First settled in the start of the California Gold Rush, Grass Valley gained and lost population based on the fortunes found in the hills and streams in its Sierra Nevada home. By the start of the 20th century, the population was generally stable enough to support all the hallmarks of an established city: schools, clubs, churches, etc. An active mining town as recently as the post-war years, the cost of mining eventually exceeded the elemental allure of the precious metal, and operations ceased by the 1950s. Oh, you should pack a pie plate, though, because there is still gold in them thar hills. You may as well pan for some in the surrounding streams and rivers. We're sure that, in a pinch, landlords would except gold nuggets as a security deposit on your new rental home in Grass Valley.
We're just kidding about the gold nuggets, though we're sure it'd put you at the top of any landlord's list. Nuggets aside, make sure you bring along all the necessary paperwork to prove you're worthy of renting. Bank statements, letters of reference, rental history, copies of your ID and a recent credit report will put you on any landlord's nice list.
There is a neighborhood for ever taste and housing need in Grass Valley. Here are a few of our favorites:
Downtown: Mill and Main Streets mark the heart of Grass Valley, replete with Gold Rush era buildings, rambling sidewalks, and local charm hanging in the air around you. If you don't mind sharing the streets with tourists, you may want to look into an apartment for rent here. You'll find 1 and 2 bedroom apartments, a few studio apartments and some smaller homes appropriately sized for the compact historic core.
Brunswick Road Area: Northeast of the historic city center, you'll find some more modern housing options. Condos for rent dot the modern streets and offer expected amenities like community playgrounds, pools and fitness centers. You won't be able to walk to as many bars and restaurants, but you'll enjoy the relaxation offered here.
Alta Sierra: South of the city center along Highway 49, connecting Grass Valley to Auburn and Interstate 80, you'll find Alta Sierra. This area, six miles south of the city center, is perfect if you're looking for a more traditional suburban neighborhood, but in a forest setting. Alta Sierra is a popular area with 3- and 4-bedroom houses for rent. You definitely can't walk to downtown from here (maybe you can hike? Pack a snack), but you'll enjoy the best of traditional neighborhood living in a wooded setting.
Lake Wildwood: A gated community designed around a golf course, this area is somewhat exclusive and offers all of the modern neighborhood amenities and housing you could want while keeping you close to the natural beauty of the Sierra. Town homes and detached homes rule here.
Don't let the historic buildings or the tall pines fool you: this is a full-service city. Spas? Concerts? Museums? Theaters? Check, check, check, and check. Not to mention wine tasting, whitewater-splashed recreational opportunities, historic sites and more. Your problem will be having too much to do, not the opposite.
Grab your planner or crack open your online calendar because we've got a year's worth of community events for you. Besides Cornish Christmas, the Sierra Festival of the Arts kicks off the summer each Memorial Day Weekend. Artists from Grass Valley and across the state gather to exhibit their work. From established artists to emerging talent, this is a great event to visit when you need to decorate your new rental home.
Round out your summer with the Nevada County Fair in August. FFA and 4H Shows, corn dogs- all of the stereotypical fun we might secretly love brings the Nevada County Fairgrounds to life. In September, don't miss the Draft Horse Classic. You might recognize these massive horses from their Super Bowl ads. Think Clydesdales. Catch horse shoeing contests, halter shows, competitions, and more.
When you're tired of the fair fun, get dressed up and head to one of Grass Valley's finest restaurants like Tofanelli's, located in a building nearly as old as the town itself. This place has over 100 omelets (challenge accepted?) and reflects the best of each California season in its ingredients. If you need a steak, hit up Cirino's, which specializes in steak, roasts, seafood and pasta. Speaking of seafood, Kaido Sushi blends traditional and modern Japanese cuisine on historic Main Street.
If you want to recreate your favorite local dishes at home, check out Tess' Kitchen Store on Mill Street where you can pick up the right kitchen tool or take a cooking class to expand your culinary repertoire. The historic downtown core offers specialty boutiques that will enable you to win the gift-giver award at every birthday party you attend in perpetuity. Basics (read: big box stores) are just south of the city center along Highway 49.
While walking around the historic downtown area is the easiest way to soak yourself in local history and current flavor, you'll need a car to live comfortably here. There is local transit and even some regional service, but having your own wheels will make both the hunt for an apartment for rent and daily life here (errands, commute, the boring stuff) far easier.
As mentioned, mining is no longer the bedrock of the Grass Valley economy. Tourism and the service industry have moved into the void left by that industry's departure. Grassy Valley is also a viable, albeit longer commute from job centers in the Sacramento Valley -- both in Sacramento itself and neighboring communities like Roseville. The traffic is nothing compared to what San Franciscans and Los Angelenos face, so the move to Grass Valley is perfect for those who need mountain air and more trees than what's available on the valley floor below.
Agriculture provides another economic engine here -- vestiges of Gold Rush era farms and ranches exist today. The largest growing crop? Grapes to fuel the areas burgeoning wine industry.