Kings Beach State Recreation Area

#4 in Best Things To Do in Lake Tahoe
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Courtesy of the North Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureau

Key Info

Bear Street

Price & Hours

6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily


Beaches, Free, Parks and Gardens, Recreation Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend


  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Stretching along Lake Tahoe's northern shore, this beach is one of the largest in the area. The nearly 13-acre park – which encompasses a fair amount of shoreline on the northern edge of Lake Tahoe – is ideal for swimming, sunbathing and boating; plus, there is also a picnic area and a playground, as well as restroom facilities.

Recent visitors said the area is a great place for families, but add that it pays to get there early to find both a parking spot and a place to set up on the beach.  

Kings Beach can get crowded, enticing beach bums with the promise of warm weather, beautiful views and water sports galore. If you're visiting Lake Tahoe in July or August, keep an eye out for some of the park's lesser-known sandy spots.

Kings Beach State Recreation Area is open every day from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. You don't have to pay to play, but there is a charge for parking ($10, May through September and $5 the rest of the year). You might also leave your car in town (the park is near the towns of Kings Beach, Tahoe Vista and Carnelian Bay) and either walk or take the TART bus to the beach. For more information, visit the Kings Beach State Recreation Area website.

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Time to Spend
#1 Emerald Bay State Park

Carved millions of years ago by passing glaciers, this state park is a must-see for anyone looking to experience Lake Tahoe's beauty. Sheltered by towering trees, this inlet along the southwest shore of Lake Tahoe is known for its colorful granite cliffs and stunning panoramas. Follow Highway 89 south from Tahoe City (about 20 miles) or north from South Lake Tahoe (about 10 miles) and you'll come across the Emerald Bay Lookout, the park's crown jewel. And you should make sure you have a camera on hand – the scenery is breathtaking and travelers say there are photo opportunities everywhere you turn.

But staring off into the sunset isn't the only thing to do here. Emerald Bay State Park is also home to several attractions. Budding geologists can hop a boat out to Fannette Island (the only island on Lake Tahoe) where evidence of glacial activity abounds. If you're into history, a stop at Vikingsholm is a must: Built in the 1920s, this former summer home is one of the best examples of Scandinavian architecture in the country. Plus, many of the materials used to construct Vikingsholm came from the Lake Tahoe area, making this mansion an authentic part of the landscape. Adults can tour the home for $10 (children ages 7 to 17 and college student pay $8). Getting to the house takes a bit of doing. After parking in the Vikingshom parking lot by Highway 89 at Emerald Bay, visitors must hike via a steep 1-mile trail that drops 500 feet in elevation. Those with medical conditions or mobility issues are advised not to attempt this hike. 

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