Businesses lined along downtown Bishop with views of the scenic Sierra Nevada mountains in California. By Bishopvisitor - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons.

7 Senior-Friendly Towns in California's Sierra Nevada

When it comes to living in the beautiful state of California, many can expect to pay a pretty penny. Known for major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, California has built a name for itself as being a hotspot for celebrities and tiny apartments costing well over a million dollars. But that doesn't have to be the case. While the West Coast might be the most prominent area, California's Sierra Nevada is a stunning, mountain range-lined paradise, complete with national parks, sparking lakes, and vibrant art and culture scenes. And while prices might still be a little high, you can expect your dollar to go way further, with opportunities for large home ownership being much more attainable.

Nevada City

Broad Street in Nevada City, California
Broad Street in Nevada City, California. Image credit Frank Schulenburg, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Nevada City is the perfect place to find your new community, whether you're a fan of the arts, fashion, fitness, adventuring, or cooking. For the outdoorsy, look forward to activities like flyfishing, kayaking, rafting, boating, mountain biking, and hiking. There are also nearby ski hills for a weekend getaway. Pioneer Park in town offers horseshoe pits, tennis courts, and an amphitheater. Callanan Park is located downtown and is perfect for daily strolls. You can also explore the nearby community of Grass Valley for even more options.

For the art and culture lovers, check out the Wild and Scenic Film Festival in February, or the Nevada City Film Festival in June. There is also the Center for the Arts, Onyx Theater Art House, Sierra Cinemas, Miners Foundry Cultural Center, and the Nevada Theater, the oldest existing theater on the West Coast.

Find a sense of community at events like the Earth Fest Street Fair in April, or the City Wide Sidewalk Sale in September. The County Fair is in August, and in the summer, attend the weekly farmers market. Homes in Nevada City average around $679,500.

Mammoth Lakes

A pedestrian-friendly shopping area with restaurants in downtown Mammoth Lakes
A pedestrian-friendly shopping area with restaurants in downtown Mammoth Lakes. Image credit melissamn via Shutterstock

Mammoth Lakes offers year-round fun, whether you prefer to be indoors or outdoors. In the winter, look forward to skiing at Mammoth Mountain, cross-country skiing on the trails, snowmobiling, and fishing. In the spring, enjoy wildflower hikes and even more fishing opportunities. Summer is perfect for cycling, camping, sightseeing, kayaking, swimming, horseback riding, and golfing at courses like Sierra Star and Snowcreek. And in the fall, watch the beauty of the leaves changing in one of the many parks.

More activities can be found at the indoor lane swimming pool, indoor ice rink, and Rock n Bowl. There is also a community library, cinema, and art gallery. There are yoga groups you can join, or you can look forward to the Mammoth Yoga Fest in June. Other fun events include the motocross festival in June, various music festivals, pool tournaments, and trivia nights.

Find some delicious meals at restaurants offering everything from crepes to pizza, sandwiches, burgers, ramen, and fine dining options. Mammoth Coffee Roasting Company has your caffeine needs covered as well. When it comes to shopping, there are tons of stores selling things like hardware, pet supplies, floral arrangements, fishing supplies, books, clothing, and sporting goods. There is also a Rite Aid, Busy Beez General Store, and Vons. Homes in Mammoth Lakes average around $754,000.

Tahoe City

Street view in Tahoe City, California
Street view in Tahoe City, California, via Mak Studio /

With amazing access to Lake Tahoe, those who love to fish and boat will think they're in paradise. The Tahoe City Marina makes it easy to dock, and there are plenty of fishing and sailing charters for those who want to get out on the water without owning a boat themselves. You can also kayak, or hang out on the beach.

Other nearby activities include the Tahoe City Golf Course, skiing at Palisades Tahoe, tennis courts, yoga studios, and cycling trails. The Lake Tahoe Dance Collective is perfect for those who love rhythm, and the Tahoe City Art Haus and Cinema is great for those who want to embrace culture. You can also find your new favorite group of people at the farmers market, library, or by donating your time to the humane society.

Enjoy cuisines like Mexican, French, and Italian, as well as cafes, bakeries, and creameries. Popular restaurants include Jakes on the Lake and Tahoe Tap Haus. Shops include florists, boutiques, jewelry stores, hardware stores, auto part shops, thrift stores, and even places selling more niche items like board games. You can also stop by Cobblestone Center, the main hub for shopping, or check out the downtown district.

Your health is also covered by dental clinics, spas, skincare studios, acupuncture clinics, and a hospital. there is also a vet clinic for your furry friends. Homes in Tahoe City average around $1,500,000.

Grass Valley

Main Street with a clock tower, Clock Tower Records, Sierra Star Winery, and Pete's Pizza. Grass Valley is a Gold Rush town in the Sierra Nevada foothills
Main Street with a clock tower, Clock Tower Records, Sierra Star Winery, and Pete's Pizza. Grass Valley is a Gold Rush town in the Sierra Nevada foothills, via EWY Media /

The best part about Grass Valley is its amazing downtown. Here, you can find a vibrant culture with a focus on wine, beer, and art. Check out wineries like Avanguardia Wines, Cork 49, Lucchesi Vineyards, New West Wine Co, and Sierra Star Vineyards. Breweries include places like Grass Valley Brewing Co. and Thirsty Barrel Taphouse.

Frequent restaurants offering amazing dishes from Italian, to sushi, Mexican, Middle Eastern, pizza, bistro delicacies, and of course, American comfort food. There are also plenty of bakeries and cafes, like Lazy Dog Chocolateria, and Carolines Coffee Roasters.

Get to know your new town by hanging out at places like Art Works Gallary, or the Center for the Arts. You can catch the latest flick at Del Oro Theater, or attend events like car shows, night markets, brew fests, and the holiday market.

