mother in lake tahoe with child

Guide to Vacationing to Lake Tahoe with Kids


Ted Schlater

Lake Tahoe is one of the best vacation destinations in the country, whether you’re planning a romantic getaway in Tahoe or an adventurous vacation. With so many activities to choose from, it’s essential to plan out your itinerary before you visit the Lake and the surrounding areas. 

This is especially important if you’re planning a vacation to Lake Tahoe with kids. Planning allows you to make sure everything you do is suitable for everyone in the family. This blog will give you ideas of a variety of things to do in Lake Tahoe with kids. It doesn’t matter if you’re visiting with toddlers or teens, you’ll find a plenty of safe and fun Tahoe activities that your whole family will love.

Take in Lake Tahoe’s Views via Bike

Whether your children are skilled mountain bikers or haven’t started learning yet – you’ll find bikes suitable for all ages and skill levels in the bike shops around Lake Tahoe. If you’ve got little ones who are too young to bike on their own, you can rent a Burley Trailer to attach to your bikes. This way, you can keep your tots safe and still enjoy a fun bike ride around the Lake.

There are a variety of bike paths in and around Lake Tahoe that you can access. They’re kid-safe, beginner-friendly, and showcase some of the gorgeous natural sights the area has to offer. Some paths you can consider include the East Shore Trail, Incline Village Bike Path, and the South Lake Tahoe Bike Path, which are paved, and the Tahoe City Bike Paths around Tahoe City.

family biking in lake tahoe

For those traveling around North Lake Tahoe, renting bikes or e-bikes from Vista Trail Bikes allows for easy parking and safe access from our shop to the trails on your rental bikes!

What to Bring: Water, snacks for younger kids, sunscreen, a small towel. If you’re spending the day biking, you should get a picnic lunch along as well.

Typical Amount of Time Spent: As long as you want – there are enough bike paths around the Lake to last you for days. You can make this a full-day outing or just an hour or two before you try something else. 

Best for Ages: People of all ages can enjoy this activity. We recommend your child be at least 2-3 years of age so that they can sit in the Burley Trailer without an adult present.

Ideal Time of Day: Morning or early evening, so that you can avoid the glare of the sun in the afternoon.

Can You Get There By Bike: Yes

Laid Back Tahoe Rafting

River rafting doesn’t have to be speed and rapids all the way. Instead, you can enjoy a laid-back day of rafting on the Truckee River. Truckee River is completely safe for people 2 and older. 

There are a few rapids on the river to provide you with a bit of excitement, but these are all easily navigated and range between Class 1 and Class 3. You can check with the rafting company to ensure you have a gentler ride if you want. There are several rafting companies around the river you can book a session with, including Truckee River Raft Co. and Truckee River Rafting.

group rafting on truckee river

What to Bring: Food and drink in coolers, bathing suits, sunscreen, or other sun protection. Check rafting company guidelines to see if you are permitted to bring alcohol along. Carry a towel and change of clothes for after you’re done rafting.

Typical Amount of Time Spent: 2-4 hours

Best for Ages: 2+. However, make sure to check with the rafting company you’re booking with if they have any age restrictions. Additionally, most raft companies don’t allow kids to raft alone without their parents unless they’re over the age of 15.

Ideal Time of Day: Early morning and afternoon, so you can dry yourself off and enjoy lunch after.

Can You Get There By Bike: Not completely. While you can get to the rafting companies by bike, most companies prefer to take you to the launch site using a company shuttle.

Discover Monkey Rock

Hiking isn’t just for the adults in Lake Tahoe – even the kids can enjoy the epic views by hiking up to Money Rock!

Monkey Rock is named due to the monkey-shaped rock located at the top of this hike. It’s a relatively short circuit, measuring 2.5 miles for a roundtrip with an elevation of just over 400 feet. This hiking trail is located inside Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, just a short distance past the state park gate.

What to Bring: Sunscreen, water, a snack if you have younger kids, and shoes designed to hold up to a hike

Typical Amount of Time Spent: 1-2 hours – this will give you enough time to take in the sights and account for a slower walking speed if you’re bringing along young kids. If you’re planning a picnic as part of the hike, it may take slightly longer.

Best for Ages: 4+. Younger kids can come along (as you as they’re fine with the trek, or you’re fine with carrying them). However, they won’t have as much fun with the silliness of Monkey Rock as slightly older toddlers will.Additionally, this trail can get pretty popular, and the crowds may overwhelm younger kids.

Ideal Time of Day: Early in the morning so that you can beat both the crowds and the heat in the afternoon.

Can You Get There By Bike: Yes. While the trail is most popular with hikers, it’s suitable for biking as well.

Catch Some Tahoe Crawdads

Lake Tahoe is often a once-in-lifetime holiday – so why not give your kids a unique experience to go with that? If they aren’t interested in hiking or biking, you can still enjoy the natural beauty together by taking the crawdad fishing.

The Lake is home to over 300 million crawdads, making it one of the best spots for crawdad fishing around. You’ll be able to find crawdad baskets at any local sporting goods store. The process of finishing for these critters is pretty simple. You can even make do with bait, a regular bucket, and some string! 

There’re numerous spots on the Lake where you can go crawdad fishing, including Kings Beach. It’s best to go crawdad fishing on the Nevada side of the Lake. Unlike the California side, you don’t need a fishing license to go hunting for crawdads.

crawfish caught at lake tahoe

What to Bring: A bucket or crawdad basket, a string or fishing line, some sort of meat to act as bait – bacon or hot dogs will do the trick.

Typical Amount of Time Spent: 1-3 hours. That said, you can spend as long as you want fishing for crawdads unless you’re interrupted by your little ones.

Best for Ages: 4+. Like regular fishing, your kids should be able to understand what is going on when they go hunting for crawdads. A younger child will likely find it a challenge to figure out what is happening.

Ideal Time of Day: You can go any time of the day, though I recommend earlier in the morning or the late evening to evening – this way, you have the opportunity to avoid the heat of the sun in the afternoon.

Can You Get There By Bike: If the bucket or basket you’re using is small enough to be carried in a backpack, it’s possible to get to many crawdad fishing spots by bike.

Bring Some Games to Emerald Bay State Park

Sometimes, all you want to do is sit back and relax. However, that doesn’t mean you need to leave the kids at home. If you’re looking for some downtime, you can still enjoy it with your family and children.

Emerald Bay State Park is a great place to try out some new games or bring your family’s favorites. It doesn’t matter if your kids want to play Frisbee or all of you want to play a few board games together – you can easily do so on the stunning beach in the park.

The best part? The water’s just meters away, so if you get an itch to swim or start feeling hot, you can get in a matter of moments. There are also a ton of water sport rentals around, just in case you decide you want to change things up at the last minute.

What to Bring: Beach towel, games you want to play, sunscreen, change of clothes just in case you decide to get into the water, a picnic if you’re planning on spending a couple of hours at the beach.

Typical Amount of Time Spent: 2-4 hours, though you can spend longer if you like

Best for Ages: All ages

Ideal Time of Day: 11 am onwards until the sun starts to set

Can You Get There By Bike: Yes

If you’re visiting Lake Tahoe with the youngest members of your family, don’t worry – there are plenty of things to do in Lake Tahoe with kids. Lake Tahoe is a great way to introduce your children to nature and the fun of the great outdoors. You can even get them started with biking here – most of the activities are easily doable with a bike, and you can use your bike for cruising around the area once you’re done with your plans for the day! To make a bike part of your family adventure, rent with Vista Trail Bikes!