Grass valley information and attractions


The Grass Valley and Nevada City areas are within driving distance to Sacramento, Reno and Tahoe.  The City of Grass Valley has a population of approximately 12,000 people, Nevada City has a population of 3,050 and Nevada County has a population of 93,050.
T he Grass Valley Downtown Association

Established in 1980, the Grass Valley Downtown Association (GVDA) is both a special assessment district and a Main Street program, state and national, and the only program in the Sierra. The district comprises the historic downtown with the colorful history of the Gold Country. The shopping area, with buildings dating back to to 1851, has undergone a renaissance of renovation as a center for arts and culture, events, food and the most unique retail establishments in western Nevada County.  For more about the GVDA    click here.

Points of Interest
Some Historical Points of Interest include Empire Mine State Historical Park, North Star Mining Museum, The Grass Valley Museum, The Imaginarium, Elam Biggs Bed and Breakfast (shown at left), Miners Foundry Cultural Center, Museum of Ancient & Modern Art, Alta Sierra Biblical Gardens, South Yuba/Bridgeport Historic State Park, Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park and the historical downtowns of Grass Valley and Nevada City. To learn more about historical places       click here.

Early in Our History
Our community has a rich history dating back many decades. Times were hard in the early days - the grounds had to be cleared so that log cabins could be built. The trees were cut down, burned or turned into lumber to build the houses and schools. Stones were cut to shape by hand. The crops were sown and harvested by hand as well. Water had to be carried by nearby springs prior to wells being dug. Very little was wasted and and our quality of life began to steadily develop.   For more about the history of Nevada County click here.

Community Events

The Grass Valley Chamber in partnership with the City has organized this "Community Events" section for your convenience. Please visit this calendar on a regular basis to see "what's happening" in the area. To go to our Community Events Calendar  

Economic vitality
Economic vitality is the engine that drives our community's well being. Our vision of the future focuses on business diversity. Our diversity must be vast enough to weather changing times and robust enough to provide the jobs to the families that live in our community. Our emphasis on superior education will help us to attract quality companies and employment. Economic vitality will allow us to attain our vision of prosperity for our families, and provide outstanding business  opportunities, superior public services, and a safe, friendly community.
Education is an important aspect in our community's quality of life. Our vision for a successful future establishes an education system that is challenging and distinct enough to hearten the highest levels of student achievement, and provides enduring learning opportunities.

Our community will continue to improve the strength and diversity of our education system. Educational superiority is essential to attaining our realization of an economical health, a fit environment, self-reliant families, and an exceptional community.

Health and Well-Being 
Our idea of a healthy community focuses on allowing the people in the community to celebrate and live life to its fullest. State of the art medical equipment and technology will permit the community to care for their critical needs and to get care here in our community. Experienced and caring physicians, nurses and caregivers are at the heart of our current health care system.  Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital in Grass Valley has 124 beds and an Acute Medical and Surgery care for patients, a Cardiac Unit, Intensive Care, Surgery, Women and Infants Care, Transitional Care and as full Outpatient Surgery Center.

Public Safety and Welfare 
Today, more than ever, security is critical to our economic development and growing tourism activities. Feeling safe and secure in our own community is vital to making our destination the region's most diverse and hospitable visitor destinations. The Leaders in our community continue to seek to develop new programs to effectively prevent crime. Our ongoing efforts to strengthening our neighborhoods, investing in our youth, coordination and sharing of information will assist us in attaining our vision for a safer community. Environment 
Land of blue skies, green trees and golden opportunities…this colorful phrase captures the essence of the quality of life in beautiful western Nevada County.

If you ask residents what is so special about their community, they'll probably begin by telling you about the landscape - the charming historic gold rush towns surrounded by rolling hills and towering green pines,, the graceful oaks shading pastures in the lower elevations, the snow-covered Sierra peaks in the background. They will tell you about the quality of life that makes Nevada County unique.

With an average elevation of 2,500 feet, the area enjoys a mild, four-season climate. Skies are generally a brilliant blue from May to October with average temperatures ranging from 70 to 90 degrees during he daytime, cooling off to the 50's in the evenings.

The rainy season from November to April is also mild. Daytime temperatures typically rise to the 40's and 50's and nighttime temperatures drop into the 30's. The average rainfall is 55 inches per year. While light snow may fall a few times a year, it rarely lasts very long.

Each year, families and retirees take advantage of the ultimate golden opportunity by choosing to make western Nevada County their new home.

Leaving behind the congestion, clutter and rampant crime of the urban areas, they are charmed by the casual country lifestyle, finding small town friendliness, community celebrations, civic and special interest clubs, farmer's markets, outdoor fun, recreational opportunities and cultural events for everyone to enjoy.

Time Magazine, in its December 8, 1998 edition, named Grass Valley as one of California's "Hot Small Towns" and Nevada City was featured in The Great Towns of America.

Even with all of its rural appeal, the community is not isolated. The California State Capitol, Sacramento, is only an hour's drive away.

San Francisco is 150 miles to the west. To the east, the fun and excitement of Reno and Lake Tahoe are within easy driving distance.

Grass Valley

Grass Valley's history is part of the colorful lore of the California Gold Rush.  The first notations about the area are from the late 1840's when a party of men searching for cattle came upon a "grassy valley".

Grass Valley's claim to historic fame is embedded in the vast amounts of gold discovered and extracted from its rich underground mines. In more than 100 years of mining, the mines of Grass Valley made it the richest of all California gold mining towns. As word spread about the gold rush, prospectors flooded the foothills. The small settlement began looking like a village. Then in 1850, a settler by the name of George McKnight discovered gold in the quartz rock along Gold Hill and the real boom began.

By 1851, thousands of people were living in the bustling town now known as Grass Valley and in the nearby town of Nevada, (later renamed Nevada City when Nevada became a state). Grass Valley suffered a disastrous fire in 1855, and Nevada City burned in 1863, but the towns quickly rebuilt and continued to grow.

The Empire, Northstar, Pennsylvania, Idaho-Maryland and Brunswick mines became known around the world, attracting hardworking miners and would be millionaires. As the underground mines grew, skilled hard-rock miners from Cornwall and Ireland arrived. They settled into their new hometown of Grass Valley while mine owners and managers lived in nearby Nevada City. Over the next 100 years the mines extracted more than $400 million in gold, making Grass Valley California's most prosperous mining town. Unfortunately, gold mining declined in the 1950's and eventually all of the hard-rock mines were closed. Our Community Today

Today, the towns thrive and the beautifully restored historic buildings in the downtown areas remind us of the days gone by.
Our community and its economy are still emerging.  Part of the emergence has required nearly all of our major industries to retool for greater competitiveness in a global marketplace.   Our demographic profile is changing dramatically.  New racial and immigration patterns are rapidly producing a multicultural society, which in turn has created a variety of related economic issues.

Trends for the Future
Population growth and economic change are occurring at a rapid rate. With the onset of economic recovery, the next few years will give rise to land-use decisions of fundamental importance.  The right decisions will help our community succeed in establishing the economic and social vitality that have made the quality of life and the environment a successful place to live and work.
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