In the Sierra Nevada mountains, bordering the Tahoe National Forest and less than ten miles from Lake Tahoe lies Truckee, a small mountain town with big adventure to offer. From ski resorts and fine Italian dining, to museums rich with history and classic trains on display, Truckee has something for everyone.
1. Donner Memorial State Park and Emigrant Trail Museum
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Donner Memorial State Park is located in the Sierra Nevada mountains, offering summer vacationers opportunities for a wide array of outdoor activities. From camping to picnicking, boating, fishing, water-skiing, and even hiking, visitors will find ample entertainment in this park that encompasses Schallenberger Ridge. The ridge is well known for its older sedimentary rocks, huge boulders, and collections of geological debris that is leftover from a time period when glaciers dominated the area. For a more historical visit a trip to the Emigrant Trail Museum is encouraged to learn about the original settlers who made the long trek from the east to California in the mid 1800s.
12593 Donner Pass Rd, Phone: 530-582-7892
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2. Northstar California
© Northstar California
Most well known as a winter resort, Northstar California is a mountain resort that operates during both winter and summer offering a vast array of activities depending on the season. During the winter guests can take advantage of the many ski and snowboard trails, the family friendly restaurants, outdoor skating, firepits, and other exciting winter activities. Once the snow melts the resort opens for mountain biking, scenic ski lift rides up the wooded slopes, ample picnic locations, and breathtaking hikes that will lead visitors to beautiful vistas. No matter what time of year Northstar California is a family themed destination that is designed with the entire family in mind.
5001 Northstar Dr, Truckee, CA 96161, Phone: 530-562-2267
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3. Historic Downtown Truckee
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About 3 hours from San Francisco, Downtown Truckee is a historic district filled with dozens of independently owned and operated businesses, from shops to eateries, museums, and more. There is often live entertainment, multiple opportunities for historic walking tours, local artists displaying their merchandise, and items on sale for both locals and tourists. The historic downtown is managed by a nonprofit association known as the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association, which was founded in 1972, and organizes many events throughout the year. Historic Downtown Truckee is a family friendly destination that combines history with modern desires, and a walk through this district will help visitors experience the past of Truckee while supporting its future at the same time.
P.O. Box 1356, Truckee, CA 96160, Phone: 530-214-0734
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4. Boreal Mountain Resort
© Boreal Mountain Resort
Located near Lake Tahoe, just west of Truckee, Boreal Mountain Resort is a ski destination in the wintertime and a hiking paradise in the summer. For those looking for winter adventure, Boreal offers a diverse collection of ski runs of varying difficulty, a tubing hill for family fun, and an assortment of restaurants to please any appetite. Snow amounts vary year from year so it is highly recommended visiting their website or contacting them by phone before planning a visit. During summertime visits guests can typically expect warm, pleasant weather with hikes leading to clear vistas and plenty of sunshine.
19749 Boreal Ridge Rd, Soda Springs, CA 95728, Phone: 530-426-3666, (website link)
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5. KidZone Museum, Truckee, California
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Originally founded in 1992, the Sierra Nevada Children’s Museum (aka KidZone Museum) was the brainchild of a coalition of parents, agencies, and educations in Truckee. The museum has over 30,000 visitors annually, and is considered most optimal for children under the age of 7. Throughout the year there is a full schedule of camps, school programs, exhibits, and volunteer opportunities for the community and visitors to take part in. The KidZone Museum is considered a bilingual building and welcomes families that speak either English or Spanish with open arms. For information on specific events and hours of operation visit their website or contact them by telephone.
11711 Donner Pass Road, Truckee, CA 96161, Phone: 530-587-5437, (website link)
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6. Truckee Bike Park
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The Truckee Bike Park is a local attraction that often raises money for charity while at the same time provides an outlet for all bike lovers in the area. The park is divided into 12 different sections: slopestyle, dirt jumps, XC loop, dual slalom, pump track, strider track, flor track, flow lines, drop zone, BMX track, XC trail, and the rhythm dirt jumps. Depending on the riders skill level and interests they will want to visit different sections of the park. For instance, the pump/strider tracks offer 30,000 sq feet of rolling hills that can be enjoyed by anyone, while the dirt jumps help fulfill the desire to get airborne.
