48 Hours in Truckee, CA

A Weekend in Truckee, CA | This Is My Happiness

When something about Truckee appeared in my inbox earlier this fall, I didn’t know much beyond the fact that it must be pretty there–it sits at almost 6000 feet elevation just north of Lake Tahoe. Despite the fact that the name Truckee is frequently heard around here, I’d never heard about visiting Truckee, but once I started looking into it, I quickly realized that Truckee has some serious fans. I can now include myself among them.

After a recent family weekend getaway in Truckee, I’d recommend it to anyone looking for an eclectic getaway in Northern California, as a couple, with kids, or for friends. I say “eclectic” because Truckee has a bit of everything…a lot of adventure and nature with just enough laid-back luxury and fun details to satisfy everyone’s taste.

A Weekend in Truckee, CA | This Is My Happiness

The center of Truckee is its historic downtown. Several blocks of unique shops, cafes and restaurants, wine tasting rooms, and art galleries provided several hours of fun for us. I especially enjoyed the details:

A Weekend in Truckee, CA | This Is My Happiness.com

A Weekend in Truckee, CA | This Is My Happiness

I quickly realized that Truckee has that perfect combination of novelty for visitors with a strong sense of local community. Local people gathered downtown, catching up with friends and browsing the art galleries, but this friendliness was extended to us–clearly, Truckee is a tight-knit yet open community that realizes the importance of tourism for its survival.

A Weekend in Truckee, CA | This Is My Happiness.com

Truckee has a vibe that’s hard to pin down. It can be described as an artist’s community with galleries and an overall appreciation for an artistic aesthetic. It’s of course an athlete’s community, with the highest concentration of Olympic athletes in the U.S. and, the region has the highest concentration of ski resorts in the U.S. It’s also a great place for food. Truckee seems to have something for everyone–wine bars and expensive shops filled with fine gifts, a brewery and coffee shops, a nature trail complete with disc golf course for active travelers, all deeply connected to the surrounding nature.

A Weekend in Truckee, CA | This Is My Happiness

Due to stormy weather on Saturday, we didn’t experience all that Truckee has to offer (that’s OK, we’ll be back), but here are my suggestions for a weekend in Truckee:

Where to stay:

The Hampton Inn & Suites was the perfect place for our family of 4 to stay. Our two-room suite had plenty of space for s and our two kids. We had two queen beds in one room and a living area complete with a pull-out couch, desk fireplace, and mini-kitchen (with a fridge, sink, and microwave). We also had two bathooms, one a half bath and the other a large luxurious bathroom with a separate jacuzzi tub and shower.

The hotel is conveniently located near town and is very quiet. The amenities made us feel at home–games for the kids, apple cider and cookies in the afternoon, and a complete hot breakfast. The breakfast is a self-serve buffet including coffee, bread and bagels, cereal, oatmeal, eggs, sausage or bacon, made-to-order waffles, fresh fruit, and more. The view from our room was so peaceful:

A Weekend in Truckee, CA | This Is My Happiness

Where to eat:

Trokay Restaurant:

This restaurant is reason enough to visit Truckee. Really. It was the best meal I’ve ever had, yet the atmosphere was so inviting.

An amazing couple owns Trokay; John Weatherson is the chef in the kitchen, and Nyna Weatherson is the chef in the pastry kitchen upstairs where desserts and all sorts of breads are prepared and cheeses are selected for beautiful cheese plates.

They relocated from New York City to Truckee, bringing their outstanding culinary background and modernist perspective on cooking to this town. John was the top-ranked student in his graduating class at the Culinary Institute of America and was Chef de Partie at Restaurant Daniel, one of the finest restaurants in the world. Nyna was head cheesemonger at the world-famous Murray’s Cheese in New York City where she produced New York Times award-winning breakfast and lunch items.

A Weekend in Truckee, CA | This Is My Happiness.com

There are two prix fixe menus of several courses to choose from. I opted for a beet salad and main course of  Mt. Lassen trout with pommes parmentier, brussels sprouts confit and elements of mustard. The 2011 Lincourt Pinot Noir from central California’s Santa Rita Hills was a lovely accompaniment to the entire meal. The beet salad included beets prepared in every possible way–beet leather, beet mousse, roasted beets of several colors. The presentation of each item was beautiful.

