The Niles District in Fremont, California, is one of those places that most people stumble upon purely by accident, but have a hard time leaving once they get there. It would be equivalent to a child really discovering Santa’s Workshop out in the country somewhere. It is as if the residents of the area do everything they can to keep this district a secret.
You will find a tight-knit community with a small time feel, but outsiders venture here for the shopping. There are more than 40 very special stores to indulge in. Despite its small size, the Niles District knows how to host an event, as people come from all over for the Wildflower Festival and the Antique Fair.
Old Town Niles features a library, post office, an abundance of antique and craft stores and even a silent movie theater. The area was established in the 1850s to be a junction point for the Southern Pacific Railroad lines. Today, the Niles Canyon Railway travels along Alameda Creek, carrying passengers on weekend excursions. Also, many people visit Fremont, California to take a ride on the “train of lights” at holiday season. Tickets are typically sold out by the early part of October.
Fremont Gurdwara can also be found here, serving as a religious shrine to not only a large American Sikh community, but to other residents and visitors, regardless of caste or religion.
In 1912, Essanay Studios came to Niles. Broncho Billy owned this studio and made some of the most famous movies ever, right here in this local area, starring Charlie Chaplin, Ben Turpin and Wallace Beery.
Finally, in 1996, Niles was deemed an official Main Street Community, and has taken great pride in preserving this historical district.
Shops and Services
You will not find the traditional mall shopping experience with cookie-cutter name brand stores. The Niles District offers a unique blend of shopping experiences and services.
- Antiques – This area is a haven for the antique-lover. You will find 16 stores with antiques and collectables, including Cottage Charm, Keith’s Collectables and Bite & Browse, a store with a fantastic mix of country items, toys, furniture, glassware, linens and jewelry.
- Arts and Crafts – Thirteen shops cater to the artistic side of residents and visitors. Carrie Glass offers gorgeous glass-blown pieces while you can find unique Native American jewelry at The Turquoise Shop.
- Automotive – Five locally owned auto repair facilities are all found in this one area; take your pick!
- Classes – Have you ever wanted to learn to blow glass, try your luck at beadwork or finally take that self-defense class? You will find these classes and more here.
- Health and Beauty – From hair and nail salons to tennis courts to a yoga studio, there are fabulous health and beauty stores and services here.
- Home and Garden – Need slipcovers, window repair or a new floor? Five merchants are here to make your home and garden everything you envision it to be.
- Jewelry – From fine jewelry and watches to handmade items to classes and repair services, what would the Niles District be without its jewelry establishments?
Historic Sites and Museums
The Niles District is a place you can go for the day with the entire family. There are an abundance of historic sites and museums, including the Niles Canyon Railway and Museum, Shinn Historic House, Vallejo Adobe and Rose Garden and more.
In addition to all of these mentioned stores and services, the small district in Fremont, California also offers contractors, entertainment, convenience stores, lodging, pet goods and services, a library, post office, hospital, real estate and mortgage services, religious centers, schools, restaurants and delis and specialty services, including screen-printing, photography and consignment stores.
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