After moving to the west coast, Lake Tahoe was at the top of my bucket list for the crystal clear lake, the hiking, and the watersports, but my husband had already been and was not inclined to go back.
When he rejected all of my ideas for a Labor Day getaway near home, he revealed the reason – a surprise trip to Lake Tahoe with our baby for my 30th birthday!
Lake Tahoe with a Baby – Table of Contents
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Getting from the Airport to our Lake Tahoe Accommodations
We flew from Portland to Reno, which is the closest airport to Lake Tahoe.
The stroller/car seat combo is our favorite for flying with a baby. We can easily navigate the airports with our baby and this travel system. It’s easy enough to push the stroller, with the car seat attached and some luggage all with one hand.
Where to Stay in Lake Tahoe with a Baby
North Tahoe is quieter, more peaceful and more expensive, with fewer stores and restaurants. South Tahoe is more urban and busier, with a wider range of accommodation and more stores and restaurants. There are a bunch of casinos on the Nevada side of the lake (the north side), which is a draw for some, but with babies you are not even allowed to walk through some of the casino entrances to hotels.
While visiting Lake Tahoe with a baby, we stayed at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort. We couldn’t have more good things to say about our stay at the Hyatt Regency.
We got an upgrade to the Regency Club with access to complimentary breakfast, snacks, and cocktail hour (with desserts!). The indoor/outdoor pool at the Hyatt Regency was heated, which was key for our time at Lake Tahoe with a baby as the lake was freezing cold.
The beach at the Hyatt Regency was breathtaking. We loved that the lounge chairs by the beach all had umbrellas so we could keep baby in the shade and not have to worry about sun safety. A portable baby beach tent would have also worked well, but thankfully we already had this key baby beach essential taken care of!
The Hyatt Regency hotel in Lake Tahoe also has a spa, complimentary yoga classes on the beach, and smores by the fire pit every night. When picking a hotel for our baby, I hadn’t realized how important the hotel amenities would be in enjoying our trip to Lake Tahoe with our baby, but they turned out to be a big part of what made the trip so enjoyable.
As for other baby travel essentials, the hotel provided a pack and play, so we didn’t need to pack a baby travel crib. To get our baby sleeping on vacation, we did what many other parents do… at bedtime we turned off all the lights and then basically hid in the bathroom eating dinner.
Want to avoid hiding out in the dark? The SlumberPod Privacy Tent is one of the best baby travel gear items for sharing a hotel room with a baby.
Getting Around Lake Tahoe with a Baby
With so many things to do in Lake Tahoe, it’s best to have a rental car for farther distances.
A travel stroller is also worth bringing, as the paved pathways are a beautiful easy walk. Like many places, choosing to bring a stroller vs a baby carrier is a tough choice.
For Lake Tahoe, we recommend bringing both. While the stroller is convenient for the airport and the paved pathways, a baby carrier for hiking is also necessary. We brought our Lillebaby carrier for hiking with our baby.
Things to do in Lake Tahoe with a Baby
East Shore Trail
The Tahoe East Shore Trail is a paved lakeside path that runs from Incline Village down to Sand Harbor State Park. You can either walk or bike on this paved lakeshore trail and stop at one of the 11 beaches it passes along the 3 miles.
Lake Tahoe Hiking
There’s no shortage of hiking around Lake Tahoe, with options for all skill levels. Many of the Lake Tahoe hikes have lake views but there are also plenty of forested trails. If going on a busy weekend it’s important not only to set out early (which we did) but also to be aware of driving distances and traffic because there is just the one road going around the lake and there’s no escape if it gets backed up. You also want to ensure you can get parking as close as possible to the trailhead.
We did the Rubicon Trail in D.L. Bliss State Park, with spectacular views of the lake, a mostly shaded trail, and a path down to the water at the end for some swimming! This hiking trail connects D.L. Bliss State Park to Emerald Bay State Park, which also has plenty of hiking trails.
The 7 mile out and back Rubicon Trail also has a few entrance points so you can choose how long of a hike you want to do. There was a lot of traffic driving from the north end of the lake to the south end, though this may have been mostly due to the holiday weekend. We were not able to park at the actual Rubicon trailhead and had to park on the side of the highway about a quarter mile away.
The Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Loop is another easy trail that you can hike with a toddler or baby. It has plenty of wildflowers and wooden boardwalks that toddlers will love to cross.
Find all the best hiking backpack carriers plus don’t miss these tips on flying with a hiking baby carrier. For more family hikes, check out our list of the best baby and toddler hikes in the USA or the best kid-friendly hikes around the world.
Paddle Boarding on Lake Tahoe
Stand up paddle boarding on Lake Tahoe was one activity we really wanted to do, but on a busy holiday weekend it just wasn’t in the cards for us. With water so clear and huge boulders to explore, it looks like an incredible place to stand up paddle board.
We tried twice to rent paddleboards at Sand Harbor, and both times arrived when the parking lot was already full (one day in the late morning and one day at 8am). Sand Harbor opens at 7am and after the parking lot fills it doesn’t open to new cars until late afternoon (by which time the paddle board rental is closed).
We ended up going later in the day just to explore and swim a little.
