Question: True or false—the only good reason to head toward California’s northern Sierra Nevada in summer is big, blue, and wet all over?
Lake Tahoe is no slouch, but less than an hour and a half southwest of Incline Village in the foothills sits a true Gold Country treasure. Nevada City is the town your Gold Rush dreams are made of with narrow streets, preserved brick buildings, and dark saloons. If its historic downtown doesn’t woo you, perhaps the lively food scene, unique shops, and entertainment options will.
What to Do in Nevada City, California
Nevada County Fairgrounds
The local fairgrounds, in nearby Grass Valley, is home to the Nevada County Fair in August. There’s something almost poetic about the rides’ neon lights blinking beneath a canopy of shady pine trees, but the real draws are the warm community vibes and the hot, freshly fried corn dogs.
Empire Mine State Historic Park
Also a few minutes’ drive from downtown, the grounds of the former mine are today an idyllic traipse through the grueling mining history that brought men clambering to strike it rich. Access to the original tunnel, albeit quite limited, lets visitors imagine what it might have felt like to be carried by cart and rail into the dark underground.
The Onyx Theatre
You won’t find any big, summer blockbusters at the one-of-a-kind Onyx Theatre for viewers 21 and up, just a single-screen movie house playing a new independent or foreign film each week and serving up organic popcorn with real butter, local brews, and select wine.