Winter is also brutal here, so be sure and get in anytime from April-October to avoid lugging your stuff through mega snowdrifts and freezing cold temperatures.
Truckee is in such a small area, you won't find traditional neighborhoods, but you will find certain sections of town that are popular for residents, home buyers and renters. Here are a few areas where you can begin your search for a home, apartment or condo:
Glenshire: This residential community is a locals' favorite because it's in the so-called "banana belt," so it doesn't get quite as much snow as the rest of the town. Located six miles from downtown, it features beautiful homes, condos and apartments, all just minutes away from enchanting local emporiums such as Glenshire General Store and Alpen Haus antiques.
Donner Trail Road: Donner Trail Road has a great selection of apartments, condos and homes for rent. It's also close to some fabulous eateries, including Wild Cherries Coffee House and Java Sushi, and it's just down the road from Safeway supermarket and Rite Aid pharmacy.
Donner Lake: This beautiful area is a favorite because of its location along the waters of pristine Donner Lake. You'll find a variety of homes and townhouses for rent or for sale.
Martis Camp: As the name implies, this is a wilderness-style location with beautiful wooded lots, log cabins and acres of mountain forests.
Don't let the fact that Truckee is in California convince you that weather here is tropical and warm all year round. Truckee is actually the fifth snowiest city in the U.S., and you'll enjoy more than 200 inches a year of the white stuff. On the flip side, you get great mountain temperatures that max out at only around 82 degrees during the summer. Winter, however, is another story, with temps in the teens and even lower, so stock up on heavy clothing and prepare to get dumped on six months of the year.
As for getting around town, Truckee is blessed with a free public bus service that connects to the Truckee train station, so you can get a quick ride into Lake Tahoe. You can also avail yourself of the numerous ski shuttles that operate between Reno Airport and area ski resorts. For out-of-town trips, Truckee has Amtrak and Greyhound stations, and there's also daily shuttle service to the nearby Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Plus, Interstate 80 passes just north of the town, so there's easy expressway access.
Truckee's biggest claim to fame is that it's in the area where the ill-fated Donner Party camped during the brutal winter of 1846. The story of this unfortunate wagon train and its brave survivors is very much a part of Truckee's history, which is kept alive through exhibitions and special events throughout the year. When you visit historic downtown Truckee, you'll see a wealth of vintage storefronts and homes that date back to its history as a 19th century railroad town. In the middle of all this history, you'll also find Starbucks, trendy contemporary art galleries, home decorating boutiques and impressive restaurants and wine bars, which somehow manage to fit right into the town's late-Victorian mining town aesthetic. It's a near-miraculous juxtaposition of the old and the new; and somehow, Truckee manages to pull it off with charm and sincerity.
Truckee is no one-horse town. Thanks to its popularity among tourists and snowbirds, there's plenty to do here, so don't expect the sidewalks to be rolled up at midnight. For foodies, Truckee is a true mecca where you'll find everything from fast food to world-class restaurants. For casual dining, check out locals' favorite Squeeze In, where you can enjoy delicious all-day breakfasts and huge sandwich and burger platters. For more elegant dining, you'll want to try Cottonwood Restaurant, which serves a diverse menu that includes butternut squash ravioli, pecan-crusted catfish and Wagyu steak with Barnaise sauce.
Once the sun goes down, head on over to the Blue Coyote Bar and Grill, a friendly hangout that serves up great drink specials and pub grub. There's also the aptly-named Bar of America, a locals' favorite for more than 30 years. As an added attraction, both of these bars showcase live music on weekends.
Just because you're tucked away in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, you can still get all your shopping done without leaving town. For unique gifts, antiques and other funky indulgences, you'll love downtown Truckee, where you'll find rows of antique stores, art galleries, gift boutiques and other independently-owned emporiums. For more prosaic shopping, your mainstay will be Truckee Crossroads Shopping Center, where you'll find drug stores, grocery stores, sporting goods shops and all the essentials.
Once you're ready to hit the great outdoors, get out the clubs and head over to Coyote Moon Golf Course, a 250-acre oasis with towering pines, wildflowers, mountain vistas and a challenging course designed by PGA pro player Brad Bell. If you want an all-out adventure experience, spend the day at Schaffer's Mill, a resort that offers access to skiing, golfing and yachting on Lake Tahoe. If parks are more your thing, then Truckee River Regional Park is a must-see. Located just a half mile from downtown, it offers 62 acres chock full of ball fields, picnic areas and nature trails, as well as a skateboard park, rodeo arena and amphitheater.
A mountain town as picturesque as Truckee can't exist without a funky local festival or two, and Truckee has some beauties. One of the most popular is the Truckee Brew Fest, which is held every June and features artisan beers from regional breweries. In August, you can enjoy the Truckee Championship Rodeo, which attracts cowboys and competitors from across the country.
With its breathtaking beauty, sophisticated vibe and small town charm, Truckee is something of a best-kept secret among Western towns. Perhaps that's why many a tourist has come for a week or two, and then decided to stay for a lifetime.