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Downtown Truckee, California

Family Weekend Guide: Truckee, California

Truckee is the gateway to Lake Tahoe and blends mountain charm, a quaint main street, and proximity to year-round outdoor adventure. Here’s how to make the most of a family weekend centered on Truckee.


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Woodward Tahoe: Head to Boreal at the summit a few miles west on Highway 80 for sky-high fun. Woodward Tahoe’s Bunker is the massive warehouse that sits in the Boreal Ski Resort parking lot. It’s packed with thrill-seeker favorites like trampolines, foam pits, and half pipes. Classes and camps teach kids safety and skills. And a second-floor cafe offers parents the chance to watch the action with a cup of coffee in hand.

Lakeshore Interpretive Trail: Although it’s not as well-known as neighboring Lake Tahoe, Donner Lake is worth a visit. Follow the easy 2.5-mile round-trip Lakeshore Interpretive Trail as it meanders alongside Donner Lake. You’ll be rewarded with lake views and the chance to learn a thing or two from the interpretive signs that line the way.

Truckee-Donner Community Pool: Discover what locals already know: That the recently redone Truckee-Donner Community Pool is an affordable, kid-friendly wonderland. A waterslide, splash pad, current channel, and water basketball and volleyball keep kids busy for hours. Comfortable Adirondack chairs line the pools, and a snack bar keeps hunger at bay.

KidZone Museum: Younger kids will love this creative space dedicated to imaginary play. Pirate ships, castles, and caves provide plenty of fodder for young minds, and an indoor climbing structure allows kids to burn off energy even when it’s cold outside. Pre-walkers have their own baby zone for play, and there’s even an art studio where kids can create projects to tote home.

Donner Memorial State Park Museum: Spend an hour at this small but riveting museum that tells the region’s, including Native Americans, the Donner Party, and the railroad workers who built this stretch of the transcontinental railroad.

Best Western Plus Truckee-Tahoe: Just outside of downtown, this Best Western offers family-pleasing extras like the year-round outdoor heated pool and hot tub, complimentary daily full breakfasts, in-room fridges and microwaves, and free Wi-Fi.

Book it: Get prices for Best Western Plus Truckee-Tahoe and other area hotels

Old Town Tap: Find classic favorites and innovative options on the menu at this contemporary pizzeria. Kid-friendly pizza favorites like margherita are on the menu alongside more interesting options like pork and padron pepper. Craft beer and a cocktail-forward drinks menu keep this surprisingly sophisticated downtown joint hopping.

Burger Me: This burger spot on the edge of town keeps everyone—carnivores, vegetarians, and picky kids alike—happy. Burgers options include beef, bison, ahi, and veggie, and people come from miles around for the milkshakes. Fried ice cream and salads round out the naughty-and-nice options.

Squeeze In: Wiggly kids are no match for the food and fun at Squeeze In. A robust menu includes plenty of options for kids, and servers bring around a box of toys and other activities that’ll keep kids happy during the short wait for food. Signature dishes here include the Racy Tracy omelet and salty-sweet chocolate-covered bacon.

Lake Tahoe: Your nearest Lake Tahoe access point from Truckee is 15 miles up the road in Tahoe City. The 20-minute drive takes you along the Truckee River, where, in summer, you can see inflatable boats drift along the lazier stretches of the river.

More from SmarterTravel:

Christine Sarkis visited Tahoe as a guest of Visit California. Follow her on Twitter @ChristineSarkis and Instagram @postcartography for more advice about making every vacation the best vacation.

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