Lake Tahoe is an incredible tourist destination for the adventurous–there is so much to see and do in the outdoors, and summer is arguably the best time to visit! If you just have 4 days in Lake Tahoe in the summer and want to maximize the outdoor/nature stoke, we have just the itinerary for you.
Day 1 - Kayak, Sail, Enjoy
On the first day of a summer vacation, it’s important to rest and recover from the travel so you don’t burn out before the trip has even begun! Many people travel to Tahoe from other time zones, so take the first day to sleep a little, grab a quick breakfast, then enjoy a calming and relaxing day on Lake Tahoe’s crystal blue waters. For day one, we recommend Tahoe Adventure Company’s Kayak (or Stand Up Paddle Board) and Sailing Multisport tour. Starting at 10am out of Tahoe Vista, the paddlesports portion of the tour closely parallels the Discover tour also offered by Tahoe Adventure Company. The guide is trained on teaching paddle sports and also interpreting the natural and human history of the area, so you’ll get to enjoy learning about the region while you relax in the sunshine on the glorious waters of Lake Tahoe. This portion of the tour is as strenuous as you want it to be–paddle hard to get your post-flight jitters out, or take it slow and just relax, taking in the views and the peace that comes from being on the lake. After you’re done paddling, your guide will set up a gourmet sandwich deli lunch, you’ll nosh, then you’ll all caravan down to Tahoe City to gear up for the sailing part of the tour! Tahoe Adventure Company contracts with Tahoe Sailing Charters for the afternoon tour–so you can expect all their amazing amenities, including beverages for those over 21. As you enjoy that late afternoon sunshine from the viewpoint of a gorgeous sailboat, you can take a deep breath and take in the splendor that is Lake Tahoe!
Day 2 - Hike, Bike, See the sights
Now that you’ve rested and recovered on day one, it’s time to put in some work! The best way to see all the beauty of the Lake Tahoe basin is to work hard for it–it makes the views that much more sweeter! For day 2, we offer another Tahoe Adventure Company multisport tour, but this time opting for the Hike/Bike option. In the morning, we recommend the Granite Chief trail. This moderately strenuous trail starts at the base of Olympic Valley (formerly known as Squaw Valley) and climbs up along Shirley Canyon up to the famous Granite Chief wilderness adjacent to the Palisades Tahoe ski resort (also formerly known as Squaw Valley). The hike is on the tougher side but is totally worth the work, and your trained guide can power you through it! The views from the top are absolutely stunning–you can even see the lake from there!
After another delicious deli lunch, you’ll get fitted on our top-of-the-line comfort bikes (with helmets, of course) and your guide will lead you out of the valley back towards famous CA 89–and the Truckee River Bike Path! The path runs along the Truckee River (it’s aptly named) and rolls upstream through the meandering hills, eventually landing you at Lake Tahoe in Tahoe City. This section of the river is extremely popular for tubing and rafting, so you’ll get to watch the hilarity that is the Truckee River mid-summer. The bike path also has many stopping points along the river where you can stop, rest, and even take a dip!
Once the bike tour wraps up, your guide will bid you adieu, and then you’ll be free in the Village at Olympic Valley, home of some of the best food in the Tahoe region. If you’re lucky enough to be there on a Tuesday, you can even join for “Bluesdays,” free live music between 5 and 7 in the village.
Day 3 - East Shore
Hopefully by now you’ve adjusted from the jet lag, because this morning is going to be an early one (although not as early as it could be!) If you know anything about Sand Harbor or the east shore in the summer, you know that unless you get there early, you won’t get there at all because parking is so limited. Sound like a hassle? That’s why Tahoe Adventure Company cuts out the parking headache by departing out of the Incline Village Visitor Center in a private shuttle. Instead of waiting in line to get in when the Sand Harbor State Park opens at 7am, just meet us in Incline at 8:30am and we will do the rest of the work! The actual water part of the tour lasts around 3 hours, giving you plenty of time to paddle near Bonsai Rock, Secret Cove, Chimney Beach, and the famous Thunderbird Lodge (if you’re there on a Tuesday, do the Thunderbird Lodge tour this day instead!). The east shore is super famous for its giant boulder fields, forests that spill into the water, secret beaches, and crystal clear water, and we guarantee that one of the best ways to see it is by paddling.
After your tour, the guide will drop you back off at your car in Incline Village, where we recommend stopping at Mountain High Sandwich Company or another restaurant in Incline before heading back down the east shore, stopping at the various parking lots to hike down to the many beaches you saw from the water just a few hours ago! We recommend Chimney Beach, Secret Cove, and Skunk Harbor for best hikes to beaches.
Day 4 - Mountain Bike and Sunset Kayak
After another calm and relaxing day on the water, it’s time to work hard in another stunning land adventure. Tahoe Adventure Company offers guided mountain biking tours all around the region–Tahoe City, Truckee, and more–but for today we’ll be taking the North Tahoe MTB tour out of the Tahoe City Cross Country Ski Center. A huge network of trails, most with tricky and exhilarating forest paths with stunning views of the nearby lake, this area is sure to not disappoint. Even if you’ve never mountain biked before, there are beginner trails our guides can take you on, and trust us–it’s a lot less intimidating than it seems! If it feels too scary, just think about it like a leisurely bike path through the woods–the “mountain” in mountain biking is sometimes optional. The tour lasts from 10-1 which gives you plenty of time to explore to your heart’s content.
For the afternoon, relax–have a beer at one of the many microbreweries in the area, eat some delicious food, or even take a nap on one of the many beaches before heading back to Tahoe Vista for a Sunset Kayak tour (or Full Moon if the timing is right!) The 3-hour kayaking tour begins during golden hour–watch as the sun sinks lower and shines golden light all over the water and surrounding mountains. As sunset rolls around, watch the mountains turn pink (a phenomenon known as “alpenglow”) and on a cloudier day, witness the sky lighting up the most brilliant colors you can imagine. No clouds? No problem–just be sure to notice the color gradient as you look up from the horizon towards the deeper colored sky. There’s no doubt–the sunset tour is the icing on the cake of a perfect adventure trip to Lake Tahoe.
4 Days In Tahoe
Truly, if you’re coming to Lake Tahoe, the only way to do it wrong would be to lock up in your hotel room the whole time you’re here. Even if you just sit by the water’s edge or take a drive, it’s impossible to not love every second in the area. But, if you’re looking for that once-in-a-lifetime, unforgettable experience, we’re sure this guide is the way to go. Good luck and safe travels!