Virginia City is confusingly in Nevada, and Nevada City is confusingly in California. It is a quaint gold rush town and is one of California's best-preserved of this bygone era. It was first settled in 1849 during the days of the feverish California Gold Rush that helped the state to boom. Now a sleepy little town, it was once the most important mining town in California. Nevada County (which it is a part of) was the state's leading gold-mining country.


Nevada City is the perfect rustic town to chill out in and see an older, more mellow, and less touristic side of California. If one thinks that one could survive in the old Wild West, see here for what the cowboys ate.

About Nevada City

  • Population: 3,000
  • Elevation: 2,500 Feet Above Sea Level

The name "city" was added later to help distinguish it from the nearby state of Nevada.

Nevada City is beautifully situated being nestled in a picturesque basin on the Western Slope of the Sierra Nevadas. It is set to the backdrop of ridgetops and mountain ranges. It is surrounded by forest and rests at a high elevation. Running through the town's center is Deer Creek.

  • Exhibit: In The Rail Museum, One Can See An Early Steam Automobile

The town went into decline following the decline of the gold industry together with the collapse of timber harvesting. At the same time, shifting highways took more business out of the town. As early as the 1960s the town folk saw their future in preserving their past and the many historic buildings that make the town an attraction today. While Nevada City is for sure one of California's best gold rush towns, see here for a full list of California's old gold rush towns worth visiting.

  • Designation: Listed On The Register Of Historic Places

Related: Yosemite's New Covered Wagons Add A Classy Twist To Old West-style Camping


Today Nevada City has everything one needs to enjoy a relaxing and comfy stay. It has a choice of overnight accommodation, bars, fine restaurants, the Nevada Theatre, the Miners Foundry Cultural Center, the Firehouse Museum, and the Railroad Museum. Last but not least, it also has two wineries to check out.

Stay At The National Exchange Hotel

While there is other accommodation, one of the greatest places to stay is the National Exchange Hotel. It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the oldest continuously operated hotels west of the Rockies. There are cheaper options, but if one wants to enjoy the rustic feel of the town, then accommodation doesn't get any better than this.

  • Date Opened: 1856
  • Original Name: Bicknell Block

Relive the Wild West and gold rush days in this most sophisticated of the gold rush mining camps. It has recently been extensively renovated. The building is filled with opulent furnishings.

The hotel is complete with its historic bar, where one can enjoy a cocktail on the balcony overlooking Broad Street. Soak in the atmosphere with its upstairs Salon and enjoy a sumptuous all-American meal.

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It has a range of accommodation options including a Kings Suite, a Queens Suite, King Studio, Queen Studio, and others.

  • Cost: Ranges From Around $250 to Over 400 Per Night Excluding Taxes And Fees. See Here For More Information
  • Pets: Pet Friendly
  • Dining: Offers In-Room Dining
  • Spacious: Offers Oversized Bathrooms and Spacious Showers

Nevada Brewery

Don't forget the old-timey Nevada Brewery that itself is in a historic building. The building was originally a brewery but was also used as a bowling alley, a stable, a dance hall, and a restaurant.

  • Founding Date: 1857

Related: The First 'Old West' Saloons Were Nothing Like What We Imagine Them To Be Today

Other Attractions In Nevada City

Anyone visiting Nevada City should check out all of the town's attractions (it's not a big town). Here are some of the most notable places:

  • Miners Foundry Cultural Center: Dates From 1856 And Provided Steel And Metal Fabrication For the Local Mines
  • Historic Firehouse No. 1 Museum: Built-In 1860-1861, It Is Perhaps The Most Photographed Building In Nevada City. Open Daily From 11.00 am to 4.00 pm In the Summer
  • Nevada Theatre: Built in 1865, It Is the Oldest Remaining Theatre Building On The West Coast That Is Still Working As A Theatre. Seating for 200, and Listed In The National Register Of Historic Places
  • Historic Firehouse No. 2: Built 1860-1861, One Of California's Oldest Continuing Use Firehouses, Listed On The National Register of Historic Places in 1969
  • Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum: Visitors Are Offered A Docent-Led Tour Of the Museum, Rail Yard, and the Accompanying Restoration Shop. Exhibits Include The NCNCRR Engine 5, An Early Steam Automobile, Rolling Stock, And Other Things

After one has explored the many historic places inside of Nevada City, it is time to explore the many stunning trails and mountains around the town.

Next: Wild West Ghost Towns: 25 Images Of Forgotten Places In The Desert