Travel Guide: Nevada City, CA

We are all about inspired living. Our travel guide series is a peek into our founder April Nemeth's travels to some of the most gorgeous locations on the planet that have blown her worldview wide open and inspired many of the designs she has created for her successful brand, Little Korboose. This edition, rooted in preservation and nature in honor of Earth month, as well as following editions, will feature uncommon and unique locations, accommodations and activities not intended for the "tourist", but rather for the "traveler". April's accounts are told from repeated immersion in these locations over the years, creating community wherever she lands. Our intention in sharing these guides, told first hand from April's real life immersive experiences, through her eyes and words, is so YOUR wanderlust spirit will have everything it needs to GO and live an inspired life.

nevada city mountains

nevada city orange poppies

Colorful wildflowers, forested, foothills, crystal emerald rivers, fresh markets, live music and Italianate architecture everywhere. Enter: Nevada City, a historical gold rush town settled in northern California in 1850. Yes, this mystical mountain town, straight out of the old west, is located in CALIFORN-I-A — nestled on the forested western slope of the Sierra Nevada to be exact, not Nevada as many might assume. It was originally named "Deer Creek Diggins" (good thing that didn't stick) after gold was discovered along the banks of local Deer Creek in 1849 and renamed "Nevada", Spanish for "snow-capped" in 1850. Close to the same time, the current state of Nevada took this name as well so "city" was added to differentiate. Cool, cool, cool.

What was to become the most sophisticated of the gold rush mining towns in the 1850s, this timeless explorer's dream has revitalized itself once again in the last decade and has become another beloved hidden retreat of mine. It's not just beloved to me because one of my best friends was born and raised in Nevada County — although that does help. It has a rich history of preservation and, having experienced 7 major fires in the 1850's repeatedly destroying much of the town, it has RESILIENCE. Its natural beauty echos, hugged by the thick Tahoe National Forest and an emerald green river at the heart, rushing between monolithic granite boulders. (Yeah, it's real). Even though I'm not a full time local, with the amount of time I spend in Nevada City, I might as well be. Saddle up, I'm going to share all of my tips and tricks for an adventure that will call you back again and again. Don't worry full time locals, I won't give away all of the magic. That's meant for discovery. No one would believe me anyway.

R Y T H M  &  R O U T E
Nevada city is basically in the cut so getting there requires what I live for: A California Road Trip. Here's a playlist that reflects this pioneer's paradise. Mystical, timeless, authentic, unassuming, rustic, elegant, and sophisticated mixed with the bold WILD WEST. I had so much fun putting this one together.

The best time to visit is June, August and September because the weather is the most pleasant. If you ski or snowboard and like snow, all other months are game too. Nevada City sees all the seasons.

Even though Nevada City is hidden, it is not quite as remote as Orcas Island or Bonneville Salt Flats. If you're flying in prior to road tripping, I recommend the following airports. 

Hot Tip: If you get stressed out flying and want to maximize your time, Sacramento Airport (SMF) and Reno-Tahoe (RNO) are teeny tiny and simple to navigate. San Francisco (SFO) has more flights but it's gigantic and the journey will take longer all around. I only fly into and out of SFO when I wait too long to book.

S L E E P  &  S T A Y
With a land area of 2.5 square miles and a population of 3,000 people, The National Hotel IS the place to stay in town. "The Nash" as it is locally referred to has lived so many lives it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Built in 1856, this 38 room historical treasure that takes up an entire block, underwent an extensive 3 year down-to-the-studs renovation and guess what?! It opened back up THIS WEEK. Finally saved from the constant threat of condemnation. Originally embellished with Classical Revival ornamentation, the renovation honored the opulent styles of the Victorian era while embracing the building's historic past. I am so delighted to see that the restoration purposefully preserved the heart and soul of the original building with carefully curated vintage furniture and light fixtures, wide wood plank flooring, luxe fabrics, the tallest ceilings and the original large balcony overlooking the main drag. It is home to The National Bar and Lola, the new restaurant named after and inspired by stage dancer Lola Montez, with executive chef Tom Bevitori at the helm. 

