11 Best Things to Do in Nevada County

Feeling a hankering for a cool mountain breeze? Do you look forward to snow fights, recreational opportunities, and stunning views? Well, Nevada County isn’t shy about showing its appeal. 

Nestled in the Sierra Nevada of California, Nevada County is quite popular among world travelers. The county comprises three major areas: Nevada City, Truckee, and Grass Valley. The High Sierra in Nevada County features California’s natural beauty and offers spectacular sightseeing and adventures.

But before you go on a trip to Nevada County, you should know that there’s more to this county than just setting up a log fire and sitting beside it. Especially if you’re on a short itinerary, you must know the best spots to hit and make the most of your trip. 

So, without further ado, here are the best things to do in Nevada County:

1. Take a Road Trip to the Popular Lake Tahoe

beauty of Lake Tahoe
Photo by https://www.visittheusa.com/destination/lake-tahoe

Taking a road trip to a place with natural landscapes is one of the best ways to escape the chaos of the major cities. Lake Tahoe is a gorgeous blue lake located between the mountain peaks. The destination is packed with tourists during the summer who visit for camping, hiking, and boating.

Lake Tahoe also features a beautiful forest, the Tahoe National Forest, which spans around 870,000 acres of land. Besides Lake Tahoe, there are other lakes, hidden valleys, crystal clear rivers, and plenty of attractions in the Tahoe National Forest.

2. Explore the Magic of the Grass Valley

Grass Valley California
Photo by https://www.thrillist.com/travel/san-francisco/things-to-do-grass-valley-nevada-city-cultural-district

Grass Valley is the largest and most amazing town in Nevada County. The town is famous for its hiking trails. Besides this, you can visit the Nevada City Winery, the Deer Creek Tribute Trail, and a few historic hotels. 

The tourist spot is just a one-hour drive from Truckee and a 2.5 hour drive from San Francisco. Don’t forget to stop by Diego, which serves delicious South American food in a cozy environment. If you’re at Lake Tahoe, you can extend your trip to explore the beauties of the Grass Valley. 

3. Attend the Nevada City Film Festival

Nevada City Film Festival
Photo by https://visitnevadacityca.com/blog/nevada-city-film-festival-2022.htm/

If you intend to have Nevada City tours in the summer, plan your trip so that you can attend the Nevada City Film Festival too. During the festival, you’ll enjoy the screening of shorts and world-class independent films from around the world. The fair is held at different locations, such as the Nevada Theater, where people visiting Nevada City gather to enjoy the festival. 

The festival supports art and culture and attracts thousands of visitors from the country and across the globe. Besides that, you can enjoy after-parties, excursions, tours, coffee talks, art galleries, and nature hikes during the festival. Overall, if you are an art lover and want to enjoy a scenic film festival, you must visit this one. However, make sure you go through the Nevada City events calendar before attending a festival.

4. Take Carnival Rides at the Nevada County Fairgrounds

Nevada County Fairgrounds
Photo by https://www.nevadacitychamber.com/members/nevada-county-fairgrounds/

Located in the Grass Valley, the Nevada County Fairgrounds offer a perfect way to spend the day in Nevada County. Here you’ll enjoy plenty of entertainment, including live music, carnival rides, a variety of food, and lots of exhibits. The event occurs every year during the summer and attracts lots of visitors. 

The Nevada County Fairgrounds is where the local community gathers and enjoys special events. It features picnic-style seating and beautiful lawns. If you intend to interact with the locals, this is the best place. 

5. Learn More About the Gold Rush Towns

Empire State Mine
Photo by https://fotospot.com/attractions/california/empire-mine-state-historic-park

Nevada City is the best-preserved Gold Rush town in California. After all, California is known as the ‘Golden State’ because of its Gold Rush towns. These Gold Rush towns are those where gold was first discovered. During the nineteenth century, most of the gold production was at the North Star and Empire mines.