A Weekend in Truckee, CA | This Is My Happiness.com

We were treated to several additional treats, including the following:

Gruyere breads, bread sticks, and buttermillk biscuits with red pepper jam

A Meyer lemon palate cleanser

A cold watercress soup with caviar and peppered yogurt

“Snow and Ice” celery with apple granita and pomegranate:

A Weekend in Truckee, CA | This Is My Happiness.com

“Fire and Smoke” with smoked trout, dill, and “everything crumble.” When the lid was removed, it actually smoked. Like everything we had, it was an interesting, delicious and beautiful.

A Weekend in Truckee, CA | This Is My Happiness.com

And the cheese plate: We finished the meal with one of their beautiful cheese plates. This one was carefully prepared with three types of cheese (the bleu cheese was especially good), Marcona almonds, pipinos, pickles, pecans with honey, elements of mustard, green apple twists with chocolate balls inside, fennel jam, cherries with chocolate, and strawberry three ways including delicate strawberry powder, and served with flat crackers and baguette.

A Weekend in Truckee, CA | This Is My Happiness.com

Moody’s Bistro and Bar:

Inside the historic 1873 Truckee Hotel is Moody’s Bistro and Bar, a lounge-inspired restaurant that provides a comfortable dining atmosphere for the whole family. Moody’s is known for its live music every Thursday through Saturday evening. The owner, JJ, has created a fun local hangout. 


A Weekend in Truckee, CA | This Is My Happiness.com

The Zagat-rated menu includes a carefully-selected wine list and dishes that use regional, organic and seasonal ingredients. The Skuna Bay Salmon and beet salad with wild arugula, pickled red onions and Pt. Reyes bleu cheese were highlights.

A Weekend in Truckee, CA | This Is My Happiness.com

Jax on the Tracks:

This popular restaurant is a casual option any time of the day, and the food–a modern take on comfort food–has plenty of options for the whole family. The beautifully restored diner is a 1948 diner brought all the way here from Philadelphia.

A Weekend in Truckee, CA | This Is My Happiness.com

We had breakfast here and enjoyed it so much that we tried to go back the following day, but our kids were not up for waiting the 20 minutes for a table. The highlight was the All Day Addiction, a perfect breakfast dish. Hash-brown triangles are topped with egg, Canadian bacon, avocado, lettuce, housemade pesto, roasted tomatoes, and a balsamic drizzle that provides that nice touch of sweet.

A Weekend in Truckee, CA | This Is My Happiness.com


What to do:

The historic downtown:

Save plenty of time to walk the historic downtown. Especially recommended are Bespoke for unique items (oh, how I wish I could shop there now!) and Riverside Studios for beautiful, mostly handmade gifts. Check out the art galleries, Carmel Gallery and Art Obsessions. Pop into Uncorked for wine and Sweets for homemade fudge and candies, including old-fashioned dark chocolate honeycomb. Try olive oils, vinegars, and honey at Tahoe Oil & Spice and relax at For Goodness Sake, a non-profit that offers free resources and classes for spiritual growth.

A Weekend in Truckee, CA | This Is My Happiness

A Weekend in Truckee, CA | This Is My Happiness.com

The Truckee River Regional Park:

The new Legacy Trail at this park provides miles of trails for walking or biking. The nature is beautiful, and we even found a tree that had been recently felled by a beaver.

A Weekend in Truckee, CA | This Is My Happiness
A Weekend in Truckee, CA | This Is My Happiness

There’s a disc golf course above the trail–if you bring your own discs, this course would be a really fun way to spend time outdoors. The views of the river and mountains are lovely. Here my husband and two boys were checking out the course:

A Weekend in Truckee, CA | This Is My Happiness

48 Hours in Truckee, California | This Is My Happiness.com

48 Hours in Truckee, California | This Is My Happiness.com

I’m so glad to have had the chance to visit Truckee. Despite the stormy weather, there was plenty to keep us busy for a weekend, and I have a list of things to do when I return (the Northstar village and gondola ride, visits to local cafes and breweries, and the nearby Kings Beach at North Lake Tahoe). Many people associate Truckee and the Sierras with winter destinations, but I think the off-season is a better choice–it’s less crowded, the weather is milder, and the absence of snow makes it easier to get here.

I know I’ll be back again, and I hope it’s SOON!

What is your favorite winter destination? Have you been to Truckee? 

P.S. More about the Truckee area:

Hiking around a small alpine lake at nearby Donner Memorial State Park

30 Things to Do at Lake Tahoe

5 Things to Do in South Lake Tahoe with Kids

48 Hours in Truckee

I was a guest of the Truckee Chamber of Commerce, but, as always, all opinions are my own.


