Dream Towns: Truckee, California


Back in the '80s, Where the Hell Is Truckee? was a popular license plate holder, usually seen hanging askew on a rusted Subaru. Now you're more likely to see My Other Car Is a Cessna stuck to a Range Rover. Truckee has boomed-and it ain't over yet.

Why does everyone suddenly love the place? Because there's a lot to love. It's more convenient to Reno and Sacramento than other Lake Tahoe communities, and it has four major ski resorts nearby (Squaw, Alpine Meadows, Northstar, and Sugar Bowl). Truckee's growth spurt has been largely fueled by second-home buyers, but the town is still a real community: Around 50 percent of the homes here are occupied by permanent residents-a family-oriented, athletic populace, many of whom commute to real jobs in Reno, 33 freeway miles away.

Downtown's authentic stone-and-timber charm dates from Truckee's 1870s heyday, though the buildings now house gift shops and tony restaurants. Despite the upscaling, Truckee remains unassuming and funky, a place where the freight train rolls right through the center of town. You can still live the pure sports-bum life here, but if you want to settle down and buy a piece (and you don't have a trust fund), it would be wise to do it quickly.

BUSINESS MOST NEEDED: hotels, B&Bs, or anything else to increase the bed base.
DON'T FORGET TO PACK: Sorels-they're the only shoes you'll wear once the huge snows come.

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