Why the Sierra and its foothills are a world-class destination

Recent accolades that make our region a world-class destination:

Cool Small Towns
Nevada City was just named the sixth coolest small town in America in Budget Travel’s 9th annual America’s Coolest Small Town contest. “Residents value the Gold Country town for its music and art scene, food and proximity to some of California’s amazing rivers, lakes and the Sierra,” the editors wrote.

“Nevada City is a place that gets stuck in your heart,” says one wedding planner, citing the town’s draw for destination weddings.

Truckee has been ranked among the best ski towns in the West, according to Sunset, National Geographic and Travel & Leisure. Truckee also got a boost from the Olympics. “Truckee’s mountain culture and fun-loving lifestyle are a draw,” says Lynn Saunders, chief executive officer of the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce.

Gorgeous Scenery
Our region is renowned for its scenic beauty. Lake Tahoe was recently named the “Best Lake in America” in a survey by USA Today. “I call it the ‘big blue pill,’ because it cures whatever ails you,” one Tahoe City resident told USA Today.

This year, Yosemite National Park celebrates␣its 150th anniversary. A new National Park Service report shows that Yosemite creates over $378 million in economic benefit. “When I was a young child in 1956 my dad took our family to Yosemite,” one visitor remembers for the commemoration. “I have never forgotten my first view from Inspiration Point Overlook.”

Endurance Capital
Auburn is home to some of the most challenging and historic endurance events around. The vast network of trails, as well as the rivers and lakes, in the Auburn State Recreation Area and surrounding Sierra, make Auburn a destination for endurance athletes. The Amgen Tour of California bike race returns to the foothills in May.

It starts in Sacramento and passes through Auburn and Lincoln. “After a sprint in Lincoln, the racers will head into one of the race’s favorite towns— Auburn,” according to race organizers.

Fine Dining
Open Table, the popular online restaurant reservations site, collected 5 million restaurant reviews to assemble its Diners’ Choice Awards for the top 100 Best Restaurants in America, and Carpe Vino in Auburn made the list for the third year in a row. “Our most important critics—the people who dine with us—continue to praise Chef Eric Alexander’s remarkable menus, our value driven wine list and our historic venue in Old Town Auburn,” says co-owner Gary Moffat.

Our foothill wineries have much to celebrate after earning some Best of Class wins at the 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the world’s largest competition of American wines. Viña Castellano’s Tempranillo and Wise Villa Winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon each took home a Best of Class medal. “We’re honored to win such a prestigious award,” says Teena Wilkins, co-owner and manager of Viña Castellano.

Tahoe-Truckee athletes won more medals at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi than many sovereign nations—a boost for our outdoor lifestyle. Winners included David Wise, 23; Maddie Bowman, 20; Jamie Anderson, 20; and Julia Mancuso, 29. In the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics, snowboarder Evan Strong of Nevada City, whose family owns the Fix for Foodies restaurant, won a gold medal.

The ART OnSite project on the Deer Creek Tribute Trail in Nevada City has opened. The environmental art project showcases the work of eight professional artists, thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Auburn sculptor Douglas Van Howd has been commissioned to create a life-size monument to World War 11 “triple ace” Bud Anderson. The statue will be located at the Auburn Municipal Airport.

Hand-blown glass artists Janet and Rick Nicholson created prestigious Poppy Awards for Visit California to honor the “best and brightest” of tourism promotion. “A beautiful bowl evolved” that is a work of art, says Janet.

(Photos: LadyClickFarmer, Barry Walton and Sara Brunson)

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