Trip time: 2–3 days
California’s Gold Country offers plenty of opportunities for delightful rambles and wintertime fun.
Start in Placerville, with a hearty breakfast (indulge in the irresistible cinnamon rolls) at Sweetie Pie’s . Work off the carbs with a brisk walk along the historic main street.
577 Main St
Warm up at Apple Hill farms; stop at Boa Vista Orchards (open year-round) for hot apple cider and flaky turnovers.
2952 Carson Rd
Explore the region’s wineries and unique grape-growing conditions: steep hillsides, rocky soil, and exposures in all directions creating numerous microclimates. Sample local vintages at Boeger Winery , with areas for outdoor relaxing and picnicking when weather allows.
1709 Carson Rd
If you’re visiting before Christmas, select and cut down your holiday tree at local businesses like Harris Tree Farm, offering fresh baked goods or seasonal veggies and fruit along with the yuletide conifers.
2640 Blair Rd
Pollock Pines 95726
Hit the winding, scenic trail of State 49, with foothill vistas as you head north. For a cool taste of history, stop in Coloma at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park and take a walk by the banks of the American River, ice cold from the Sierra snow melt.
310 Back St
Hungry? In charming Old Town Auburn, brewpub Auburn Alehouse does you right with hearty fare like alehouse chili or Friday-night prime rib.
289 Washington St
Continue north to the quaint twin cities of Grass Valley and Nevada City, former mining towns where in December you’ll find delightful holiday festivals—Cornish Christmas in Grass Valley and Victorian Christmas in Nevada City. www.grassvalleychamber.com/HolidayEvents.aspx
While in Grass Valley, bundle up and explore the hiking trails at Empire Mine State Historic Park , site of the oldest, largest, and richest gold mine in the state, and working from 1850 to 1956.
10791 E Empire St
Grass Valley 95945
When you feel peckish, sample a pasty (meat pie)—a reminder of Grass Valley’s Cornish heritage—at Cousin Jack Pasties.
100 S. Auburn St
Grass Valley 95945
Finally, head to the northern Sierra for snow play. On the south side of State 49 at Yuba Pass, look for Yuba Pass Sno-Park, providing access to miles of cross-country ski trails as
well as groomed snowmobile tracks. http://www.ohv.parks.ca.gov/