With throw-back charm and a mine-full of historic artefacts, this park presents the Gold Rush in living, breathing colour. Costumed docents do more than lead tours of this carefully preserved Mother Lode town—the state’s second largest city at the peak of the Gold Rush; they actually live and work here in a variety of period-appropriate shops and trades. Catch a ride on an authentic stagecoach, order a cold, locally made sarsaparilla soda in a Western-style saloon, or feel the heat in a working blacksmith's forge. There’s also a Wells Fargo express office and other relics of California's early mining days. The town even sounds authentic—no cars allowed here, though you will hear the clip-clop of horses.
Free historical tours of the park depart from the museum weekends at 11am. (weekdays too, mid-June until Labor Day in early September). Gold Rush Days take place on 2nd Saturday afternoons; costumed docents lead hands-on crafts and special tours, and kids can try their hand at gold-panning.
Insider's Tip: Summer can get hot and weekends become crowded, so aim for early mornings during the week if you can.
Bumping up against the west side of the Sierra Nevada Range, on California’s eastern side, the Sierra foothills that make up the Gold Country are California classics.
Discovery of gold in 1848 sparked the largest mass migration in U.S. history, with more than 300,000 pioneers heading west.
Here, the state’s past, present and future merge into one unforgettable destination. Pan for gold like a pioneer, bike through meadow and oak countryside and raft a rapid filled river, then explore historic towns with Old West architecture and a new generation of pioneers, opening up outstanding wineries, farm to table restaurants, inviting shops and charming B&Bs.
Pluck a bit of gold from a riverbed scoured by the original ’49ers. Descend deep into the earth to check out unusual rock formations. Get your heart racing with a ride down whitewater rapids. For...
Elegant estates at the end of country roads lined with vineyards? Check. Low-key wineries housed in converted barns? Check again. Urban wine trails with hip in-town tasting rooms? Yup,...