While the ski bunnies all are hibernating for the summer, Tahoe goes green and makes for the perfect family vacation destination. From pristine, wave-free beaches to hikes with views you cannot beat to countless kid-friendly places to shack up, Tahoe offers everything a family could want for a summer vacation. We’ve rounded up the best, so all you have to do is pack up the car and head for the mountains!

Where to Stay

The Ritz-Carlton
In true Ritz style, the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe resort covers all the bases and makes any stay extra special. Last summer they added on the Lake Club which offers direct access to Lake Tahoe via a private boat pier, lake activities like kayaking, dining options and an outdoor fire pit to sit and enjoy the lake views.

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Their indoor campout package takes glamping to the next level: Compact tents are set up in room and stocked with a down cushion, pillows, blankets, a lantern, teddy bear and even a s’mores set. Want an expert to handle your sweet treats? In the late afternoon, a s’mores-ologist mans the outdoor fire pit, melting up gooey gourmet creations for everyone who stops by. The Ritz Kids Summer program offers daily, summer-camp like activities, from hikes to crafts to lawn games. The heated pool and adjoining outdoor barbecue restaurant, The Backyard, is where you should plant yourselves on Friday nights, when early evening family concerts go down (not to mention happy hour). The Ritz is situated at Northstar, so your adventure can start as soon as you step out of the room (and be sure to come back in winter for ski-in, ski-out access).

13031 Ritz-Carlton Highlands Ct.
Truckee, CA
530-562-3000
Onlineritzcarlton.com

photo: Resort at Squaw Creek, A Destination Hotel

The Resort at Squaw Creek
Did someone say water slide? Squaw Creek’s 120-foot long soaker dumps riders into a pool kept at a toasty 84 degrees year round. Their Mountain Buddies program keeps the kids moving (and off your hands) with full or half day options throughout the summer, and the rooms are comfy and spacious, and—listen up, hungry families—they have kitchens, complete with small stove, a pull-out drawer dishwasher, a microwave, a toaster, a refrigerator, a coffee maker and all of the pots, pans and essentials. Set your family up for the ultimate zen experience when you book a Chillax Together spa session where everyone age six and up gets to enjoy a 25-minute spa experience.

400 Squaw Creek Rd.
Olympic Valley, CA
530-583-6300
Onlinedestinationhotels.com

photo: Aston Lakeland Village

Aston Lakeland Village
If you are looking for South Shore spot to set up camp, definitely add the Aston Lakeland Village to your list. Their set up is particularly family-friendly as they offer townhouse units with five bedrooms that sleep up to 14. These include a full kitchen so that you don’t have to schlep the kids out for every meal. Invite your BFFs and reserve a unit for the ultimate in summer fun and then head on down to the quarter-mile long private beach for some lake activities.

This summer, the Aston Lakeland Village partnered with the City of South Lake Tahoe Recreation Department to bring STAR Camp to families. Programming includes outdoor activities like biking, hiking, swimming and more for kids ages 6-12 at the reasonable price of $35/day.

3535 Lake Tahoe Boulevard
South Lake Tahoe, CA
Onlineaquaaston.com

photo: Matt Palmer/Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

What to Do

High Camp Fun
Take a ride on the aerial tram to the top of High Camp where you will find many activities to choose from. Swing and slide at the playground, take a dip at Squaw Valley’s Swimming Lagoon & Spa or even go for a spin around the roller rink. The free-form lagoon is heated to a comfortable 102 degrees and is surrounded by expansive decks, plenty of seating and a casual umbrella bar offering drinks and snacks. The club provides lockers as well as showers and changing rooms.

photo: Squaw Kids Adventure Camp

Squaw Kids Adventure Camp
If you are looking for a camp experience while visiting Tahoe (and a kid-free day for yourself), check out the Squaw Kids Adventure Camp. Kids will swim, ride the tram, hike, bike, study navigation, engineer, cook, do yoga and many other fun activities. It’s offered Friday-Monday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. for kids between the ages of 5-13. The cost is $124 per child, per day and includes a tram ticket and lunch!

photo: Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

Hiking, Biking
If you are feeling more adventurous, take a hike! The High Camp Loop is an easy 1-mile loop that takes you through some spectacular scenery and fields of flowers. Bring a jacket though, temps can be quite a bit chilly compared to the valley floor below and you might be treated to a remaining snowdrift or two! What kid can’t resist running through some snow in the middle of summer!

