Things to do in Nevada City

Nevada City // tahoefabulous.com

Nevada City, a historic gold mining town just off Highway 49, is one of my favorite close destinations when I need a change of pace. It’s only about an hour from Truckee and, but it’s at ~2,400 feet elevation, so it’s cooler than the valley in the summer and warmer than the mountains in the winter. There are a ton of things to do in Nevada City year round and activities for everyone, indoors and outside.

Hoot Trail // tahoefabulous.com
Mountain biking the Hoot Trail in Nevada City. Photo by Greyson Howard.

Nevada City has a strong and growing mountain bike scene, with awesome trail building and improvement done by BONC. My favorite trail in the area is Hoot (read my trail report here) and I also like Scott’s Flat Trail.

For non mountain bikers, there’s tons of great hiking in the area. I like Hirschman Trail, an easy, out and back trail that’s about 5 miles round trip. Another great trail is the Deer Creek Tribute Trail, an easy trail that’s about 3.6 miles one way, depending on the route taken. If you’re interested in the history of the area, this trail is a great choice as it honors Chinese and Nisean history of this area, with informational stations along the way.

Hoyt's Trail Nevada City // tahoefabulous.com
South Yuba River from Hoyt’s Trail.

If you’re looking for a trail along the river, Hoyt’s Trail in the South Yuba River State Park starts by the 49 Crossing area and travels 1.2 miles to a beach called Hoyt’s. Branching off from that trail are numerous steep and narrow trails that access the South Yuba River. If you’re visiting the South Yuba River in the summer, I have to recommend Gnarbuckling, a unique form of river travel that can only be done in the Yuba River.

Volunteer Day in Nevada City // tahoefabulous.com
A volunteer restoration day with Bear Yuba Land Trust.

The South Yuba River is one of the best rivers in California. In 1983, local activists formed the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) in order to protect it from dams. These activists were successful, and 39 miles of the South Yuba is permanently protected as one of California’s Wild & Scenic Rivers. The legacy of environmental activism lives on in Nevada City, and there are many local environmental non profits headquartered in town and in nearby Grass Valley. If you’re looking for a different way to spend time outside in this area, the environmental groups are often hosting volunteer events, ranging from litter pick ups to scotch broom removal to citizen science water monitoring. Check out volunteer opportunities at SYRCL, Bear Yuba Land Trust, and Sierra Streams Institute, just a few of my favorite organizations.

Wild & Scenic Film Festival // tahoefabulous.com
Wild & Scenic Film Festival 2019, photo from SYRCL.

Nevada City is affectionately and accurately known as the place “where hippies go to retire”, and, because of that, there are way more arts and cultural activities than you’d expect in a town of around 3,000 people. My favorite of these is the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, hosted by SYRCL each year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend in January.

“The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is the largest film festival of its kind, showcasing the best and brightest in environmental and adventure films. Our 5-day flagship festival is held annually in the historic small towns of Nevada City and Grass Valley, California. Featuring more than 150 films in 10+ venues, workshops, visiting filmmaker and activist talks, family-friendly programs, art exhibitions, parties, and more–you won’t want to miss this festival!”

Nevada City also hosts the Nevada City Film Festival, which features independent films and filmmakers, and also hosts movies, concerts and live theater at several venues around town. During the summer, there are Art Walks on the first Friday of June, July, and August. No matter when you visit, there will be something going on.

Nevada City Winery // tahoefabulous.com
Photo from Nevada City Winery

Nevada City also has excellent farm to table restaurants, wineries with locally grown grapes and awesome local breweries. For tasting, stop by the Nevada City Winery, Szabo Vineyards Tasting Room or the Ol’ Republic Brewery Tasting Room.

Nevada City Restaurants // tahoefabulous.com

If you’re looking for a place to eat, my favorites are Three Forks Brewery (the wood fired pizza is worth the wait and whatever the seasonal salad is), Roadhouse (biscuits and vegetarian gravy), Mi Pueblo Taqueria (chile relleno burrito) and Lefty’s Grill (another pizza recommendation, specifically the Napa pizza).

Nevada City is a great weekend getaway that I highly recommend!

My Favorite Restaurants in Nevada City, California

I get to go to the adorable historic mining town of Nevada City for work fairly often. There are a ton of great environmental non-profits based there that I work with, and nearly half of our AmeriCorps Members are based in the area. I was there in January for the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, last week for site visits, and I’ll be back in April for a training and watershed restoration project.

Nevada City 1

Nevada City is a California Gold Rush town about an hour from Sacramento, and the entire downtown is a National Historic District filled with funky shops and great restaurants. There are a ton of outdoor activities in the area – mountain biking, hiking, road biking, fishing and exploring the amazing Yuba River, as well as art events, concerts, festivals, and plays – Nevada City is an arts and culture hub for the Sierra

After a long day of playing outside or festival-going, there’s nothing better than something good to eat and a nice beer/glass of wine. Here are some of my favorites:

Best Restaurants Nevada City // tahoefabulous.com

Best Beer/Breakfast Baked Good Joint: 3 Forks Brewery

Named after the three forks (North, Middle and South) of the Yuba River, 3 Forks Brewery does great beer and baked goods. (So you can have beer for breakfast!) I had and amazing millet muffin when I was there, and I love the Emerald Pool IPA. The brewery supports local farms and sources as much as possible from local, organic producers.

Favorite Coffee Shop: Cafe Mekka

There are several great coffee shops in Nevada City, but my favorite is Cafe Mekka. This place has a crunchy feel – frequented by the hippie population, funky decor, dinosaurs made from appliances hanging from the ceiling, and a great coffee and chai. I recommend the dirty chai for early morning wake up calls after late nights out at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival.

Best for Scenic Dining: Lefty’s Grill

Lefty’s Grill has a great location with an outdoor deck overlooking Deer Creek in downtown Nevada City. Sit outside on the deck, order the Napa Style Pizza or anything with onion jam and you will not be disappointed.

Best Adult Grilled Cheese/Beer Selection: Matteo’s Public

I love a fancy grilled cheese sandwich, and Matteo’s Stinky Grill Cheese is awesome with cheddar, parmesan and blue cheese. The onion rings are great as well. I’ve always been impressed with their beer selection (they always have IPA 395) with fun microbrews from all over the Sierra and California. Additionally, Matteo’s Public is another Nevada City restaurant with a focus on local, organic ingredients whenever possible.

Favorite Food Truck: Fudenjuce

After a long, hot day of invasive blackberry removal last spring, one of the Nevada City AmeriCorps Members introduced us all to the amazing Fudenjuce and their delicious smoothies. Fudenjuce also has wraps, rice bowls, salads and other healthy dishes with a lot of gluten free options. Fudenjuce is a little out of town, but worth the drive or bike ride.

Best Dive Bar: The Mine Shaft Saloon

The Mine Shaft Saloon is more than just a place to get a cheap beer and check out the vintage Budweiser posters hanging from the ceiling. Despite its main street location, it’s a true locals hangout, and you can get a feel for the “real” Nevada City by spending some time here.