  • I actually have been to Truckee! The only thing is it was over ten years ago 🙁 It looks like there’s a lot to do and the food looks fab! If we head up north I’ll definitely keep Truckee in mind!
    Christina @ Christina’s Cucina recently posted..Dear Shishito Peppers: Where Have you Been all my Life?My Profile

  • estherjulee says:

    i’ve never heard of truckee, but it looks beautiful there! 🙂 i’ve actually been meaning to go up to tahoe too but haven’t had the chance yet.
    estherjulee recently posted..Roos n More Zoo in Las Vegas Part IIMy Profile

  • I hadn’t heard of Truckee before, but it definitely does sound like the perfect little escape! Adding it to my “one day” list…
    Heather / girlichef recently posted..Pomegranate Salad – Sharing Morocco blog tour + giveawayMy Profile

  • Cindy says:

    I had heard lots of good things about Truckee before reading your post, but you have convinced me to visit there soon! Your photos made me feel as if I were there with you, and the descriptions of the variety of attractions there were wonderful. I could almost taste those exquisite dishes! Truckee is definitely going on our list.

  • we stopped in Truckee briefly for lunch on the way from Tahoe to Sacramento airport. clearly we gave it short shrift and need to go back.
    eileen at FamiliesGo! recently posted..8 Wundabar Things To Do in Munich With KidsMy Profile

  • Andi says:

    I have never paid much attention to Truckee – usually drive right by, but with the restaurants you shared in this post, I think I need to hit the brakes and make a stop next time!
    Andi recently posted..Friday Foodie – Christina of Christina’s CucinaMy Profile

  • This is great. I’m headed to Truckee next month. Did you bring kids to Trokay?
    Garrick Ramirez recently posted..Modern Garden Cottages: Boonville HotelMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      Hi Garrick, No, we didn’t take the kids to Trokay, and honestly, I wouldn’t recommend it. The dinner was almost 3 hours long (which is OK when you’re an adult and love chatting about the intricate details of every beautiful course!), and the food was so delicate that I can’t imagine any kid finding it tolerable. That being said, everyone there was very nice and welcoming, and despite the fact that it’s an expensive restaurant, the atmosphere wasn’t at all stuffy. Have fun in Truckee! I look forward to seeing your post/photos.

  • Renuka says:

    Beautiful! Never heard of Truckee…I agree the details are interesting. I’d like to wander through a town like that! Even the outdoors are so stunning!
    Renuka recently posted..My 14 Most Stunning Travel Moments Of The YearMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      I imagine this part of California is a bit like India in that there is SO much to do and see. I am still discovering new places after living here for more than 12 years! 🙂

  • Cassie says:

    Just last week, I tried a few beers from the Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company. They are in Truckee and doing a lot of the hard to find sour beer style that I love, so I’m itching to plan a trip up to visit! Glad I stumbled upon this post. That meal looks amazing! I’ll be sure to check them out when we go!

    Also, your little one’s Froggie hat is adorable! 🙂

    • Jenna says:

      I didn’t make it there during our visit but will try it next time. My husband is a big beer fan, so we try to visit breweries when we travel.

  • Paulette says:

    I like to think of Truckee as my second hometown, having spent so many summer vacations there as a kid, while spending time with grandparents. Our favorite hangouts were Donner Lake and Lake Tahoe. We also enjoyed going up to Heavenly Ski Resort for a ride on the Alpine Slide. I’m not sure if that is still there. Truckee is a beautiful, unspoiled town. You might roar past it on the interstate and not even know it’s there.

  • Becky says:

    I love your description of the places you visited in Truckee. My family and I have been fortunate to have a second home there for 16 years. Needless to say, my family and friends have spent countless hours exploring and enjoying the community of Truckee. A couple of other restaurants that I would recommend would be, Bar America, the Hilltop (located above Truckee and great views at night) and La Bamba ( my kids favorite..they are grown, now and it’s still one of their favorites! )

    • Jenna says:

      Yes, you are fortunate! I love that area so much and wish I could spend more time there. Thanks for the restaurant recs!

  • Susie says:

    I have lived in Truckee since 1985 you gave a great description although may I suggest La Bamba, Blue Coyote, and 50/50 to eat they are more reasonably priced and more of what Truckee is about. Also we have 6 golf courses in probably a 5 mile radius. And I need to correct you…Regional Park is not new it has been there well over 30 years (Although the walking path is new) and during the summer we have music in the park which is fun for the whole family.

    • Jenna says:

      Thank you for all the info! I will change the park information in the post…I actually knew the park was not new and was referring to the trail, but I must not have made that distinction clear enough.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *