Summer Activities for Kids, Nevada City & Grass Valley

Summer vacation is days away and Nevada City offers so many great activities for things to do for kids.  So regardless of what your family likes to do, here’s a list of all sorts of ideas of things to do.  And scroll down to the bottom for our great kid-centric giveaway!

Things to do with Kids:

Swimming Holes in Nevada City, Kid Friendly options

Water Activities:

Nevada City Outdoor Activities for kids

Outdoor Adventures

Great kid friendly hikes include: Independence Trail, Buttermilk Bend and Deer Creek Tribute Trail.  Or take the kids for a mountain bike ride at Hirschman Pond.

Jason Auld, owner of Mountain Recreation, loves taking his 3 kids outdoors during the summer season. “There are great flat water kayaking and SUP as a fun family friendly activity.  Short distance backpacking is a great way to get kids outside and blow their minds with nature.  Just need to focus on keeping it achievable, fun and interesting.  Often you don’t need to hike in more than a mile or two to really feel like your way out there.  The less taxing and grueling it is the more  the kids will enjoy it.”  Click here for information about their rental programs if you want to rent a SUP or kayak.

Bear Yuba Land Trust Summer Camps

Perhaps you’re looking for a summer camp, there are still lots of great programs happening, click here for a post from earlier this spring on the Summer Camp Fair, still time to check out the Food Love Project day camps, Live Sound Camp for GirlsMud Hut Art classes, Fox Walkers or The Center for Arts programs.  Perhaps you want to be creative, try stopping by The Artist Workshop, either for a class or their drop in open session and leave with a new art project.

Maybe you want to learn a specific new skill, take your child to a cooking class at Briar Patch Co-op (Summer Pies with Homemade Ice Cream or Grilled Pizza) or check out their Co+op Explorers Fruit and Veggie Passports.

The Children's Festival, photos by Lenkaland Photography and Erin Thiem

There are a lot of great kid friendly events during the summer season: Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival (June 16 – 19), California WorldFest: July 14 – 17, The Children’s Festival (Friday, July 15th), The Sierra Storytelling Festival  (July 22-24th) or the Nevada County Fair (August 10-14). The Miners Picnic at Empire Mine (August 27th), a family picnic, gold mining demonstrations, live music and games.

Summer Events in Nevada City, photos by Erin Thiem

Otherwise take your kids to one of the many local farmers markets, First Friday Art Walks (July 1st and August 5th) or Nevada City Summer Nights (July 13th, 20th and 27th).  Perhaps you want to get tickets for the PAG performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream?  Don’t forget the free Nevada County Concert Band concerts at Pioneer Park, it’s a great free family friendly outing (June 26th, July 24th and August 28th).

And if you’ve made it this far, I’ve got a special treat for one lucky kid.  Post a comment on your favorite summer activity and one family will get a prize package including:  2 free movie passes to the Del Oro Children’s movie screenings, $25 gift certificate to Treats, a family pack of tickets to the Nevada County Fair (2 adults and 2 children’s admission tickets), $10 gift certificate to Food Love Project Upick, 2 tickets to The Children’s Festival at Pioneer Park, 4 tickets to the Movies Under the Pines outdoor movie screening, 4 tickets to the Young Composers Project, 4 tickets to the Sunday’s Sierra Storytelling Festival including the Children’s Concert and a $25 gift certificate to Mountain Recreation.  Winner will be announced on Wednesday, June 15th.  * Edited to say the winner is Rachael Rogers, thanks everyone for your fabulous comments.

© 2016 InnSide Nevada City, Photos © by Erin Thiem and Lenkaland Photography

95 replies
  1. Daisy Simmons
    Daisy Simmons says:

    Wow – what a treasure trove of kid-errific intel. Thank you for the excellent summer inspiration! As for fave family summer activities, river time and the downtown NC farmers market are a couple of my personal chart-toppers.

    • Sarah park
      Sarah park says:

      What a great run down of fun family activities in the area. We love river time, time on the lake, and any hike that puts us away and into nature!

  2. Kaathlyn Connor
    Kaathlyn Connor says:

    Thanks for the reminder of all the great stuff this summer! My kids love going to the river all summer as well as going to the Children’s Festival. So much more we can do, though.

