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2023 Christmas and New Year’s - Truckee Holiday Guide

Alex Silgalis
December 19, 2023
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Mountain Town Magic - Winter Wonderland

New Year's and Christmas in Truckee are magical. We expect to see white snow and sparkling holiday lights from downtown to quaint neighborhoods bring the spirit of the holidays to life. Its historic buildings are adorned with sparkling Christmas lights. There's a palpable sense of excitement in the air. If you're planning a visit this December through the New Year, here are some helpful tips and insights to make the most of your trip.

What To Expect During Peak Periods in Truckee-Tahoe

It's no secret that the holidays are a peak season for visitors. Be sure to allow for extra travel time, practice patience, and embrace the holiday spirit. A simple smile and a friendly "Merry Christmas" can make the day enjoyable for everyone. Keep in mind that everyone on the slopes and in town is here for the same reason and that’s to have a good time, and those who are working are doing their utmost to meet your needs as efficiently as possible.

Plan Ahead - Make Ski Area Parking Reservations for selected holidays, Christmas & New Year’s Day

Although this is a popular time of year to visit, with some planning you can have MORE time on the slopes and less in traffic and lines. Plan ahead and make your parking reservations for ski areas WELL IN ADVANCE. While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to book lodging, ski rentals, lift tickets, and make dinner reservations too.

Palisades Tahoe and Northstar California have implemented reservations-based parking plans for weekends and holiday peak periods for the 2023/24 winter season.

Know Before You Go - Check Weather, Traffic, Cams

Check the daily Truckee-Tahoe Travel Alert and use our Guide to Winter Weekend Traffic to help plan ahead, avoid crowds, and have a great time while you're here.

Where to Get Groceries - Shop Local to Fully Stock Your Cabin

Get a jump on Truckee grocery shopping, where big brands such as Raleys ONE and Safeway do curbside pickup and carry all of the holiday foods you are looking for.

Want to support locally grown farmers and small grocers? Order locally-grown fruits, vegetables, meats, and more ahead of time via Tahoe Food Hub’s online option “Harvest to Order.” The farmers pick the produce when you order it ensuring you get peak freshness.

If you prefer someone to do it ALL for you, have groceries, prescriptions, cakes, balloons, and more delivered to your hotel room or vacation home by Just Better Delivery. And, you can always treat yourself by hiring a chef to cook for your family and friends.

Christmas Day & New Year’s Eve Dining Options

Truckee chefs embrace the festive spirit, serving up their unique take on the traditional holiday meal. Delight in scrumptious sides, decadent desserts, and breathtaking mountain views to ensure you and your loved ones create unforgettable holiday memories. Here are some of our top recommendations for the finest Christmas and New Year's Eve dinners in Truckee, just for you and your guests.

Shop Local in Truckee for Last Minute Christmas Gifts

For those who may not be keen on shopping or are short on time, we have the perfect solution – The Sustainable Truckee Gift Card! It's redeemable at over 60 locations and counting. Use it to grab new skis for the kids from one of the finest outdoor gear shops around. Treat Rufus to an envy-inducing collar and leash, tested by avalanche dogs from Wild and Ruff. Pamper Mom with a well-deserved massage at one of our spas. And for the hard-to-shop-for Dad, offer them a unique experience. To spark your creativity, here are 20 fantastic ways to use the gift card. Check out unique shops and boutiques in Truckee.

Winter Activities & Things To Do During the Holidays

You may come for skiing and snowboarding, but you'll find plenty more winter activities to keep you in Truckee when the snow is good! Enjoy a bit of solitude by cross country skiing or snowshoeing in Donner Memorial State Park. Lace up a pair of ice skates at the rinks at Northstar Mountain Resort or at the Truckee River Regional Park near downtown. Scream in delight with your kiddos as you sled down a hill at Donner Snowplay. Take in the snow-filled wonderland on Truckee’s plowed, paved trails such as the Truckee River Legacy Trail. Or just enjoy a hot cocoa or cup of coffee at one of our many coffee shops.  There's something for everyone to enjoy in Truckee this winter!

Where to See Santa in Truckee

Even though this is Santa’s busiest season getting ready for his big day, he still makes time to meet with every child and ensure they get their holiday wishes granted. While there are countless Santa visits, here are a few of our holiday favorites:

  • Christmas Day Ski with Santa! Holly jolly fun on the slopes! Ski with Santa at Tahoe Donner Downhill Resort when the lifts open at 11:30am on Christmas Day.
  • Everline Resort and Spa hosts a delightful Breakfast with Santa on Saturdays and Sundays from 8-10 am throughout December.
  • In the first four weeks of December, Northstar Mountain Resort presents their beloved Christmas event - Noel Nights. From 5-8 pm, you can capture memories with Santa, relish horse-drawn sleigh rides, experience outdoor ice skating, and indulge in s'mores and hot cocoa by the cozy fire pits. Join in the holiday spirit!
  • Santa visits The Village at Palisades Tahoe! Enjoy holiday singalongs, storytime, and take photos as a family with Santa on Dec 23rd.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Historic Downtown Truckee or at Truckee-Tahoe Ski Areas

If you plan to head out on New Year's Eve, we highly recommend taking TART Connect (free, on-demand shuttle in Truckee). Take advantage of their extended holiday hours from Dec 26-31st: 6:30AM till 1:30AM. Hours go back to normal (midnight) on January 1st. Historic Downtown Truckee boasts numerous restaurants and pubs that host exciting New Year's Eve celebrations, such as the Alibi Ale Works - Truckee Public House. This year, get tickets for “NYE is DEAD,” a Grateful Dead Tribute band bluegrass set and party!

In Truckee, skiing is a way of life, so it's no surprise that we kick off the New Year on skis. Everyone aged 5 and older can join the torchlight parade down the slopes of Palisades Tahoe in Olympic Valley, followed by a spectacular fireworks display.

Alternatively, stay in Truckee where you can head over to Tahoe Donner for another torchlight parade and fireworks show on their slopes. The fireworks at Tahoe Donner require no reservations and can be enjoyed from various locations, including the fire pits outside Alder Creek Cafe. Start your New Year with a bang!

Alex Silgalis

Born and raised as a flat lander in Chicagoland, Alex spent his summers working to save up for a season pass to the local hill along with any trips out West or beyond he could squeeze in. It was during his travels, both as a kid & an adult, Alex discovered his inspiration for Local Freshies® . His idea was to create the No. 1 Web site providing the local scoop on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer alongside the love of his life and business partner, Jaime Pirozzi.

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