If Sand Harbor doesn’t work out, there are other places to rent paddle boards around the lake that might be less busy. Other places to paddle board are D.L. Bliss State Park and Emerald Bay.
Other Watersports on Lake Tahoe
There are many operators on the lake for boating, waterskiing, parasailing, and jet skiing. We booked a parasailing trip through the Hyatt and took turns holding the baby and enjoying the relaxing ride in the sky. Our boat captain was also able to point out interesting mansions and stories of the people who live in them as we rode around the lake.
We brought an infant life vest on the trip specifically for this activity. Our daughter didn’t complain about wearing it but she looked all squished up in it and I don’t think she had much fun. Unfortunately, if a life vest is going to do its job for a baby as young as ours was, there’s no way for it to really be comfortable. I don’t think I would do it again just because she looked so uncomfortable, but my husband reminds me that she didn’t complain.
There are so many things to do in Lake Tahoe! Check out these Lake Tahoe Tours.
Lake Tahoe Beaches
There are just too many beaches along Lake Tahoe to count! Our favorite Lake Tahoe beach with a baby was Hidden Beach, which we stumbled upon while out for a walk on the East Shore Trail. Hidden Beach has a bit of shade, which is so nice when going to the beach with a baby. It also has fun, big boulders to climb on. Our daughter was fascinated with the texture of the sand.
As an added benefit, it was the perfect length from our hotel for a good stroller nap!
Don’t miss these 10 best baby travel items to get baby to sleep on vacation.
Other family-friendly Lake Tahoe beaches are King’s Beach and Common’s Beach, which both have sand and playgrounds for anyone traveling to Lake Tahoe with toddlers.
Sandy beaches are still rare on Lake Tahoe and while Hidden Beach was definitely more interesting, the Hyatt Regency has its own beach with very nice sand and the same distant views of the mountains rising from the water on the other side. What the Hyatt lacks in cool boulders it makes up for with tranquility (only guests are allowed, so no crowds) and the ability to order drinks and food right from your lounge chair on the beach. This was especially useful for when our daughter was napping on the beach.
The Tahoe Public Beaches site is an excellent resource for researching Tahoe beaches and their amenities.
We also spent some time just hanging at the heated pool. We brought little floating toys for our daughter to grab and did a bunch of floating and swimming.
Where to eat in Lake Tahoe with a Baby
We didn’t eat out at any restaurants while in Lake Tahoe. For us it was easier to eat at the hotel and get takeout food for dinner.
We ate breakfast at the hotel club, had light lunches on the go or by the beach/pool, and one of us would pick up food for dinner while the other put the baby to bed. We stopped in Reno for some basics and groceries before driving to Tahoe because everything is cheaper there, though you can buy anything around Lake Tahoe as well.
For feeding our baby solids on vacation, she was new to eating solids so she got small bites of whatever we were eating.
Don’t forget the portable travel high chair when traveling with a baby eating solids.
What to Pack for Lake Tahoe with a Baby
We have a complete packing list for travel with a baby, but we included a few items to pack for Lake Tahoe with a baby below. If you are looking to pack light, renting baby equipment while traveling is an excellent way to do that.
Look into renting baby gear in Lake Tahoe.
Here are some of our infant travel essentials we packed for our trip to Lake Tahoe:
- Infant stroller for travel – we used a travel system which consisted of our Britax B-Safe infant car seat and Britax B-Agile stroller.
- Baby carrier for travel – we used the LILLEbaby carrier.
- Blackout blinds – we use the Dream Art portable blackout curtain with suction cups because it’s light and easy to travel with. The suction cups aren’t the best and do come off sometimes but the price is so good that it’s worth it.
- White noise machine – we have a white noise machine from Project Nursery. It has a bunch of different sounds but we just use the classic white noise. The batteries last a few weeks even using it every night for 12 hours.
- Nursing cover – we like the stretchy nursing cover that doubles as a car seat cover.
- Stroller shade – the Summer rayshade stroller cover gives a lot of extra shade for the stroller. Other options are the Cozigo stroller cover or the Manito sun shade for strollers and car seats.
- Disposable swim diapers – we learned this lesson the hard way after cleaning the reusable swim diaper a few too many times.
- Baby beach essentials – we brought a sunhat for baby, an infant life vest, sunscreen and some floating toys. Another good options is this pool float for babies.
- Baby travel toys – we have the Infantino Spiral Activity Toy which hangs from the car seat handle and stacking cups are perfect because they also float. We also brought baby books to read at naptime and bedtime. This Tails book is a touch and feel book that would occupy my daughter for up to half an hour at a time, perfect for the plane.
- Backpack diaper bag for travel – the easiest diaper bag to travel with is a backpack diaper bag. We kept it packed with diapers, wipes, extra clothes, a wet bag (for dirty diapers and dirty clothes), nursing cover and toys.
Shop all these baby travel items in our convenient Lake Tahoe with a Baby Amazon Shopping List.
Final Travel Tips for Lake Tahoe with a Baby
Though our trip was on a holiday weekend, we found it to be pretty crowded. We’d recommend avoiding holiday weekends when traveling with a baby to Lake Tahoe.
For a trip to Lake Tahoe with toddlers or older babies, many of the beaches are rocky. If it’s important to you to have a sandy beach, you’ll need to do a little research on the beach before you head out.