12200 Joerger Dr, Truckee, CA 96161, Phone: 530-401-0513
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7. Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center
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The Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center will fulfill every horse lovers desire for an equestrian filled vacation. First and foremost the center hosts equestrian groups who are travelling, and also provides a location for horse boarding both short and long term. On top of this, there are guided trail rides for both adults and children, pony rides for those who may be too young to handle a horse on their own, as well as lessons, camps, and frequent equestrian events. For families searching for a closer connection to nature, the Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center may be the perfect addition to their California vacation.
Northwoods Clubhouse, 11509 Northwoods Blvd., Truckee, CA 96161, Phone: 530-587-9400
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8. Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area
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As a self proclaimed “the best place to begin,” the Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area has created an extremely family friendly resort where beginners can easily learn the basics of winter downhill sports. With everything from classes to short runs, specific ski lift tickets for parents with non-skiing children who need to switch off who spends time off the mountain, and even a chance to meet the ski patrol dogs, Tahoe Donner provides a personal touch that families tend to appreciate. For the more experienced skier or snowboarder there are wide open bowls, fresh groomed trails waiting, and a terrain park to satisfy the need for speed.
Northwoods Clubhouse, 11509 Northwoods Blvd., Truckee, CA 96161, Phone: 530-587-9400, (website link)
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9. Things to Do in Truckee, California: Tahoe Donner Cross Country
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Downhill skiing may be the more popular sport, but for those who have experienced the blissful exercise that is cross country skiing, the Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Center is a must visit. Over 60 miles of groomed trails that snake through the mountainside, follow babbling creeks, and climb to views of the Sierra Crest await lovers of this sport. There are also a smaller section of trails designated as dog-friendly, so guests are encouraged to bring their four legged friend along on vacation this year. Of course, for those who are interested but don’t have cross country experience there are private, adult, child, and adaptive skier lessons available.
Northwoods Clubhouse, 11509 Northwoods Blvd., Truckee, CA 96161, Phone: 530-587-9400
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10. Donner Lake Watersports & Marina
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Donner Lake rests in a valley between the Sierra Nevada mountains, its waters supplied by snow melt off and natural springs, and its shored are often sandy and welcoming to sunbathers and swimmers alike. On Donner Lake guests can boat, fish, swim, kayak, canoe, paddle board, and more. There is a marina for visitors who wish to bring their own boat, and there are also motor boat and paddle sport rentals for families that prefer to travel a bit lighter when they go on vacation. In the mountain climate the weather can change quickly, so guests are advised to check with the local marina/watersports shop for the most up-to-date forecasts.
12593 Donner Pass Road, Truckee CA 96161, Phone: 530-582-1999
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11. Black Tie Ski Rentals of North Lake Tahoe
© Black Tie Ski Rentals of North Lake Tahoe
This Ski Rental company stands out above the competition because of their in-room fitting service, industry experience, and slopeside visits that are available on-demand. Sometimes the most tedious thing of visiting a ski resort is waiting in a long line before renting equipment, but with Black Tie Ski Rentals customers can have winter gear delivered directly to their room. The technician will custom fit all skis and snowboards, and if the conditions change on the mountain throughout the trip the technicians are just a phone call away. Black Tie Ski Rentals offers the selection of a premier ski shop combined with the convenience of free delivery.
North Tahoe, CA, Phone: 866-838-3754
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12. Truckee Railroad Museum
© Truckee Railroad Museum
The Truckee Railroad Museum is situated in downtown Truckee, next to the historic railroad station that once serviced the town as the primary means of shipping and travel for the Southern Pacific Railroad. All of the onsite cabooses are restored using original Southern Pacific paint schemes and parts, and inside the museum itself is a collection of stories, pictures, recreations, and other railroad related artifacts that showcase the history and importance of railroads in early Truckee history. Hours are Saturday, Sunday, and Holidays 10am to 4pm, depending on whether or not volunteer docents are available.
