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Truckee | Visit California


This charming mountain town is the central hub for North Shore destinations

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An easy 20-minute drive from Lake Tahoe’s north shore, Truckee is a High Sierra destination all its own. Historically a logging town, Truckee was also the site for major railroad construction in the 1860s. Today, its Old West-style downtown, located along Donner Pass Road, 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 of the many galleries in town, where you’ll find the handiwork of local artists, including sculpture, hand-blown glassware, woodwork, and more.

Learn about local history at the town’s array of museums, including the Museum of Truckee History (MoTH), the Truckee Railroad Museum, and the small but compelling Old Jail Museum. Stroll along a (downloadable) self-guided historic downtown walking tour, or, while making your way by car along Donner Pass Road, stop at the numerous interpretive signs that make up the outdoor 20 Mile Museum—you’ll learn about such things as ice harvesting, ski history, Native American petroglyphs in the area and more.

Local history is also a focus, along with nature, at the independent bookstore, Word After Word Books, where you’ll find a Kids’ Room well stocked with books for children of all ages. 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. Sharing the space with Bespoke is the couple’s combo gallery, retail store, and arts classroom Atelier, where aspiring creatives 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 mountain cuisine options, including StellaPianeta, 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 about cheese pairings or making your own pasta, and Great Gold’s “mountain Italian” cuisine has proven to be a new local hot spot since it opened in late 2020. Moody’s Bistro Bar & Beats is Truckee’s nightlife landmark, serving up 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 (check the Truckee-Tahoe nightlife page for more live music options). For quality wines and wine tasting, visit Uncorked Truckee or The Pour House, both of which have a wide selection of wines on hand from small vineyards around the world.

Craft beer also has a strong presence here, thanks to breweries such as FiftyFifty Brewing Co., which recently won best brewing group of the year. Be sure to visit Alibi Ale Works - Truckee Public House, which does triple duty as a pilot brewery with the largest beer garden in town, a live music venue, and a great family-friendly restaurant (get one of their brats on a pretzel bun).

Year-round family fun (and outdoor adventure) 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 walk or bike ride, take advantage of Truckee’s more than 22 miles of scenic paved paths, including the scenic, 9.1-mile out-and-back Truckee River Legacy Trail, much of which parallels the Truckee River.

In the winter, Truckee’s ideal location is just 10–15 minutes away from some of Tahoe’s best ski resorts, including Palisades TahoeNorthstar CaliforniaHomewood Mountain Resort, and Sugar Bowl Resort. If downhill isn’t your style, there are plenty of other types of family-friendly winter activites, including snowshoeing, tubing, sledding, and cross-country skiing—nearby Royal Gorge boasts the most cross-country trails of any ski resort in North America. You can also hire a local guide and set out on a backcountry ski or snowmobile tour.

No matter what time of year you’re in the region, you’ll find that the locals put a premium on sustainability and stewardship of the environment, and encourage the concept of voluntourism. Take the Traveler Responsibility Pledge and learn more about how you can become a steward of Truckee-Tahoe here.

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