Best Lake Tahoe summer food & drink experiences

One of my favorite things about Lake Tahoe in summer is how much the outdoor possibilities expand as the days get longer and warmer. The combination of North America’s largest alpine lake and the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada makes the region a playground for outdoor lovers. Even better are some of the unique food and drink experiences at Lake Tahoe’s many great outdoor spaces during the summer. So below I share a few of the best food and drink experiences around Lake Tahoe in summer.

Tahoe City Food & Wine Classic

The Tahoe City Food & Wine Classic (formerly the Tahoe City Wine Walk) is one of Tahoe’s best food and drink events that actually take place along the shores of Lake Tahoe. This year’s event, taking place June 16, celebrates the 13th anniversary. Stroll the scenic sidewalks of Tahoe City’s North Lake Boulevard while sampling beer, wine, and food from some of the region’s best food and drink makers. The Tahoe City event can sell out, so purchase tickets ahead of time. 

Truckee Thursdays

Truckee Thursdays has long been one of my favorite events near Lake Tahoe. Happening every Thursday during the summer (June 14 to August 23 this year), Truckee Thursdays is one big street fair in the heart of downtown Truckee. Local merchants line the streets of Donner Pass Road, selling their wares to the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada and sound of live music. Meanwhile, the food and drink action takes place in the center of Truckee Thursdays, near the stage, featuring a beer garden and food court with food trucks from local vendors. Afterward, I like posting up on one of the downtown Truckee patios, such as Mellow Fellow. 

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Brewmaster Dinner Series

Northstar’s food and drink pairing dinners are among my favorite events around Lake Tahoe. While winter sees the mountain play host to the Mountain Table Dinner Series, pairing regional wineries with five-course meals, the Brewmaster Dinner Series pairs local breweries with a five-course meal. Guests are guided through the decadent meal with Northstar's executive chefs and the featured brewery's brewmaster, while overlooking the Martis Valley at sunset from the patio of Martis Valley Grille. This summer’s events are taking place July 8, August 12 and September 2. Bonus points: The July 8 dinner is the same weekend as the Beerfest & Bluegrass Festival at Northstar.

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Beerfest & Bluegrass Festival

Summer is for beer festivals and live music around Lake Tahoe. And it descends on Northstar California over July 4th Weekend every year for the Beerfest & Bluegrass Festival, which is in its 12th consecutive year. Taking place July 6-8 this summer, the festival's headlining day is Saturday afternoon, when bluegrass bands take to the stage of the Village, while breweries pour their best beers. Additional events include a 5k/10k race on Friday and hike & recovery yoga on Sunday.  Parents can bring their kids, too, for the Kids Zone, featuring soda tastings, face painting, and other hands-on activities.

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Summer Stella Pop-Up Series

Taking place at the Cedar House Sport Hotel, Stella is unique in that it is a series of themed pop-up dinners throughout the year. As they put it, Stella is like a “spirited dinner party.” Stella’s calendar of dinners is updated on their website, with dinners often coinciding with holidays. For Memorial Weekend, they kick off the summer pop-up series with Okonomi, turning Stella into a Japanese kitchen for two nights over the last weekend of May. 

Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival

Lake Tahoe saves the biggest food event for last with the Lake Tahoe Autumn Food & Wine Festival, voted one of the nation’s best food festivals by USA Today. Taking place September 7-9, the Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival this year marks the 33rd year, highlighted by farm-to-table dinners, wine and beer tastings, cooking seminars, and culinary competitions. The weekend culminates with the Grand Tasting, featuring food and wine from some of the region’s top chefs and winemakers.

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Truckee Brew Fest

Finally is Truckee Brew Fest, which is another local festival that’s been running for more than a decade. Taking place June 10, at Truckee River Regional Park, along the Truckee River, the Truckee Brew Fest is in its 12th year, bringing in some of the best West Coast breweries and several cider makers. The beer festival also features live music and food. Advanced tickets, available through local Truckee businesses, are $30, or $35 at the gate.

Southern born and bred, Spencer was bitten by the travel bug at a young age, flying on a plane for the first time at age five and by himself for the first time at seven. While he continues to travel around the world in search for the best whiskey, Spencer now calls Reno home, where his search is for the best cocktail (and first tracks, naturally). He has written about travel, food, and drinks for a number of publications that have included the Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, Outside Magazine, and Travel + Leisure, just to name a few. See a more candid version of Spencer on his website, whiskeytangoglobetrot.com, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.