The best time to visit the center is in late September, or October, when the Kokanee salmon are running (males are gorgeous red). In fall, the salmon leave Lake Tahoe and swim up the creek in bunches to spawn. Taylor Creek is the beginning and end of life for the Kokanee salmon.
Every year is the Fall Fish Festival, with activities for kids, such as make a fish print, or step inside an inflatable fish, play Rainbow Trail Bingo, exhibits about wildlife and marine life of Lake Tahoe.
Baldwin Beach - Baldwin Beach is super for families - it's a huge, long expanse of sandy beach. Tallac Creek comes into the lake, there's a shallow area that has warmer water. Picnic tables and barbeques, come prepared to spend all afternoon into the early evening.
Rent bikes - Go for a bike ride through the pine trees on the paved bike path (mostly level) that runs parallel with Emerald Bay Rd. Rent bikes at Anderson's Bicycle Rentals on Emerald Bay Dr. or Mountain Sports Center in Camp Richardson - kids bikes, kid-size helmets, child trailers for toddlers are available.
Whether you're here for a day or a week, going just a short distance up the trail you can enjoy the fabulous scenery of the High Sierra. Around Lake Tahoe, there are miles of hiking trails, from paved paths perfect for strollers to more ambitious hikes on rocky trails. Hiking maps are available at the visitor centers.
Here's two easy, but rewarding hikes:
Fallen Leaf Lake Moraine Trail
- At Fallen Leaf Lake, take the Moraine Trail to the lake, and then you can go along the lake in either direction. The trail starts out in the pine trees, follows along Taylor Creek, and it's just a short distance to the lake. If you go right, and cross the bridge over the creek, the trail meanders through an aspen grove, which turns brilliant yellow in fall. If you go in the other direction, the trail follows the lake, and there are lots of place to play and wade in the water.
This is an easy trail, even for the littlest kids, and is largely level all the way. The trailhead is in the Fallen Leaf campground, park in the day use parking lot.
- The Angora Lakes are crystal clear high mountain lakes, but it's only a quick romp up the trail to get to them (a road takes you most of the way, the lower lake is less than half a mile). The Lower Angora Lake is a sandy bottom lake, surrounded by pine trees (where you can picnic in the shade), and warm-ish water, so bring your swim suits. Continue up the trail to the upper Angora Lake, where in summer you can stop at the old-fashioned Angora Lakes Resort for a delicious lemonade.
Horseback riding - In warmer months, go for a breakfast trail ride or afternoon ride with western style barbecue (kids 6 and up). Older kids will enjoy longer three or four hour guided trail rides or overnight pack trip. There are also wagon and hay rides for little kids, and in winter, sleigh rides. Check out Camp Richardson Corral or Cascade Stables.
Timber Cove Marina
- Rent a kayak
and explore Lake Tahoe at your own pace. Rentals include life vests and basic instruction, double kayaks have a center seat perfect for little ones. (Kayak Tahoe
will also deliver kayaks to Baldwin Beach or Sand Harbor also). More ways to get out on the water - pedal boats, aqua bikes, power boats and sail boats are available for rent at Timber Cover Marina.
South Lake Tahoe Recreation Area
- At this public area, rent pedal boats and kayaks or launch your own boat. Picnic tables and a sandy beach too.
Lake cruises (Ski Run Marina) - Steamboats have long been a tradition on Lake Tahoe - in the 19th century, steamers carried people, mail and freight around the lake. Take a lake cruise on the Tahoe Queen paddlewheeler. There are family fun cruises with "Tahoe Tessie," kid-friendly food and fun facts from the captain.
Playgrounds and amusements -
Bijou Community Park
- This large community park has a big playground
with swings, slides and climbing structures for little kids, picnic tables, basketball courts and a skate park.
South Lake Tahoe ice arena and swimming pool
- Indoor ice skating year round at the South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena on Rufus Allen Blvd. Open daily, skates are available for rent. Also in the same recreation complex is a large public swimming pool. The outdoor pool is open May to October, in winter swim in the indoor pool - public swim times are in the afternoon.
Magic Carpet Golf
- The whole family can have fun on three different miniature golf courses, each with a different theme. Next door is the Tahoe Amusement Park
which has a shorty roller coaster, carousel, bumper cars, and rides fun for little kids (summers only).
Gondola Scenic Rides (Heavenly Village) - Take a gondola ride to the top of Heavenly, over 2 miles up the mountain. At the top, there are spectacular views of Lake Tahoe, hiking in warm-weather, a cafe for snacks, and full-outdoor restaurant. Scenic rides are from June - October.