In northern California near the Nevada border, the town of Truckee sits high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at an altitude of about 5,800 feet. Surrounded by majestic peaks and with the Truckee River flowing through town, Truckee is a popular destination for families seeking year-round recreational fun. Moreover, the beautiful Donner Lake is within the city limits, as well as the incomparable Lake Tahoe only a few minutes’ drive to the south. Truckee vacation rentals offer convenient access to opportunities for swimming, fishing, rafting, cycling, and other outdoor activities. After the snow falls, you can participate in skiing, sledding, snowmobiling, and other winter sports. Here are the top 10 things to do with children in and around Truckee.

1. Enjoy Swimming

lake shore
Source: Flickr/glenngould

To enjoy swimming in a clean, temperature-controlled environment, head for the Truckee Community Pool – Aquatics Center. It has a 10-lane competition lap pool and a warm-water pool that includes a gradual slope for children, two water slides, a splash pad, and a lazy river. Family-friendly West End Beach at Donner Lake has a roped-in swimming area, picnic tables, a play area, and volleyball courts. North Tahoe Beach has a lovely stretch of sand fronting Lake Tahoe, a grassy park area, picnic tables, and barbecues.

2. Play Water Sports

lake waterskiing
Source: Flickr/Sean O’Shaughnessy

Your Truckee vacation rental offers easy access to Lake Donner, where you can enjoy numerous water sports such as boating, waterskiing, paddle boarding, and kayaking. You can rent motor boats, kayaks, canoes, jet skis, and other equipment from Donner Lake Marina and other sites around the lake. Nearby Prosser Creek Reservoir and Stampede Reservoir are also great water sport locations. North Lake Tahoe offers numerous sites for equipment rentals and opportunities for exciting activities such as parasailing, wave running, and waterskiing.

3. Thrill the Family With River Rafting

river rafting
Source: Flickr/rocor

Whitewater rafting on the Truckee River provides the thrill of a lifetime. The courses range from beginner to intermediate difficulty and are suitable for children aged seven and up. Outfitters provide you with helmets, paddles, and personal flotation devices, and an experienced guide calls out instructions and helps to steer the raft. Glide past boulders, canyons, and gorges along the swift-flowing river.

4. Fish the Waters

lake fishing
Source: Flickr/Steve Shupe

The Truckee River, which runs right through town, is a great spot to fly fish for rainbow trout and brown trout. Donner Lake has numerous piers where you can fish for rainbow trout and cutthroat trout, and if you take a boat out onto the lake, you can sometimes catch fish weighing up to 30 pounds. Fish Lake Tahoe from a boat, kayak, or canoe for trout and Kokanee salmon. Another excellent fishing location is Stampede Reservoir, which is full of trout, Kokanee salmon, and smallmouth bass.

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5. Go Shopping

downtown wheelbarrow
Source: Flickr/Jasperdo

The historic downtown area of Truckee is a great place to stroll and shop for gifts, artwork, jewelry, and items for children. The Old West ambiance of the buildings adds to the experience. At Truckee Crossroads and Donner Pass Road, find shops that specialize in outdoor equipment for hiking, cycling, fishing, skiing, and other sports. To give the kids a thrilling shopping experience, check out Ambassador Toys at nearby Northstar California Resort. During the summer, you can find fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, local handicrafts, and live music at the Truckee Farmer’s Market, which takes place on Thursdays at Truckee River Regional Park.

6. Hike the Trails

rock forest
Source: Flickr/melfoody

Your Truckee vacation rental offers convenient access to numerous hiking trails. For instance, the Martis Creek Wildlife Area Trail is an easy four-mile walk over dirt tracks and wooden platforms through highland meadows bursting with gorgeous wildflowers. Prosser Creek Reservoir, which adjoins Truckee city limits to the north, has trails around the reservoir and through nearby woods. The Lakeshore Interpretive Trail circles Donner Lake. It’s an easy walk and has signs along the path that point out interesting facts about local history and ecology. The Donner Summit Trail to Loch Leven Lakes leads you to four lovely alpine lakes, and your reward when you arrive is a refreshing swim and a picnic.

7. Pedal a Bike

forest biking
Source: Flickr/Chris barker

Truckee is a haven for cycling enthusiasts. The Truckee Bike Park has trails for cyclists of all levels and abilities. Beginners can take the easy tracks, while advanced riders can perform the slalom courses, pump tracks, jumps, and flow trails. An excellent trail for mountain bikers is the Sawtooth Trail, which begins in the Sierra Meadows neighborhood and goes on through nine miles of breathtakingly beautiful scenery. Another great paved bike path is the Truckee River Legacy Trail, which follows the Truckee River for six miles. For a challenging thrill, cycle a section of the Tahoe Rim Trail, which circles the high hills above Lake Tahoe for 165 miles.

8. Practice Winter Sports

family sledding
Source: Flickr/Markus Spiering

In winter, Truckee and the Lake Tahoe area experience heavy snowfall, which creates recreational opportunities for sports such as skiing. The Tahoe Donner Downhill Skiing Area is a family-friendly place to get in some skiing lessons and practice. World-class ski resorts in the area include the Northstar California Resort, Sugar Bowl Resort, and the Boreal Mountain Resort. These sites offer multiple ski runs for beginning to advanced skiers. Other popular winter sports for the whole family include sledding, snow tubing, ice skating, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.

9. Learn Local History

museum carriage
Source: Flickr/Kent Kanouse

The Truckee and North Lake Tahoe area have numerous fascinating sites of historical interest. The Donner Memorial State Park Museum focuses on pioneer history with exhibits on the trek of the ill-fated Donner Party, railroad construction over the mountains, and the Washoe Native American tribe. The Old Jail Museum in downtown Truckee has relics and artifacts set in an Old West jail that operated from 1875 to 1964. The North Lake Tahoe Historical Society at Tahoe City runs a museum that highlights local pioneer and Native American history.

10. Enter the Kid Zone

rink iceskating
Source: Flickr/Fovea Centralis

For a unique experience that delights the kids, visit the Kid Zone at Northstar California. The site includes a miniature golf course, a bungee trampoline, and a roller skating rink. Older kids can test their climbing skills on a 24-foot rock climbing wall, while younger kids can play at an easier climbing structure called the Spider Climb. Kids can also relive pioneer prospecting history by panning for gems, fossils, and arrowheads.

 
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