How are you going to celebrate the 241st birthday of our Nation? I love the good old-fashioned 4th of July celebrations I grew up with as a kid. You know the kind. Red, white, and blue! Parades, BBQs, and fireworks! Some of the most patriotic and colorful celebrations take place in smaller towns. One of best small town celebrations is found in Nevada County in the Sierra foothills.
Nevada County lies midway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. It’s a short 45-minute drive from my home. Nevada County is home to two of the Gold Country’s prettiest small towns—Nevada City and Grass Valley. These Gold Rush era towns offer a window into the past. We’ve always enjoyed day trips and even weekend getaways there. There’re lots of charming hotels and B & Bs to stay in while exploring Nevada County. Each year, Nevada City and Grass Valley come together to plan and produce the 4th of July event. This charming event defines the meaning of community.
Nevada City features a well-preserved downtown of historic, Victorian-era buildings and tree-lined streets. Originally settled in 1849 as a mining camp, Nevada City is now home to restaurants, gift shops, wine-tasting rooms, and antique shops.
Grass Valley is another one of the Sierra Foothills most popular Gold Rush towns. It’s an old mining town with historic landmarks such as the Holbrooke Hotel where Mark Twain once stayed. Timber and gold mills made up the economic backbone of this area. Once home to the Cornish miners, Grass Valley has evolved into a shopping mecca in the foothills. The area still retains that old-timey flavor.
Each year, Nevada City and Grass Valley come together to plan and produce the 4th of July event. This charming event defines the meaning of community. The festivities have a decidedly retro feel and the color and pageantry highlight small town living in the USA.
The 115th Annual Independence Day Parade rolls down Broad Street in Historic Downtown Nevada City on July 4th. This year’s theme is “You’re a Grand Old Flag.” Over 70 local entries will highlight life in Nevada County.
We like to show up early to stake out our spot on the parade route. We set up our lawn chairs on the sidewalk and catch a pre-parade performance by the 65-piece Nevada County Concert Band. The Concert Band performs a curbside concert for an hour before the Independence Day parade in Nevada City. They’ll begin performing around 10 a.m. The parade begins right after. Nothing is more fun than sitting on the sidewalk, waving flags, and cheering as family, friends, acquaintances, and total strangers march by in that great American institution, the 4th of July parade. But the parade is only the beginning of the celebrations held throughout the day and into the night.
The parade in Nevada City is followed by a traditional family celebration under the pines at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley (arguably, one of the most beautiful fairgrounds in the nation.) The 4th of July party continues with food, entertainment, and craft fair. It culminates in explosions of light and color that has come to symbolize our country’s birthday: the spectacular fireworks. The Fireworks Spectacular blasts off at 9:30 p.m.
Come celebrate Independence Day with an old-fashioned 4th of July in Nevada County!