10075 Donner Pass Rd, Truckee, CA 96161
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13. Old Truckee Jail Museum
© Old Truckee Jail Museum
Located just one block north of Commercial Row, near the corner of Jibboom and Spring Streets, the Old Truckee Jail Museum is in downtown Truckee and generally open each weekend from 10am to 4pm. The museum tells the history of a jailhouse that was built in the 19th century, and is one of the few remaining original buildings located in Truckee. The building was originally proposed in August 1873 and was completed by September 22nd, 1875. For history lovers this museum is a must see, as it is filled with old photos, recreated rooms, and a rich history of a lawless “wild west” town eventually finding law and order.
10142 Jibboom St, Truckee, CA 96161, Phone: 530-582-0893
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14. Things to Do in Truckee, California: Coyote Moon Golf Course
© Coyote Moon Golf Course
Often described as one of the finest mountain golf experiences in the state of California, as well as the entire United States, Coyote Moon Golf Course spans across 250 acres of isolated green hills. The course will take golfers through a natural wonderland of towering pine trees, gigantic exposed pieces of naturally occuring granite, collections of wildflowers, and the mountain fed Trout Creek. Golfers looking to enjoy the scenery, fresh mountain air, and play a course designed by Brad Bell, a former PGA Tour player, then Coyote Moon Golf Course is a must visit destination.
10685 Northwoods Blvd., Truckee, CA 96161, Phone: 530-587-0886
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15. Truckee River Winery
© Truckee River Winery
California is filled with wineries, winery tours, and wine history enough to satisfy any connoisseur. Truckee River Winery adds to that rich heritage with a unique twist, wine that is stored in barrels at high elevation and low temperatures to slow the fermentation process and create diverse flavor profiles. Truckee River Winery was founded by Russ and Joan Jones in their two car garage in 1989, and since then they have slowly grown into a local staple featuring events, a tasting room, an award winning Pinot Noir, and a staff that is always happy to answer any questions wine related that customers can think of.
10061 S River St, Truckee, CA 96161, Phone: 530-587-4626
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16. Truckee River Legacy Trail
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After 20 years of planning, collaboration, and community involvement the Truckee River Legacy Trail was finally brought to life in 2014. The trail is a Class 1 bikeway and Multi-Use trail, connecting into the greater part of Truckee’s Bikeways and trail system. Used as both a recreation and leisure trail, the Legacy Trail is a 5 mile long, mostly riverside, trip that has a few branches to specific sights of interest. Highly recommended for families looking for a relaxing way to spend an afternoon; the trail is handicap friendly, stroller friendly, dog friendly, and has a few different parking lots located along its span.
Legacy Trail, Truckee, CA 96161
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17. Tahoe Whitewater Tours
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This whitewater tour company has been operating in the Lake Tahoe region since 1994, and over the course of this time have provided adventures for near countless individuals, families, and group trips. The company operates on a selection of rivers, varing in length, difficulty, and views offered. The rivers include Truckee River, East Fork Carson River, North Fork American River, Middle Fork American River, and the South Fork American River. Trips available include half day, full day, and multiple day options, and all of these trips can be customized to accommodate not only the customers skill levels, but also their varying appetite for adventure.
10015 Palisades Dr, Truckee, CA 96161, Phone: 530-587-5777
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18. West End Beach
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Considered to be one of the favorite summer destinations for locals looking to cool off in the summer heat, the West End Beach features a collection of amenities available to visitors: beach area, basketball court, boat parking, boat rentals (kayaks, paddle boats, stand up paddleboards), boat storage, and a boating area. In addition to this there are also covered pavilions that can be reserved, a fishing area, horseshoe pits, playgrounds, and even tennis and volleyball courts. Depending on the day there is a snack shack that sells simple food and drinks. There is a cost of admission, and visitors can either pay per day or purchase a season pass in order to access the beach.
