Small Towns: Grass Valley

Here’s one from our series on small towns in the foothills, with some highlights from our visits.
mill street in grass valley
Mill Street

Sister city to Nevada City, Grass Valley has its own identity, too, with a bustling downtown district that these days has an impressive outdoor dining and drinking stretch (along Mill Street, which has been closed to traffic). It’s not just restaurants, wine bars and breweries in here, but shops and galleries, too.

holbrooke hotel grass valley

Historic and New—The 28-room Holbrooke Hotel has recently reopened after an 18-month, multimillion-dollar renovation, bringing the property up to date with modern amenities while preserving its historic flavor. The restaurant, bar and lobby on the main floor, rich with dark wood and upscale Western style, invite visitors to relax on a lush leather curved-arm sofa, sink into one of the extremely high wingback chairs or pull up a stool at the bar. Original stone and brick walls remain throughout, as well as period pieces including clawfoot tubs and pedestal sinks in the guest rooms. Rates start at $165.

hotel lobby

hotel bar

Tasty Pasty—Grab one of these stuffed delights—a Grass Valley staple, it turns out—from Marshall’s Pasties or Grass Valley Pasty Co. At the latter, the traditional Cornish pasty, the Cousin Jack, comes loaded with skirt steak, potatoes, onions, turnips and parsley. You won’t be hungry the rest of the day.

tasty pastry

In the Kitchen—Bakers, home chefs and foodies will love Tess’ Kitchen & Culinary, which is three levels of gadgets, appliances, cookbooks, pots and pans, aprons and potholders, boards and knives, mixes, sauces, oils, vinegars, spices and lots of pastry shaping and decorating supplies.

tess kitchen and culinary in grass valley
Tess’ Kitchen & Culinary

Art Exhibit—On second Saturdays at the Art Works Gallery, visitors can learn from artists who hold demonstrations and answer questions. Some 30 visual artists present their works at this artists cooperative, and displayed pieces include ceramic, textiles, metal, sculpture, photography, painting, glass and mixed media.

Stylish and Fun—Yuba Blue, in the old Grass Valley Hardware building, has racks of cute tops and underthings, a wall of women’s jeans, and a section of household merch, including linens, books about cooking and décor, pillows, lamps, signs, garden goodies; plus another section full of bath bombs, lotions, hair doohickeys and a blending bar.

Gluten-Free Goodies—Corvus Bakery maintains a massive menu of gluten-free scones, muffins, hand pies, breads—and doughnuts on Saturdays.

corvus bakery in grass valley

Indulge Your Inner Rock Star—Open since 1975, Foggy Mountain Music might have more guitars than it has square footage. Not just guitars, but drums, ukuleles, banjos, flutes, horns, keyboards . . . and the beat goes on. Just up the street: Clocktower Records.

Play the Game—For comics, board games, cards, graphic novels and other game-related items and activities, Grass Valley Games is a gathering spot for purchasing the goods—or sitting down to talk or play when pandemic limits are lifted.