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The gateway to Lake Tahoe, Truckee is also a must-see destination in its own right. A mountain town that grew with the railroad and lumber industries, Truckee retains many of its historic buildings and Old West charm. In Old Town Truckee you can shop in stores where Charlie Chaplin once performed or browse the goods in a former saloon, famous for its 1885 shootout that killed the town’s constable.

Truckee has grown since the days of gunfights, and today includes residential areas known for their recreational opportunities. Communities like Northstar, Martis Camp, and Schaffer’s Mill, located in Martis Valley midway between Truckee and North Lake Tahoe, offer world-class golf courses and access to Northstar’s 3,000 acres of skiable terrain and mountain biking and hiking trails.

Staying in a Truckee vacation rental or ski lease in one of Truckee’s neighborhoods puts you in minutes of other major ski resorts, such as Palisades Tahoe and Alpine Meadows, as well as being close to shops and restaurants in downtown Truckee and the Village at Northstar.

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truckee summer activities

Truckee / Tahoe Donner - Summer Activities

Truckee is full of things to do in the summer months. Start your day by lounging at the beach at Donner Lake. Take the kids to the playground at West End Beach or rent a kayak or wave runner at Donner Lake Marina. If you are feeling adventurous, grab your mountain bike and climb up the 06 out of Sierra Meadows to the miles of single-track trails between Truckee and Tahoe City. If you prefer downhilling, take Northstar’s gondola to the top of the mountain and ride down some of the resort’s 100 miles of mountain bike trails. Northstar’s mountain bike park, one of the top rated on the West Coast, also offers lessons for all levels at its bike academy. Tired after all that biking? Take a break in the Village at Northstar to make your own jewelry at Farah Ralé Bead Design Studio.

In the afternoon, take a stroll around the shops of historic downtown Truckee. On the weekends, you can take a tour of the Old Jail Museum, one of only a few surviving 19th century jailhouses of its kind in the West and one of the few remaining original buildings in Truckee. Besides its history and mountain biking, Truckee is known for its fly fishing. Talk to experts at Mountain Hardware for the best fishing spots, or book a tour through Four Seasons Fly Fishing.

In the evening, Truckee Thursdays features booths by local businesses as well as live music, a beer garden and children’s activities in downtown Truckee. Or on Fridays, head up to Tahoe Donner for Pizza on the Hill’s family movie night.

Truckee / Tahoe Donner - Winter Activities

A winter day in Truckee begins with a choice – downhill or Nordic? If opting for the latter, Northstar has 40 kilometers of groomed Nordic trails for cross-country skiing or snow shoeing, complete with warming huts and hot chocolate. Its new Cross-Country, Telemark + Snowshoe Center features a sundeck and expanded teaching area. Royal Gorge, North America’s largest cross-country ski resort with 330 kilometers of groomed trails, is just 10 miles away in Soda Springs. If you are on Donner Summit, be sure to stop by Soda Springs Winter Resort for some tubing or hit up Sugar Bowl Ski Resort, which gets some of the most snow in the country, around 500 inches a year. Built in 1939 by Walt Disney, Sugar Bowl is the oldest ski area in California. Whatever resort you choose, don’t show up to the mountain unprepared! Check-out Tahoe Dave’s Skis and Boards for all your winter gear!!!

With the many shops and restaurants in the village and 93 ski trails, Northstar is a one-stop-shop to spend a winter day. Ski the resort’s new Lookout Mountain, 200 acres of advanced terrain, or sip hot chocolate and roast s’mores at the ice skating rink. If you are feeling more adventurous, try a backcountry ski trip with Pacific Crest Snowcats. Tours, which meet in Truckee, take you to 3,000 acres of untracked terrain between Squaw Valley and Sugar Bowl.

Truckee / Tahoe Donner - Dining

Truckee is home to some of the best restaurants in the area. For fine dining, you can’t wrong with two of the town’s most established and popular restaurants, Cottonwood and Moody’s Bistro & Lounge, both serving American cuisine. Located in the Hilltop area with views of Old Town, Cottonwood was originally a turn-of-the-century ski area. The restaurant is an ode to its historic past, with old black-and-white photos of bygone ski days and antique ski gear on the walls. Come on a Thursday or Friday for live acoustic music. Moody’s, located in Old Town, is known for its organic and seasonal food. The cozy restaurant has also made a name for itself with its live jazz music; famous musicians like Paul McCartney have even been known to take the stage unannounced!

For more casual dining, try Burger Me! for excellent burgers and shakes, or for New York-style pizza, Best Pies can’t be beat. The Coffee Bar on Jibboom Street is the go-to place to grab a cup of Joe or a latte. The Italian-style café also has great paninis and crepes.

For après-ski, stop in at Northstar’s Chocolate Bar for a chocotini and other drinks, an array of desserts like chocolate fondue, and small plates. Get your sushi on at the resort’s Mikuni Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar, which features over 300 original sushi creations.

truckee dining

Truckee / Tahoe Donner - Services

truckee staff suggestions

Truckee / Tahoe Donner - Staff Suggestions

  • Summer: Don’t miss the 4th of July parade in historic downtown Truckee, a family favorite! Play a round of golf at Northstar, Old Greenwood, Coyote Moon, or Grays Crossing. Mountain bike the Emigrant Trail. Visit the Donner Memorial State Park and learn about the famous wagon trains of the earliest pioneers.
  • Winter: Spend a day at Northstar skiing and snowboarding. Sign up for a moonlight snowshoe adventure. Check out Northstar’s biathlon course or family ice skating in the village. Happy hour at the Cottonwood Hilltop Lodge and dine at Pianeta in historic downtown Truckee.