With the weather getting warmer, a trip to the beach is sounding more and more like a good idea. Luckily, California has a sandy paradise around every corner, and we’re not just talking about beaches on the coast. Drive further inland and you’ll find even more waterfront on the shimmering Lake Tahoe. Famous for its massive size and crystal clear blue water, this mountain lake sits on the California-Nevada border with sprawling beaches and something special to offer every season. But nothing is more refreshing than swimming or laying by the water during the summer, and these ten beaches on the California side provide the perfect places to do just that.
1. Baldwin Beach, South Lake Tahoe
Photo by Markus Spiering on Flickr
If you need any reason to visit Baldwin Beach, come for the solitude. It’s hardly crowded here, and the panoramic views of nearby Sierra Nevada mountains are worth the trip alone. Aside from the quiet seclusion you’ll find kayak rentals here, picnic tables and some BBQs.
2. Meeks Bay, Tahoma
Photo by the_tahoe_guy on Flickr
On the West Shore, Meeks Bay has a white sandy beach only steps away from a rustic campground and resort with cabins. There’s a small snack shack where you can grab a bite to eat here, plus kayak rentals and volleyball courts are at the ready.
3. Commons Beach, Tahoe City
Photo by VeeVee N. on Yelp
In downtown Tahoe City, Commons Beach is popular for good reason. Families love it here, not just for the views, but the four-plus-acre park has sandy waterfront, grassy area to lay on, picnic tables, benches and a playground for the little ones.
4. Pope Beach, South Lake Tahoe
Photo via TripAdvisor
In addition to beautiful sandy shoreline, Pope Beach has plenty of shade from surrounding tall pines, which can be a total lifesaver on a hot day. Spread a blanket out for a picnic, or find a spot at one of the many tables or benches. A rental place is open here as well, with kayaks and paddle boards.
5. Kings Beach
Taken by Chris Yunker on Flickr
Kings Beach is a small community on the North Shore, next to the Nevada border, with downtown beachfront and many local restaurants within a short walking distance. It’s a prime spot to lay out your beach towel and soak in the views, or rent a paddle board to take out on the water. The best part? It’s in an area known as the “Banana Belt” so you can always count on the sun shining.
6. Kiva Beach, South Lake Tahoe
Photo by Ray Bouknight on Flickr
Kiva Beach is one of few select beaches near South Lake Tahoe where you can bring your dog. It’s a hidden gem, mostly because the beach can only be reached by taking a short trail through the woods after you park. From the free parking area and Visitor’s Center, a paved trail through the forest leads down to the water. You can go swimming in the water here, but be careful – it can be rocky in some areas until you get further out from the shore.
7. Speedboat Beach, near Kings Beach
Photo by Doug Jones
Don’t let the name fool you – Speedboat Beach has more to offer than opportunities for boating. Filled with huge rock boulders and crystal clear blue water, this hidden gem’s one of the most scenic beaches on the North Shore. Keep in mind, parking around here can be limited, especially on the weekends, so arrive early for your best chances at finding a spot.
8. Emerald Bay State Park, South Lake Tahoe
Photo by Michael on Wikipedia
On Lake Tahoe’s postcard-worthy Emerald Bay, this state park has more than just sandy beach to wander. You can also take hiking trails here, go camping for the night, and explore the elegantly-designed Vikingsholm, a 38-room mansion that’s considered one of the best examples of Scandinavian architecture in the U.S. The water has an amazingly deep sapphire color, and makes for some pretty spectacular photo ops. Looking to break from the crowds? Kayak out to Fannette Island and explore the tea house on the top, made from rocks. The lake views are second to none!
9. D.L. Bliss State Park
Photo by Mark Doliner on Flickr
D.L. Bliss State Park lies just north of Emerald Bay, with equally-dreamy Lake Tahoe views. The park includes several campgrounds, hiking trails and a beach with soft white sand you can dig your toes into. If you’re looking for more of a leg-stretch, try hiking the Rubicon Trail, a 6.5-mile trail that winds along the lake’s southwest shore. A lot of people like to follow the trail all the way down to Vikingsholm in Emerald Bay SP.
10. Sugar Pine Point State Park, Tahoma
Photo via DimiTalen on Wikipedia
On the West Shore, Sugar Pine Point has a long rocky beach, and trails & campsites in dense forest. The park’s also home to the historic Hellman-Ehrman Mansion, which was built in 1903 and now serves as an elegant site for weddings.