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Exploring Gold Country

Get to know this California region that's brimming with historic charm, modern cuisine, and scenic outdoor experiences

Much of California's history is inextricably tied to the region that lies between the San Francisco Bay Area and the Sierra Foothills. Gold Country takes its name from the famous historical period that kicked off in 1848 with a Coloma carpenter's discovery of gold flakes in the American River. Today, this thriving collection of river cities and towns offers visitors insight into the past as well as a delicious taste of the present.

On this episode of the California Now Podcast, host Soterios Johnson uncovers some of the best attractions Gold Country has to offer, starting with a quick history lesson from Sacramento City Historian Marcia Eymann. She talks about the thriving Native American communities of the pre-Gold Rush era, and continues on to discuss the Sacramento of today, a port city known as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital.

Johnson next speaks with travel blogger Preethi Chandrasekhar to get a first-time visitor's perspective of the region. Chandrasekhar immersed herself in Gold Country, visiting historic hotels, unique shopping destinations, and unforgettable outdoor spaces. Finally, Johnson connects with travel insider Nick Leonti, who offers up an impressive rundown of good eats—including craft beer and craft cider— that dot Sacramento and surrounding towns.


Marcia Eymann, City Historian at the Center for Sacramento History

Preethi Chandrasekhar, editor of The Eager Traveler blog

Nick Leonti, owner of the Leonti Group


From the thriving Native American communities that settled in and around Sacramento hundreds of years ago to its evolution as a port city, Marcia Eymann says there are many exciting ways to explore the history of this region.


Sutter's Fort State Historic Park

California Indian Museum & Cultural Center

West Sacramento

American River Parkway

Old Sacramento


California State Railroad Museum

Sacramento History Museum Underground Tours

Sacramento Historic Old City Cemetery

California State Capitol

Vietnam Memorial

Preethi Chandrasekhar says she'd expected to see charming small towns on her first visit to Gold Country, but was pleasantly surprised to find so much more—including excellent dining, shopping, and hiking.


El Dorado County

Historic Cary House Hotel

Winterhill Olive Oil

Dedrick's Cheese

Bowtie Barber Shop

Sweetie Pies

Larson Apple Barn


Murphys Pour House

Newsome Harlow Wines

Ironstone Vineyards

Moon Alley

Calaveras Big Trees State Park


Tuolumne County

Dragoon Gulch Trail


Columbia Historic State Park

The Royal Olive Manor

Diamondback Grill

El Arroyo Cantina and Mexican Kitchen


The Service Station

National Hotel and Restaurant

Yosemite National Park

Nick Leonti says there's nothing better than relaxing on one of the capital city's many outdoor dining patios and enjoying the food, brews, and views.

Tank House BBQ and Bar

The Jungle Bird

The Shack


Corti Brothers


The Firehouse Restaurant

Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates

Rick's Dessert Diner

Urban Roots Brewery & Smokehouse

Two Rivers Cider

Nitty's Cider

Common Cider Co.

North Canyon Cider Company


Apple Hill

Moonraker Brewing Co.

Knee Deep Brewing Co.

Mraz Brewing Company

La Crosta Pizza Bar

Devil May Care Ice Cream

The Barn

Drake's Brewing

Curtis Park

Pangaea Bier Cafe

Gunther's Ice Cream

About the Host

Soterios Johnson, formerly the local host of National Public Radio’s Morning Edition on radio station WNYC, moved from New York City to Davis, Calif., in 2016 and is just getting to know his surroundings. By combining his journalistic instincts with his personal curiosity, Johnson will use the California Now platform to develop a deeper understanding of his adopted home.

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