Visit downtown Grass Valley: A cool small town

THE FOOTHILLS ARE HOME TO SOME OF THE WEST’S coolest small towns, and Grass Valley is at the forefront. Downtown Grass Valley is livable, walkable and historic. Whether you’re shopping, dining, staying or playing, you’ll find an abundance of options.

Grass Valley’s historic downtown core— about 15 walkable blocks—continues to be the community’s main shopping hub, a collection of “little homegrown businesses that make up a thriving community,” as Cowboy Junkies’ songwriter Michael Timmins, who performed at The Center for the Arts, puts it.

The main drags are Mill and Main Streets, anchored by the iconic spire of the Art Deco-style Del Oro Theatre. The historic Holbrooke Hotel, restaurant and saloon is a landmark on Mill Street.

If you want a new pair of shoes, a blouse, fresh pasta, a mixing bowl, fresh flowers or even gold-panning equipment, you can find it downtown. The stores have creative names such as the ultra-cool clothing, accessory and jewelry store Tribal Weaver.

The downtown merchants’ window displays are magical. They are decorated in themes for events such as Gold Rush Days, safe trick-or-treat Halloween and Cornish Christmas. Merchants also dress in costumes, adding character and authenticity to the ambiance.

A host of new shops are opening or expanding in the historic downtown, joining family-owned stalwarts such as Yuba Blue, Mill St. Clothing, Stucki Jewelers and Foothill Flowers, among others.

In the past year, Lucchesi Winery moved to a Gold Rush-era building on Mill Street to expand its tasting room. It allowed women’s clothing store La Te Da to return to Mill Street in a cute space next to the Del Oro Theatre where Lucchesi had been.

Two women’s clothing stores have opened, Mint on Mill Street and Beautiful on Main Street. The Artist Workshop, a family friendly art studio, relocated to Mill Street.

The downtown merchants’ window displays are magical. In recent years, other businesses, including a candy shop, cooking store and shoe stores, have opened or expanded downtown.

Tess’ Kitchen Store on Mill Street has become an ultimate destination for cooking. The three-floor store occupies more than 6,200 square feet, the biggest kitchen store in the foothills.

Tess’ expansion included a commercial kitchen, which is home to a fast-growing cooking school and a “resident chef.”

Empire Shoes, one of the area’s most popular shoe stores, moved from a shopping mall in Brunswick Basin to Mill Street, in the heart of the historic downtown.

The Good Times Board Store, with cool shoes, clothing and skateboards, expanded on Mill Street. An olive oil and balsamic vinegar bar called Olive Vitality opened on Mill Street. Lazy Dog Chocolateria, a longtime locals’ favorite as a mobile truck, opened an ice cream and candy shop, with a pink facade.

Smiling Faces
Freebies, perks, smiles and “going the extra mile” for customers are the rule for downtown Grass Valley merchants—and many other mom and pops in the foothills.

For five years, Stucki Jewelers in downtown has made this generous pledge: buy jewelry from them on November 28-29, and if it snows on Christmas Day (at least an inch), your jewelry purchases are free.

Family owned Foothill Flowers, in business since 1966, offers an annual Santa Lucia Christmas celebration (a Scandinavian tradition) and fabulous window displays year-round.

Tess’ Kitchen Store offers free cooking demonstrations, including Latkes at Hanukkah.

Downtown Grass Valley merchants offer free and elegant gift wrapping and wedding and baby registries. And Lazy Dog Chocolateria offers free candy samples.

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