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9 Best Things To Do In Grass Valley, California - Updated 2020

things to do in grass valley california
Devin
Devin
Updated

California is known for many things—sun, Hollywood, beaches; but it’s also a vibrant and adventurous land with lots of history behind it (it is called the Golden State for a reason). Grass Valley in particular is a great destination if you’re interested in the history of the gold rush. It proudly calls itself “An 1800’s Gold Rush Town,” with plenty of history and outdoor adventure to enjoy, not to mention wine country.

1. Browse the North Star Powerhouse Mining Museum

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

There are several museums in Grass Valley worth visiting: the North Star Powerhouse Mining Museum, Video History Museum, Historic Firehouse No. 1 Museum​, Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum, and Grass Valley Museum. The mining museum is part of the Nevada County Historical Society, and as you may have guessed, helps preserve, educate, and spread awareness about the mining process, heritage, and history, as well as the people who built and worked in them. Here you can see a 30-foot (9 meter) Pelton wheel, a dynamite stacker, a stamp mill, a Cornish water pump, and more.

North Star Powerhouse Mining Museum

Address: 933 Allison Ranch Road, Grass Valley, CA 95945

Opening Hours: Summer Hours: (May 1 - October 31) Tuesday - Saturday, 12:00pm - 4:00pm; Winter Hours: (November 1 - April 30) by appointment

Contact: +1 5302734255

Website: North Star Powerhouse Mining Museum

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2. Get your history and hiking fix at the Empire Mine State Historic Park

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Source: Photo by user KRoark used under CC BY-SA 2.0

This site is seriously gorgeous - I highly suggest you Google images of this place. Sprawling green and flowering grounds around Bourn Cottage, a mine yard and mine, a blacksmith shop - I could go on and on. Here you can learn all about the history of the mine (it is one of the oldest, most prosperous gold mines) and the gold rush, and its 850 acres (344 hectares) also includes plenty of scenic trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and more.

Empire Mine State Historic Park

Address: 10791 E. Empire St, Grass Valley, CA 95945-7432

Price: 7 USD ages 17 & over, 3 USD ages 6 -16, Children under 6 admitted free

Opening Hours: 10:00am – 5:00pm daily (subject to change). Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day

Contact: +1 5302738522

Website: Empire Mine State Historic Park

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3. Visit an art gallery: The Louvre

Happy Veterans Day from the Louvre

Posted by The Louvre Custom Framing, Art Restoration and Gallery on Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The Art Works Gallery and The Louvre are two art galleries/shops in Grass Valley. Stop in just to check out the art, or maybe even buy some! Look for photos, paintings, sculptures, and more - you can even get a custom framing job done at The Louvre art gallery, which is a family business that also does art restoration and doubles as a framing shop.

The Louvre

Address: 124 East Main Street, Grass Valley, CA 95945

Opening Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 10:30am - 4:30pm

Contact: +1 5302723733

Website: The Louvre

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4. Tour other gold rush landmarks

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Source: Photo by user Mitch Lorens used under CC BY-ND 2.0

There are other historic sites and gold rush landmarks to see in Grass Valley, such as the Bridgeport covered bridge, the Historic District, the North Star Historic Conservancy, and Bourn Cottage. I mentioned Bourn Cottage above, but I resisted talking about it until now because the Empire Mine deserved its own praise. A 45-minute tour of the gorgeous cottage and grounds will take you through its history, including that of the owners. You can see and experience the cottage, the Clubhouse, ruins of the home, and the gardens.

Bourn Cottage

Address: Empire Mine State Park, Grass Valley, CA

Price: included with admission price to Empire Mine State Park

Opening Hours: 10:00am – 5:00pm daily (subject to change). Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day

Contact: +1 5302738522

Website: Bourn Cottage

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5. Play with some animals at Animal Place

Posted by Animal Place on Saturday, 18 March 2017

Animal Place is actually an animal sanctuary; they provide a permanent refuge for countless neglected and needy farm animals, all on around 600 acres (243 hectares) of land (including a 60-acre/24-ha adoption center). You can take a self-guided tour through the animal sanctuary, however you will not have direct contact with the animals, so if you would like to interact with the animals, you need to pre-register for a guided tour. For your protection they tell you to wear long pants and close-toed shoes, and out of respect for the animals they ask that any food you bring be vegan (no meat, dairy, eggs, or honey).

