Trip Ideas

Donner Lake sunset

7 Summer Family Fun Activities in Nevada County, CA

Whether your family is looking for a summer getaway or is planning ahead here's 7 fun family activities that both adults and kids can enjoy.

Tips & Resources

Especially in the early & mid season the snow melt can make the Yuba River Flow incredibly dangerous. Don’t be a statistic. If it looks dangerous instead hit up one of our pools or alpine lakes listed below.

The alpine lakes are fed by snowmelt, and if you visit the ones surrounding Truckee and Lake Tahoe be aware that Cold Water shock is a serious issue and life jackets lives. For more tips on how to enjoy it safely be sure to read Visit Truckee-Tahoe’s guide to Cold Water Safety.

If you do visit the South Yuba River please read the SYRCL tips & tricks page to learn where to access and how to access the water.

By Alex Silgalis

Looking for something fun to do with the kids during your summer break? Just a short drive away to the Sierra foothills is a family fun paradise, with so much to do for kids of all ages! Whether you want to get away from it all or be in the thick of things, Nevada County, CA has you covered. Here are some great activities that are fun for the whole family:

1. Camping

Airstream at Inn Town Campground
Photo by: Erin Thiem Image appears courtesy: Inn Town Campground

An oldie but a goodie, family camping trips are making a comeback, and Nevada County has it all! From primitive camp sites deep in Tahoe National Forest to glamping at Inn Town Campground a short walk from historic Downtown Nevada City, you will find the camping experience of your dreams right here just a short drive away. We also have a wide variety of camping options. Learn more HERE about camping opportunities in Nevada County.

2. Spend A Day In Truckee

insides Lake Tahoe's only kids museum - KidZone
Image appears courtesy: KidZone Museum

Truckee is bursting with fantastic spots for kids to have a blast. Immerse yourself in nature and set off along one of Truckee’s inclusive trails, like the Ridgeline Nature Trail, welcoming strollers, wheelchairs, and strider bikes. Afterward, head to Truckee River Regional Park for some riverside playtime. On select Saturdays from 11 am to 2 pm, the kids can even enjoy a train ride around the park.

Or delve into the wonders of the KidZone Museum, where children up to age 7 can embark on a magical journey of science, imagination, and discovery. From fairy tales to nature and science, this museum offers hands-on fun experiences that kids love.

Looking for more ideas? Check out Truckee’s four-day early summer family itinerary for even more adventures!

3. Dive Into Summer Festivals

people strolling through First Friday Artwalks in Nevada City California at dusk
Image appears courtesy: Nevada City Chamber of Commerce

If there’s one way to put an exclamation point to your summer, it’s by taking in the many summer festivals happening in Nevada County. Weekly events such as Truckee Thursdays and Art Walk Fridays allow you to sample the community’s culture. Then there are the annual events such as the “queen of storytelling festivals” in June and one of the ten best rural county fairs in the United States that takes place on August 7-11, 2024, at the beautiful Nevada County Fairgrounds

4. Ice Cream Tour!

deliciously decadent ice cream sandwiches in Nevada City CA
Image appears courtesy: Treats Of Nevada City

Nevada County has so many delicious treat options, and most are independent, family-owned parlors with unique flavors. Treats in Nevada City creates unique combinations using locally sourced ingredients, and Lazy Dog Chocolateria is a vision of our childhood fantasies, with handmade candy, ice cream gelato, and more. Don’t forget the newest addition to the ice cream landscape CoCo’s Candy and Creamery in Grass Valley. This charming spot features their own freshly made ice cream and the unique opportunity to buy freshly dipped ice cream bars. If fro yo is more your thing, visit Culture Shock for a sweet treat with a huge selection of do-it-yourself toppings. Up in Truckee, you must make room for dessert and visit the Little Truckee Ice Creamery for some super premium all-natural ice cream made on site at their quaint scoop shop near the west end of Donner Lake. They even make their own inclusions such as caramel, brownies, cookies, pralines, chocolate chips, and more.

5. Pan for Gold

Man beside river gold panning

Grass Valley and Nevada City were built by and for the vibrant gold mining industry. Docents at Bridgeport invite you to come try your hand and see if you too can discover gold! They provide step-by-step panning lessons, share stories about the history of the area, and describe other ways the precious metal was extracted during the California Gold Rush, such as hard rock mining and hydraulic mining. Gold panning demonstrations at Bridgeport will go from 12-2 p.m. every weekend and holiday through Labor Day, Sept. 2.

6. Go Outside and Play

Hiking on the PCT in Nevada county

It’s summer, so get outside and play. Whether you like bikingboatinghorseback ridingfishing, or just exploring the great outdoors, we have so much to do for the outdoor recreation enthusiast. There’s also endless miles of hiking trails, both urban and remote, waiting for you to discover.

7. Swimming

Scott Flat Lake“, by TravisThurston, licensed under CC BY 3.0

Nothing says summer like a day in the water, and Nevada County is filled with opportunities to swim. If you’re visiting in the early and mid summer months be aware that the snow melt can make the Yuba River Flow incredibly dangerous. Before you make the leap into the Yuba, be sure to read our Swimming Holes – Do’s & Don’ts. If it looks risky have a plan B such as visiting one of the several lakes in the region such as Donner Lake, Scotts Flat Lake or lounge by the pool instead.

So what are you waiting for?


Alex Silgalis

Alex founded Local Freshies® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.

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