Visit Grass Valley: Things to do

DOWNTOWN GRASS VALLEY IS A TOP DESTINATION for entertainment in the Sierra foothills, thanks to The Center for the Arts, Del Oro Theatre and downtown restaurants and wine tasting rooms that offer live music.

“The vibe going on in Grass Valley is fantastic,” says jazz legend Wynton Marsalis after he performed at The Center this year. “We need more of this in our country.”

The Center on West Main Street has blossomed into a multipurpose hub for performing arts, including a 300-seat main theater, two visual art galleries and the 90-seat Off Center Stage.

The Center offers more than 150 performances a year, including music, dance, theater, film, visual art, comedy, youth arts education and literature. It attracts patrons from all over, including Nevada, Placer and Yuba counties; Sacramento, Tahoe, Reno and the Bay Area.

Under Executive Director Julie Baker, her staff, the board and generous patrons, The Center is reaching new heights.

The performing-arts nonprofit is bringing world-class talent to town, including Arlo Guthrie, Aaron Neville, Paula Poundstone, Dana Carvey, Kris Kristofferson and others.

The Center recently has been upgraded to offer more comfort to its patrons, coinciding with upgrades at the 950-seat Veterans Memorial Auditorium, the venue for larger shows.

The Del Oro Theatre has new seats, a state-of-the-art sound system and digital 3-D projection. It shows first-run movies but also live performances from New York’s Met Opera and London’s National Theatre.

Many of downtown Grass Valley’s restaurants and wine tasting rooms offer live music, including Sergio’s and Kane’s restarants, and Smith Vineyard’s and Lucchesi’s tasting rooms. On Colfax Avenue, Summer Thyme’s offers live music.

Culinary Trips

Culinary vacations are booming.“The culinary travel experience includes visiting a farmers market, sampling artisan products, attending a wine festival, going wine or beer tasting or driving along a food or wine trail,” says Today Travel. “But almost always you can choose to have a hands-on experience cooking alongside top chefs.”

Tess’ Kitchen Store on Mill Street offers a wide range of cooking classes, with an “in-house” chef trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York in a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen. Creative classes include Italian, Thai, Pies and Tarts, and Salads. Classes include a discount on shopping. TessKitchenStore.com

Outdoor Activities & Museums

Grass Valley is a town and country experience wrapped into one travel adventure. Here are some attractions:

EMPIRE MINE STATE HISTORIC PARK
The Empire Mine was the richest hard-rock mine in California in its operating history of 106 years (1850-1956). Stroll the lovely 13-acre grounds. EmpireMine.org

SOUTH YUBA RIVER STATE PARK
The park contains several parcels of land along the South Yuba River and the Bridgeport Covered Bridge. A variety of activities, including wildflower walks, hiking and biking trails, swimming, fishing, bird watching, gold panning and more. SouthYubaRiverStatePark.org

NORTH STAR MINING MUSEUM
Operated by the Nevada County Historical Society, this museum has been recognized as the most complete hard-rock mining museum in California. Outside is a small creek-side park for picnics and relaxation. NevadaCountyHistory.org

ST. JOSEPH’S CULTURAL CENTER
The Cultural Center features the Grass Valley Museum, artist studios and the Grass Valley Taiko Dojo. SaintJosephsCulturalCenter.org

(Photo: Grass Valley by Josh Miller; Tess’ Kitchen Store cooking class by Liz Hiscox)

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