Shop for anything you need or want at stores selling antiques, bike parts, books, records, furniture, jewelry, footwear, flowers, oils, vinegars, and so much more. There is also Safeway, and hobbie stores like Heathered Yarn Co, Wild Birds Unlimited, and Foggy Mountain Music.

Health needs are covered by a hospital, massage parlors, salons, acupuncture clinics, psychiatry and therapy practices, and fitness centers offering classic gym equipment and classes like tai chi. Homes in Grass Valley average around $599,500.


Aerial photo of Chester, California
Aerial photo of Chester, California

The town of Chester is right on Lake Almanor and offers a delightful mix of recreational activities, community, and culture. Find your people at the farmers market, or the Almanor Art Show. You can also join the Rotary Club, or become a regular at the library, which frequently has book sales as well.

For nature lovers, explore Lassen Volcanic National Park, or get out on the water at Lake Almanor. You can also opt to join a fishing charter. Golf courses include Bailey Creek Golf Course and Lake Almanor West Golf Course. Other activities include kayaking, cycling, and ice skating in the winter. There are also big events to look forward to like craft fairs, pancake breakfasts, and the tree lighting ceremony around Christmas.

Places to eat and meet with friends are abundant here, with restaurants offering menu items like Mexican food, pizza and pasta, and BBQ. Pine Shack Frosty is a perfect stop for a juicy burger, or you can grab a pick-me-up at Coffee Sation, Rusty Chandelier, or even a Dutch bakery. There is also the Peninsula Market, and Timberhouse Restaurant and Brewery.

Shop at stores offering home decor, furniture, hardware, candles, books, flowers, and clothing. Support the local thrift store, or check out the boutiques, pottery stores, and pet stores. Grab the essentials at Jeff Roes Produce and Pie Shop, or at the Olde Town Corner Store. Essential services in town include banks, dental clinics, optometry clinics, massage studios, vet clinics, nutrition practices, orthopedic clinics, psychical therapy studios, fitness centers, and a hospital. Homes in Chester average around $545,500.


Main Street of Bishop, California looking north
Main Street of Bishop, California looking north. Image Source: Shutterstock/Michael Kaercher

Bishop may be a small town, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have a healthy community filled with things to fill your day with. Outdoor activities include hiking near Mt. Whitney, skiing, mountain biking, fly fishing, and e-bike rentals. You can also play team sports like softball and tennis, or join fitness groups like water aerobics. There is also a pool, the Bishop Country Club, and a dog park so you and your pup can get some outside time together. Events to look forward to include the County Fair, Mule Fest, various music festivals, the Trout Derby, Fall Colors Car Show, and the Christmas Parade. There is also the downtown market, livestock auctions, and golf tournaments.

On less than nice days, enjoy a movie at the Bishop Twin Theater, or bowl at Back Alley Bowl and Grill. You can also find some treasures at the bookstore, art supply store, or Hi Country Market. Other shops include bike supply stores, sporting goods stores, livestock equipment suppliers, and grocers like Esmeralda Market and Gas, and Grocery Outlet.

When you don't feel like cooking at home, eat out at restaurants serving up Mexican food, Chinese food, Texas BBQ, Japanese cuisine, and sandwiches. There are also juiceries, bakeries, and cafes. Popular stops include 1903 Taphouse, and Flo's Diner, a 50's style diner with amazing throwback dishes.

Health is a priority with a psychology clinic, pharmacy, optometry center, dermatology clinic, and nearby hospital. There is also a vet clinic and dog grooming service. Getting around town is easy with transit options via ESTA, and leaving for a vacation or family event is a breeze with the local airport. Homes in Bishop average around $849,900.

Lone Pine

The town of Lone Pine with snow-capped Sierra Nevada peaks in the background.
The town of Lone Pine with snow-capped Sierra Nevada peaks in the background.

The small town of Lone Pine is completely surrounded by nature, with endless opportunities for exploration. Adventure through Sequoia National Park, or the Sequoia National Forest. There is also the Inyo National Forest, the Sierra National Forest, and Owen's Lake. Nearby as well is two more national parks, Kings Canyon National Park, and Death Valley National Park.

If you're a fan of birding or wildlife viewing, spend the afternoons at places like Billy Lake, or Pleasant Valley Reservoir. For those who love mountain biking, ride the scenic Alabama Hills trail. Fishing is prominent at hot spots like the Owen's River. Test your hiking skills on Mt. Whitney, or by treking one of the expansive parks. And for the golfers, play a game at the Mt. Whitney Golf Course. You can also explore the Gerro Gordo Ghost Town on your way to Death Valley National Park, take part in a trout fishing derby, or run and jog in the Wild Wild West Marathon.

In town, all your needs are covered by various stores and restaurants. Grab the essentials at the hardware store, supermarket, and clothing shops. There is also a laundromat, and services offering everything from automotive to HVAC, electrical, and landscaping.

Grab some hot coffee in the morning at the Alabama Hills Cafe, and some lunch at Frost Chalet, an old-fashioned fast food joint. Afterward, attend groups offering fun activities like yoga, or volunteer at places like the Lions Club, and the volunteer fire department. Homes in Lone Pine average around $372,000.

With its abundance of hospitals, community centers, and chances for neighborhood involvement and outdoor adventure, California's Sierra Nevada might just be the perfect place to build your retirement haven. Whether you're looking for a trendy, newly built apartment downtown surrounded by culture, or a ranch-style home on the outskirts of town where you can raise livestock, there's something for everybody.

  1. Home
  2. Places
  3. Cities
  4. 7 Senior-Friendly Towns in California's Sierra Nevada

More in Places