Gold isn’t the only treasure hidden underground in this part of the world. Natural caves are another remarkable find in the region. Kids love scrambling down into an unseen world of strange formations and—when you switch off the flashlights—total darkness. Naturally cool caves can also be an inviting escape from the region’s hot summer days.
This National Natural Landmark, a little more than an hour’s drive east of Sacramento, offers a kid-friendly 50-minute Walk Tour, letting you see varied rock formations, including stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, and rare delicate helictite crystals. Do your kids have energy to burn? Ages 8 and up can join you on a 3-hour, above-ground Labyrinth Tour; kids get to gear up with hard hats and safety goggles, then scramble, slide, climb, and slither through rock formations uncovered by hydraulic mining in the 19th century.
For tamer discoveries, try gemstone mining (using screen-bottomed boxes to sift for treasures) and gold panning, also offered on site.