The holiday season in Nevada City is one of my favorites. It kicks off over Thanksgiving weekend with The Artisan’s Festival and the Nevada City Methodist Craft Faire. Victorian Christmas starts just after Thanksgiving, and “The Christmas Card” movie, filmed in Nevada City, begins to air then too.
If my best friend came to visit me over the holidays, this is how I would show her my town. Enjoy this selection of completely-biased, local favorites, for the perfect Nevada City holiday weekend.
Dinner at Lefty’s
Start your weekend on Friday night with dinner at Lefty’s. The restaurant has moved from the middle of Broad Street, down to the bottom of Broad on the creek. The views are great, and Friday is their fish & chips night. If you love traditional English fish & chips, you won’t be disappointed. Enjoy your dinner with a pint of one of their beers. They have a great beer selection, and you could take one of your beer snob friends here and they wouldn’t complain.
© photo Lefty’s Grill
After dinner you have a lot of entertainment options. There is usually something playing at the Nevada Theatre. Just walk by the box office before dinner to see if there’s a play that night. Also, check the Miners Foundry schedule.
For a complete list of venues offering live music and entertainment in Nevada City, visit the Chamber’s Arts & Entertainment section.
Breakfast at South Pine
On Saturday morning go to breakfast at South Pine Cafe. I love the Huevos Rancheros, the breakfast burrito and their breakfast sampler, but all their food is yummy, so you can’t go wrong.
Shopping in Nevada City
© photo Abstrakt
After breakfast wander around town and do a little Christmas Shopping. First stop at Abstrakt for some bracelets, scarves, comfortable clothes or candles. Abstrakt oozes style, and you are sure to find something for the person who has everything. Next door is Gray Goose, and you’ll want to stay for hours. The owner, Stuey, carries “everything from the sublime to the ridiculous.” You’ll find lots of stocking stuffers for adults here.
Nevada City Chocolate Shoppe
After Gray Goose walk up Broad Street and stop in at the Nevada City Chocolate Shoppe for their homemade chocolates, caramel apples, or Nevada City Gold. Then turn right on Pine Street and walk down to J.J. Jackson’s to look through their colorful kitchen items, travel bags (my favorite!), and book selection.
Warm Drinks at Curly Wolf
When you’ve had enough shopping, walk back to Broad Street and head to Curly Wolf for a warm drink. You’ll love the warm interior, sort of a hip Victorian salon, if there is such a thing. I always order the chai tea latte with soy milk, but also can’t resist their hot chocolates and London fog. Their teas are all loose, and they infuse them in your mug with your steamed milk. So good! If they have the butterscotch bars, make sure to try at least one.
Artisans Festival and Craft Faire Over Thanksgiving Weekend
The Miners Foundry Artisans Festival is one of the longest running festivals in Nevada County and is known for showcasing the exceptional work of regional artisans. Enjoy installation art displays, performance art, live music, children’s holiday art activities, and a Wine Bar. The festival takes place Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Nevada City Methodist Craft Faire is held Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (opening at noon on Sunday). There are handmade gifts for all ages, homemade soup and sandwiches, pie, coffee and hot spiced cider.
Note: if you’re visiting over Thanksgiving weekend and attend these festivals, you’ll be out of time to do the walk over the Suspension Bridge, so do this on Sunday afternoon instead.
Cross the New Suspension Bridge Over Deer Creek
After your break at Curly Wolf, head up Broad Street, and then turn left at the Nevada Theater and walk down to Miners Foundry. As you pass Miners Foundry, you’ll see a street that runs around the back of the Foundry (as you look at the Foundry, the street is on the right side of the building). Once you are on this street, you’ll turn right on Factory Street. This road will take you to the Deer Creek Environs Trail and across the new Suspension Bridge over Deer Creek.
