Affordable Lake Tahoe: Truckee Vacation Rentals

Truckee is a short distance away from Lake Tahoe, for affordable vacation rentals and outdoor activities.

It was my turn to organize an extended family vacation. The destination, Lake Tahoe, Calif., had already been agreed upon by everyone. Now, we just had to find a great place. How hard could it be to find a house that met our needs?

Vacation House Hunting

We had a tall order. We needed to find a house that could sleep seven adults and three children under 5 years old, one in a crib. Most of our group was flying in from the East Coast and my family was driving from the San Francisco Bay Area. To give you an even clearer picture, our group consisted of a retired couple on a fixed income (my parents), a Catholic nun on virtually no income—her money goes to the convent (my aunt), a couple with a 2-year-old (my sister, brother-in-law and niece) and us, a couple with two children, ages 3 and 5.

One of the first things I did was an online search of “Tahoe vacation properties.” I bounced around a few less-than-memorable rental sites and what I found were a lot of very expensive homes on the lake that didn’t quite meet our criteria. If we were all chipping in $2,000 to $3,000 for the week, nobody would want to draw straws for who gets to sleep on the couch.

I began wondering how often we’d really want to visit the Lake. Realistically, maybe twice. My kids are cold-water wimps, and I could already hear them asking to swim in a warm pool.

Now I was onto something. I decided to expand my search beyond Lake Tahoe proper. And I found Tahoe Luxury Properties, which was by far the most well-organized, easy-to-navigate rental site I’d seen, offering great details and photographs on each property. It represented many enormous homes in Truckee (25 to 30 minutes from Lake Tahoe), that were not only better suited for our group, but at a much more affordable price.

The Royal Suite

I finally found a vacation home called Hibernation Haven at the Tahoe-Donner Association in Truckee, about 20 miles northeast of Lake Tahoe. With six bedrooms and four bathrooms, we had more than enough room. My aunt had the ground-floor bedroom with her own bathroom. My family stayed in a small two-bed, two-bath alcove that included a living room and bunk beds. My sister’s family had their own two-bedroom wing, and my parents had their own bedroom with a private bathroom.

No one had to tiptoe around, snorers could snore without shaking the house, and our early-rising kids could keep themselves entertained in our mini-family room until the rest of the clan awoke. We had a spacious downstairs, a 10-person hot tub on our deck and walking trails behind the house. We started to ask, “Do we even need the Lake?”

Well, of course we did. One can’t vacation in Tahoe and not spend a little time at the awesome Lake. But there was so much to do right where we were, too! Among our favorite activities and sites were swimming at the Trout Creek Recreation Center pool, playing in the shallow water at Kings Beach in Lake Tahoe, golfing at the Tahoe-Donner Golf course (the best price in town), a morning hike up Mount Judah, fishing on Lake Tahoe through Mickey’s Big Mac Charters, and women’s massages at Clearwater Day Spa in Tahoe City.

The highlight for my 5-year-old was getting harnessed into the Sky Jump at Squaw Valley: the bungee-cord type apparatus that flings you up into the air and back down, only to spring back up off of a trampoline. Best “$10 for five minutes” ever spent.

Budget Cuisine

With so many chefs to share the cooking, we didn’t eat out too much. One night we ate three giant trout the men caught on their fishing excursion, and another night we ordered pizza. However, we had great luck for dinner one evening at Las Panchitas, a Mexican restaurant just across the road from Kings Beach. They seated us quickly (remember there were 10 of us) and had great food, fast service, decent prices and offered a casual, beach attire-friendly atmosphere.

All in all, I give a full endorsement to staying in Truckee. I thought it had so much to offer and is less taxing on your wallet than staying in the immediate vicinity of Lake Tahoe. And then there’s that big amazing house. My children say to me every now and then, “I miss the big house with the hot tub. Can we please go live there?” What higher recommendation can I give to a place than answering, “I wish we could, too. Don’t worry, we’ll go back there again.”

Tahoe Luxury Properties, tel. 800-581-8828. The six-bed Hibernation Haven log cabin vacation rental starts at $650 per night through Dec. 15, and $850 per night during the winter season, from Dec. 15 –April 15. For more information on Tahoe Luxury Properties vacation rentals, go to

Destinations: Truckee, Lake Tahoe

Themes: Family Travel, Outdoor Adventures

Activities: Hiking, Fishing, Golf, Spas, Swimming

User Comments

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