AFTER / Images of renovated hotel ©The National Hotel

I have been infatuated with this hotel since I first laid eyes on it years ago and was able to capture what the it looked like right before renovations began. It is quite a transformation.


If The Nash is booked but you would still like all the excitement of staying in town, I adore this flat across from one of my favorite restaurants in town (I'll get to that next!). It even has a beautiful garden.  

Sometimes I like a private hideaway but still want to be close to town and this cute studio cottage with loft, coated in white paint, only a 5 minute walk from the small town hustle and bustle, is ideal.

Need more space and don't mind driving 10 minutes? There are plenty of airbnbs in Nevada County. A favorite is this two bedroom cottage with a newly renovated black and white kitchen and so much natural light, it's hard not to wake up with a smile. 

E A T S & T R E A T S

In true survivalist fashion, Nevada City is packed with a diverse range of restaurant options. With buildings connected on every block, I would say 75% of the restaurants cater to those of us who eat sustainably offering options galore. It is SO relieving to be in a town where you can walk into any number of establishments and your favorite thing on the menu is EVERYTHING. You would think being tucked away on a mountain, it would be hard to find unique fresh food, but that couldn't be further from the truth. That said, for those that eat mainstream American, don't worry you'll be good to go too.

Upon arriving in town, I immediately go to Heartwood Cafe for a "Heart of Gold" over ice and one of their famous bowls or loaded toasts on house-made GF bread. I'll admit, I sometimes get a double "Heart of Gold" because I drink them way too fast and want the experience to last. It's by far and away my favorite version of Golden Milk in the world. I've been a few places so that's saying something. 

For lunch, because I'm usually still full on golden milk, I'll pick up one of my favorite smoothies and a snack from a little conscious and inclusive cafe on Zion Street, Fudenjuice. With picnic table outdoor seating, it's not fancy and it's not meant to be. I love stopping here on a hot summer day after a dip in the river. Hot tip: This is a bit off the main drag. It's a 20 minute walk or a 3 minute drive from The Nash. 

There are a multitude of good options for dinner but if I had to choose one for my first night in town, it would be Three Forks Bakery in the heart of town. Everything on the menu is house-made with all organic and often times local ingredients. "I'll take one of everything" has nearly crossed my lips several dozen times when ordering. My go-to's are the GF pizza, soup and a salad or pickled veggies. If you have a sweet tooth, the bakery selection, including homemade pie, changes daily so be sure to check their website. To up the ante even more, Three Forks is all about quality, sustainability and zero waste — a twin to my own values. There is nothing I love more than supporting those that are doing good. (More options at the end of the guide). 

E X P L O R A T I O N & E N T E R T A I N M E N T 

The natural beauty, aliveness and history of the land in Nevada City are powerful. The first thing I do when I get to town is ground and connect with nature — more specifically the river. Nestled in between majestic mountains and monolithic granite boulders, therein lies The Yuba River. The Yuba River is one of California's most historic and mystic rivers. It rises at the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, 8,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean, and flows through nearly 100 miles of canyons. Plunging into these icy green waters is something I often times day dream about and the activity I love most while adventuring in this area. If you know someone local, it's best to have them help you navigate but if not, start at the South Yuba River Bridge. You can easily go in the water right past the lot, under the bridge.

Hot Tips:

The river hasn't been this green in a while because of the altered pH levels and its a huge concern to the locals (and me!). This is due to the influx of people, trash and chemicals like sunscreen. Preservation is such a big concern, it was a debate to even include The Yuba in this guide. Please don't treat this sacred land like an amusement park. Use biodegradable sunscreen and take your trash with you. A hat is always a good idea because of the dry California heat — you can get burnt without realizing it. The only shade is beside big boulders and you really don't even need a towel because the hot sun will dry you in no time. 

There are endless secret spots to jump into the river and MANY gorgeous historical bridges. There is even a historic Miner's Tunnel to explore. 

Rule of thumb: follow the bridges to the Yuba. Purdon Crossing and Edward's Crossing Bridge are definitely sites to see.

