Nevada City Things to Do

  • Both bridges in the picture
    Both bridges in the picture
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  • Long Ragne view of bridge
    Long Ragne view of bridge
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  • Boulders in the river
    Boulders in the river
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Best Rated Things to Do in Nevada City

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    Walking Tour

    by SteveOSF Written Mar 16, 2008

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    You can pick up a free pamphlet for a Nevada City walking tour. They are available at the Chamber of Commerce. Although I did pick up a slightly different version downtown that a real estate agent sponsored. There was only one small difference in these two versions.

    The pamphlets had a map of the downtown that showed the locations of the items of interest interest. Short descriptions of the attractions were also included. Most of the items were of historic interest, but a few commercial items, such as the local wine tasting rooms, were included.

    The tour included the oldest commercial buildings in Nevada City (1855 and 1857), two firehouses (1861), the National Hotel (1854), the Nevada Theatre (1865), the Miner's Foundry Cultural Center (1856), the Sargent House (1856), the Pine Street Bridge, and the Nevada City Courthouse (1864).

    You can get a copy of the walking tour pamphlet at the Camber of Commerce at 132 Main Street.

    Nevada City
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    Firehouse No. 1 Museum

    by JulieJueletha Updated Jan 21, 2014

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    This beautiful firehouse was completed in the Spring of 1861 and was home to Nevada Hose Company No.1 from 1861 to 1938. Horse-drawn fire wagons and handcarts barreled out of it's doors for almost 50 years, with the bell in the firehouse steeple clanging out the news that there was a fire about. After the turn of the century motorized fire engines rolled out the doors for another 30 years. In 1947 it became a museum when the Nevada City City Council donated the use of the building to the Nevada County Historical Society.

    The original building was brick and a very simple block style with a tall bell tower. Early after the turn of the twentieth century, the facade was covered with the white Victorian gingerbread front that we see today. Coming up the slight rise in the street to the firehouse, visitors and locals alike are struck by the beauty of the white gingerbread building against the blue Northern California sky. Because of it's beauty and the dramatic photographic shots taken of it, bright white against the blue sky, the firehouse has become a symbol of Nevada City and is probably the most photographed building in Nevada City.

    On display in the museum are common items used in households and by the local inhabitants over the past 150 years; collections of tools of various trades, kitchen tools and household linens and other items and a collection of handmade toys, including a miniature doll house, relics from the ill-fated Donner Party, period firearms, and a display of Chinese artifacts are all found here.

    There is also a display of 19th century clothing which includes the satin gown worn by Suffragette advocate Mrs. Aaron A. Sargent at the court of Kaiser Wilhelm in 1870. Senator Sargent from Nevada City wrote the 14th amendment giving women the right to vote.

    The Nisenan Indians are the native Indians of Nevada County and are are well represented at the museum as well..

    Not a large space, easy to get around, and very interesting.

    Nevada City Firehouse No. 1 Museum Nisenan Water Basket Firearms Display Wedding Dresses Display Chinese Altar Display
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    Miners Foundry Cultural Center

    by TooTallFinn24 Written Nov 30, 2011

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    This interesting building is also sometimes referred to as the Pelton Wheel Manufacturing Site. Buildings on this site trace back t0 1855 when a foundry and blacksmith shop served to repair heavy manufacturing equipment from San Francisco and Sacramento.

    In 1879 Lester Pelton at this site manufactured what was called the Pelton Water Wheel which was a revolutionary advancement in water power use that made it much easier to conduct hydraulic mining.

    Thirty years later a new owner expands the foundry and fabricates steel, makes pipe fittings, rails, ore cars, and supplies for General Electric as well as gateballs for Hoover Dam, steel pieces for the spire of the TransAmerica Building in San Francisco as well as many other uses.

    In 1990 the foundry is donated by its owner at the time, the Nevada City Winery, to the Nevada County Cultural Preservation Trust as a site to use for community events and meetings. The site can also be leased out for resident events.

