Nevada City is the picturesque essence of California’s Mother Lode country. Placer gold was abundant in 1849 when miners founded the town. By 1856 it was California’s third largest city. After a disastrous fire that year, more substantial businesses were constructed of brick–with iron doors and shutters.
Gold mines and foundries have long since played out. Today, one of America’s most unspoiled Victorian business districts–still illuminated by gas lamps–is the priceless legacy of Nevada City’s boom-town era. Downtown is a bonanza of historic public buildings, theaters and churches; specialty shops featuring Mother Lode artifacts; blocks of good restaurants, atmospheric saloons; plus the oldest operating hotel west of the Rockies. Victorian mansions serving as bed-and-breakfast inns contribute to the romantic spirit. Nearby forests, lakes, rivers and mountains support all kinds of recreation. Even gold panning is popular again, thanks to gold achieving new all-time highs in 2008.