After connecting with nature, I like to connect with the community. Needless to say, this town is OLD so there are many old timey things to do which I quite enjoy. One afternoon, in town I was able to catch a live band performance that the entire town set up chairs for and attended. It was storybook.

Another can't miss is The Annual Nevada City Film Festival, known as "The Sundance of The Sierras". Unlike Sundance, this fest feels special without being exclusive. In an effort to inspire and welcome movie makers, it has an intense focus on short films which is what I often prefer to create in my own practice and enjoy watching from others. It usually takes place in late August/early September — a perfect time to visit the foothills. 

A beloved pastime is taking a day or night drive through the backroads of Nevada City and the surrounding area (preferably in a vintage car). Walking around town, enjoying all of the beautiful Victorian era architecture and hostoric details is also something I never miss. The scenery will take you back to a more simple time. 

Northern California has long been synonymous with wine country and Nevada City is no exception. It resides shoulder to shoulder to several of the best wine regions in in the state. For a taste of history and great wine, plan an afternoon at Nevada City Winery, the oldest operating winery in Nevada County. The exterior and interior of this building make this experience well-rounded. 

G I F T S & G O O D S
After connecting with nature AGAIN, you will definitely want to explore town. Nevada City is packed with small boutiques, some that have been there for 100 years and others that just popped up.

A landmark in town and previously located in a historic building with tile flooring that spells "drugs": Kit Kit Dizzi. It now resides just a quick walk away on the same street ( 231 Broad St.). If Nevada City was a shop, it would be Kit Kit Dizzi. It's named after a native plant to the Western Sierras that I recognize as the smell of Nevada City and filled with a beautifully curated selection of clothing, home, and lifestyle objects. Prepare for at least one hour for this experience, there is a lot to see and you won't want to leave.

Haalo is also a can't miss if you're into herbalism or natural medicine. Short for Health Alternative for All Locals, this botanical shop is full of local gifts, herbs, teas, books and you can even purchase classes. I love how beautifully wrapped their palo santo and sage burning bundles are, complete with local wild flowers on top. SWOON. Growing up, my mama taught me all about the magic of herbal tea and Haalo has a wide selection of their own natural blends that I always stock up on. Bring your empty weekender with you!

The Nevada City Farmer's Market is, I'm just going to go ahead and say it, the best farmer's market I have ever been to. The freshest produce, friendliest faces and dreamiest weather. It's a great way to support the local community and get some yummy food at the same time. 

TYSA is a new shop around the corner from The National Hotel. It has more of a southwest vibe and is full of  another one of my favorite things... JUMPSUITS. They also carry limited edition "Nomad Dresses", "Country Women" bath salts, market bags (you'll need this for all the tea you just bought) and other gifty bath and body products. 

A D O R A T I O N  & I N S P I R A T I O N
It's challenging to put into words what this timeless town means to me. I often find myself back in Nevada City when I have gone through some of life's hardest moments as it is a place of revival and renewal. It knows how to pick itself back up, dust off and try again and again and again. Anyone who knows California history knows that California itself wasn't an easy place to discover or settle because of the conditions. It was actually thought to be an island by explorers through the 18th century. With 171 years under its belt and 7 rebuilds after back to back fires, Nevada City is RESILIENCE. Despite what was lost in the 1850s, the town managed to preserve much of its Victorian era character which tells a story only understood by going and experiencing it. Deep down, it never forgets who it is and that sentiment inspires me and my work to the core. 

Let us also never forget that the Nisenan Tribe, made their homes in the foothills of Nevada, Sierra, Yuba, Sutter, and Placer Counties in northern California for thousands of years before the gold rush. Though they were forcefully displaced and unfairly sent to a Ranchería, the tribe still exists. This group's endurance of the unthinkable is the epitome of resilience and strength and an inspiration to keep evolving within my design practice and as a human. Evolve or repeat.

Having had roots grown in this part of the world before I was even born, California wanderlust runs through my veins and no doubt, should you make the trek, you will feel it in yours too. All under the California sun, sitting on the shoulders of the natural beauty and power of The Mother's mountains, foothills and mystic emerald river. 

Please respect the land and community. Nevada City is going through its own evolution. xx April