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Lakeside Activities for a Winter Family Vacation in Lake Tahoe

Last updated: November 2023

A stunning destination year-round, Lake Tahoe is a premier spot for an unforgettable winter vacation the whole family will love. Once the snow begins to drift over the lake and settle on the mountain peaks, the charming towns of Lake Tahoe transform, making you feel as though you have stepped into a different world.  

Plan your stay at one of North Lake Tahoe’s lodging properties and don’t miss the chance to experience Lake Tahoe up close. Here, you’ll have easy access to a wealth of options for things to do, so you can play, eat and shop along the edge of America’s largest alpine lake. 

There’s no better place to spend a few weeks away. Check out some of our favorite stops in the region to plan your perfect family day in Lake Tahoe’s winter wonderland. 

Photo Credit: Jeff Curtes 

Eat at These Lakeside Tahoe Breakfast Spots 

Before you set out on your action-packed day, you’re going to make sure you are energized and feeling good. Stop for a light breakfast and some caffeine at any of the coffee shops and bakeries around Lake Tahoe.  

To make your morning breakfast run even more convenient, there are a few that are a short distance from the lake shore, so you won’t have far to go once you’ve picked up a few treats. Located just across the parking lot from the lake, Coffee Connexion is a coffee shop that has been serving the Lake Tahoe area with finely-roasted espresso, pastries, breakfast sandwiches and more since the 1990s. Enjoy a walk along the pier with a toasty treat. 

On the Nevada side, an Incline Village must-stop is Drink Coffee Do Stuff. They specialize in high-altitude, Lake Tahoe-based roasting, resulting in a sweeter, uniquely delicious coffee taste.  

Or, visit JavaHut in Kings Beach, which sits on the shores of Lake Tahoe. There, you can try specialty coffee drinks, smoothies or homemade pastries, all served within a cozy, good-vibes-only kind of atmosphere. 

Pause: Are You Traveling Responsibly? 

Ahead of your trip, make sure to go over with your family how you are planning to be responsible travelers during your Lake Tahoe adventure. First, ensure that you have planned your transportation well. If you are driving, adhere to alerts about chain use so you can more safely navigate the mountain roads. Or, look into public transportation options, like TART, near where you are staying. Check out our blog on the recommended ways to get around during your trip.  

Keep a close eye on the weather, and make sure you are well-prepared in case of emergency conditions. Download county and state alert apps to get the most up-to-date weather and road conditions. 

Finally, be respectful of Lake Tahoe’s beautiful natural environment. When you are out adventuring, adhere to trails and stick to snow-play designated areas — don’t stray from public areas. Before you leave, ensure you have properly disposed of your winter gear, and don’t leave any plastic behind, including broken sleds.   

Snow On the Beach (Tahoe’s Version) 

Once your family is stocked up and full-bellied, it’s time to play in the snow. This winter wonderland has no shortage of opportunities for romps in the snow throughout the region.  

Although we wouldn’t recommend swimming in the lake this time of year — water temperatures in the winter hover around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, brr! — there are plenty of lakeside activities to enjoy once the sand turns snowy. Rent some snowshoes for the whole family and explore the breathtaking lakeside scenery as you traverse the terrain. If you’re feeling especially playful, there might even be enough snow for a snowball fight right there at the water’s edge. Or, get the whole family involved in a test of your artistic abilities and create some snowmen. Challenge each other to get creative with it, and snap a picture before you head to your next adventure — it would certainly make for a great Christmas card! 

If you’re looking for a more involved day of snow sports, check out the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park, where you can ice skate and sled. Or, at North Tahoe Regional Park, you and your kids will be able to enjoy classic snow activities like sledding and snowmobiling. You can spend a whole afternoon at the Granlibakken Tahoe Ski Resort, which offers smaller ski hills for beginners, sledding and a restaurant onsite. Make sure to stop at their Treetop Adventure Park, too. It’s open year-round and the kids will love a chance to climb above the Tahoe treetops. 

Lunch On the Lake 

Once you start to get a little chilly, head back to town for a nice, warm meal. No need to leave the stunning lakefront views behind: many Lake Tahoe restaurants are situated to provide you with the best possible views as you dine. Sunnyside Restaurant & Lodge, nestled on Lake Tahoe’s West Shore, offers a wide-ranging menu for every appetite, paired with stunning views of the lake. For more casual fare, enjoy lakeside dining at Jason’s Beachside Grille in Kings Beach. If you’re in Carnelian Bay, bite down into big, delicious pies and more at CB’s Pizza & Grill

The Adventures Continue 

You and the family might want to relax a bit, but rather than heading back home to crash for the day, consider some “active relaxation” by checking out Tahoe City’s various cultural offerings. Parents might be particularly drawn to Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema. This fully revamped theatre and bar shows independent and major motion picture films, sporting events, hosts local events and much more. Check out their website to see what might be happening during your next visit.  

Located in the Heritage Plaza, kids will love the chance to visit Tahoe City’s Penny Bear, a huge, twelve-foot-tall bear statue with cubs at its feet, covered head-to-toe in pennies. This public art installation became a permanent fixture in Tahoe City in 2019 and has been bringing smiles to visitors ever since.  

Combine the fun of a Tahoe vacation with the intrigue of learning something new! Sports fans and aspiring Olympians will delight at Olympic Valley’s Tahoe SNOW Sports Museum. Explore exhibits dating back as far as the 1800s, and gain a deeper understanding of the fascinating history behind some of Lake Tahoe’s most iconic sports communities.  

Can’t Forget the Lake Tahoe Souvenirs! 

The memories you and your family make at Lake Tahoe will last for a lifetime—but you can commemorate the experience with a one-of-a-kind memento from the region. As you head out, consider swinging by Village Toys in Incline Village to supply your little ones with trinkets to bring them joy. 

Of course, the kids aren’t the only ones who should get to take home something special. Consider visiting Boatworks Mall, North Lake Tahoe’s own enclosed lakefront shopping mall. There, you can shop for all sorts of Lake Tahoe-themed gifts and merchandise, whether you’re looking for jewelry, boutique clothing, toys, candy and much more.   

Photo: @_chicho 

Catch a Magical Sunset Over the Water 

North Lake Tahoe boasts plenty of opportunities to make memories, and one of the best? Our sunsets. Don’t leave the North Shore without catching a stunning Tahoe sunset, and consider capturing a picture-perfect family moment, framed by Lake Tahoe’s crystal blue waters and endless sky.