Grass Valley Travel Guide

  • Sierra Starr winery
    Sierra Starr winery
    by trvlrtom
  • House at Empire mines
    House at Empire mines
    by trvlrtom
  • Fipping Blacksmith Shop in Rough & Ready
    Fipping Blacksmith Shop in Rough & Ready
    by trvlrtom

Grass Valley Things to Do

  • Walk Mill Street

    Mill Street provides the essence of Grass Valley's historical district. Located just off Main Street, about five blocks of Mill Street provide you with a delightful walk of some of Grass Valley's most historical buildings.These include the old Union Newspaper Building, the Owl Saloon, the Del Oro Theatre, Lola Montez House, and the Grass Valley...

  • Holbrooke Hotel

    The Holbrooke Hotel was built in 1862. It was originally called the Exchange Hotel because of its proximity to the Gold Exchange in town. In 1879 the hotel was purchased by Ellen and Daniel Holbrooke and thus the name. Over the years two presidents and famous persons such as Mark Twain and Bret Harte have stayed in the hotel.In 1974 the hotel was...

  • Old Union Newspaper Building

    The Grass Valley Daily Morning Union was one of the first newspapers in the California foothills. It began publication in 1864 to support the causes of the Union army in the Civil War. The striking Union building in the photo was the home of the Union until 1978. The paper's office was moved to an office outside of downtown on Sutton Way to allow...

  • Northstar Mine Powerhouse and Mining...

    Tucked between two state highways is an extremely well done display of mining artifacts from the Empire and Northstar Gold Mines of Grass Valley. These mines operated for nearly 80 years until they stopped operation in 1959. These two mines alone produced over $ 140 million in gold during their operation.Due to some forward thinking and...

  • Del Oro Theater

    The tower of the Del Oro Theater stands out for blocks around Grass Valley. The art moderne design theatre design is a testimony to how many movie theaters were built in the 1930's and 1940's and unfortunately very view are left.The Del Oro Theater started construction during 1940 but did not open until May of 1942. Despite changes in how movies...

  • Lola Montez Home

    Lola Montez was an intelligent, beautiful entertainer and businesswoman who lived in Grass Valley in the mid 1850's having also lived in many areas of the world. Her liaison with Ludwig I, King of Bavaria, gave her several titles of royalty which was of great interest to the families living in Grass Valley at the time. Her keen business sense is...

  • Grass Valley Public Library

    The Grass Valley Public Library was built in 1915 after the City received a Carnegie grant. The City chose to build the library at 207 Mill Street since it was the childhood home of philosopher Josiah Royce. The building was renamed in his honor in 2005.The library is built in classic revival style. Dark red bricks and white pilasters make this an...

  • Shopping

    My wife loves shopping in Grass Valley. There are a lot of locally owned, unique stores here for clothes, shoes, accessories etc. have quality items and a lot of variety. Don't expect to see the big chain stores such as The Gap. One of the pleasures in town is their absence.Descriptions of stores is on this site:...

  • Local information & history

    The local chamber of commerce is a good place to stop to get a free walking tour map of town. Grass Valley isn't very big, so it is easy to walk the whole downtown; the map will point out pretty much every building of interest. There are 47 places listed!The office is in the renovated historic Lola Montez House. It is a replica of a cabin that was...

  • Old Mill Street buildings

    Mill Street, along with Main Street, is one of the major business streets in town. The long stretch of historic buildings are all interesting and have long histories. One in this photo housed the Grass Valley Hardware store for 100 years, before closing in 1989. Now they are business mostly for the tourist trade. One is Yuba Blue, a favorite of my...

  • Visit wineries in town

    Grass Valley has three local wineries with tasting rooms downtown. All are within walking distance, so it is easy and convenient to try all three or stop in at one or more while you are exploring the area or shopping. I've been to two of them, and the service was friendly and helpful. The wine we tried was good, so we bought some to take home.

