Lake Tahoe, 1,600 feet deep, is the big draw in these parts, but gold-rush hub Truckee, 12 miles away, doesn't suffer the same crowds as South Shore and Tahoe City. Plus, Truckee is within 10 miles of 10 other lakes: Donner, for fishing or swimming, and Prosser, glass-smooth in the morning and motor-free, for standup paddling.
Truckee is also a rising trail running destination with the Squaw Mountain Run, Castle Peak 100K, and Sierra Crest Ultra Run all worth the trip alone. For the daredevil biker, tackle trails like Jackass or Yogi's, knowing there will be downhill, lift-served mountain biking at Northstar California Resort when you need a breather (or if you simply prefer to take it easy). Reward yourself for setting new PRs with Skydive Truckee Tahoe or, you know, never leaving bed at log cabin-esque Cedar House Sport Hotel.
Getting There: Fly to Reno; drive 40 minutes west.
For more information, visit truckee.com.