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Courthouse Square, Sonora

Courthouse Square, Sonora
See the Toulumne County square that’s rich with Gold Rush history

The History: Some 40 miles northwest of the entrance to Yosemite National Park is Tuolumne County, incorporated in 1850 as one of California’s original 27 counties. The courthouse, of course, played a key role in the development of this essential local government. Yet the original structure, built in 1853, became dilapidated in just a few decades. The ‘new’ courthouse, designed in the Spanish Revival style and resembling the old missions of California, was completed in 1900; its foundation required 500 barrels of cement, 300 wagonloads of gravel, and 150 loads of sand. Other essential sites include the lobby of the Bradford Place Inn, an old-fashioned B&B built in 1889 as a private residence for a Wells Fargo agent; the Tuolumne County Museum, which formerly served as the jail, dating to 1866; and the Opera Hall.

Where to Play: Learn more about the area’s history at the Tuolumne County Museum; then live it by staying at the Bradford Place Inn. Dine a short walk away at Talulah’s, an Italian spot with a neighbourhood feel. Golfers should head to Saddle Creek Golf Resort, one of the top courses in northern California. And of course, you’ll want to sample some of the wineries tucked in the foothills, like Ironstone Vineyards.

Valley in California's Gold Country
Laura Flippen

Central California

Discover Gold Country

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July
Average (°C)
June - Aug
33°
High
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Sept - Nov
30°
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Dec - Feb
15°
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Mar - May
26°
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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.

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During California's Gold Rush, over 25 million ounces of gold were mined from the Sierra Nevada foothills.
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Spotlight: Sacramento

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Golden past, bright future

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Farm-fresh produce, culinary adventures

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July

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A Shop Owner in the California Gold Country town of Nevada City,
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Lorres Gold Mine

Empire Mine State Historic Park

Tour a Gold Rush mansion then go underground

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Explore an ideally situated Gold Country town with a sporty side

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Take on whitewater rapids, pan for gold and explore California history

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...

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The American River

Rush for gold, rush for adrenaline

The most popular white water-rafting river in the West, the American tumbles through the Gold Country, an inviting jumble of churning rapids, deep...

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Columbia State Historic Park

Step into the 1850s in this Gold Country gem

With throw-back charm and a mine-full of historic artefacts, this park presents the Gold Rush in living, breathing colour. Costumed docents...

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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,...

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Sip Wine in the Gold Country

Sample vintages from old vines and new varietals

The roots of old Zinfandel grapevines run deep in this north-eastern region of California, with wine making here dating back to the Gold Rush days...

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Murphys

Explore a blossoming country town with big-city appeal

Like San Francisco in the mid-1800s, Murphys was one of California’s richest boom towns, but this appealing town in Calaveras County still feels...

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Apple Hill

Wine, beer, a bliss-out spa—and juicy, sweet apples

Autumn in the Gold Country means clear blue skies, fiery red grapevines and an invigorating snap in the air. It’s apple season too, with more than...

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Jenny Ella Pfeiffer

Moaning Cavern

Walk, climb, or rappel into a subterranean wonderland

Discovered by miners in 1851, this vertical chamber near Angels Camp is so massive it is the largest public cavern in California—big enough to...

Jamestown's Railtown 1897

Jamestown

Climb aboard majestic steam trains for a cruise through the Sierra foothills

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Sutter's Fort State Historic Park was the first permanent European settlement in the Central Valley.
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Tai Power Seeff
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Trip 4 days 10 stops

California Gold

Whitewater Rafting, Tucked-Away Wineries
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