There are flat, well-used bike paths throughout much of Lake Tahoe, and local outfits like Tahoe Adventure Company can arrange custom-guided tours fit for you group. Tip: If you don’t want to schlep your bike gear, most of the rental shops have kids cruisers and mountain bikes, as well as the one wheeled “bike” you can tow behind an adult bike.

photo: Matt Palmer/Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

Back down at the base of the mountain Squaw Valley Adventure Center in the village is open for summer with some great kid-friendly entertainment. A climbing wall, ropes course, mini golf or let the little ones jump out the wiggles at the Sky Jump Bungee trampoline. Tots over 20 pounds can bounce and flip to a mom happy exhaustion for $12.

Tahoe opening shot

Beaches
One of the best things about Tahoe in the summer is the beaches. Gloriously devoid of any currents or predatory mammals,  the lakefront beaches are a haven for parents with small kids—just soft sand and crystal clear waters. Meeks Bay and Emerald Bay are some local favorites with families on the West Shore, both offering spectacular views.

Commons Beach in Tahoe City is popular for crabbing and wading (you have to walk out about 300 yards before the water gets to hip level). If a day of crawdad fishing sounds like your speed, Sand Harbor is your spot.

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photo: Erin Feher

Paddle Out
The slopes are to winter what the lake is to summer. Calm, clear waters make for an unforgettable kayaking or stand up paddle board trip, and the folks at the Tahoe Adventure Company can set you up with everything you need. There are options for hourly rentals or guided tours from their launch point on the North Shore, and their skilled staff are there to assist with any skill or age level—they’ve suited up toddlers for rides on both kayaks and paddle boards!

River Fun
You might be a little nervous at the thought of rafting down the Truckee  River with children, but this is no white water adventure. Think instead of leisurely floating five miles from Tahoe City to River Ranch Lodge, where you can grab lunch on the patio.

Indoor Play
If the weather is not cooperating (or you got too much sun and need a break from the rays), there are still tons of things to do with the kids. Head for Truckee and hit up the KidZone Museum for indoor fun including art projects, climbing adventures and rotating exhibits. Tip: Your Bay Area Discovery Museum pass can get you in for free or discount (depending on your membership level).

11711 Donner Pass Rd.
Truckee, CA
530-587-5437
Onlinekidzonemuseum.org

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photo: Erin Feher

Where to Eat

Fireside Pizza Company
With all the swimming, biking, boating and hiking you’ve got to fuel up! Grab a bite to eat at The Fireside Pizza Company which offers great family dining with a menu that goes beyond just pizza. This summer there’s live music most weekends on the patio.

1985 Olympic Valley Road #25
Olympic Valley at Squaw
Onlinefiresidepizza.com

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Jakes and Sunnyside
If you’re looking for a lakefront kid-friendly dining experience, a quick trip into Tahoe City offers Jake’s on the Lake and Sunnyside, both with decent kids’ menus, plenty of people watching and stunning views to keep the little ones occupied.

Jake’s on the Lake
780 N. Lake Tahoe Blvd.
Tahoe City, CA
Onlinejakestahoe.com

Sunnyside
1850 West Lake Blvd.
Tahoe City, CA
Onlinesunnysidetahoe.com

Rosie’s Cafe
Also in Tahoe City, this is a popular family breakfast spot. If the bicycles hanging from the ceiling don’t keep your kids entertained, the short stack and cinnamon french toast will (served until 2:30 pm daily).

571 North Lake Blvd.
Tahoe City, CA
Online: rosiescafe.com

Manzanita and Backyard Bar & BBQ
If you’re staying at (or swinging by) the Ritz Carlton, Manzanita has a gorgeous outdoor patio, a thoughtful kids menu—complete with crayons, of course—and lots of room for the kids to explore and climb within view of your table. Backyard Bar & BBQ is poolside, and most items are cooked over an open flame.
13031 Ritz-Carlton Highlands Ct.
Truckee, CA
Onlineritzcarlton.com

Babysitters & Other Resources

For a grown-up night out, try All About Kids Tahoe, a babysitting service for newborn through teenaged kids than has been serving Tahoe families since 2002. They can come to your hotel or vacation rental, or even take the kids out for a day of play while you get some R & R.

Visit the North Lake Tahoe website for more information on where to stay, what to do and where to explore when you visit Tahoe this summer!

—Kate Loweth and Erin Feher

Featured photo: Tarah Beaven