    There is a walking tour that can be taken at the foundry. As I walked around the site I thought what an incredible building to have in such a small city for community events and another example of the hard work of residents to put older buildings to productive uses.

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    Downtown

    by SteveOSF Updated Mar 16, 2008

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    One of the best things to do in Nevada City is to walk the old downtown and explore the many historic structures. The downtown contains many unique shops, nice restaurants, and interesting sights. The downtown is not too large and can be easily explored on foot.

    Downtown is located just west of Highway 49. Follow Broad Street to the west from where it crosses Highway 49 (at the downtown exit). Downtown begins just past the highway. Broad Street is the major street running through downtown. It slopes uphill from Highway 49. It is lined with old buildings, most of which are shops or eateries.

    Most of the businesses of interest to tourists are on Broad Street, however, the streets one block away and parallel to Broad Street should not be missed, as they contain interesting attractions. These parallel streets are Commercial Street which is one block north of Broad Street and Spring Street which is one block south of Broad Street. Nor should the streets that run perpendicular and connect these streets be missed, such as Pine Street which connects Broad Street to Spring Street.

    Broad Street Commercial Street Spring Street Broad Street Near Highway 49
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    Nevada City Winery

    by SteveOSF Written Mar 16, 2008

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    Wine tasting is not one of the first things that come to mind when thinking about the California Gold Country. However, Nevada County has a long tradition of winemaking with the original vineyards dating back to California's Gold Rush. The Nevada City Winery has been producing award-winning wines since 1980. This full production winery is located in downtown Nevada City.

    Nevada City Winery's tasting room is located on Spring Street just one short block from Broad Street. Free tastings are offered. Each guest may taste up to five different wines from the offered selections of various white and red wines. You can taste sangiovese, cabernet franc, merlot, zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, and several others. They even offer a red wine called Rough and Ready that was named after the nearby town of the same name. Naturally, their wines are available for purchase at the tasting room.

    Nevada City Winery
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    Indian Springs Vineyards

    by SteveOSF Written Mar 16, 2008

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    The Nevada County winery, Indian Springs Vineyard, has a tasting room on Broad Street right in downtown Nevada City. They offer free tastings of their wines that they also sell at the tasting room. The one exception was they charged one dollar to taste their port. They have a variety of white and red wines to taste, including chardonnay, viognier, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, and syrah. Some of the wines were quite good and we bought some bottles during our stay. They even had some nice crackers to taste or buy that well completed the wines.

    Indian Springs Vineyards' Tasting Room
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    National Hotel

    by TooTallFinn24 Written Nov 30, 2011

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    The National Hotel claims to be the oldest continuously operating hotel this side of the Rocky Mountains. Established in 1852 its historic charm exudes as you walk down Broad Street.

    To my surprise I walked in and was allowed to roam freely. First to the historic bar and saloon. According to what I read the fancy wooden bar once was part of the Spreckles Mansion in San Francisco It was stunningly ornate and polished when I walked by. Then I entered the dining room which is called Hoover's Steak and Lobster House. Only one group was having lunch and the dining room definitely looked like it was from a bygone era (see photo). Interior gas lamps which I did not think were able to be used again.

    The hotel rooms are on the second floor up an old creeky staircase. The lobby consisted of several antiques including a piano. The piano I was told came around the Cape over a hundred years ago. There was a Christmas tree and some other decorations. The front desk person let me roam freely upstairs but when I asked her a question I was ignored so she could carry on with a delivery driver about the weather etc. Interesting to look at but it did not give off the kind of feeling that this would be some place I would like to spend the night.

    National City Hotel from Broad Street Hoovers Steak and Lobster National Hotel Hotel Lobby Antiques on Second Floor of National Hotel

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    Robinson Plaza

    by TooTallFinn24 Updated Dec 1, 2011

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    Located steps from the South Yuba Canal Office is a small vacant area named Robinson Plaza. The area was named after Beryl Robinson Jr. in 1999, who was the longest serving City Manager in California history. A plaque praises his accomplishments as a City Councilmen then later as City Manager in restoring Nevada City to its 19th century glory.

