Travel To Fine Foods, Alpine Beauty, Gold Rush Memories, And Bucolic Wine Country

Journey to oak-studded countryside, small towns loaded with Gold Rush history, and the grandeur of Yosemite, all framed by fine dining and exceptional vintages.

Trip length: 3 days
Total distance: 394mi/634km


. Admire Gold Rush era buildings along Main Street, now housing quaint shops and antiques stores. Don’t miss the centrally located 1865 Bell Tower, formerly the town fire alarm. Enjoy lunch at The Independent Restaurant and Bar . Head to the inviting tasting room at Holly’s Hill Vineyards , known for Rhone varietals. INFO El Dorado County Visitors Authority ; 800/457-6279

SONORA (76mi/122km; 1hr 49min). Tour nearby (and fascinating) Columbia State Historic Park for exceptional Gold Rush exhibits. Recharge at Emberz , known for a broad menu serving wood-fired pizza, daily seafood specials, and intriguing libations, like basil margaritas and mango-madness martinis. INFO Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau ; 800/446-1333


YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (99mi/158km; 2hr 24min). The early bird reaps the solitude; rise early and make the short hike to stand alone before the misty thunder of Lower Yosemite Falls. Indulge in all manner of outdoor glory: depending on the season, you can cross-country ski or snowshoe along the valley floor, horseback ride with Yosemite Valley Stables, raft down the Merced River, tour the Valley by tram, or hike to Dewey Point for inspiring views of El Capitan. INFO Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau ; 559/683-4636

GROVELAND (83mi/133km; 2 hr 10min). Sample innovative food made with local ingredients and a Wine Spectator award-winning wine list at The Cellar Door inside the handsome and historic Groveland Hotel : when you’re finished, ask for an informal tour of this former gambling house, saloon, and ranger station. INFO Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau ; 800/446-1333


(67mi/108km; 1hr 40min). Have breakfast at Yosemite Gateway Restaurant ; reasonable prices and a kids’ menu. Visit the giant sequoias in nearby Nelder Grove  (in Sierra National Forest). In summer and fall, try Zip Yosemite , with eight zip lines letting you zoom through the canopy. INFO Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau ; 559/683-4636

(13mi/21km; 22min). Around the lake, short hikes lead to some great swimming holes in summer. In winter, cozy up with a warm drink or a glass of wine at lakefront Ducey’s on the Lake. INFO Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau ; 559/683-4636

COARSEGOLD (28mi/45km; 49min). Explore the quaint historic village, then pop into The Blue Heron Restaurant in the Yosemite Lakes Park clubhouse; it’s a pleasant place to enjoy a relaxing drink and an appetizer, or fulfill your inner carnivore with a 12-oz. ribeye. INFO Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau ; 559/683-4636

MADERA (30mi/48km; 39min). Descend from the foothills to this low-key wine country in the Central Valley, where you can follow the Madera Wine Trail  to visit over a dozen local wineries. Finish off with outstanding lasagna accompanied by a local red at family-owned (and aptly named) Vineyard Restaurant . Try the signature lasagna. INFO Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau ; 559/683-4636