Getting Oriented in Sacramento and the Gold Country

The Gold Country is a sizable rural destination popular with those seeking a reasonably priced escape from Southern California and the Bay Area. Sacramento, Davis, Winters, and Lodi are in enormous valleys just west of the Sierra Nevada range. Foothills communities along Highway 49 tell the gold-rush story, support the nascent wine-growing scene, or serve as gateways to Yosemite or Lake Tahoe. A few function as all three.

  • Sacramento. The capital also serves as a regional hub.
  • Davis. Agriculture meets academics in this university town.
  • Winters. A foodie haven perfect for a day trip.
  • Lodi. "Zinfandel Capital of the World" excels at many other wines.
  • Nevada City. "Queen of the Northern Mines" is a real beauty.
  • Grass Valley. Here, the Empire Mine thrived for years.
  • Auburn. Old Town charms with steep hills, cobblestone streets.
  • Coloma. The gold rush started here.
  • Placerville. Over a million people visit Apple Hill each year.
  • Plymouth. Vines date from 1869 in nearby Shenandoah Valley.
  • Amador City. Shops hold this former mining town's treasures these days.
  • Sutter Creek. Much gold-rush history unfolded here.
  • Volcano. Explorable caverns lie just outside town.
  • Jackson. Two mines produced $70 million in gold in these parts.
  • Mokelumne Hill. Rowdy miners once called "Moke Hill" home.
  • Angels Camp. Mark Twain wrote about this town's famous frog-jumping contest.
  • Murphys. Main Street's vibe is upscale but unpretentious; redwoods and caverns await nearby.
  • Columbia. Experience gold-rush living history in this throwback village.
  • Jamestown. Hollywood often films in or around Railtown 1897.

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