    The plaza is remarkable in that it contains witbin shouting distance a total of eight California historical markers. These include the Pelton Water Wheel, the Five Stamp Mill, the site of the original Ott Assay office, the South Yuba Canal Building, Old Wells Fargo Building, Shaft Drill Core, Nevada City Queen of the Northern Mines, and Nevada Hose Company # 1, and the Robinson Plaza marker. Five of the historical markers are located in the plaza.

    The plaza contains some nice benches and cast iron fencing. In the morning when I first arrived there was a young girl sitting with her dog playing her guitar in the secluded part of the plaza. Walking by at lunch I noticed several workers eating lunches there and enjoying the cool crisp winter day. Having worked in city government what I was struck by in walking around Robinson Plaza was the idea of how one man, in this case Beryl Robinson, who has given his whole life to making Nevada City a better place to live. It made me feel very good about the City and life for a few moments.

    The plaza is home to the Nevada City Farmers Market during the summer and fall of the year. When I was last at the plaza there was a demonstration supporting students at the University of California.

    Pelton Water Wheel - Robinson Plaza Fixture From Old Stamp Mill Robinson Plaza South Yuba Canal Building - facing Robinson Plaza Demonstrators in Robinson Plaza

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    Trailhead at the Old Highway Bridge

    by SteveOSF Written Mar 16, 2008

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    A new bridge has been constructed where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. The old historic bridge has been retained at this crossing. It serves as a pedestrian bridge that lets people cross the river from a parking lot to the trail head on the opposite side. From this trailhead, hikers can explore the nearby wilderness.

    The trailhead is just over the bridge The Historic Highway Bridge The New Highway Bridge The South Yuba River
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    Firehouse Number 1

    by SteveOSF Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Firehouse No. 1 was built in 1861. It served the Nevada Hose Company No.1 from 1861 to 1938. Initially it housed horse drawn fire wagons and handcarts. Eventually motorized fire engines rolled through its doors.

    The firehouse is home to a small museum. However, it is only up open from May to October. Come to Nevada City off-season, and you will only be able to observe the exterior of this historic structure.

    Firehouse No. 1
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    Nevada City's Victorian Christmas

    by JulieJueletha Updated Dec 12, 2013

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    Nevada City, in the gold rush country of Northern California is home to Victorian Christmas three Wednesday evenings and two Sunday afternoons in December and features holiday activities for all ages. Whether you bundle up and take a horse drawn carriage ride in the snow, listen to the street carolers or see one of the many live entertainments, the feel of Christmas gone-by will reappear and overtake you in the most delightful way! Booths line Broad street with a variety of unique items, many handmade, that would make delightful Christmas gifts! Or get some homemade cookies or fudge, a hot pasty (meat and potato turnover) or a delicious brew to satisfy your holiday appetite! But don't miss the appearance of Father Christmas himself as he strolls down Broad Street greeting old and young alike. The Christmas lights, real gas street lamps and twinkling white lights dance on the glistening snow and complete the setting of this Victorian Christmas scene.

    Nevada City Victorian Christmas 2013, Wednesdays, December 4th, 11th & 18th from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.and Sundays, December 15th and 22nd from 1:30 – 6pm.

