From its rough railway history as the main and only stop between San Francisco and Salt Lake City, Truckee has emerged as one of the most lively, upscale burgs in the Sierra.
The charming little town of downtown Truckee (with only about 16,000 locals) has plenty to offer visitors. As you stroll along the three blocks of its main street, you’ll enjoy visiting a variety of eclectic shops and art galleries, all set in authentic historic buildings.
Truckee also boasts some of the best restaurants in the entire Lake Tahoe region. Along the river in downtown Truckee, you can warm yourself by the stove while sipping the award-winning pinot noirs of the family-owned Truckee River Winery.
Truckee is surrounded by the dramatic Sierra Nevada Mountains and is only 13 miles from Lake Tahoe. The 72-mile drive around magnificent Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America is a must see. Its extraordinary blue water is set like a jewel in the mountains.
If you choose to leave your car at home, Lake Tahoe can easily be reached by a bargain day ticket on the Tahoe Area Regional Transport (TART) bus. Truckee is also a conveniently short drive from four ski resorts, or you can take advantage of the free ski shuttle that departs Truckee’s train station every hour for Squaw Valley, Northstar, Alpine Meadows, or Homewood ski resorts.
Rail history buffs can watch the present-day trains rumble past Truckee’s downtown or stop by the Truckee Railroad Museum located in the caboose.
In addition, Truckee boasts some of California’s most dramatic pioneer history. Just several miles from town, Donner Memorial State Park’s Emigrant Trail museum is open year round. The members of the Donner Party were stranded at Donner Lake in the winter of 1846-47. (I enjoyed snowshoeing on the state park’s well-groomed trails during my last winter visit.)
If you choose to make Truckee your home base for all the region’s winter sports activities, you’ll find that an accommodation in town is an excellent value when compared to the price of one of the nearby resorts.
If You Go