Frommer’s calls the “entire town” of Nevada City a historical landmark. They ranked the town 9th among the 15 “Best small towns and villages” in California. In 1856, however, it was actually the third largest city in the state of California.
Forests and rivers surround Nevada City’s historic downtown streets. Some of these rivers were popular spots for gold panning when, according to The Great Towns of Northern California, Nevada City was a California “mother lode” of gold.
Classic saloons, welcoming and romantic bed-and-breakfasts, and old-school movie theaters share space with specialty antique shops that display artifacts from the town’s glory days as a gold hub. You can even spend the night in the record-setting National Hotel, which the Chamber of Commerce says has been in operation since the 1850s, longer than any hotel west of the Rocky Mountains.