  3. Lisa Johnson
    Lisa Johnson says:

    Grandkids coming to Grass Valley is truly a highlight of our summer! And Erin keeps us in the know so we can choose the best of the best activities for each one of the children. This is the last week for all but one of the kids, and that one is already finished with school for the year. Let the visits commence!❤️❤️❤️

  4. Becky
    Becky says:

    Pretty much planning on doing ALL of this! Love, love, love this area in the summer. I think our favorite thing to do is just get outside and explore, preferably near some water!

  5. Sara Keller
    Sara Keller says:

    Our favorite family summertime activity is definitely the Bluegrass Festival. We usually invite our friends to come along and enjoy good music, and games and activities for the little ones. Of course there’s always great food, and ice cold beer for the adults. It’s such a nice relaxing atmosphere, and I highly recommend it to anyone!

  6. Debbie Campbell
    Debbie Campbell says:

    Camping at any number of area campgrounds. Fun at the local parks in the evening when the temps begin to cool. The NC Fair. Listening to the NC Concert Band’s free concerts. Swimming in the river. Eating a bounty of locally grown fruits and vegies.

  7. Amanda Gray
    Amanda Gray says:

    We just recently started visiting Empire State Mine and viewing all the history. My son loved it!!! Great family fun here locally. Nice job, Erin!

  8. Jessica Lee
    Jessica Lee says:

    We love doing the summer movie series at Del-oro it’s a great way to beat the heat!

  9. Jed
    Jed says:

    I love the warm summer nights and sitting on our back deck having conversations with family and friends, under the stars, well into the evening- and the river, always the river!

  10. Catherine M Theobald
    Catherine M Theobald says:

    So far, a hike on Buttermilk Bend and a trip to Treats afterwards tops my list. Picnics with friends on the river, festivals on Broad Street, soap box derby on Nimrod, a day in the lake at Scotts Flat….how does one choose????

  11. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    Thank you for posting this! Our favorite family adventure is visiting near lakes and enjoying local parks!

  12. Robynn
    Robynn says:

    This is amazing…thank you!!! We love exploring; finding new hiking trails, swimming spots, or just riding bikes to get icecream. We’ll definitely have some fun checking out all the magic you’ve listed. Thanks again!

  13. Lillian Llacer
    Lillian Llacer says:

    Swimming in the river is always a favorite. Sometimes it can be really hard getting the kids psyched to go, but once we are there, they don’t want to leave. It’s usually more fun if their friends are along for the adventure. An ice cream at Treats is a sure winner every time. Nice post Erin. But you forgot “hanging out at the inn town campground”!

  14. Pearl
    Pearl says:

    Thanks so much for all of these great summer activities! My son and I love the children’s fair and going to pioneer park to play or see the concert band play!

  15. Celeste Veva
    Celeste Veva says:

    I am marking those days down in my calendar. I usually hear about how much fun all street fairs etc are the day after they happen. My daughter and I love to go and swim at our favorite swimming holes along the river. We love when we find new spots that not many people over crowd. I love teaching and learning new things in the great outdoors. I appreciate the ideas to explore some things we haven’t been to before. Yay!!! Cant wait to make some lasting memories this beautiful 2016.

  16. Hannah
    Hannah says:

    What a great list! We love going to the river best- nature and swimming all in one! My kids can’t wait to get out there again!

  17. Leah Williams
    Leah Williams says:

    My kids love being outdoors! Malakoff Diggins is a favorite of ours! Between the trails and cave and pond and old town there’s endless stuff to do!

  18. Laura H
    Laura H says:

    Oooh, you’ve inspired me to take the kids out this summer to find a few new swimming spots along the yuba! We’ve already been to the lake many time and we’re headed out to the river today. Happy summer!

  19. Rusti Gilmore
    Rusti Gilmore says:

    My father used to take us camping every year. One year my mom forgot something so we all climbed back in the car and drove the 5 miles back to the general store, while we were gone it rained. We had left the windows in the tent open so when we got back all the upper cots were wet. We had to double up on the bottom cots, kinda crowded but it was fun. One year my mom was out walking a trail and came across Badger, she thought it was so cute she tried to pet it but it scurried off, she wasn’t to wildlife savvy lol. Racoons in the trash cans, fishing the creek with 10 foot bamboo poles, these are the memories you get to share with your kids.