Animal Place

Address: 17314 McCourtney Rd, Grass Valley, CA 95949-9743

Opening Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 10:00am - 4:00pm (for self-guided tours)

Contact: +1 5304771757

Website: Animal Place

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6. Have a blast at 49er Fun Park

Posted by 49er Fun Park on Friday, 27 April 2012

Mini-golf, go-karting, an arcade, batting cages - there are a lot of ways to have fun here. And if you’re looking for a place to have a birthday party (or other party), they have hosted and non-hosted party rates available.

49er Fun Park

Address: 314 Railroad Ave, Grass Valley, CA 95945-5909

Price: Prices for different activities vary - see their price page for more info

Opening Hours: Sunday 11:00am – 7:00pm, Wednesday 2:00pm – 7:00pm, Thursday 2:00pm – 7:00pm, Friday 2:00pm – 9:00pm, Saturday 11:00am – 9:00pm, closed Monday and Tuesday

Contact: +1 5302724949

Website: 49er Fun Park

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7. Tour a vineyard and enjoy yourself

Happy New Year everybody. We hope your year is as spectacular as this sunrise over the vineyard on the first day of 2017. Photo Credit: Blue Fountain Photography #happynewyear #newyearsday #naggiarvineyards

Posted by Naggiar Vineyards and Winery on Sunday, 1 January 2017

You know you’re in wine country when there’s more than one local winery. The Sierra Starr Winery, Lucchesi Vineyards, Smith Vineyard, and Naggiar Vineyards and Winery are all unique places with gorgeous grounds to tour and do a wine tasting - hey, why not make a day of it and visit all four?

Naggiar Vineyard & Winery

Address: 18125 Rosemary Ln, Grass Valley, CA 95949-7820

Opening Hours: Friday - Sunday 12:00pm - 5:00pm

Contact: +1 5302689059

Website: Naggiar Vineyards & Winery

Also see: Sierra Starr Vineyard Smith Vineyard Lucchesi Vineyards

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Grass Valley, Greater Sacremento, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Grass Valley, Greater Sacremento, US

8. Have an outdoor adventure: hiking, biking, river rafting...

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Source: Photo by user Mike Linksvayer used under CC0

There’s a pretty long list of outdoor activities to do in Grass Valley: hiking, biking, river rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, horseback riding, sailing, and fishing (and there’s an even longer list of hiking trails…). Since I could go on forever, I’ll just recommend that you explore Grass Valley’s website, which includes several sources for all activities mentioned above.

Outdoor adventures in Grass Valley

Website: Grass Valley (Basecamp) Hiking in Nevada County

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9. See Green Valley's literary gems at The Center of the Arts

Community Performance & Art Center

When in Grass Valley, explore some of the local establishments apart from restaurants and dining establishments in the area. Make your way to the Center of the Arts and see the promising talent of local artists, poets, literary writers, and iconic works of some of California’s best and their upcoming artistic potential. The Center of the Arts is a huge theater that can accommodate as much as 300 guests, along with a 90-seater black box theater and 2 visual art galleries for those who wish to hold exhibits and shows for locals and tourists alike. About 150 performances are held annually at this venue and also holds seminars and workshops under the Youth Arts Education Program. Make the most out of your visit to Grass Valley and see it’s prolific art locale at The Center of the Arts.

The Center of the Arts

Address: 998 Plaza Drive, Grass Valley, California 95945

Website: The Center of the Arts

Opening hours: 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm, Tuesdays to Fridays

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Grass Valley, Greater Sacremento, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Grass Valley, Greater Sacremento, US

Rush to Grass Valley

Whether you’re interested in the history, the wine, or the adventure, Grass Valley has something for you. The perfect mix of fun and relaxation, there’s never a dull moment in Grass Valley, and if it’s not on your list of destinations, then it should be.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Hello, fellow travel enthusiasts! I am a writer who also happens to love travel and history. Travel has allowed me to be open to new experiences and possibilities, past, present, and future; I...Read more

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