Grass Valley: Experience town & country

GRASS VALLEY OFFERS A TOWN and country experience wrapped in one travel adventure. Spring is the season for wildflower walks, hiking and bicycling in the countryside.

The Sierra Vintners’ Wine Trail is June 2-3. The picturesque Bridgeport covered bridge and barn at South Yuba River State Park celebrate their 150th birthday this spring.

On May 27, the 30th annual Sierra Festival of the Arts is held in downtown Grass Valley. This fine art, fine craft event features local artwork and live music.

The Second Saturday Art & Wine Walk is held downtown every second Saturday from 4-7 p.m. The Grass Valley Thursday Night Marketplace and Mill Street Certified Farmers Market begin in June.

Grass Valley offers a host of museums to explore the region’s past. There’s the Northstar Mine Powerhouse and Pelton Wheel Museum, as well as the Empire Mine State Historic Park.

Grass Valley’s Empire Mine is the site of the oldest, largest and richest gold mine in California. It has gardens and grounds for a picnic, hiking trails and a museum. On May 13, a Mother’s Day event features living history tours and the gardens in full bloom.

Barnyard Safari is the theme of this year’s Nevada County Fair, August 8-12 at the county fairgrounds. The fairgrounds also has RV camping.

For more information on visiting Grass Valley, go to, and

Gold Miners Inn
Holiday Inn Express & Suites 121 Bank St., GV

Grass Valley Courtyard Suites
210 N. Auburn St., GV

Gold & High-Tech
Grass Valley was named for its spring-fed meadows, but it is steeped in gold mining history. Its mines were the richest in all of California. “A total of $450 million in gold was lifted from stream beds, washed down from dry diggings and crushed from hard quartz in Nevada County, $350 million in Grass Valley alone,” writes Claudine Chalmers.

Grass Valley’s wealth drew flamboyant stars, such as Lola Montez, who inspired the song Whatever Lola wants (Lola gets). During the Depression Era, Grass Valley boomed, thanks to its gold mines.

In the 1950s, high-tech came to Grass Valley, when Litton Industries founder Charlie Litton moved his engineering lab from San Francisco to the gold-rush town. Litton’s lab spawned other high-tech firms around Grass Valley—the most famous being Grass Valley Group (or “The Group”).

(Painting by Katie Wolff)

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