Up and over the hill from Lake Tahoe’s north shore, Truckee offers an easy base for an adventure-filled trip. Historically a logging town, Truckee was also the site for major railroad construction in the 1860s. Today, its Old West-style downtown has morphed into an artistic hub, with historical sites and appealing boutiques and galleries. This creative culture earned Truckee the designation of a California Cultural District in 2017.
Drop by Gallery 5830’, Mountain Arts Collective, and Riverside Studios, just three among many galleries, where you’ll find the handiwork of dozens of local artists, including works of sculpture, hand-blown glassware, woodwork, and more.
Learn more about local history and nature at the independent bookstore, Word After Word, owned by two local moms. Or take home cool souvenirs and home decor with a mountain edge from Bespoke, a curated gift store owned by husband and wife Brian Hess and Heather River. A few doors down, the couple’s combo gallery, retail store, and arts classroom Atelier welcomes creative wannabees to come learn how to do everything from knit to screenprint to arrange flowers.
The town has also become something of a foodie hot spot, with sophisticated but comfortable options including Stella, Pianeta, and Drunken Monkey, a favorite for sushi lovers. Chef-owners John and Nyna Weatherson dream up inventive prix fixe menus at Trokay, where you can also take classes to learn about cheese pairings or how to make your own pasta. Moody’s Bistro Bar & Beats is Truckee’s nightlife landmark, serving up mountain roadhouse-style food and live jazz inside the 1873 Truckee Hotel. Nab a seat at the bar to watch acts like Mose Allison and Shotgun Wedding Quintet. For quality wines and wine tasting, visit The Pour House, with more than 350 wines on hand from small vineyards around the world.
Craft beer also has a strong presence here—be sure to visit Alibi Ale Works’ Truckee location, which does triple duty as a pilot brewery, a public house that also serves food (get the gourmet nachos), and live music venue. Another Truckee beer destination is FiftyFifty Brewing Co., which recently won best brewing group of the year.
Year-round adventure (and outdoor recreation) is easy to find in Truckee. In the warmer months, choose from rafting, swimming, rock climbing, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Or maybe a lazy float? Drive into Tahoe City on a warm summer day and you can’t miss the big tents set up alongside the sparkling Truckee River, where operators rent out inflatable rafts and inner tubes for a leisurely do-it-yourself day on the water. Sparkling Donner Lake, also located in Nevada County, is a fun alternative to Tahoe. For an easygoing bike ride, follow the 2.75-mile Truckee River Legacy Trail; much of the paved path parallels the pretty Truckee River.
In the winter, Truckee’s ideal location is just 10–15 minutes away from some of Tahoe’s best ski resorts, including Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Boreal Mountain Resort, and Homewood Mountain Resort. And if downhill isn’t your style, there’s plenty of backcountry tours, snowmobile terrain, and sledding adventures nearby.