Nevada City: Let the Good Times Roll!

MARDI GRAS, OR “FAT TUESDAY,” is celebrated annually around the world—in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Nice, France; and New Orleans. In the “Big Easy,” hundreds of thousands of people crowd the streets.

The foothills has its own Mardi Gras celebration February 9-10 in colorful Nevada City, just named one of the best “river towns” in America by Outside magazine. “Nevada City has all the outdoorsy stuff but also some seriously rooted heart and soul,” says resident Mike Mooers.

Nevada City is a perfect “snowless escape” for Mardi Gras or any winter weekend. The restaurants; wine tasting rooms (Indian Springs, Nevada City Winery, Szabo and Clavey); and craft-brew gathering places (Matteo’s Public and ol’ Republic Brewery) are hopping. Live music is playing at Matteo’s.

Now in its 12th year, Ike’s Quarter Café serves the best New Orleans-style food in the foothills, with fresh, local, organic ingredients. (Read about Chef-Owner Ike Frazee, a “real-food” pioneer, at SierraCulture.com).

Ike’s menu includes Creole gumbo, Po’ boys, blackened catfish, Jambalaya (including a vegetarian version), red beans and rice, and prawn Etouffee all year long.

Matteo’s also serves Jambalaya. Nevada City’s Mardi Gras celebration begins Saturday night, February 9, with a masquerade ball from 8 p.m.-midnight, featuring a live band in the historic Miners Foundry.

Sunday, a Mardi Gras Street Fair is held on N. Pine St., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. There’s food, drink, crafts and clothing.

A Mardi Gras Parade begins at 2 p.m. Sunday, moving down Broad Street. Merry spectators of all ages line the parade route dressed in festive attire. Gaily masked revelers parade through the historic district handing out beads, toys and trinkets.

New this year, a festive after-the-parade “Carnevale” is at Miners Foundry from 3-6 p.m. Food, drinks, specialty coffees and Hurricane cocktails are available.

For more information, visit NevadaCityChamber.com and GoNevadaCounty.com.

For a photo gallery of Mardi Gras, click here.

Ski “up the hill”

Nevada City is an outdoor paradise, with hiking, mountain biking, summertime lounging at the Yuba River— and in winter, nearby skiing and snowboarding.

“While Nevada City isn’t a ski-in, ski-out destination, there’s something to be said for coming to hang out in the snow-free zone and driving up the hill for amazing skiing,” says Erin Thiem, owner of the Outside Inn and author of an informative travel blog OutsideInn.com/blog.

From Nevada City, you can go to Sugar Bowl, Boreal, Donner Ski Ranch, Soda Springs and Royal Gorge within an hour. (Check road conditions on scenic Hwy. 20 before you go at dot.ca.gov.

In town, you can enjoy all that Nevada City has to offer. The ambiance is akin to historic Park City, Utah, founded as a silver-mining town.

(photo credit: Gary Swenor; painting: Roseanne Burke)

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