  • Empire Mines - home and gardens

    While mining history may be the main attraction at this State Historic Park, many visitors come to see the beautiful gardens and cottage home developed for the mine owner's family. William Bourn Jr., who inherited the Empire Mine from his father in 1877 capitalized on the profits of the mine to enjoyed a rich and active social life, as well...

  • Empire Mines State Park - mining history

    Grass Valley and the surrounding area was built on mining, and to get the best idea of what this rich industry was about, go to Empire mines. This mine operated until the 1956, extracting millions of $$ over the decades since the 1850s. The mine is now operating as a California State Historical Park, and includes a variety of activities and...

  • Downtown Grass Valley

    Grass Valley, as one of the most prominent Gold Rush-era and mining towns in California has, like its neighbour Nevada City, a large old downtown full of itneresting and historic buildings. It's not quite as historic, old-fashioned, or charming as Nevaa City, but it's still very nice, attractive, and very lively. There are many buildings to see,...

  • Empire Mine State Historic Park

    Empire Mine, just outside of town, was the highest-producing hard-rock gold mine in California history. In operation from 1850 to 1956, with a brief interruption, and was a major factor in the rise of Grass Valley to replace neighbouring Nevada City for a while as the premier gold-mining town in the state. Now a state historic park, the mine has...

  • Visit the historic Holbrooke Hotel

    The Hobrooke Hotel is one of the finest architectural landmarks in Grass Valley, and is well known throughout California's Gold Country region. President Benjamin Harrison once stayed here - a long time ago - but I can't speak for the lodgings since I haven't stayed here myself. I can say, however, that it is worth your time to step in to see the...

  • Historic town of Rough & Ready

    An interesting side trip from Grass Valley or Nevada City is Rough and Ready, a small community that once was a thriving mining town. For about three months in 1850 the town declared itself a sovereign nation, which the residents are still proud of.Most of what was Rough & Ready is now gone. There is an old blacksmith building and a general...

  • Bridgeport Covered Bridge

    At So. Yuba River State Park, located about 20 minutes west of Nevada, you will find the Bridgeport Covered Bridge. Built in 1862, it is noted as the longest single span arch-truss covered bridge in the US at 251 feet. Bridgeport was a mining camp, stage coach stop and ranch where some of the richer deposits were found during the gold rush. The...


Grass Valley Hotels

Grass Valley Restaurants

  • Cornish Pasties

    Marshall's Cornish PastiesAt Marshall's, you have the option to sit down at a table to eat your order, or you can take it away with you. Marshall's Cornish pasties are made fresh each day and they contain no artificial preservatives or additives. Voted best in Nevada County.Marshall's Cornish Pasties has preserved the traditional Cornish method of...

  • Good Chai Latte

    I came on this place wondering the streets of downtown Grass Valley on a Thursday afternoon in January. I couldn't believe all the people inside so I had to check it out. Walking in the door there were a couple of employees unloading huge sacks of coffee. There was a line at the counter and most of the seats were taken by groups of people or...

  • Local atmosphere

    The sign on the front of the Old Town Café says this is the "Oldest continuous restaurant in Grass Valley”. With the first restaurant opening at this site back in the 1920s, this is probably true. We went in and received a friendly welcome from the staff, and took note of the locals that dominated the scene. Our service was prompt and attentive,...

  • Good, popular local place

    The Owl is recognized as one of the better restaurants in the area. The food is good, along with service and atmosphere. You can't go wrong with their steaks. They often have live music (no big headliners here - remember this is somewhat off the beaten path).The business is made up of two historic buildings, one built in 1857 and the other 1862....

  • Good local Mexican food

    Maria's is a local favorite. They have everything for a successful restaurant: good food, atmosphere, and service. We've been here about six times, and always have had a good experience.There is plenty of inside seating on the main floor along with balcony seating and a small outdoor patio. The bar is small, and generally serves as a place to wait...