© photo by Erin Pardini, Livingstone Photography
Dinner at Sushi-in-the-Raw
Saturday night go to dinner at Sushi-in-the-Raw (make reservations as many weeks in advance as possible, as it’s really hard to get a table). I always have one of their drunken shooters with a scallop (sounds gross, but trust me, it’s delicious and I’m sort of picky). The Susan Roll is also amazing. Their sushi is always fresh.
Off Broadstreet Theatre
After dinner, head down Spring Street and then turn left onto Pine Street. You’ll cross Broad Street, and then you’ll see Friar Tucks on your left. Turn left at Friar Tucks onto Commercial Street and Off Broadstreet Theatre will be just past it, on your left. They always have something showing on Friday and Saturday nights. There’s lots of singing, and you sit at cafe tables, and enjoy drinks and dessert during the show.
End your night with a walk through town to enjoy the lights, which are so pretty this time of year.
Breakfast at Ike’s
In the morning go to Ike’s Quarter Cafe for breakfast. Their frittatas are amazing, or, for a decadent treat, get the french toast with chocolate chips and cream… yummmm.
Walk the American Hill Loop
During the school week, this is the walk of choice for local moms, after they drop the kids off at school. If you are staying at Broad Street Inn, walk out of the Inn front door, and turn right onto Bennett Street. Depending on the direction you choose, you can either walk up or down the big hill. If you want to get your heart rate up, turn left off of Bennett onto Monroe. At one point there will be a fork in the trail, stay to the right on Old Downieville Highway. Or, if you’d rather take it easy, keep going on Bennet Street up American Hill. The beginning of American Hill is a little steep, but nothing compared to the hill the other direction. If you have a phone, one landmark you can enter for the halfway point is Queen Lil Place. This road is at the opposite end of the loop from town, and something you can reference to make sure you are on the right path.
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Get Homemade Ice Cream at Treats
After your walk you’ll be ready for another snack. Directly across from Ike’s Quarter Cafe is Treats. It’s a tiny little shop, and sometimes the line is out the door, but it’s worth the wait. In the winter they have pumpkin and also peppermint ice cream, and you can sample the flavors before you choose.
If you are visiting in December you will be ready to wander around town for the annual Victorian Christmas street festival. This annual, family tradition takes place on two Wednesday evenings and three Sunday afternoons in December (noon to 6 p.m.). The downtown transforms into a genuine Christmas card come to life. It’s a magical setting of hilly streets outlined with twinkling white lights and authentic gas lamps, wandering minstrels and carolers dressed in Victorian attire, and a myriad of visitors sharing holiday cheer and good tidings. For more information go to the Nevada City Chamber’s Victorian Christmas page.
Dine at New Moon
Sunday night go to dinner at New Moon for “big city dining with a small town atmosphere.” They use local, natural and organic food. Dining there is always relaxing, and delicious.
See a Movie at the Nevada Theatre
After dinner, walk down York Street towards the Nevada Theatre on Broad Street. Peek at their Sunday Film Series to see what is playing. The Nevada Theatre is California’s longest running theatre (built in 1865). They host a variety of foreign and independent films, and documentaries. Films run every Sunday evening and many weekends.
Or, Watch “The Christmas Card”
This time of year you might get lucky and catch a showing of “The Christmas Card” movie, filmed in Nevada City. To check showtimes, visit the Chamber’s The Christmas Card page. After watching it you’ll walk through town and see it different. The church in the movie is Nevada City Methodist Church, on Broad Street, above the Nevada Theatre. The cafe is Nevada City Classic Cafe, also on Broad Street, which is across from the National Hotel, also in the film. The Christmas Tree Lot doesn’t really exist, but was set up on the corner of Pine and Commercial Street.
Coffee at Java John’s
Before you leave town, have breakfast at Java John’s. This is a classic, small-town, Nevada City coffee shop. The same crowd is there every morning during the week. You’ll see kids coming in on their way to school, and the table of regulars working on the daily crossword puzzle. Rita and Patrick are always there and often their son Chris. It’s a cozy, family-run cafe, and the perfect way to finish off your Nevada City holiday weekend.