North Pacific Adventures in Truckee

Written by , Posted in Travel

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”

~ author unknown 

Almost two years ago, one of my best friends from Tampa moved out to San Francisco. While I have been wanting to plan a trip out there for awhile, I just haven’t had the right opportunity to make my way out there.  Recently, when she invited me on a girls’ weekend to celebrate her birthday in Tahoe with her (and 7 of her other girlfriends), there was no way I was going to turn it down. I booked myself a flight right away, and I was so excited to be there and finally spend some time with Patty! I was equally excited to explore the highly touted Lake Tahoe area and to finally meet the other girls that I have heard so much about.

I highly recommend adding this destination to your list of places to go! We were in the Tahoe area, but the actual town in which we stayed was called Truckee and it was equally as quaint and beautiful! For that reason, I wanted to put together a little recap of my trip as a guideline for those of you who have been wanting to make a trip out West.  If you have been to this area and have any additional suggestions please share them!

Day 1
San Francisco
Foreign Cinema.
After arriving to SF, Patty and I decided to grab a bite to eat. Patty is never one to choose a cookie cutter restaurant, and this place screamed San Francisco in every way imaginable.  The open air dining area combined with the incredible Northern California weather (Why don’t I live here!?) created the perfect al fresco ambiance.  We ordered a variety of dishes to share-among them: fried chicken, tomato soup, fig and prosciutto and it was all delicious.  After dinner we stopped by Latin American Club, a local pub nearby for a drink and then called it a night pretty early since we would be road tripping early the next morning.

Day 2
San Francisco/Truckee
Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters  

On our way out of town, we stopped at this charming little coffee shop called
Wrecking Ball. The drinks and snacks were just what we needed for a light morning bite, and the decor was super unique (read: the most adorable pineapple-printed wallpaper you have ever seen!)

On the way to Truckee, you can expect the drive to be about three and a half hours long. But not to worry, it’s not one one of those boring, blah drives. In fact, the scenery is so beautiful it makes the drive go by really fast with ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ at every turn. (I seriously don’t think a bad view is even possible anywhere in this part of the state.)  After enduring a three and a half hour plane ride and then another three and a half hours in the car, I was beyond thrilled when we finally pulled into the driveway of our home for the weekend!

3 Bears Lodge

Lucky for us, we got to stay at the cutest, coziest cabin for the weekend. It was the perfect amount of space for the 8 of us. Not to mention the location-just five minutes from downtown Truckee and the beautiful Lake Donner. I encourage you to check it out! (It’s even nicer in person than it looks on the website.)  I would highly recommend staying here if you are headed to this area with a group of friends. Other notable features: 3 stories of indoor living space and a hot tub so that you can take the party outside!

DownTown Truckee.

After dropping our bags at the cabin, we didn’t waste a minute. We headed right into the city and began exploring Truckee. The shops that lined the downtown area were adorable and sold the most unique items. Think the opposite of touristy, cheesy shops. We enjoyed browsing through the shops which sell everything from books to jewelry to framed inspirational quotes and more great gift items. I wanted it all.  I fell in love with a large quote framed in a unique wooden frame from a shop called Bespoke, but in an attempt to save money, I opted to purchase the same quote in a greeting card version instead. I also bought a coffee mug that reads, “You make me happy when skies are grey.” This really tugged at my heartstrings and immediately reminded me of my grandparents who would always sing that song to me when I was young.  

Cottonwood Restaurant.
After meandering through all of the shops leisurely, we opted to take a break and have some drinks and dinner at Cottonwood Restaurant’s, Hilltop Lodge.  The views from this restaurant are spectacular and the food was just as amazing.  I highly recommend dining here if you are staying in the area. Between the eight of us, we ordered almost everything on the menu: the butternut squash ravioli, enchiladas, Wagyu Beef with fries and a pear salad.  The live music on the patio added the perfect touch to an already perfect night.  Good food, live music, spectacular views and great company made our first night in Truckee one for the books.

Day 3.
Donner Memorial State Park.

Almost immediately upon waking up on Day 3, some of the girls and I set out for an early morning hike at Donner Memorial State Park. We drove to the entrance, paid the $8.00 admission fee and set out for a 5-mile hike filled with some seriously steep inclines and stunning vistas. If you do this, be sure to bring your camera along-the views are almost too good to be true!
After we got a little workout in, we returned to the cabin for an incredible birthday lunch outside on the patio.

Tahoe Donner Beach Club Marina.

This marina was beautiful and it offers everything you need for a day out on the lake. From boat rentals to equipment for various water sports to kayaks, it is an oasis for anyone who loves the outdoors like myself.  We got some comfy beach chairs and sat around in a circle enjoying some refreshing cocktails and light snacks while engaging in some of the best conversations and girltalk that eight girls can have.  Although it wasn’t very hot out when we went, I decided that it is impossible to go to “the lake” without diving in the water. (What’s funny is this chilly Pacific coast water actually made my regular go-to, Barton Springs Pool feel warm- and that is hard to do!) If I had to guess, I’d say that the water was probably about 60 degrees- but so worth a dip! When in Rome.
Since we had already had our ‘nice dinner out’ on the first night, we all decided that after our lake excursion, we would make dinner at home instead. After all, the cabin offered a very accommodating kitchen! So we headed to the local Safeway and picked up all of the ingredients to make homemade pizzas and salads for dinner. (PS- Even this tough pizza critic loved these, and I will be sharing the recipes on the blog soon!)  Everyone pitched in to make the most incredible dinner and the rest of the night was history. We spent hours playing games, enjoying cocktails, hot tubbing-and of course, a little dance party even ensued.

Day 4
Back to San Francisco

Southern Pacific Brewing Company  

Since I don’t get out there much, we planned to reunite with two of our college friends to catch up before dinner, and this place was awesome!  I absolutely love the vibe in SF, and this bar really stuck to the theme of the overall fun, eclectic feel that you can find all around the city.  
Flour + Water

Back in San Francisco, the weather was chilly and the day seemed a little gloomy.  I asked Patty to recommend the best Italian restaurant she could think of.  I wanted to round off the trip with my favorite kind of mean and dine on some good old pasta, pizza, meat, and of course, some red wine to top it all off.  She recommended “Flour + Water” without hesitation, and let me tell you this place was incredible. The food was phenomenal and the place really held up to its awesome reputation! We ordered a bunch of dishes to share, including the:

*salami board with green tomato chutney, violet mustard, 18 fig jam & toasted ciabatta

*padron pepper rigatoni with braised pork shoulder & 21 spring onions

*eggplant cannelloni with early girl tomato, farro verde, 19 serrano chili & basil

* corn cappelletti with lobster mushroom

* salsiccia – san marzano, cotechino, padron pepper, 20 garlic & treccione

*salumi- mangalitsa pancetta, burrata, broccoli rabe & 20 avocado calabrian chili

This trip was definitely one for the books! The travel, the food, the hiking…I could go on and on. But what really made it so memorable was the company. I went into the weekend only knowing two of the seven girls, and left on Sunday feeling like I made all new and incredible friends.  It is so important to take time to travel and visit new places.  I made a decision at the beginning of the year that I was going to focus more on experiences and less on material things. To me, there is something very liberating about this decision.  No one ever goes through life wishing they had more stuff, but almost everyone wishes that they had done more and seen more!

Today, I encourage you to plan a trip that you have always wanted to go on. With Air B&B and constant sales for airline tickets, it does not have to be expensive or lavish. Just something fun that makes you happy.  In an upcoming post, I will be sharing tips on how to plan a trip on a budget!


  1. Patty
  2. Monica Houghton

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.