  20. Leon Wessinger
    Leon Wessinger says:

    Very nice list. My family loves the farmers market on Saturday and who doesn’t love Treets.

  21. Krista schicker
    Krista schicker says:

    We love the long days picnicking at the river!! What a great list we will absolutely have to try a couple of these activities.

  22. Brenda frey
    Brenda frey says:

    Wow! Didn’t realize how many options there are in our little community. .thank you so much for sharing …having children of my own, grandchildren, and a large family childcare , this helped tremendously…now to start some planning 🙂

  23. Natasha Janson
    Natasha Janson says:

    Nevada City is full of fun! Fav family summertime activity. .. there are so many….swimming, fireworks, and the fair.

  24. Angie Helgeson
    Angie Helgeson says:

    Thank you so much for this. My kiddos love anything outdoors. Think we will try the movie at the fairgrounds tomorrow. I was unaware of these. We really love the farmers market, anything with music and the creek at western gateway park. We would be so happy to win!

  25. Shauna
    Shauna says:

    Thank you for such a wonderful list! We live anything with water, farmers market and outdoor exercise!

  26. Phizannah Abraham
    Phizannah Abraham says:

    Thank you for the resources Erin. We are all so fortunate to live in an area with so much nature, history and culture. One never struggles to find something to do. We love the Yuba and all it’s splendor and sometimes just hangin out at Pioneer Park pool. Enjoy your Summer days and nights!

  27. Cailah
    Cailah says:

    We already do most of these during the summer but the summer reading program is our favorite thing every week there is something new to do or see and it is free of charge! Thank you for this list though

  28. Jenna
    Jenna says:

    Thank you for compiling such a comprehensive list of fun things to do around the area. Will definitely be bookmarking this and coming back for ideas!

  29. Marissa
    Marissa says:

    I never knew about some of these activities, like the kids festival! I’m soo excited now lol Thank you for all of the new ideas! Closer to Colfax is the “bubble bath”, part of American river which is another kid friendly river spot. Our favorite thing to do is be outdoors so my kids are gonna be so happy

  30. Amelia
    Amelia says:

    Thanks for all the great info! Our girls absolutely love the Children’s Fair at Pioneer Park every year. Their imaginations run wild and we take home some awesome crafts!

  31. R Norman
    R Norman says:

    Great article. Just pinned it so I can reference it when I need inspiration! My son just turned 4 and I think he is finally old enough to really enjoy 49 fun park!

  32. Mary
    Mary says:

    For my 3 grandkids coming up from Sacramento, visiting here during the summer is like being on another planet: exploring the river, hikes with the family dog along the ditch, watching the deer munching on my flowers in the early morning, stargazing at night, and picking strawberries at Jo and Alan’s farm. So lucky to be able to share these experiences with them!

  33. Monica
    Monica says:

    Great ideas! Thank you for sharing! Our favorite is the fair but we are looking forward to getting out to the lakes and river too!

  34. Kathie
    Kathie says:

    Fishing at different lakes is one of our favorite summer activities. Thanks for the great ideas!

  35. Serena
    Serena says:

    Thanks so much for this great compilation! I just filled up my calendar! Can’t wait to try it all! We love worldfest during the summer!

  36. Ramona
    Ramona says:

    We enjoy so much in Nevada County with our grandaughter. We love creating memories for her, instead of just buying her,stuff. From the train museum and movies to the beautiful Yuba and many lakes in the area, to the festivals and events. We are always on the lookout for something new. Our time is usually not complete without a trip to the local ice cream parlor.

    To pick a favorite would be incredibly hard 🙂

  37. Susan
    Susan says:

    First, thank you for this awesome list. Our family has only been in Grass Valley for 2 years, so this list will help make the summer amazing.
    Our favorite summertime activities are visiting Lazy Dog for some delicious ice cream, gelato, Italian ice or some yummy chocolate.
    Our other fav is simply taking a nice air conditioned drive. We call these CAS adventures (initials for our family names). We grab snacks and head out to discover anything that this great place has to offer. We end up feeling like we have taken a mini vacation and have found many great restaurants, creeks, fun wildlife and much more this way.
    We LOVE this area we now call home.

