6 Outrageously Fun Things to do in Tahoe (Besides Racing)

6 Outrageously Fun Things to do in Tahoe (Besides Racing)

If you’re gearing up for the Spartan World Championships at Lake Tahoe this September, you’re probably consumed with training to conquer the course like the crusher you are. Researching sightseeing spots? Who has time for that? That’s okay. You keep focused on your workouts, champ. But be sure to book a few extra days in town after you cross the finish line. Guaranteed, you’re going to want to stay, explore, and check out these amazing things to do in Tahoe.

6 Things to Do in Tahoe

1. Do Some Stargazing

things to do in tahoe star gazing

Nope. Not talking about eyeballing Spartan’s elites and previous world champs (though opportunities to do that will be plentiful) Rather, spend the night connecting with the cosmos, courtesy of Tahoe Star Tours. 

With its high elevation and low light pollution, Tahoe is an unparalleled spot from which to stargaze. And doing so under the guidance of professional astronomers while using state-of-the-art telescopes will give you an experience that’s out of this world.   

2. Take a Helluva Heli Ride

things to do in tahoe helicopter ride

Want a vantage point of the race course that simply can’t be seen when you’re tromping through the mud on the heels of other runners? Then take a helicopter ride, and enjoy an epic aerial view of Lake Tahoe, surrounding waterfalls, and the spectacular mountain wilderness. 

Related: Tahoe Countdown: How to Plan, Pack and Eat

3. See the Wild (West) Side

things to do in tahoe steam train
Photo credit: Virginia & Truckee Railroad

Release your inner cowboy (or cowgirl) by taking a Wild West Tour from Lake Tahoe to Virginia City, Nevada, complete with one-hour ride on a steam train. 

The tour passes along part of the Pony Express, the 1860s trail that once carried mail across the US, and it also provides a few free hours to explore the historic district of Virginia City. Meander Main Street with its 19th-century western-style stores and saloons. Or visit the Mark Twain Museum and the rumored-to-be-haunted Mackay Mansion, built by the Hearst family in 1859. 

4. Support Local Artisans

things to do in tahoe women shopping
Photo credit: Rachid Dahnoun / Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority

Even for a Spartan, faster is not always better. And the “slow products” that are sold in Bespoke, an artisan store featuring local and regional handmade goods, attest to that. 

Situated on Truckee’s historic downtown strip, Bespoke is that kind of treasure trove you could poke around in for hours. And everything you buy—lanterns to camping mugs to stationery—supports local artists. 

If you want to fly home with something other than your Spartan Race finisher’s medal, you’ll find a standout gifts for your favorite people (yourself included) here. 

Related: 5 Jaw-Dropping Spartan Transformations

5. Eat Like an Angel

things to do in tahoe blue angel cafe

Whatever your preferred style of eating, the Blue Angel Café, situated on Ski Run Boulevard, has you covered. An international menu boasts everything from curries as cooked on the street markets of Bangkok, to bourguignon stew just as French country folk might cook it. 

But the real draw for athletes for whom specialized diets are the norm, you’ll find a wide range of vegetarian, vegan, organic, and gluten-free items on offer. 

6. Ride the Gondola 

things to do in tahoe gondola ride

Lovers gonna love, Spartans gonna race, and Tahoe tourists gonna take a gondola. 

Heavenly Mountain Gondola is a 2.4-mile mountain cable transport that offers breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe. You can stop off at the mid-station observation deck located at 9,123 feet. From here, take your time enjoying the spectacular sights of Carson Valley, Desolation Wilderness, and a panoramic view of Lake Tahoe. Additionally, you can continue up to the ski slopes and hiking trails. 

Want to ride gratis? Check out the free version that takes you from Truckee at Northstar up to the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. The views aren’t as striking, but it’s still an incredible experience. And if anyone deserves that after these last few months of training, it’s you.