Looking for vibrant fall colors? We know just the place. About 140 miles northeast of San Francisco, and almost to Tahoe, is the ultimate hidden gem for a fall weekend getaway. Nevada City is one of those towns that can capture your heart no matter the time of year.
But if you go in late September to November you will undoubtedly fall in love with the vibrant color change. There are pops of orange and red foliage everywhere you look.
Nevada City was built in 1849 during the California Gold Rush. The downtown area is beautifully preserved with natural brick buildings, saloon-style bars, and cobblestone sidewalks. Broad Street and Commercial Street are the main roads that run through the town. Here you will find adorable shops and some wonderful restaurants.
EAT & DRINK
Start your day at the Curly Wolf Espresso House with freshly brewed coffee and few pastry bites. While Curly Wolf is a modern coffee shop, we like that they kept the spirit of the Wild West with their colorful wallpapers and ornament, velvety furniture.
For breakfast or casual lunch head to Three Forks Baking and Brewing Co. Try their egg stuffed pastry (or honestly any of their pastries), choose from many salad options or treat yourself to a wood-fired pizza. Drink menu is also amazing, besides their house beers they also offer regional wines, hard cider and fresh juice.
Every city, no matter the size, needs a Mexican restaurant, and with Los Mineros, Nevada City has its own, delicious one. Small in space, but mighty in flavor, Los Mineros is great for a quick meal. You can grab a spot inside, or on a sunny day, enjoy your food outside in the parklet. We recommend getting the fried plantain and roasted poblano burrito; it’s extremely yummy.
When the clock turns dinner time, stop in at Bistro 221 for an incredible lasagna with meat sauce. It’s a cheesy dream come true. Take a moment to admire the many pieces of art by local photographers hanging in the dining room. Afterward get a cocktail at Golden Era, and make sure to look up at the stunning gold leaf ceiling.
For more lovely dinner atmosphere, Mateo’s Public is your destination. The wine & beer bar serves casual American fare, is packed with locals and very evening a new local band takes the stage. Music ranges everywhere from folk to jazz to blues. On a warm summer night, the music plays outside on the patio.
Compared to the size of the downtown, Nevada City abounds with shopping opportunities. There are stores for every taste. From modern bohemian to antiques to hat makers and spiritual wellness supply — the choice is yours.
Stop at HAALo for tinctures, oils, and loose leaf tea. If you are looking for a new crystal to preserve the energy of your home, then you must go to the Crystal Rainbow Rock Shop – a tiny shop with the most lovely owner. We also loved browsing clothing store Abstrakt — they have some of the cutest hats we have ever seen. For all you Bohemian needs and to pile up on pottery, indigo textiles, linen dresses, and more stop by at Kitkitdizzi (wondering what the name means? it’s the native plant of Sierra Nevada and also known as Bear Clover, Mountain Misery)
Looking for a unique tea experience and flavors — Jade Summit is one-of-a-kind spot for tea culture. It’s a place where you want to get introduced to the world of tea. Sip on rare to find whole-leaf tea, enjoy the serene vibe of the space and shop antique Asian ware. J.J. Jackson’s has you covered with everything from California shaped cheese boards to handmade soap to books and gag gifts to creams and lotions.
from top left clockwise: Haalo, Abstrakt, Jade Summit, J.j. Jackson’s, Kitkitdizzi
LIVE LIKE A LOCAL
Living like a local is how we love to experience a new city. And what better way to do it then to go to a farmers market. So if you happen to be in Nevada City on a Saturday don’t miss it. The Union Street is lined-up with local vendors that you rarely find in a big city, such as a basket weaver, homemade kombucha on tap, and fresh cheeses. No matter if you are just passing by or staying overnight, stock on provision for your road trip or to savor in your hotel room.
HIKES & ADVENTURES
Since Nevada City is so close to the beautiful Yuba River hiking is a must. Set aside some time to drive the 20 minutes to South Yuba State Park to hike along the river. You will not be disappointed by those crystal clear waters. And perhaps on your way out of town make the quick journey to Empire Mine State Park, which is in the neighboring town of Grass Valley. These luscious grounds and gardens carry so much history. Get ready to fall in love with the gorgeous house on the property.
We definitely recommend staying overnight in this quiet city. Waking up in Nevada City just feels different. We are not sure if it’s the air, the small town acoustic or the fact that the day needs few more minutes to get going. Staying overnight will transport you back in time. And as we learned from the shopping offer, Nevada City is also not short on accommodations. You can pick and choose from bed & breakfast to hotels to Airbnbs and camping.
Bed & breakfast might be the best choice if you want the old Western vibes paired with comfortable beds, traditionally yet nicely decorated rooms and that rocking chair on a front porch. Broad Street Inn checks off all of the above. Only a few steps from the downtown, the Victorian guesthouse has six rooms with private baths, communal dining area, a front porch ( with a swing bench) and a back patio with fire pit.
Nevada City has discovered Airbnb, and there are some true gems sprinkled throughout the area.
This award-winning covered bridge house is one-of-a-kind and perfect for a family or friends trip. What used to be a bridge barn structure is now a beautifully remodeled open-space loft next to a nature preserve.
Old school town or not, we cannot say “no” to a well-designed space like this beautiful Downtown studio . Walking distance to everything, but also very inviting to cozy up in bed on a chilly fall day, while sipping on hot cocoa and reading a good book.
For the adventurer, we have something for you, too. If you have ever dreamt of camping close to restaurants, shops, and bars, the Inn Town Campground is your chance. Only 2 miles from the Downtown, The Inn Town Campground offers tent & RV camping as well as glamping. Yes, you heard right, glamping. We love us a good glamping experience. The glamping tents boast with comfortable beds, soft bedding, electricity, side tables, fresh linens and private outdoor seating. Best thing, they are open year around.
A registered national landmark, the National Hotel is a time machine to the Gold Rush days. While few things are quite outdated and a new coat of paint and carpet wouldn’t do harm, this is your stay if you don’t care about blemishes and are looking for the real Gold Rush days experience.
So no matter what season, we highly recommend adding Nevada City to your weekend trips list. And if you have any tips for us, let us know on Instagram!
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