Lake Tahoe appears to be eternal — unchanging deep blue water, a dramatic mountain backdrop whose granite withstands every test of time.
But insightful lovers of Lake Tahoe know that the alpine setting only appears to be eternal. Every hour of every day brings a fresh look — a cloud passes over the lake, the angle of the sun illuminates a previously unseen feature.
Even the family-friendly beaches of Lake Tahoe are filled with variety. An entirely new experience awaits parents and kids who try a new beach, even one that’s just a few miles down the road from an old favorite.
Try these beaches, each with a different flavor, to get a variety of Lake Tahoe experiences on your next family getaway:
Commons Beach: Right in the heart of Tahoe City on the North Shore, Commons Beach brings the flavor of a small-town park. A playground, picnic facilities and grassy areas complement the beach itself. Free concerts are scheduled on Sunday afternoons during the summer, and free movies are shown on summertime Wednesday nights.Snacks and convenience stores are an easy walk.
North Tahoe Beach: This small beach offers a beautiful location at the intersection of Highway 267 and Highway 28 at Tahoe City. The covered pavilion, which provides sheltered picnic tables and running water, and the three sand volleyball courts make this a favorite for family picnic outings.
Kings Beach: Busy as can be on summer afternoons, this beach offers nearly 1,000 feet of lake frontage and a sandy beach on the North Shore.A pay-to-park lot fills up quickly on weekends as visitors flock to the water sports, picnic grounds, and other park-like amenities (including a playground and basketball court.)The location of the beach in the middle of downtown Kings Beach means restaurants, shopping and lodging are just steps away.
Sand Harbor: Three miles south of Incline Village on the east side of Lake Tahoe, Sand Harbor provides 55 acres of well-developed beach for family fun. The beaches gently slope into crystal-clear waters, and beach-patrol staff members help ensure swimmers’ safety.Not surprisingly, it’s REALLY busy during the summer, even on weekdays. Consider the shuttle service from nearby Incline Village to save parking hassles. (Memorial Point, accessible on a half-mile trail from Sand Point, provides secluded beach and rock locations.) A great picnic area is back in the shade of the cedars and Jeffrey Pines, and snacks and drinks are available at the Sand Harbor visitor center.
Chimney Beach: A wild, rustic destination, Chimney Beach requires a hike down to the lake. (Be sure to bring hiking shoes, along with sandals or beach shoes for your time along the water.) The beach is about two miles south of Sand Harbor on the east side of the lake, and the parking lot is on the east side of Highway 267, across the road from the trailhead down to the beach.There aren’t any facilities at the beach, so be prepared to bring your trash back to the parking lot. Restrooms, too, are at the parking lot.
Vikingsholm Beach: Most families that walk down the mile-long path from the parking lot along Highway 89 about 12 miles north of South Lake Tahoe are headed for the hidden castle at Emerald Bay. It’s deservedly one of the most popular destinations at Lake Tahoe. But some Vikingsholm visitors head instead for the nearby beach to enjoy the waters and ever-changing light of Emerald Bay. Fanette Island in the waters off of Vikingsholm is the only island in all of Lake Tahoe. Restroom facilities are behind the castle; seasonal kayak rentals are available. While the walk down to Vikingsholm isn’t overly strenuous, be prepared to give kids plenty of breaks on the steep ascent back to the parking lot, especially after an active day at the beach.
D.L. Bliss State Park: A family easily could fill a week with activities at this state park along the southwest shore of Lake Tahoe, and many do. Along with swimming and splashing at a beautiful beach, fishing and snorkeling are popular pastimes. Picnic areas and outdoor shower facilities simplify family visits. Visitors who want a break from the beach and spectacular views can learn more about Lake Tahoe, its wildlife and its history at the nearby Visitors Center. Not surprisingly, parking areas fill quickly during summer months. Arrive early (before mid-morning) or late in the afternoon to improve your chances.
Even if your family already has a favorite beach at Lake Tahoe, try a new one. You’ll be surprised at the brand-new experience at the lake you already love!