Couple riding bikes at sunset by lake

5 Outdoor Date Ideas in Lake Tahoe for a Couples Getaway


Ted Schlater

If you’re planning a romantic getaway for your other half, Lake Tahoe is one of the best options available. No matter whether the two of you love adventure or prefer a relaxing day downtown, the lake has something for everyone. 

You can even combine the two – spend an exciting couple of hours on an adventure and relax after! Regardless of whether you’re looking to sneak in a date while on a family holiday or take a weekend just for yourself, you’ll find what you need here. If you find yourself lost for ideas, here are some outdoor date ideas that promise an unforgettable time for you and your partner. 

Picnic at Sand Harbor State Park

Sand Harbor State Park is located on the Northeast shore of the lake. Aside from the stunning sandy beach, it also has a nature trail perfect for hikers, boat ramps for boaters, picnic beaches, barbeques, and more. 

This park is one of the most beautiful sights in Lake Tahoe and is ideal for everyone, no matter whether you’re a nature lover, adrenaline junkie, or want to visit somewhere that promises gorgeous photographs and even more unforgettable memories.

Distance From Vista Trails Bikes: 5 miles, or a 25-minute bike ride.

What to Bring: If you’re planning a picnic or BBQ on the beach, you’ll need to bring along a picnic blanket and all your favorite food. For adventure lovers, you have your pick of options, from stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking to hiking or biking the nature trail. If you’d just like some quiet time with your other half, come as you are. No matter what you choose, however, don’t forget to bring your camera along – the beauty of Sand Harbor State Park is begging to be photographed.

Typical Amount of Time Spent: This venue is usually perfect for a date lasting a couple of hours.

Ideal Time of Day: In the peak of summer, the parking lots can often fill up in the morning, which is why we recommend biking down if possible. That said, we’d recommend visiting during the day, so you have the chance to take in some of the gorgeous scenery.

Vista Trail Bike’s Special Tip: If you visit in July or August, you will also have the chance to enjoy the annual Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival at the state park.

Heavenly Gondola Ride

For frequent visitors to Lake Tahoe, the regular trails and beaches may become dull. However, that doesn’t mean there’s no chance of a romantic date with your other half that you’ve never experienced before – and that’s where the Heavenly Gondola comes in.

The gondola is located in the village of Heavenly and promises a scenic 2.4-mile ride up Heavenly Mountain. On the way, you can spend some time taking in the sights from the Observation Deck or grab a bite to eat at the café. You can even grab a memory of your date from the souvenir shop! Once you reach the top, you can then go further up via the Tamarack Express chairlift and get the chance to experience some of the best views of Lake Tahoe. After, you can access one of the hiking trails or go skiing in the winter, or make your way back down once more.

Distance from Vista Trail Bikes: About 25 miles, or a two and a half-hour bike ride.

What to Bring: If you plan on skiing or hiking one of the trails at the top of the mountain, make sure to bring along all the equipment you may need. If you’re just going up for the views, remember to dress warm – you’ll be quite high up, and it can get chilly even in the summer! And, of course, your cameras are a must-have when taking the gondola up!

Typical Amount of Time Spent: If you plan to enjoy one of the adventure sports on the mountain, this can easily turn into a day-long date. However, if you’re only going up for the view, you should be down within an hour or two.

Ideal Time of Day: The gondola closes at 4 pm every day, so you will need to plan accordingly. We recommend visiting in the morning, at about 9 or 10 am. This will give you enough time to enjoy the trails and slopes if you want. If you’re not planning to stay for long, you should be down by lunch, allowing you to continue your date in a café or restaurant in Heavenly.

Vista Trail Bikes’ Special Tip: Make use of the backdrop offered at the top of the mountain. If you’re planning to propose during your trip, you won’t find a more romantic destination. For those who are already married or only recently dating, make sure to get a photograph of the two of you with the view of Lake Tahoe behind you – we promise you’ll cherish it forever.

Scenic Ride

One of the best ways to enjoy the lake is to see it on a bike. A bike allows you to travel around the lake quickly and easily, and the breeze will feel amazing in your hair during a warm summer day.

