By Becky Warren
Last year was the first time I spent a weekend in Truckee. I’ve always been more of a South Lake Tahoe gal and never much into winter sports. But last year, I decided to venture out, learn to ski and explore the north side of Lake Tahoe.
We decided to spend a weekend in Truckee which is conveniently located 10 minutes from Lake Tahoe and just a couple of miles from Squaw Valley, Northstar and many of the other great North Lake Tahoe ski resorts.
What I discovered was that Truckee may be small but this picturesque city has many hidden gems.
Distance to Sacramento:
Approximately 100 miles. The easiest and most direct way is to go 80 East. In good weather conditions it only takes about two hours but it can be a longer drive when there are chain requirements.
Truckee has a laid back and friendly atmosphere where most people look like they just got back from the slopes (and they probably have). However, do not let that laid back vibe fool you – the shops and restaurants are top quality.
While I didn’t see a lot of dogs, many of the cabins and condos you can rent have pet friendly policies.
The Squeeze Inn: Hands down one of the best breakfast places in the area. The Squeeze Inn claims to have the “best omelets on the planet” and after dining there, I couldn’t disagree. They have dozens of combinations to try as well as a robust breakfast menu if you aren’t into omelets. All omelet ingredients are sautéed in a special recipe wine sauce and always served with home-style potatoes (perfectly crispy), honey wheatberry toast and a choice of mushroom, cheddar cheese or tomato pesto sauce. The vibe is surfer/hippie/snowboarder and the service is friendly and helpful. Lines get long but the wait goes by fast. (Note: Last year, the Food Network’s “Thowdown with Bobby Flay” challenged The Squeeze Inn (Reno location) to an omelet competition.)
Burger Me: Okay, I’m not really a burger person. On occasion, I get a craving and go looking for an amazing burger but these burgers are so good I think they may have converted me. These burgers are so delicious that I honestly could see myself driving all the way to Truckee just to go to Burger Me. They have a great variety of burgers but also offer turkey burgers and bison burgers. All of their ingredients are natural, chemical-free, and local with seasonal ingredients delivered daily to ensure freshness.
I attempt to eat healthy and you actually can there. I ordered their turkey burger on a whole wheat bun. The turkey is actually mixed in with apples and yummy spices to make it so juicy and flavorful. While I’m sure the other burgers are also equally as good, I’m telling you this turkey burger is one to try. (Note: Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives featured Burger Me)
Cottonwood Restaurant: Definitely a fave of locals and visitors alike. You can come in casually and enjoy a top notch dining experience. The menu features sustainable seafood, organic produce and grass-fed meat from the foothills nearby. Cottonwood is a part of one of the country’s oldest ski lodges (Hilltop) which was built in 1928. It’s located above downtown Truckee and so you can enjoy great views of downtown and the Sierras with your meal. Not only is this restaurant highly recommended by locals for dinner, it has a lively music scene and is a fun place to grab a drink.
Pianeta Cucina Italiana: This is a cozy Italian restaurant where you literally can come off the slopes and head over to enjoy quality and fresh ingredients. The vibe is mellow and is a great way to spend a dinner with friends or have a romantic dinner. The wine list is extensive which is always a plus. While I was there, they recommended to us a great cheese plate which was paired with a Jordan rose. I also enjoyed the seafood risotto which has a light tomato broth and is filled with calamari, fish, clams and mussels. The flavors in this dish were perfect for a cold winter evening.
A Place to Lay Your Head:
River Street Inn: I stayed here during my visit and it was quaint and cozy. It was built in 1885 and the rooms are spacious and picturesque. The living room and kitchen is open to guests to play games, drink tea or coffee, or to relax and unwind. They provide breakfast as well as discounted lift tickets. This is definitely a wonderful place to be after a long day of skiing.
The Truckee Hotel: This hotel comes highly recommended and the building has been there for over 125 years. The hotel is really more of a bed and breakfast-feel with afternoon teas and pastries in the morning. Clawfoot tubs are included in each room and the hotel is centrally located in the middle of town.
Bacchus & Venus Tasting Room: This tasting room is located downtown and offers interesting flights of whites, reds, and dessert wines to taste. We spent an afternoon there and had a great time learning about wines and enjoying the atmosphere.
Moody’s Bistro & Lounge: After dinner, walk over to Moody’s to enjoy some live jazz. Some of the most talented jazz musicians travel and play here regularly. Moody’s provides a great atmosphere and I highly recommend enjoying dessert here too. They have a fun s’mores dessert that comes with a little fire, roasting sticks for your marshmallows as well as chocolate and graham crackers. It’s a fun way to relive your childhood while enjoying some great music.
Take some time to browse and stop in the many local shops located in the center of downtown Truckee. They have some great clothing boutiques as well as some bargain prices. I just purchased some dark brown uggs there for a lower price than anywhere I could find in Sacramento. Its worth spending time downtown and enjoying the ambience and observing everything that Truckee has to offer.
This is why most people come up here during the winter. Squaw, Northstar, and Sugar Bowl are all nearby. I did find out when I was there that Squaw offers guided night snowshoeing tours when there’s a full moon. Its something I definitely want to try!
There are also many snowshoeing trails to explore nearby Truckee to check out: http://www.trails.com/activity.aspx?area=11548.
Bottom line – next step you are heading to Tahoe, stop and stay in Truckee. Its definitely worth it! I know that I can’t wait to go up there again!