  38. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    We love the children’s festival every July, it is a highlight of our summer each year.

  39. Kaylani Bush
    Kaylani Bush says:

    I’ve been looking forward to this article. As you do all the research for me and I truly appreciate it. My kids love anything associated with water or delicious food.

  40. Lindi Pagan
    Lindi Pagan says:

    What a great article! Thank-you so much! We love outdoor activities and the hikes you mentioned are great! We also love the library, and their summer program is awesome!

  41. Christa
    Christa says:

    Im so thankful I came across this article! Our favorite family outings always involve anything in the water. Can’t wait to try some of those water holes!

  42. Sydnie Day
    Sydnie Day says:

    Love this!! We are so lucky to live in such an amazing community! Our favorite activities are definitely river time, library trips & farmer’s market at the North Star House.

  43. Frieda
    Frieda says:

    Wow, that’s quite a haul! We LOVE trying new flavors at Treats, adventures to the Yuba and camping in the mountains.

  44. Guinevere Ewing
    Guinevere Ewing says:

    Our fav is picking up what we call worlds Juiciest peaches they can only be found at the Nevada city down town farmers market and we ask for the rejects there a little cheaper that way and just as great 🙂 its not summer with out them

    • erin
      erin says:

      Love that you’re enjoying the rejects too– have you seen the Outside Inn’s free veggie cart? It’s full of lovely rejects.

    • erin
      erin says:

      Have you taken Treats ice cream to the river? (I have, with their insulated to go container). The Storytelling Festival has a great line up this year.

  45. Jennifer Crawford
    Jennifer Crawford says:

    My parents live in Grass Valley and my mom just sent this to me. I shared it on my Facebook parents group here in Sacramento and everyone has commented on how they are looking forward to visiting the area this summer. Can you tell me which swimming hole is in the main picture? Thanks so much!

    • erin
      erin says:

      Yeah! Thanks for sharing the love. The swimming hole is upstream from 49 Bridge and downstream from Hoyt’s Crossing, about a 20 minute walk up the trail.

  46. lori
    lori says:

    Took kids for the day to greenhorn campground at Rollins, easy drive off 174. Sandy beach and kids loved swimming out to the anchored deck to sun or jump off. Little store had great treats but you can BBQ or bring your own picnic. Lots of shade and tables. Occasionally have Iive music on the patio. We will be back! Only $8 per car load entry fee.

    • erin
      erin says:

      Great idea! Don’t forget about the new Inn Town Campground if you want to go for a family friendly overnight campout this summer?

  47. Christy
    Christy says:

    Thank you for these great ideas for activities to do this summer. We love spending time at the river and buying fresh fruits and veggies at the farmers markets.

  48. lenkaland
    lenkaland says:

    We love all the Nevada County fun! A friend was asking if we had any big trips and I realized that I like to stay right here in the summer. Our favorite is the Children’s Festival!

    • erin
      erin says:

      Thank you Lenka for the fun photos of the amazing mermaids! Looking forward to a fun filled summer (I’m sure I can do all of these things, right?).

  49. Lily
    Lily says:

    The Children’s Festival is the most unique event we have here, I think! We’ve gone each year and it blows my mind what the lovely volunteers do for the kids. It’s the one event my daughter asked about doing this summer, so we will definitely be there!

    • erin
      erin says:

      Thanks Lily, I agree that the Children’s Festival is a unique event in our community. Who doesn’t love a fire breathing dragon!!!

  50. Sarah Brown
    Sarah Brown says:

    I think our family’s favorite summer activity in Nevada County is the Nevada County Fair. It’s our favorite one, even better than the CA State Fair. We love the setting and always enjoying entering our drawings. We enjoy living in Nevada County!

  51. Tammi G.
    Tammi G. says:

    Swimming, ice cream, kayaking, and traveling… this is a great list, thanks for the post! Shared it on my FB page

  52. meshawn
    meshawn says:

    I love this list! We love hanging out at bridgeport and always look forward to the children’s festival

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