Additionally, you don’t just need to stick to the lake itself – you can also use the bike to travel the many bike-friendly trails around the lake, stopping on the scenic lookout points to take in the gorgeous views. Furthermore, if you’ve got a day of activities planned, a bike allows you to travel from location to location without the hassle of having to find a parking spot that comes with driving a car or the exhaustion you’re sure to feel if you choose to walk.

What to Bring: Make sure you have a bottle of water and are wearing comfortable clothes. If you’re planning to stop at the lookout points, a camera is a must. Additionally, if you’re traveling to other destinations, like the Heavenly gondola, you will also need to carry any items need for those activities.

Typical Amount of Time Spent: The great thing about riding a bike is that there’s no time limit. You can spend the entire day biking from place to place and enjoying the lake or spend a couple of hours before relaxing at a café. 

Ideal Time of Day: We recommend starting early in the morning, especially if you’re in Lake Tahoe during the busy season. This will allow you to avoid the crowds and give you some time alone with your other half.

Vista Trail Bikes’ Special Tip: Craft a playlist with your partner’s favorite songs, and bring along a pair of wireless headphones. Wear one and give your partner the other, so you can enjoy the same music while also enjoying the sights.

Ski in Summer – Go Waterskiing

Skiing down snowy mountains is one of the most popular activities at the lake – however, you need to visit in winter to enjoy it. If you’re at Lake Tahoe in the summer, you’ll need to enjoy a snow-free form of skiing – waterskiing.

No matter whether you’re experienced waterskiers or are looking to have a new experience with your partner, we recommend checking out High Sierra Water Ski School. The school is located on the West Side of the lake and not only offers waterskiing, but wakeboard and kneeboard lessons, boat tours and rentals, jet ski rentals, and more.

Distance from Vista Trails Bikes: About 6 miles, or a 30-minute bike ride.

What to Bring: Clothes you don’t mind getting wet. Aside from them, come as you are, though you may want to carry a camera along to document your day.

Typical Amount of Time Spent: An hour or two, though this may differ if you choose to take a boat tour or rent a boat for the day.

Ideal Time of Day: We recommend popping in sometime in the middle of the day, as this is the perfect way to escape the heat – especially if you’re on a private getaway!

Vista Trail Bikes’ Special Tip: Try the Emerald Bay cruise. This cruise will take about 3 hours for the round-trip, and you’ll be treated to some of the most gorgeous sights possible.

Daytime or Dinner Cruise on the Lake

Zephyr Cove Resort offers couples romantic cruises of Lake Tahoe. No matter whether you’re looking to enjoy the lake during the day or experience a romantic sunset cruise, they’ve got you covered. Their daytime cruise is a 2.5-hour experience that takes you to some of the most scenic parts of the lake and offers gorgeous photo opportunities and a chance to learn about the lake’s history.

Their sunset dinner cruise, on the other hand, sees you treated to delicious, fresh food and signature cocktails while you enjoy a sunset on the lake as your backdrop and is complete with live music. You can also experience their Sipping at Sundown cruise, which is only available in the summer and includes live music, champagne, and light bites.

Distance from Vista Trails Bikes: About 20 miles, or a two-hour ride

Typical Amount of Time Spent: Depends on the cruise. You will need at least 3 hours for the daytime cruise, while the sunset options are usually longer.

What to Bring: Come are you are! You won’t need anything aside from yourselves and a camera to document the views.

Best for Ages: The daytime cruise is ideal as both a date and a family outing, though we recommend leaving the kids at home for the sunset dinner cruise.

Ideal Time of Day: Check the cruise schedule – daytime cruises usually leave at 2:30 pm, while sunset options tend to start around 6 pm.

Vista Trail Bikes’ Special Tip: The daytime cruise is a great way to travel from the South of the lake to North Lake Tahoe. It allows you to take a break, relax, and enjoy the lake before you can get back to a bike tour of the rest of the lake on the other side.

Lake Tahoe is the perfect place for romance. That said, we do recommend opting for bikes where possible – parking can be stressful, especially during the busy season. Instead, drive down to the Vista Trail Bikes shop on the north side of the lake and park in the Starbucks lot, and use your bikes to get around the lake. Not only is it easier, but it will also give you a lot more time to enjoy each others’ company!