family activities in Reno, Lake Tahoe, and Northern California

activities we have enjoyed through the seasons since moving to the area in 2016




Andelin Family Farm -  Spring Baby Animals

I think this is an area favorite. They have little activities for the kids, and of course baby animals. Their 2017 dates are April 21st-22nd & April 28th-29th.






 Kings Beach - California

I think Kings Beach is the closest family-friendly beach from the Reno area. It can get very busy, though, and the parking lot is small. The cost for parking is $10 if there is parking available. There is some street parking, but it can be a hike, so bring a wagon if you are taking along a lot of gear.


Chimney Beach

Chimney Beach is a bit less crowded than Kings Beach, and the sand is soft. There are plenty of little wading areas for the kids to play in, too. Sadly, I always forget my camera when we go, but this picture was snapped on my phone during a cold and rainy storm in October. There is a short hike to get down to the beach, and parking can be a challenge in the summer, so I would say don't pack too much gear, but I always see people with a ton of stuff, so I guess whatever floats your boat, lol.



Horsetail Falls - California

Horsetail Falls seems to be popular and parking can be a bit tricky. The trailhead is near Twin Bridges on Route 50. The total hike is almost three miles with the beginning of the hike being moderate. The end of the hike is very difficult, and the trail is not clearly marked. Taking younger kids all the way up would be very difficult because of the very vertical climbing at the end, but there is still plenty to do before that. 

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Mt. Rose - Tahoe Rim Trail

The Mt. Rose trailhead is just past Mt. Rose Ski Resort with a large parking lot and restrooms. We visit here frequently. There is a nice view of Lake Tahoe. We usually go a bit and turn around with the kids.



Fallen Leaf Campgrounds

These were beautiful campgrounds, and the weather was perfect when we visited. I created a video if you want to see more!

Fallen Leaf Lake Campground is located on the south side of Lake Tahoe, approximately 3 miles north of the "Y" (the intersection of Highway 50 and Highway 89) in South Lake Tahoe. The campground entrance can be accessed by turning off Highway 89 onto Fallen Leaf Lake Road.


Loon Lake, CA

This lake wasn't too long of a trip from Reno. It's on the west side of Tahoe; it has beautiful campgrounds, and a small beach with plenty of great swimming! Picture from my friend at Earth Mama Photography!



Bullard's Bar

Jason, the water skiing fanatic of the family really loves this lake. There are plenty of channels, which means it is almost always possible to find calm water. We camped boat-in style, which was fun, but a little difficult for our first boat-in camping experience. We used a small blow-up kayak to take all of our stuff up the shore, because there is no where to really anchor the boat near the shore without worrying about big rocks. 


Oroville Lake

I loved Oroville. It wasn't too busy when we visited, and we are able to find plenty of calm water for skiing. They have floating camping at Oroville complete with a floating restroom, but we opted for a close campground when we visited. The campground was really great, and we loved the lake, too. The drive from Reno up to Oroville is incredibly scenic, but there are a few bumpy roads, which we think damaged our tower on the way. The temperature of the water was perfect, too.

Lahontan Lake

Lahontan Lake
We visited Lahontan Reservoir over Memorial Day Weekend this year and we loved it! The water was between 72 & 74 degrees (plenty warm for water sports). I am sure it will warm up a bit as the summer goes on. The ramps weren't busy, and there was plenty of pull-through trailer parking. The water was also calm enough to ski throughout the day. We were worried about the chemical content leftover from the mining days, but after reading up a bit, we decided surface water chemical loads were low enough to not worry about it. You can find more information about chemical & heavy metal content from mining here.

Lake Tahoe

We love how close Lake Tahoe is, but the kids don't love swimming in it quite as much as the lakes in California, lol. We also have a hard time finding smooth water for skiing. 

lake mead

Lake Mead

We've only visited Lake Mead once. My parents brought our boat up from Oklahoma, and we met them in Vegas. Your boat has to be flushed after Mead, but the water was so warm! I will add the air was incredibly hot, too. I think we lots lots of weight from sweating, lol.




Reno Air Races

This annual event takes place in September. We attended during the week with a homeschool group, and there was so much for the kids to see and do.


Andelin Family Farm Pumpkin Patch & Fall Festival

This is our favorite pumpkin patch in the area. It's up in Sparks off of Pyramid Highway.


Hot Air Balloon Festival

The hot air balloon festival takes place in September, and is completely free. We took a thermos of hot chocolate and some blankets because the glow show starts early. 

Apple Hill

Apple Hill is near Placerville, CA. It took us about three hours to get there. You can really visit anytime, but fall is especially fun. I've heard the weekends can be crazy. We visited during the week during a planned homeschool visit. 





we love to go sledding up at Mt. Rose. If you are coming from Reno, there are a few good hills just past the skiing parking lot.

Mt. Rose sunset


Okay, so I am definitely not the one to ask for advice when it comes to skiing, because we had never skied before we moved here. We did do a family private lesson at Sugar Bowl one day this spring. It was a bit cumbersome with rentals, because our lesson wasn't near the rental location, so the kids were tired from a very long walk over to the other mountain where lessons were, while carrying their gear. Both kids are doing Rosebuds at Mt. Rose this year during the week with a homeschool group. The program runs very smoothly and includes rentals, and they have a nice covered magic carpet. Both kids love it! We are also signed up at Sky Tavern this year, but we haven't had quite enough snow to get going there, yet. We ended up purchasing used gear at an annual ski swap for the kids, but Jason rented gear at Bobo's for the year. It was $99 for children, and maybe $159 for adults? I can't remember for sure, but they are always so helpful when we go in!



We loved cutting down our own Christmas tree. You can read more about it here.

anytime activities

childrens museum reno

Terry Lee Wells Discovery Museum

We love this year round, and have a family membership! The exhibits change frequently enough, and we never run out of things to explore or do.

Fleischmann Planetarium

The kids absolutely love the planetarium shows. They have something showing every day, so we go for birthdays and sometimes for a special Friday night movie.

swim lessons

We enjoyed private swim lessons at Waves Swim & Safety Training for a while, and this might be the kids favorite activity of the week. Elona teaches out of her house with a heated & covered saltwater pool and private pool house. The lessons are one on one, and the kids learn a ton. Her dome over the pool was damaged recently by the wind, though, so we went over to Silver Bear Swim, which also has a saltwater pool. I think she plans to open back up in the spring. Both kids also love Silver Bear. The lessons are limited to four students per teacher, with additional deck managers close by for support. They have locations in Sparks, Reno, and Truckee.

violin lessons

Both kids are enjoying Suzuki Method violin lessons with Marie Syrovy at Carpenter's Music World. She has a website coming soon.

horseback riding lessons

Both kids enjoyed horseback riding lessons with Square One Farm in Spanish Springs. The lessons are all private, and she teaches ages 3 and up!

farm school

Terra attends a farm school program during the week for homeschoolers that is offered year round at Urban Roots. They have camp programs & other activities for non-homeschoolers, though!

Climbing & Yoga

Both kids enjoy climbing and yoga through PB & Jellyfish, which operates at Basecamp. They have the "world's tallest climbing wall" according to the Guinness Book of World Records, and the kids have even climbed on it a little. They also have a dedicated kids climbing room. Miss Becca is really great with the kiddos. I think she often does drop-in classes for yoga when there is availability.

our outdoor family adventures through photos & films