Après Ski in the Foothills

THOUGH MOUNTAIN RESORTS ARE APPEALING, some people would rather stay out of the snow and take day-trips to the slopes. Après Ski Denver now has a following.

Here’s a locals’ secret in the Sierra foothills— Nevada City, Grass Valley and Auburn are “snowless” escapes—but only a one-hour drive to Sugar Bowl Resort and Royal Gorge XC skiing on Donner Summit.

Boreal Mountain Resort, further up I-80, also is an easy day-trip from the historic towns. The snow conditions at the Donner Summit ski areas are among the best in the Sierra.

Though absent of “ski-in, ski-out” privileges, the Gold Rush towns offer a wide range of dining, wine tasting, lodging, nightlife, day spas, performing arts and other après ski activities.

Sugar Bowl is easily accessible on I-80 from Auburn or on Hwy. 20 from Nevada City and Grass Valley.

Though unknown to most, Sugar Bowl has historical ties to the Gold Rush towns. In 1945, miners from Nevada City helped reopen the ski area after three years of inactivity, stemming from World War II.

Hwy. 20 is a “road less traveled” and offers scenic views of the Sierra Buttes from a turnout along the way. Major road improvements have just been completed on I-80 between the foothills and Donner Pass.

Lodging options include deluxe hotels, charming inns and B&Bs. Some offer discounted ski packages. One example, in Grass Valley, is Sierra Mountain Inn’s “Snow White Sugar Bowl Ski Package,” which offers a two bedroom suite (sleeps 4) and two free lift passes for a two-night stay.

Grass Valley Courtyard Suites offers a day spa, including body therapy and deep massage, manicure and pedicures, facials and skin therapies. It also features a Jacuzzi spa, dry sauna and swimming pool. “The hot tub was an ideal way to unwind,” wrote Virginia Miller in the Bay Guardian.

The Center for the Arts in downtown Grass Valley is a hub for the arts in the foothills and it has world-class performers. Imagine skiing on March 7 and returning to town to hear Wynton Marsalis perform.

Nevada City, Grass Valley and Auburn have eclectic dining options.

Lodging

BROAD STREET INN
517 W. Broad St., NC
265-2239 BroadStreetInn.com

GOLD MINERS INN / HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS & SUITES
107 Bank St., GV
477-1700 TheGoldMinersInn.com

GRASS VALLEY COURTYARD SUITES
210 N. Auburn St., GV
272-7696 GVCourtyardSuites.com

LAMB’S VICTORIAN INN
304 Church St, GV
615-4652 LambsVictorianInn.com

SIERRA MOUNTAIN INN
816 W. Main St., GV
273-8133 SierraMountainInn.com

OUTSIDE INN
575 E. Broad St., NC
265-2233 OutsideInn.com

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