Souvenir Shopping in Downtown Truckee

Updated: June 25, 2021

It wouldn’t be a vacation without a little souvenir shopping! I love the quaint charm of downtown Truckee. There is something for everyone. The downtown area is constantly evolving. Some of my favorite stores have been around for as long as I can remember, but just as many have opened in only the last few years. The stores are a fun mix of trendy boutiques, kitschy souvenir shops, artisan showcases, mountain decor, and everything else in between. It wouldn’t be a trip to Tahoe without taking a few hours to wander through the shops and maybe pick up a souvenir (or two). Here are a few of my favorite spots in Truckee to browse and shop:

Word After Word Bookshop 10052 Donner Pass Road
Truckee, CA

book store Truckee, California
Word After Word Bookshop

I love to read and I find that I need to replenish my supply of books at least once while we are on vacation in Tahoe. I was heartbroken when the local bookshop went out of business several years ago and I didn’t know how I was going to survive the summer without a nearby bookstore. Luckily, Word after Word Bookshop came to the rescue and opened its doors right in the center of downtown Truckee. Last summer they moved down the street to an even larger location. They offer a great selection of the hottest books and classic favorites for all ages. An antique typewriter sits in a corner and invites customers age 10+ to type up a sentence or two about their favorite book and hang it on the wall above.

bookstore Truckee, California
Word After Word Bookshop

Cooking Gallery 10084 Donner Pass Rd, Truckee, CA

The Cooking Gallery has been in business for over 40 years and carries everything you could possibly need (and a few things you didn’t even know you needed) for your kitchen. Their selection includes kitchen cookware, cooking utensils and accessories, small kitchen appliances, gourmet foods, cookbooks, candles, and much more. If you like to spend time in the kitchen or need a gift for someone who does, I would check out the Cooking Gallery the next time you are in downtown Truckee.

California 89 10156 Donner Pass Road, Truckee, CA

California 89

California 89 is the place to go for unique t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats with a cool Tahoe vibe. Tweens and Teens will especially love this local brand of clothing and the selection of decals available to purchase at the store. The sweatshirts are especially cozy and come in a handful of designs that range from the California 89 logo to ski lift, paddle boarding, and river rafting graphics. I am a fan of the “lake girl” tank. While you are there, check out the cool Truckee mural painted on the side of the California 89 building.

Truckee Variety Co. 10088 Donner Pass Road, Truckee, CA

Browsing the isles of Truckee Variety Co. will keep the whole family entertained. It is the perfect place for kiddos to pick up a souvenir of their trip to Tahoe with their wide range of reasonably priced products. You will find everything from toys, games, T-shirts, crafts and stationery to nostalgic candy here. I always pick up a postcard or two and my kids love looking through the gags and pranks they sell. Do you need an activity for the car ride home? you will find Mad Libs and activity books here as well.

Mountain Home Center 10115 Donner Pass Road, Truckee, CA

Mountain Home Center has a unique collection of seasonal décor, home accessories, bedding, linens, towels, candles, mirrors, wall art, carved bears and more. This is the perfect place to give your home a mountain touch or pick up a cute hostess gift. I have my eye on a Lake Rules sign and their adorable Truckee and Lake Tahoe pillows. Mountain Home Center has a second larger location across the river that has outdoor furniture, grills, fire pits and more in case you have a vacation home in the area that you need to outfit.

Big Truck Factory Store 10800 Pioneer Trail Road, Suite 2 Truckee, CA

Big Truck Factory Store is a short distance from the main drag in downtown Truckee, but I couldn’t leave this gem off my list. A hat from Big Truck will be the one souvenir nobody else will have. A visit to the factory store offers customers an opportunity to design a one-of-a-kind custom hat. You pick everything from the hat style, color and material to the unique patches and flags. Once you pick out all of the components to make your perfect Big Truck hat, they stitch it on site and your hat is ready to take home in about 20 minutes. We had so much fun designing our hats to fit our individual style. I picked a black water resistant hat and added flags of Lake Tahoe and a paddle board to wear when I am out on the lake. I like supporting a local company that was “hatched to celebrate this place and the people who give it it’s irreverently adventurous spirit.”

Mountain Freak Boutique 10098 Donner Pass Road, Truckee, CA

Mountain Freak Boutique is tucked away, upstairs in downtown Truckee. They are the place to go for “The North Lake” apparel, tee’s and sweatshirts with a vintage vibe and an awesome collection of vinyl stickers. 

Mountain Freak Boutique
I love this hat design from the Mountain Freak Boutique

Kalifornia Jean Bar 10092 Donner Pass Road, Truckee, CA

This is my favorite clothing boutique in downtown Truckee! The items can be a bit of a splurge, but are soooo cute! I have my eye on a couple items from their Tahoe Soul line.  Last year they pledged to dedicate 15% of their shelf space to black owned businesses. They also have locations in Squaw Valley , Tahoe City and Napa. 

Truckee Thursdays Summer Street Festival

Note: Truckee Thursdays is limited to 7/15, 8/12 and 9/9 in summer 2021

downtown Truckee
Truckee Thursdays

The best time to see all that historic, downtown Truckee has to offer is from 5:00 – 8:30 pm on Truckee Thursdays. For eleven Thursdays each summer, downtown Truckee transforms to a vibrant street festival. Tents featuring local and regional artisans line the streets and food trucks, a beer garden and a stage featuring live music are set up next to the train station. The fire staton offers a quiet spot to feed and change young children as well as a place to purchase Truckee Fire Department apparel, including Big Truck hats that the company customized and donated to benefit the department. In past years the best way to get to Truckee Thursdays is on one of the free shuttles. The shuttle will help you avoid trying to find parking and has stops at popular locations to stay such as Northstar and Tahoe Donner. I believe shuttle service has been suspended for summer 2021, but hopefully it will return next year along with an expanded schedule. 

If food trucks aren’t your style, I would recommend booking a reservation at the Truckee Tavern for dinner. We sat on the upstairs balcony and enjoyed a fabulous meal while watching the excitement down below and listening to the live music playing across the way. I recommend making reservations well in advance of your Thursday night visit. After dinner we stopped at the Little Truckee Ice Creamery truck (read more about the Little Truckee Ice Creamery here) and licked our cones while browsing the different tents. Two of my favorites were the Tahoe University tent that sold apparel with a cool retro vibe and the BellaDrops tent that featured gorgeous, artisan designed, hand painted leather jewelry.

You can find a complete list of shops in historic downtown Truckee here.  If you like this post, check out my other posts about dining and family summer activities in the North Lake Tahoe Area here and here. If you find you are planning a trip to Lake Tahoe and have more questions, feel free to send me an e-mail or post your question in the comment section. Happy travels friends!

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