One Fine Weekend in Truckee
Traverse the slopes, shops, and scenic vistas of this enchanting mountain town.
Snow enhances the historic charm of downtown Truckee.
Photo by Scott Thompson/Courtesy of Truckee Chamber of Commerce
Truckee is a bit like that gold nugget you nearly tossed back into the river when panning for a vacation destination in the Lake Tahoe region. A bit dusty around the edges, this pioneer town is worth getting to know for its eclectic mix of historic mainstays (such as the 145-year-old Truckee Hotel) and cosmopolitan upstarts, including the Pacific Crest Coffee Company, launched in 2018 by big-mountain snowboarder Ralph Backstrom and U.S. Ski Team member Travis Ganong. truckeehotel.com, pacificcrestcoffee.com.
If the idea of slogging through traffic makes you think twice about a winter getaway in the Sierra Nevada, you are in luck. Mountain Lion Aviation offers private charter flights to Truckee Tahoe Airport from the East Bay. (Departure points include Concord and Oakland.)
Spend 45 minutes gazing down at the windmills and winding rivers of the Delta, the ranches and vineyards of Wine Country, and the gentle slopes of the foothills before ascending over snowcapped mountains. Surf Air also runs scheduled charter flights between the Bay Area and Truckee; Blackbird Air, meanwhile, can match you with other passengers for shared charter flights. mountainlion.aero, surfair.com, flyblackbird.com.
A short shuttle ride from the airport, The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe features everything from soothing spas, to “marshmology” campfires, to Northstar California’s ski slopes on its back doorstep. Try Sunday brunch at the property’s Manzanita restaurant with a Bloody Mary bar and unlimited champagne. Bonus for kids: The hotel will set up a tent inside your suite to re-create a mountain-adventure experience (without the freezing temperatures).
For a more intimate lodging option, check in to the eco-friendly Cedar House Sport Hotel. The resident innkeeper provides personal attention—as well as homemade food—for guests. ritzcarlton.com/laketahoe, northstarcalifornia.com, cedarhousesporthotel.com.
Follow the walking tour along Donner Pass Road to learn about settlers who braved the Emigrant Trail to establish this town, and visit the Railway Depot built in 1900. (This is also the place to catch Amtrak trains, a wonderful option for families who have time to chug through the mountains and imagine early California life along the way.)
Next, head downtown to experience Truckee’s booming array of businesses. For stylish—and comfy—clothing and home decor, browse the lifestyle boutique Tahoe University; for handcrafted goods, peruse Bespoke gift shop; for craft supplies and classes, don’t miss Atelier. Big omelets and sandwiches are served at Marty’s Cafe, while tasty fudge at Sweets Handmade Candies hits the spot. Quench your thirst with a sip of local wine at Uncorked, a beer at Truckee Tavern, or a cocktail with live music at Moody’s Bistro, Bar, and Beats.
When the sun sets, the full glory of the mountain sky is on display. Sign up for Northstar’s Stargazing Snowshoe Tour and let poet and astronomer Tony Berendsen, of Tahoe Star Tours, blow your mind as he brings the universe into focus through high-powered telescopes, offering a new perspective on the sublime beauty of this already-charming region. truckee.com, tahoestartours.com.