8 Fun Things to Do in North Lake Tahoe in Fall


If you're heading to Northstar just before winter, you might wonder what to do in North Lake Tahoe in fall. Here are 8 of our favorite fall activities in Tahoe.

Posted on August 18, 2023

Father and Son mtn bike at Northstar

People might associate Lake Tahoe with winter sports and summer water skiing, but there's no shortage of things to do in the area during fall either. Fall in Tahoe means temperate weather, changing leaves, and plenty of options when it comes to planning a fun outing for your family or friend group.  

Whether you love lively festivals or prefer to hit the trails, you'll find a wide variety of things to do in North Lake Tahoe in the fall. Check out these eight fun-filled activities before you head out on your trip.  

Check Out the Changing Leaves  

Fall is synonymous with foliage changing from bright green to fiery shades of yellow, orange, and red. You'll have plenty of opportunities to peep fall foliage in Northern California during your Tahoe trip. In fact, you can spot a lot of colorful foliage on fall hikes in North Lake Tahoe. Hikes range from under an hour to full-day adventures, so there are plenty of options for both families with young kids and athletes looking for a challenge.  

Some of North Lake Tahoe's must-see fall-color trails include:  

  • The Martis Valley Trail, a paved pathway that connects downtown Truckee with Northstar Boulevard.  
  • The Donner Summit Trail, located about 15 minutes west of Northstar along I-80.  
  • The Emigrant Trail, located about 9 miles northwest of Northstar along CA-89. 

Meander the Shops at Northstar Village 

Located at the heart of the resort, the Village at Northstar is a great way to spend leisure time exploring the many shops and boutiques. The pedestrian friendly area boasts activities, clothing, ski gear, gift shops, souvenirs with plenty of dining and sweet treats. Visiting the shops is one of the best North Lake Tahoe things to do in fall because you can make a day of it no matter what the weather is like. There are several restaurants and cafes that you can tuck into if it gets cold or starts raining while you're out.  


Enjoy a Fireside Drink or Cocktail  

Fall afternoons in North Lake Tahoe can be a bit chilly. Warm up and enjoy a chat with friends by checking out one of Northstar's on-site bars. The Bourbon Pub offers sumptuous bites and expertly crafted drinks just steps from the Big Springs Gondola, and with outdoor seating in the fall. Or, head to Wild Pine Restaurant in the Village at Northstar during the afternoon or early evening hours to enjoy hearty meals, shared plates, and signature cocktails. 

Be sure to check out reservations and seasonal hours ahead of time. 


Hit a North Lake Tahoe Fall Festival  

The greater Lake Tahoe area is home to several fall festivals that celebrate everything from salmon spawning to the local arts scene. You'll truly find something for everyone here — whether you want to check out handmade crafts or the best in local food, there's a festival for it. Be sure to check locations carefully. Most tourism-oriented Tahoe sites list festivals on both sides of the lake.  

You should also note that not all of North Lake Tahoe's fall festivals are listed on one site. You can check a variety of local websites and event calendars to find information about upcoming festival dates, operating hours, and ticket prices.  


Explore the Infamous North Lake Tahoe Ale Trail 

Microbrew lovers will find that the greater Tahoe area is home to a variety of brewpubs and bars. If you're ready for a day of adventure with a group of friends, check out the Tahoe Ale Trail. You can ride the trail on bike if you want to combine challenging exercise with stellar brews. If you'd prefer a more low-key experience, hit the trail via car.  

Of course, you should always choose a designated driver before traveling the ale trail. The microbreweries along the trail offer great food and non-alcoholic beverages — be sure to treat your DD to something delicious!  


Go On an Equestrian Adventure  

One of the best ways to enjoy North Lake Tahoe in fall is by heading out on horseback. On a horseback tour, you'll get to take in changing fall foliage and the incredible vistas of Lake Tahoe. This is the perfect activity for a family that wants to enjoy a day bonding and learning more about the art of riding.  

You can book semi-private trail rides at the Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center until mid-October. The Equestrian Center is located about 13 miles Northwest of Northstar via CA-89.  


Cruise the Lake Aboard the Tahoe Gal  

It may be too chilly for a swim in the fall, but you can still enjoy being out on the lake thanks to North Tahoe Cruises. Board the Tahoe Gal for a lunch cruise to check out some of the lake's best-known attractions, including Emerald Bay and Zephyr Cove. The Tahoe Gal also operates evening cruises and private charters. All tours depart from Tahoe City about 14 miles from Northstar. 

Start Your Next North Lake Tahoe Fall Adventure at Northstar 

North Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Sierras in the fall. You might be able to do a day trip to enjoy some of the area's many offerings, but why not stay a few days instead? There's so much to do during fall in North Lake Tahoe that you'll never be bored. Start planning your adventure at Northstar California today. With everything from comfortable lodging to family-friendly amenities, the resort makes the perfect base camp for all of your Tahoe adventures.