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10 Fun & Outdoorsy Things to do in Nevada City, California

Updated: Feb 22

Nevada City California Guide

Are you looking for some of the best things to do in Nevada City, California? You've come to the right place.

Located halfway between Sacramento and North Lake Tahoe, Nevada City is a picturesque mountain town in the Sierra Nevada Foothills of Northern California. It's known for its outdoor recreation, quirky shops and cafes, and rich history dating back to the California Gold Rush.

In this Nevada City Guide, I'm sharing 10 awesome things to do in Nevada City, California.



Explore Historic Downtown

Historic downtown Nevada City California
Pride month in Nevada City

Historic downtown Nevada City, California

Nevada City California

Nevada City's charming downtown is a mix of well-preserved historical landmarks, eclectic boutiques, cozy restaurants, and old-fashioned bars. The downtown area is relatively small, so it's easy to wander around and take in all the sites. For those interested in learning about Nevada City's history, they offer a downloadable walking tour map


Stroll the Victorian Homes

Victorian Home in Nevada City, California

Nevada City is home to some beautiful Victorian houses. It's fun to drive along the side streets near the downtown area and admire the remarkable design of the homes, some of which were owned by lumber barons and mine owners during the 1800s.


South Yuba River State Park

South Yuba River State Park, Nevada City California

Hoyts Crossing Yuba River near Nevada City, California
South Yuba River State Park

South Yuba River State Park is home to scenic hiking trails, historic bridges, and the pristine Yuba River. In the springtime, there are tons of wildflowers along the riverbanks, and you may spot a few kayakers and whitewater rafters paddling by. When the water levels are lower in summer, the river is a great place to hang out and cool off on a hot summer day.


Buttermilk Bend Trail

Buttermilk Bend Trail in Nevada City California
Buttermilk Bend Trail in early May

Buttermilk Bend Trail in Nevada City California

Located in South Yuba River State Park, the Buttermilk Bend Trail is an easy-going, 2-mile out-and-back trail that takes you along the Yuba River. One of the best times to hike Buttermilk Bend is in the spring, when wildflowers, primarily poppies and lupines, dot the entire path. The trail starts from the Visitors Center of South Yuba River State Park.


River Rafting + Kayaking

white water rafting near nevada city california

Nevada City is within easy driving distance of the Yuba and American rivers. Both of which are known for their crystal clear water and big rapids in the spring. Several companies in the area offer whitewater rafting tours, including H2O Adventures and Tributary Whitewater Tours.


Crystal Hermitage

tulips in a botanical garden

tulips in a botanical garden

If you're visiting Nevada City in the spring, then be sure to check out Crystal Hermitage. About a 25-minute drive from Nevada City, the botanical garden is known for its colorful tulips. In addition to the tulips, there are cherry blossom trees, a koi pond, a chapel for meditation, and a terrace with views of the Yuba River. The best time to go if you want to see the flowers in full bloom is early April through mid-May.


Food and Bar Scene

bar in Nevada City California
Crazy Horse Saloon in Nevada City

Nevada City has a great selection of restaurants and bars right on the main strip, ranging from old-timey and divey to more upscale.

A few of our favorites were Lola, the restaurant inside the National Exchange Hotel. We enjoyed the food, the decor, and the atmosphere. And they had live music as well. As far as bars, we liked Golden Era Cocktail Bar and Lounge, where we had a pre-dinner cocktail. If you're looking for something more divey, there's the Crazy Horse Saloon & Grill.


Farmer's Market

Nevada City Farmers Market

Nevada City Farmers Market

Located in downtown Nevada City, the Nevada City Farmers Market takes place every Saturday, April through December, and is a fun and festive way to support the local community. The market features artisan-made goods, freshly baked bread and pastries, local produce, and much more, as well as live music.


Explore Grass Valley

Grass Valley California

Grass Valley California

Grass Valley is less than a 10-minute drive from Nevada City. Similar to Nevada City, Grass Valley is a Gold Rush town with charm, historical significance, and artsy vibes. The historic downtown strip has a number of vintage shops, boutiques, cute restaurants, and fun bars.


Glamp in a Yurt

Glamping in a yurt in Nevada City, California

Nevada City is known for its cute bed and breakfasts and charming historic hotels. We stayed at Flume's End, a Victorian B&B with a lovely yurt in the back of the property. We stayed in the yurt, which I highly recommend if you're up for a glamping-style experience! Also, the bed and breakfast was within easy walking distance of the downtown strip.

Flumes End Bed & Breakfast in Nevada City
Flumes End Bed & Breakfast in Nevada City


I hope my Nevada City Guide gave you plenty of ideas about what to do in Nevada City! Before you go, be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss the latest blog posts, videos, and other good stuff. You can also check out more adventures on Instagram and YouTube!

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Hi, I'm Gabriella, an outdoor photographer living in Lake Tahoe, California. 
I'm originally from New York and moved to Los Angeles in 2013 to try out living somewhere new and different.  I found myself loving the adventurous lifestyle and dramatic scenery on the west side of the country.  Eventually, I moved to Lake Tahoe in 2019 after falling in love with its natural beauty and outdoor lifestyle. 
On this site, I share adventure tips and destination guides to help you explore the beauty of Lake Tahoe, the Sierras, Northern California, and beyond...

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