  • Good local place

    The Railroad Cafe is a busy little restaurant in downtown. The cafe is located in an interesting old building that reflects the history of the mining community, with solid rock walls and lots of woodwork. Most unique, however, is the scale model railroad that circles above the dining area. They serve the basics here - sandwiches, soups etc.


Grass Valley Nightlife

  • TooTallFinn24's Profile Photo

    Smith Vineyards Tasting Room: Great Wines With An Interesting History

    by TooTallFinn24 Updated Jan 16, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I first read about the Smith Valley Winery in a Sunset Magazine article back in December. I then went to their web site and became even more intrigued with the winery. So finally visiting the tasting room on Mill Street in Grass Valley was actually like visiting a friend.

    The tasting room is located in the middle of historic Mill Street. It has only been open since April of 2010Ironically the only parking space I could find was for a free three hours and right next door to the tasting room. What is interesting about this tasting room is that there is no doors to the inside tasting room. Some nice wood in the outer room and even sleeker woods inside. Some interesting art of animals on the walls of the tasting room.

    Since I was driving alone I knew I had to limit myself to one wine. I asked to try the Primitivo. The wine is of Croatian origin and much like a Zinfandel. It had a taste of strawberries and raspberries and was very good.

    The Smith Vineyard Winery involves three generations of the Smith family. The winery has been in operation since 1987 and the grapes are grown on a ten acre plot at about 2,500 feet.
    All of their wines are organically grown which is a big plus for me.

    Nice folks and nice wine I wish them success

    Dress Code: It's a tasty room so casual is fine. I was the only person in the tasting room at the time I entered.

    Smith Vineyards Tasting Room Smith Vineyards Tasting Room

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Grass Valley Off The Beaten Path

  • South Yuba River State Park

    South Yuba River State Park is a surprise of wonderfully preserved bridges, great hiking trails, brilliant scenery and a very nice little visitor center during an early January trip. During the summer it is a popular spot for swimming, kayaking, horseback riding and canoeing. It canbest be thought of as a twenty mile non-continuous string of...

  • Washington Township

    Take a 20 minute side trip to the small town of Washington. Hang at the Washington Hotel. Sit on the outside deck and ejoy the views over the Yuba River or play horseshoes with the locals. Very friendly staff and don't be intimdated by the Harleys...

  • Grass Valley Hotels

    15 Hotels in Grass Valley

    1 Reviews

Grass Valley Favorites

  • JulieJueletha's Profile Photo

    Cornish Pasties in California

    by JulieJueletha Updated Dec 26, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: The Cornish Pasty is a baked pastry, somewhat like a turnover, filled with meat and vegetables.
    Pasties have a flaky crust with a raised ridge on the top or side where the turnover is crimped to hold in the filling. Miners who brought these to work with them had very dirty hands from working in the mines. They would eat the pasty by holding the raised ridge and then throw away the ridge which had touched their hands. The stuffing is potatoes mixed with cubed beef (although other variations include ground lamb, peas, carrots and other vegetables but potatoes always predominate).

    Fondest memory: The pasty is said to have been carried by Cornish miners into Cornwall tin mines as early as the 1500's. It is thought to be related to the Spanish empanada, which was invented in Celtic areas of northwest Spain, specificially Galicia, where bagpipes are still played.

    The pasty came with the British miners who arrived in great numbers during the 1849 gold rush to mine the gold (and later silver) in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Cornish Pasties are still very popular in the area. When I lived there I absolutely fell in love with them and brought them to work almost every day. They are supposed to be served warm but I usually ate them cold (packed as a lunch) and they were wonderful! The version I had and enjoyed was with a filling of only meat and potatoes. When I make them myself I add onions and a bit more salt and pepper.

    The pasty is now popular world-wide due to the spread of Cornish miners, and variations can be found in Australia, the United States, Mexico and elsewhere.

    See my "dining tips" in Grass Valley for the two best pasty places in Grass Valley.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Food and Dining
    • Historical Travel

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