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North Lake Tahoe Blends Culture, History and Outdoor Splendor

Last updated: July 2023


North Lake Tahoe Blends Culture, History and Outdoor Splendor

Iconic sites along the North Shore play host to specially curated cultural tours and events

North Lake Tahoe, Calif./Nev. (Summer 2017) –  Long before Walt Disney helped to launch the first nationally-televised Olympic Games from Squaw Valley in 1960, North Lake Tahoe set the stage for a rich cultural and natural history. As we explore the basin today, history can be found in our daily adventures, sometimes in unique and surprising ways.

From prohibition poker matches that defined the fate of Kings Beach to underground passageways frequented by celebrities and mobsters, history buffs and story lovers will find a new type of adventure in North Lake Tahoe. Step back in time at pristinely preserved iconic sites, relive centuries of experiences with expert docent-led tours, and catch temporary exhibits for a true interactive experience. Afterward, celebrate the ever evolving culture of North Lake Tahoe at a lineup of incredible festivals and events throughout the summer.

For more information about the history of North Lake Tahoe and the various cultural offerings, visit GoTahoeNorth.com.


Thunderbird Lodge Tour

The magical and stunning Thunderbird Lodge National Historic Site is Lake Tahoe’s “Castle-in-the-Sky”. Docent-led tours take visitors around the historic estate and gardens, including the Boathouse to see the legendary wooden speedboat, the Thunderbird yacht, built by George Whittell, Jr. in 1939. This eclectic character was one of the wealthiest men in California in the early 1920s, even housing elephants and lions at the property, and gambling areas of Lake Tahoe away at poker matches.  


  • By Land: Tuesday to Saturdays, May to October

  • By Boat: Depart from The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino hotel dock each Thurs-Sat @ 9 a.m.

  • By Paddleboard: Depart from Sand Harbor with Tahoe Adventure Company (guests will be outfitted with gear and a comprehensive paddle board lesson)


  • Saturday Mimosa and Garden Tours (new this summer!): July 8, 22; Aug. 5, 19

  • Friday Wine & Cheese Tours: July 8 – Oct. 14

  • Thunderfaire: Grape & Gourmet on the Lake: Aug. 13

  • Winemakers Dinners (and optional VIP cruise): June 11, July 9, Oct. 8

  • Thunder Thursdays: July – Aug (wine/beer, apps, tours, artists & entertainers)

Vikingsholm Castle

Located in Emerald Bay, this magnificent castle is a unique blend of nature’s spectacular beauty and man’s architectural ingenuity. Tours of Tahoe’s Hidden Castle are provided by the Sierra State Parks Foundation, 7-days a week from Memorial Day until the end of September. The scenic property fronting the Vikingsholm offers public swimming and beach areas for daytime use.

Hellman-Ehrman Mansion

One of the grandest Old Tahoe mansions in existence and a classically beautiful wedding site, the Hellman-Ehrman Mansion, built in 1903, is a must see for engaged couples and architecture buffs alike. Tours of the property begin Memorial Day weekend and run through the end of September.

The Gatekeeper’s Museum

The Gatekeeper’s Museum is a reconstruction of the original Gatekeeper’s Cabin that was built by Robert Montgomery Watson on the same site where the original stood until it was destroyed by arson fire in the early 1980s. The museum contains one of the most extensive and eclectic collections of Tahoe history and is open Thursday through Sundays. Local tip & photo opp: explore a maze of Lupine fields adjacent to the museum to complete a lovely afternoon in Tahoe City.

Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Museum

The Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Museum, co-located with the Gatekeeper’s Museum, is home to a world-class collection of over 800 utilitarian and fine baskets from 85 tribes throughout California and western North America. In addition to baskets, the collection also includes Native clothing, jewelry, tools, and pottery. Dat-so-la-lee, Maria Martinez, Maggie Mayo James and many other famous Washoe weavers work also feature in the collection.

Watson Cabin Living Museum
Located at 560 North Lake Boulevard, Tahoe City, California, Watson Cabin still stands on the original site where it was built in 1909 by Robert Montgomery Watson and his son, Bob, as a honeymoon cottage for Bob and his bride, Stella Tong Watson. The log cabin is listed on the National Register of Historic Homes as the oldest building built on site in Tahoe City. The Watson Cabin Living Museum is free and open to the public from July through August, Thursday to Sundays, noon to 4 p.m.

