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Visit a Gold Country town filled with history—and plenty of surprises

  • Summary
  • Official Resources
  • Things to do
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  • Places to Eat & Drink

Over its long history, the Gold Country town of Jackson earned the unique distinction of serving as the county seat for not one but two California counties: Calaveras from 1850 to 1852 and Amador since 1854. Come to Jackson today and you’ll find a host of historic attractions in a classic Gold Rush town that makes an ideal base for exploring Amador County, including the area’s acclaimed wine country.

History of Jackson

Jackson has a beautifully preserved 150-year-old Main Street, which is commanded by the town’s most famous landmark: the National Hotel. Established in 1852 and rebuilt following an 1862 fire, the hotel has been beautifully restored to its Victorian-era grandeur. Rooms and suites blend the atmosphere of a bygone time with modern amenities, and some rooms, most notably the Honeymoon Suite, open to a balcony overlooking Main Street.

Download a walking tour to 45 sites in downtown Jackson—a national historic district—to learn more about the city’s colorful past. Points of interest include St. Sava’s Serbian Orthodox Church, the first Serbian Orthodox Church in North America and a National Historic Landmark since 1986. Also on the tour is a stately 1859 Greek Revival–style building, the former residence of an early settler, that’s now home to the Amador County Museum. Stop in for exhibits on Gold Rush history and to see Native American artifacts before taking a stroll through the lovely gardens.

A couple miles from downtown, head to the Kennedy Gold Mine, once one of the world’s deepest gold mines with depths to nearly 6,000 feet. More than $34 million worth of gold was extracted at the mine before operations shut down in 1942. Take your pick of guided or self-guided tours to see such surviving structures as the grand office building and the mine’s towering head frame.

In a valley about 15 minutes from Jackson, Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park preserves North America’s largest collection of bedrock mortars, which the area’s indigenous people used to pound and grind acorns and seeds. The Chaw’se Regional Indian Museum on park grounds tells the story of the local Miwok people and has a reconstruction of a native village.

More Things to Do in Jackson

You wouldn’t expect professional theater at an old gold mine but Jackson’s Main Street Theatre Works has staged productions in an amphitheater at the Kennedy Mine for more than 25 years.

There are more surprises on the second floor above Hein & Company Bookstore, Main Street’s enormous indie bookseller (650,000 books!). Jackson is a long, long way from London, but Baker Street West is where you’ll find eight themed shops inspired by Sherlock Holmes. Come here for readings of Holmes stories and to take docent tours of a re-creation of the great detective’s flat.

If you’re looking for nightlife (beyond gazing out at the foothills’ star-filled skies), the Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort is the place to go. Try your luck on the slots (the casino has 1,700 machines in all, including video poker), or test your Blackjack and Texas Hold ‘em skills at the tables. The resort’s dining options range from the Lone Wolf Restaurant & Lounge, where you can pair a succulent ribeye with one of Amador County’s famed Zinfandels, to the noodle specialties at the casual Pacific Grill.

Where to Eat in Jackson

Start the day with a farm-fresh breakfast at Rosebud’s Café and bite into such favorites as a delectable croque madame with bacon, egg, and caramelized onion on challah. The restaurant raises its own pastured eggs and grows much of its own produce. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a made-to-order beignet!

Opened in 1921 by Teresa Bassignani, an Italian immigrant who arrived in the Gold Country as the bride of a miner, Teresa’s Place is a local landmark for such homestyle classics as chicken Parmesan and linguine and clams. Saluti’s is another popular Jackson destination for Italian, while Taste of Himalaya brings top-notch, top-of-the-world flavors from India and Nepal to the area. The Highway House Restaurant & Bar is a beloved Jackson spot thanks to its cinnamon-roll French toast and an assortment of eggs Benedict. And finally, Jackson’s Serbian tradition lives on at the Blue Door Bakery, where you have to arrive early to score one of the sweet—and much coveted—morning buns.

Featured Jackson

California Winery

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