    Come and see:

    Holt Ballet “The Nutcracker” Dec 11 & 12
    Nevada City Winter Craft Fair Dec 15
    Backcountry Film Festival Dec 17
    Christmas at the RR Museum Rescheduled for Dec 14
    Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” thru Dec 24
    Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides in Nevada City
    “The Christmas Card” December Showtimes
    Artist Daniel Brooks at NC Winery Dec 6
    Holidays at Empire Mine Nov 29 & 30

    This year’s entertainment includes:

    Juggler Izzi Tooinsky
    David Ayala – Accordian Walking Christmas Tree
    Village Festival Recorders Victorian Christmas Singers Nativity Scene
    Peter the Magician
    Gold Country Brass
    Balloons & Bounce House Sierranaders
    Auburnaires
    Sometimes Singers Tommyknocker Cloggers
    Joe Sousa
    Highland Dancers
    Father Christmas & Victorian Characters Thunderfood Cloggers
    Shades of Blue
    Ludi Hinrichs
    Bag Piper Les Milroy
    Nevada Union Choir
    Zed & Sean, the Unicyclist & Juggler Ruckrich Family Band Salvation Army Brass
    Jubilo Minstrels & more!

    Get the Victorian Christmas Entertainment Guide
    contact the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce, 132 Main Street Nevada City, CA 95959. Call (530) 265-2692 or toll-free (800) 655-NJOY.

    Nevada City Christmas Lights Nevada City Bagpiper Nevada City Juggler Izzi Tooinsky Father Christmas
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    Firehouse No 1 Museum: Chinese Altar Display

    by JulieJueletha Written Dec 13, 2013

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    The museum houses the altar and other artifacts from the Hou Wang Temple and the Kuan Yin Temple, which were located in Grass Valley from 1877 to 1938.There are also many items from Chinese daily life, from school books used in the Chinese language schools, to opium pipes, tools, cooking utensils, clothing and everyday items.

    Chinese altar display
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    Firehouse No 1 Museum: Displays

    by JulieJueletha Updated Jan 21, 2014

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    On display you will find common items used by residents over the past 150 years. The most interesting display to me was the display of bottles of all shapes and colors that were unearthed in this area especially near the creek.There are also firearms, collections of tools of various trades, kitchen and household items and a collection of children's items, including a miniature doll house.

    A collection of relics from the ill-fated Donner Party is housed here comprised of small artifacts found at the Breen and the Graves cabins collected by C.F. McGlashan.

    A collection of firearms from the time period is found here.

    There is also a display of 19th century clothing which includes the satin gown worn by Suffragette advocate Mrs. Aaron A. Sargent at the court of Kaiser Wilhelm in 1870. Senator Sargent from Nevada City wrote the 14th amendment giving women the right to vote.

    Household Goods: Antique Bottle Display Firearms Display Wedding Dresses Display
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    Nevada City Firehouse No.1: Nisenan Indian Display

    by JulieJueletha Updated Dec 13, 2013

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    The Nisenan Indians are the native Indians of Nevada County, having made their homes in the foothills of Nevada County for thousands of years, long before the arrival of European settlers. While the Nevada City Rancheria (reservation) no longer exists, the Nisenan people still live here. Written documentation of the Tribe and its federally recognized Rancheria begins in 1852 and continues into the present.

    The tribe continues to be active in the community as they have for the past 200 years. They are well represented at the museum.

    The name Nisenan, derives from the plural pronoun nisena·n, "from among us". A few Nisenan people speak some of the Nisenan dialects. Some Nisenan people today are enrolled in the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, a federally recognized tribe. The Nisenan, also known as the Southern Maidu and Valley Maidu, are one of many native groups of the Central CA Valley.

    The Museum houses a Nisenan Basketry collection dating to before 1900.

    Nisenan Basketry A water tight basket woven by the Nisenan Indians
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    First Stop: Chamber of Commerce

    by TooTallFinn24 Written Nov 30, 2011

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    Chambers of Commerce can either be a good source of local information or just a building with brochures shouting out to you to spend your money here. I found the staffers at the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce to be both helpful and knowledgeable about their City.

    Their office is now located in the first floor of the old South Yuba Canal Company Building on 132 Main Street. There you can pick up a good walking tour of Nevada City as well as suggestions based on your interests as to what else to see in the surrounding area.

    Office on Ground Floor of South Yuba Canal Bldg.

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