If you are looking for a low-key mountain getaway, be sure to add Nevada City, CA to the top of your list. This historic Gold Rush town has a mix of rustic mountain and eclectic bohemian vibes. While the town itself is quite small, you can enjoy great food, beer, wine, and coffee, stroll cute shops and unique galleries, and of course, spend lots of time exploring the South Yuba River and hiking all the breathtaking trails nearby. Follow our guide below to make the most out of a weekend away in Nevada City.
Covid-19 note: At publishing, all of the recommended spots are open and accepting visitors, however, restrictions and regulations can change quickly, so be sure to check their websites for the latest before you go.
If you are interested in a charming, centrally-located, and budget-friendly lodging option, Outside Inn is a perfect spot to stay during your weekend in Nevada City. This cute and quirky renovated motel has uniquely-themed rooms with lots of in-room and shared amenities including flatscreen TVs, free wifi, an outdoor pool, barbecues, and picnic tables. Some rooms also have small kitchens and outdoor seating areas. It's within easy walking distance of the town center and many of the great spots Nevada City has to offer, which makes it very convenient for a quick but leisurely trip. While we wouldn't call it luxurious, it is super clean, comfortable, and friendly, and is a perfect jumping-off spot for your weekend.
After you've settled in, walk just a few minutes to the historic town center and check out some of the adorable shops and galleries that line the quaint streets. You can't miss Broad Street, the main street in town, and there are lots of hidden gems along the side streets as well. Some of our favorite shops include J.J. Jackson's for fun and unique gifts, home goods, cards, books, and more, Abstrakt for women's clothing and accessories, and The Earth Store, a nature and science-focused gift shop with lots of great outdoor supplies and clothing. If you are looking to take in some local art, Elixart features artwork by local artists alongside a traditional tea bar serving specialty teas. You can find an extensive list of Nevada City shops and galleries with links to their websites on the Chamber of Commerce website.
Once you've checked out the town, grab a pre-dinner beer at Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co. This trendy microbrewery and cafe serves delicious craft beer side-by-side with mouthwatering baked goods and artisanal breads that are baked daily. You can sit outside on their patio while sipping your beer and taking in the mountain air and if you're loving the vibe so much that you don't feel like heading elsewhere for dinner, you will definitely enjoy one of their wood-fired pizzas.
Round out your first evening in Nevada City with a picturesque dinner at One 11 Kitchen & Bar. This delightful restaurant features seasonal, locally-sourced, organic California cuisine. The menu is somewhat limited with an emphasis on their variety of unique burgers, but the food does not disappoint. You can sit out on their charming and cozy outdoor patio with garden lights and listen to live music while enjoying your meal.
This quaint little coffee shop on Broad Street features great coffee, pastries, and breakfast bites. Grab a bagel sandwich or breakfast burrito to get fueled up for the day of adventure and exploration ahead.
I know it's hard to think about lunch right after breakfast, but this local organic grocery store has a sandwich bar and deli and is the perfect spot to grab a picnic sandwich and snack before heading out on a Yuba River hike! It's a quick drive from the main town center.
The South Yuba River State Park is one of the highlights of the area, so plan to spend the majority of your day exploring the trails that line the spectacular flowing river. Don't forget your swimsuit so you can cool off in one of the many swimming holes created by the large granite boulders that line the river. The famous and stunning Hoyt's Crossing Beach along the trail is known to be a nude beach, so be prepared! From the South Yuba River State Park parking lot, just head along the main trail and find your own perfect spot to take a dip or simply relax on the smooth granite rock beaches. You may even find some gold in the river!
If you have time and are looking to get a bit more outdoor exploration in, head to Independence Trail, the country's first wheelchair-accessible wilderness trail with 100-year-old wooden flume walkways. This beautiful wooded trail passes streams, a waterfall, and has swimming hole access if you're willing to do a little scrambling.
After your day of adventure, you deserve an amazing meal, and you do not want to miss the truly heavenly sushi rolls at Sushi Q. The fish is fresh, light, and delicious, the staff is incredibly friendly, and the ambiance is relaxing and inviting. This place is small and popular, so be sure to make a reservation!
If you want to treat yourself and your inner-child after dinner, head to the idyllic ice cream shop, Treats, to enjoy some homemade ice cream, gelato, or baked goods. There are vegan options too, so everyone can have a scoop. The lavender ice cream is divine.
Enjoy great coffee and pastries in this spacious and modern coffeehouse with lots of seating. It's also a perfect spot to read a book or do a little work, which hopefully you don't have to do on your weekend getaway!
Before heading out of town, catch one last leisurely hike to round out your trip. Hirschman Trail, is just one mile out of town and one of our favorites. Take in the lovely Hirschman’s Pond at the center of this trail as you stroll through beautiful pine woodlands.
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