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Auburn

Explore the sporty Gold Country town with a booming local beer-and-wine scene

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History and modern culture merge with outdoor adventure in this appealing town on the west side of the Sierra Nevada. While Auburn has long been an easy pit stop for travelers heading to and from Lake Tahoe’s north shore, the town has plenty of reasons on its own for sticking around for a spell—especially if you like to move. Auburn claims to be home to one of the most challenging and historic endurance sports events in the world: the prestigious 100-mile Western States trail-running race. The area is also a mecca for mountain bikers, hikers, and horseback riders, who all take advantage of trails lacing the Auburn State Recreation Area, which protects the confluence of the North and Middle Forks of the American River (both forks are popular whitewater rafting destinations).

As more vintners join the “Gold Crush”—a local reference to Placer County’s growing number of wineries—so does the chance to relax at nearby tasting rooms, where the guy or gal pouring the wine is often the winemaker too.

In addition to the region’s bustling wine scene, two award-winning breweries have put Auburn on the map when it comes to the craft beer boom. Moonraker Brewing Co. has emerged as one of Gold Country’s hottest brewers, best known for its Northeast-style IPAs (commonly called “hazy IPAs”). Its tasting room and brewery features indoor and outdoor seating with food trucks. Just a short walk away, Knee Deep is a popular microbrewery known for its West Coast–style IPAs. Like Moonraker, it offers a welcoming, dog- and kid-friendly atmosphere.

Good beers and wines attract good restaurants, and Auburn has a bumper crop lining the streets in the handsome Old Town district. Drop by Auburn Alehouse for craft beers and maybe a Shanghai Lettuce Wrap or fish-and-shrimp tacos, or Old Town Pizza for one of their indulgent deep-dish pies. Art galleries and shops selling antiques and collectibles abound. Wine grapes aren’t the only crop that grows in the area; citrus varieties thrive here too, and you can get your fix at the annual Mountain Mandarin Festival, held in late fall at Auburn’s Gold Country Fairgrounds.

It’s not difficult to find comfortable lodging in Auburn, as there are numerous hotels, but for accommodations steeped in history, book a stay at the Park Victoria. This 1874 mansion, which underwent meticulous renovations in 2016 to restore it to its original grandeur, has six luxurious suites, each named after an illustrious Auburnite. Another very Gold Country option is the bed-and-breakfast Power’s Mansion Inn, an 1880s Victorian home built by a goldmine magnate who often hosted a young mine engineer named Herbert Hoover.

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