have sunscreen. I love this powder version. I wear a brimmed hat everyday, no matter what. The mountain sun is no joke. And my absolute favorite piece of equipment to have along at the lake is my Tahoe Bliss SUPboard, and the requisite PFD. Other essentials include family and friends, country music and sandy toes. Summer at its best.

Thank you so much, Domonique! Visit her at The Simple Proof. 

P.S. Our A-Frame is available for rent this summer!

See the entire 5 Things Series. And some of our previous posts about visiting Lake Tahoe: a Winter babymoon at the Ritz at Northstar, visits to Incline Village in the winter and in the spring, and a daytrip to Angora lake


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