Tahoe Donner Travel Guide

If you're planning on heading out to Lake Tahoe, make sure to check out the Tahoe Donner area located north of Lake Tahoe on the California side. There is so much to do in the Lake Tahoe area no matter the season. In summer, you can enjoy boating on the lake and cooling off in the clear water of Lake Tahoe, while in the winter, you can enjoy Tahoe Donner skiing and other winter activities including tubing, cross country skiing, and snow shoeing. What are your favorite activities in the Tahoe Donner area? Be sure to let us know if we've missed anything!

What to Do in Tahoe Donner

tahoe donner skiing

Winter Is Perfect for Snow Activities

Of course one of the most popular activities in winter is Tahoe Donner skiing and snowboarding. Near Tahoe Donner vacation rentals is Tahoe Donner Downhill, a great place to enjoy winter skiing. There are 14 runs and 120 acres to ski. You'll find four lifts and a 600-foot vertical drop. Tahoe Donner Downhill is a great location for beginner skiers, with 40 percent of the runs designed for beginners. If you're bringing the kids along, check out the Snowflakes Ski School that is just for kids ages 3 to 6. This school has five levels of instructions, so whatever level your child is at, he or she is sure to learn a lot about how to ski.

If cross country skiing is more your style, there are many different trails found right outside the Tahoe Donner area. The trails are split up into three areas, Euer Valley, Home Range, and Sunrise Bowl, each containing multiple trails from beginner up to expert. If you want some fun with the kids just sledding, there is a sledding area, called the Tahoe Donner Snowplay, where you ride down hills made just for sledding and snow tubing. They'll even provide the sled. After a cold day in the snow, you can warm up on some hot goodies sold right at the bottom of the sledding area.

tahoe donner horseback riding

Warm Summer Fun

If you're planning your trip to Tahoe Donner in the summer, you'll find lots of activities for the whole family. Near Lake Tahoe is another smaller lake, Donner Lake. On the east end of Donner Lake is Beach Club Marina. Here you'll find a sandy beach where you can enjoy the water. There is a swim area that's roped off so you won't have to worry about boats, and there are charcoal barbecues right on the beach if you want to have a little meal. You'll find sailing and windsurfing lessons here, which are fun activities for any Tahoe Donner vacation. You can also rent one- and two-person kayaks. At the end of a fun-filled day at the beach, relax at your Tahoe Donner vacation rental.

Like horses? Check out the Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center where you can go for a one- or two-hour trail ride, or you can get riding lessons. Trail rides are a great way to see nature in the surrounding area including the chance to see deer, red-tailed hawks, rabbits and more. For kids ages 2 to 6, half-hour pony rides are also available. If golf is more your thing, there are lots of golf courses near Tahoe Donner vacation rentals. Check out the Tahoe Donner Golf Course, which has 18 holes of championship golf.

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What to See in Tahoe Donner

If you find yourself stuck inside your Tahoe Donner vacation rental on a rainy day, check out the KidZone Museum located in Truckee, CA. This museum has many exhibits and activities for kids including painting, costumes, and crafts. For more information on the history of the area, the Emigrant Trail Museum, located in the Donner Memorial State Park, is not to be missed. It depicts the history beginning with Native Americans who settled in the area and then has exhibits about the Donner Party and the builders of the transcontinental railroad.

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Where to Shop and Eat in Tahoe Donner

tahoe donner shoppingIf you want a break from Tahoe Donner skiing, spend a day shopping. You can find lots of shops around the Tahoe Donner area. If you're into jewelry, you'll want to check out Farrah Rale Bead Design Studio where you can design your own jewelry. There are classes on the basics for everyone ages 10 and up. This is a great activity on a cold or rainy day that will keep kids busy. At the Pour House Wine Shop, you can find wines for any occasion. They also have wine tastings so you can try something new.