Tahoe Science Center

The Tahoe Science Center has a little something (science-related) for everyone, including docent-led tours, hands-on science activities, multiple interactive exhibits, and an award-winning 3D movie, “Lake Tahoe in Depth.” Open Tuesday through Friday, 1 – 5 p.m., year-round at Sierra Nevada College. This is a must-do for families visiting the area.

Museum of Sierra Ski History and 1960 Winter Olympics

Fuel your nostalgia for powder by traveling through medieval ski history all the way to modern ski and snowboard practices. Museum exhibits include photos and memorabilia, including ski equipment, trophies, clothing and local athlete profiles. Located in the Boatworks Mall in Tahoe City, open 7 days a week.

Tahoe Maritime Museum

This gem of a museum gives visitors a glimpse into the rich maritime history of Lake Tahoe. The current exhibit for summer 2017 is titled “On the Water: Sport & Leisure at Lake Tahoe” and explores the history of water tourism in the area, dating back to the late 1800s. The tour will explain how Lake Tahoe has evolved as the incredible recreational paradise we know today.


Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival | July 8 – August 27, Sand Harbor

Showcasing live entertainment seven nights a week at Sand Harbor, the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival will celebrate its 45th anniversary this summer. Productions include: Love’s Labour’s Lost, Shakespeare’s labor of love and laughter, and The Hound of the Baskervilles, a hilarious Sherlock Holmes whodunit based on the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, adapted by Steven Canny and John Nicholson. This stunning venue is a perfect place to experience theater amidst the Sierra night sky.

Lake Tahoe Dance Festival | July 26 – 28, 2017, Gatekeeper’s Museum/William B. Layton Park.

A highlight of summer in Tahoe City has become the Lake Tahoe Dance Festival, known for bringing its first-rate artists from around the world. A diverse program celebrating the innovators of dance – from classic works that helped shape the art form to the most promising choreographers of today. This outdoor event is not to be missed!

Lake Tahoe Music Festival | August 15 – 20, West Shore & Tahoe City

The Lake Tahoe Music Festival 20-Piece Academy Orchestra is comprised of elite student musicians from across the United States under the direction of Maestro Timm Rolek. Joining the orchestra this year is violinist Michael Sutton and the Amaranth String Quartet. Enjoy five consecutive concerts consisting of music, ballet, food, and wine. Bring a picnic and low-back lawn chair for majestic summer nights filled with beautiful music and dance.

Pacific Fine Arts & Crafts Festival | Various Dates, Tahoe City & Homewood

A traveling throughout California this summer, the Pacific Fine Arts & Crafts Festival makes several stops along the West and North shores of Lake Tahoe. Visitors and locals alike will have a special opportunity to meet with more than 45 artisans and craftspeople, showcasing photography, oil paintings, ceramic vessels, jewelry and much more.

World Concert for Peace | September 9, 6:30 p.m., Sand Harbor

Take a trip around the world with Trails & Vistas World Concert, featuring the extraordinary Tim Eriksen, “widely regarded as the best ballad singer of his generation” (BBC Radio). The World Concert for Peace will be the finale of the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Encore Showcase Series.

For more information visit https://www.gotahoenorth.com/.


About North Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is a crown jewel of the Sierra. Formed approximately two million years ago, it is the largest alpine lake in North America and the second deepest in the United States. North Lake Tahoe spans two states and boasts two dozen beaches, twelve ski resorts, hundreds of miles of biking trails, half a dozen communities, and a growing number of nationally recognized human-powered events, races and festivals. North Lake Tahoe is a 45-minute drive from the Reno Tahoe International Airport, two hours from Sacramento International Airport and just over three hours from San Francisco International Airport. Visitor information centers are located at 100 North Lake Boulevard in Tahoe City and 969 Tahoe Boulevard in Incline Village. 

Press Contacts:

Kelly Benson, Account Executive

The Abbi Agency for North Lake Tahoe

(775) 323-2977

[email protected]