In Truckee, the spirit of the Old West still looms large. This, after all, is a former railroad and Gold Rush town, where cowboys and saloons are more than just distant memories.
But those cowboys might have a hard time recognizing the place now, as Truckee has begun to transform itself from a rough-and-tumble outpost into Tahoe's foodie hub. Chef Traci Des Jardins — named the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef of the Pacific in 2007 — designed the French-inspired California cuisine at Manzanita at the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe. But you don't have to be an award-winning gourmand to get in on the act: The city hosts a monthly food swap, at which local cooks gather to trade and share their homemade, homegrown, or foraged dishes.
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A cascading set of falls located about 15 miles north of Truckee, Webber Falls, which is protected by the U.S. Forest Service, is at its most powerful in the spring, when the Little Truckee River flows toward it.
The Truckee Tahoe AirFair & Family Festival transforms the local airport into a celebration of vintage air culture, with talks from veteran pilots and displays of retro restored planes. And make sure to look up: New this year is a showcase of death-defying aerobatic stunts by trick pilots.
Guided hikes allow you to retrace the footsteps of the fateful Donner Party, along stunning paths through Summit Canyon and Coldstream Pass. The October excursions will also offer a glimpse of the region's fall colors.
Even first-time snowshoers will be able to handle these one- to three-mile treks through the powdery forest of Tahoe Vista. Snowshoe Star Tours are guided by an area astronomer, who will offer insights into the alpine forest surroundings and the dazzling night sky.