15888 S Shore Dr, Truckee, CA 96161, Phone: 530-582-7777
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19. Things to Do in Truckee, CA: Mt Judah Loop Trail
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Hiking around Truckee offers a chance for mountain views and wonderful vistas, and the Mt Judah Loop Trail in particular is a great choice for family trips. The hike begins from the trailhead at the junction of Donner Summit Rd and Old Donner Pass Road, off Highway 40. During the spring and summer this hike is surrounded with wildflowers, and the afternoon lighting points towards Donner Lake, a highlight of the trail. Only hikers and dogs are allowed on this 4.6 mile round trip hike, but tech savvy hikers will enjoy being allowed to bring their drones for photo and filming excursions.
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20. Rainbow Bridge - Donner Summit Bridge
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Visitors to Truckee who are looking for a scenic way to view the city from afar should take note of Donner Memorial Bridge, which was built in the 1920s near Donner Summit. Located on historic US Route 40, this bridge was originally created because as the use of cars became more commonplace, the original road was far to steep while travelling up and down the sides of the valley this bridge now spans. The bridge also overlooks Donner Lake, which was the site for sourcing the materials used to build the bridge.
950 Maidu Ave, Nevada City, CA 95959 US, Phone: 530-265-1411
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21. Things to Do in Truckee, CA: Soda Springs Mountain Ski Resort
© Soda Springs Mountain Ski Resort
Winter time in Soda Springs Mountain Ski Resort can be filled with loads of family fun. Tube Town, the mountain resorts onsite tubing experience, features up to 20 lanes and a 400 ft long lift that takes tubers back to the top to ride again. All ages are allowed at Tube Town, and pedestrians are invited to come watch the spectacle while they decide if they want to participate. Tubing aside, Soda Springs offers ski runs for all varying skill levels, from easy rolling greens to technically challenging black diamonds. If the weather is a bit too brisk, guests can head inside to the Woodward Tahoe indoor facility to play on trampolines, in foam pits, and on man made ski jumps.
10244 Soda Springs Rd. Soda Springs, CA 95728, Phone: 530-426-1010, (website link)
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22. Foothill Farmers Market
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For fresh produce, locally baked goods, handmade crafts and more, locals and visitors alike head to the Foothill Farmers Market that most often takes place at the Truckee River Regional Park. Families may find this weekly event entertaining because not only will they be able to do their weekly shopping outdoors, but they will also enjoy live music, free samples, and be in close proximity to the playgrounds situated in the Truckee River Regional Park. This farmers market is held on Tuesday mornings, 8am - 1pm from mid June through late September. For specific details on vendors, or for any other questions, please visit the website or contact the Foothill Farmers Market organizers by telephone.
10500 Brockway Road, Truckee, CA 96161, Phone: 530-582-7720, (website link)
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23. Pianeta Ristorante
© Pianeta Ristorante
Pianeta Ristorante, an Italian restaurant located in the heart of downtown Truckee, draws its culinary inspiration from the cuisine of Northern Italy. The restaurant features an extensive menu with rotating nightly specials that keep guests coming back time and time again. Pianeta Ristorante was originally founded in 1998 and prides itself on its kind and friendly staff, authentic Italian menu, extensive wine list, and a full bar that offers handcrafted cocktails and a selection of aperitifs. Happy hour specials are available on a rotating schedule so guests are encouraged to visit the website for further menu details.
10096 Donner Pass Rd, Truckee, CA 96161, Phone: 530-587-4694
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24. Moody's Bistro & Lounge
© Moody's Bistro & Lounge
Modeled after the ever-so-popular supper clubs of the 1950s, Moody’s Bistro lives inside of the historic Truckee Hotel and welcomes guests seven days a week. This fine dining establishment draws heavily on mountain inspired cuisine, specializing in dishes like ahi poke, braised lamb shanks, wild game, and fresh seafood. Moody’s is well known locally for its cocktail menu and often fills up on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings when there is live music in the bar. The Truckee Hotel was originally built in 1873 by John F. Moody, and the modern bistro and lounge takes its name and inspiration from John Moody’s love for jazz music and mountain cuisine.
Truckee Hotel, 10007 Bridge St, Truckee, CA 96161, Phone: 530-587-8688
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