Grass Valley: What’s new in this gold-rush town

GRASS VALLEY REFLECTS THE RESURGENCE of small towns all across America. It has beauti- fully restored buildings, an historic downtown, festivals, top-notch dining and shopping—and world-class hiking, biking and kayaking nearby.

Grass Valley also boasts The Center for the Arts, which hosts big-city talent such as Lily Tomlin and Kris Kristofferson. The historic Holbrooke Hotel is a lively nightspot.

The art deco-style Del Oro Theatre has new seats, a state-of-the-art sound system and digital 3-D projection. It shows live performances from New York’s Met Opera and London’s National Theatre, as well as first-run movies. Built in 1940 by United Artists, the Del Oro provides a nostalgic movie theater experience.

Grass Valley is an ideal home base for exploring the Gold Country. Compared with most foothill towns, there is a wider range of lodging options, including deluxe hotels, motels and B&Bs; restaurants that focus on fresh, local food; and shops and galleries.

The gold-rush town is the hub of an emerging wine region, where you can taste wine and meet the winemakers, just like Napa Valley in the “old days.” Downtown offers five wine tast- ing rooms and 151 Union Square pours local wines and microbrews—all within walking distance.

Downtown Grass Valley has new and expanded shops opening this spring—a sign of its resurgence. Tess‘ Kitchen Store has become an ultimate destination for cooking.

Popular Empire Shoes is now downtown on Mill Street. Ashley Furniture is expanding, and Sierra Mountain Roasters has new space in Gold Rush Burgers & BBQ.

In addition, Good Times Board Store, for cool shoes, clothing and skateboards, has expanded; and a new art gallery is opening on Mill St., joining the popular Art Works Gallery (whose artwork is highlighted in this issue).
All told, Grass Valley is an ideal getaway on “the road less traveled.”


There’s a focus on “fresh and local,” with newer restaurants such as Simplicity Bistro and its talented young Owner/Chef, Stephen Cicatelli. Summer Thyme’s is a stalwart for featuring farm-to-table cuisine from sur- rounding farms such as Riverhill.

Want ethnic? There’s Kaido for sushi and other Japanese food; Taste of Thai, a locals’ favorite; and Maria’s family-style Mexican Restaurant.

Kane’s and Tofanelli’s Gold Country Bistro are “grandaddies” of first-rate dining in the region, with a wide range of imagi- native entrees. Tofanelli’s has award-win- ning breakfasts and 101 omelets. Its patio, with fresh flowers in bloom, is splendid.

Most of the restaurants have patios and are locally owned.

Downtown Grass Valley is a mecca for wine tasting, all in gold-rush-era buildings: Avanguardia, Sierra Starr, Smith, Grass Valley Wine Co. and Lucchesi.

151 Union Square is a popular destination, pouring local wines (Montoliva, Naggiar, Double Oak and Coufos Cellars) and microbrews, and serving homemade food.

The tasting rooms also offer live music and feature local artists’ work.

Grass Valley has a wide range of shops and galleries. There’s Yuba Blue and Mill Street Clothing for women’s clothing, as well as Ragtime Consignment Clothing.

Gold jewelry is at Stucki Jewelers and Northern Mines Gold Works. Want gold panning equipment? Try Swenson’s Outdoors and Grass Valley Gold. Foothill Flowers has exquisite window displays and fresh flowers from the San Francisco Flower Mart.

(Photo credit: Dave McLellan and Lisa Redfern)

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