Also near your Tahoe Donner vacation rental is the Tree House, a local clothing store for kids that has all sorts of fun and unique apparel. And for local field guides and books on regional history, check out the Bookshelf. Art lovers will enjoy the Truckee Gallery, which is an artist-run co-op that includes paintings, photography, sculpture, ceramics, pottery, and more.

Popular Restaurants in the Tahoe Donner Area

There are a variety of restaurants near Tahoe Donner vacation rentals. For a nicer dinner, check out Moody's Bistro and Lounge. Here you won't find the typical dishes of fettuccine alfredo. Instead, you'll find gnocchi with asparagus, basil and asiago cheese. You'll also find mahi mahi, vegetable curry, steak, and arugula salad with mango, pineapple, and pistachios. A local Italian favorite with great atmosphere is Pianeta Ristorante which is perfect for a romantic night out.

For more casual fare, check out the Full Belly Deli, which is highly recommended and considered the best sandwich shop in town. Here you can find jalapeno cheddar bread and cranberry cream cheese topping. They have sandwiches, soup, wraps, and salads. Other casual restaurants include the Village Pizzeria, Taco's Jalisco, and Zano's Family Italian & Pizza.

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When to Visit Tahoe Donner

The most popular times to visit Tahoe Donner is in the winter, during ski season, and in the summer. If you're interested in hiking, biking, or enjoying nature in either the Tahoe National Forest or the Donner Memorial State Park, the best times to go are spring and fall. You'll miss the crowds and be able to enjoy nature in peace. Spring is also a great time to go white water rafting because the snow is thawing creating great rapids. Tributary Whitewater Tours is one local company that can take you on a white water trip.

Winter is best if you plan to enjoy Tahoe Donner skiing, and summer is a great time to go out on Donner Lake or Lake Tahoe — both of which are great for swimming, jet skiing, boating, and water skiing. Once you've decided on the activity, it's not hard to figure out what time of year you should head out to Tahoe Donner.

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What to Bring to Tahoe Donner

If you plan to visit Tahoe Donner in the spring or fall, be sure to bring layers with you in case the weather changes. You might need a jacket and pants in the morning, but only a T-shirt and shorts in the afternoon. To capture all the gorgeous views of nature, be sure to bring a camera. In summer you'll need a swimsuit and sunscreen if you're headed to the lake.

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Local Services in Tahoe Donner

There are many services found in Tahoe Donner. In the winter, you'll find many places where you can rent ski and snowboard equipment. Be sure to shop around. The Tahoe Donner skiing resorts may charge more for rentals than a shop in town, and you might just miss a long line by skipping rentals at the resort (though you will have to haul them all the way to the mountain, which might be inconvenient). In the summer, you'll find many places that will rent boats, kayaks and more including All Power Sports Rentals and Lakehouse Boat Rental.

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What to Know About Tahoe Donner

With all of the winter and summer activities, be sure that your family is kept safe with the proper equipment. When going out on the lake, make sure everyone has on a life jacket even if he or she is just sitting in the boat. If you're taking kids skiing, make sure they all have a helmet on. If you don't have helmets, you can rent them.

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Getting to Tahoe Donner

If you plan to fly to Tahoe Donner, the closest international airport is the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. It is about a 40-minute drive from the airport to Tahoe Donner, so you'll likely need to rent a car for the rest of the trip. To get there, you just take highway 395 north about 3 miles and then take exit 68 onto I-80 West, which you'll stay on for about 34 miles till you get to Tahoe Donner.

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Why Tahoe Donner vacation rentals?

Tahoe Donner vacation rentals will add so much to your vacation to Lake Tahoe. Instead of staying in a cramped hotel room with many other visitors, with thin walls and loud neighbors, you can stay in a mountain cabin or a condo where you can ski in and ski out, or a romantic lodge just right for you and your sweetie. If you have a large party, you can find some Tahoe Donner vacation rentals that sleep as many as 14 people. Vacation rentals have many amenities that can include hot tubs, washers and dryers, decks, cable TV, pools, Internet, and more.

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