You can visit the Empire State Mine, where you can learn more about the largest gold mine in Nevada City. The Empire State Mine features the oldest gold mine, which produced more than 5.6 million ounces of gold in downtown Nevada City. 

6. Raft Downstream Along the Truckee River

Truckee River
Photo by https://www.watereducation.org/aquapedia/truckee-river

The Truckee River starts from Lake Tahoe and goes through Reno City to end at Pyramid Lake. Nevada County features several open spaces, and Truckee is one of them. Rafting in the Truckee River is one of the most adventurous things to do near Nevada City. 

Besides that, Truckee is a beautiful town with a rich history, and its small-town charm attracts tourists from across the country. It features small galleries, shops, vintage hotels, and pubs. The famous Lake Tahoe is also near this attraction, but Donner Lake is even closer to Truckee.

7. Delve into the Wine-Tasting Experience

Nevada City Winery
Photo by https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g32771-d8524357-Reviews-Nevada_City_Winery-Nevada_City_California.html

The Nevada City Winery is located on Spring Street and is one of the oldest wineries in Nevada County. The winery allows guests to sit in their tasting room, on the patio, and in the gallery. If you are a wine enthusiast, you’ll love to be here as you’ll taste a wide collection of wines.

The grapes used in this winery are produced at one of the oldest vineyards in California. The winery also offers food options as it partners with a chocolate shop and a local gourmet restaurant. 

8. Tour the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum

Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
Photo by https://www.nevadacitychamber.com/open-nevada-county-narrow-gauge-railroad-museum/

The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum is located in Nevada City, California, and features one of the most important historical landmarks. The museum serves to preserve the artifacts and local transportation from the old era. If you are fond of history, you can dig deeper into the details that the museum provides. 

You can take a historical tour of the area and learn more about the narrow gauge railway history. After spending some time at the museum on Broad Street, you can visit the Nevada City Chocolate Shoppe to taste the finest truffles and artisan chocolates. 

9. Hike the Donner Pass Railroad Tunnel Hike

Donner Pass Railroad Tunnel Hike
Photo by https://californiathroughmylens.com/donner-pass-summit-tunnel-hike/

Donner Memorial State Park is located in the Sierra Nevada and is one of the most beautiful alpine parks in the state. The park offers fun-filled activities, including hiking, water skiing, boating, fishing, picnicking, camping, and more. 

This area’s hiking trail and over-the-snow rails are quite popular among hiking enthusiasts. Besides hiking, you can also try fishing at Donner Lake and Donner Creek. You can also enjoy the public boat ramp, which is open for sailboats and power boats.

10. Grab Fresh Produce at Nevada City Farmers Market

Nevada City Farmer's Market
Photo by https://www.facebook.com/nevadacityfarmersmarket/

If you have time, consider the Nevada City Farmers Market as a quick stopover. Locals love to stop by this market daily to shop for fresh vegetables and fruits. The area is known for its beautiful climate and fertile lands; thus, you can find plenty of fresh produce here. 

Besides the fresh farm produce, you can also get your hands on the town’s finest coffee beans and baked goods. The market is located in downtown Nevada City and allows visitors to explore various crops. 

11. Go Kayaking in the South Yuba River 

South Yuba River
Photo by https://www.afar.com/places/purdon-road-south-yuba-river-nevada-city

The South Yuba River State Park is another beautiful park packed with family attractions. The park is located in Northern California, within Nevada County. One of the best attractions to visit at this spot, aside from the river itself, is the South Yuba River bridge. The bridge offers scenic views of the South Yuba River and is a popular tourist destination near Nevada City. You can also go swimming at the different waterholes in the region.

Hey, if you stick around the area make sure to check out these other towns:

Wrap Up!

There is no better place in California than Nevada County for a weekend escape, multi-day hike, or camping adventure. Enjoy the warmth of Nevada County’s hospitality while you explore its many parks, lakes, and forests. To help you see as much of Nevada County’s various attractions as possible during your trip, we’ve put together this handy guide.

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