Sacramento and the Gold Country

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Sacramento and the Gold Country - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Andis Wines

    The elite Napa Valley consultant Philippe Melka oversees the wine making at Andis, whose contemporary, glass-and-metal production and hospitality buildings provide an appropriately refined setting to enjoy wines that raise the Sierra Foothills bar. The estate Barbera ranks among the region's most elegant, as do several single-vineyard Zinfandels. On-site winemaker Mark Fowler also crafts Sauvignon Blanc and Arinto whites (the latter grape is Portuguese) and Grenache, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and several red blends.

    11000 Shenandoah Rd., Plymouth, California, 95669, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings from $15
  • 2. Angels Camp Museum

    Learn a little bit about Mark Twain's "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County"—and Angels Camp's celebrated frog-jumping contests—at this museum's street-side facility, then head to the 3-acre spread behind it for a fascinating survey of gold rush–era mining history. The grounds include a carriage house with pre-automotive farming and passenger vehicles; another structure contains mining equipment. Outside, in its original mountings, stands the 27-foot-diameter waterwheel that powered machinery at the Angels Quartz Mine.

    753 S. Main St., Angels Camp, California, 95222, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $15
  • 3. Calaveras Big Trees State Park

    The park protects hundreds of the largest and rarest living things on the planet—magnificent giant sequoia redwood trees. Some are 3,000 years old, 90 feet around at the base, and 250 feet tall. There are campgrounds, cabin rentals, and picnic areas; wading, fishing, and sunbathing on the Stanislaus River are popular in summer. Enjoy the "three senses" trail, designated for the sight impaired, with interpretive signs in braille that guide visitors to touch the bark and encourage children to slow down and enjoy the forest in a more sensory way.

    1170 E. Hwy. 4, Arnold, California, 95223, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $10 per vehicle
  • 4. California State Railroad Museum

    Old Sacramento

    Sprawling over three floors, this museum celebrates the history of trains from their 19th-century English origins to the pre–jet age glory days of rail travel. A permanent exhibit details Chinese laborers' contributions to the transcontinental railroad's completion (Sacramento was the western terminus). Another section contains one of several gold spikes issued to commemorate the joining in Utah of the west-to-east Central Pacific and east-to-west Union Pacific lines. Up to 21 of the museum's railroad cars and engines—among them Pullman-style cars and steam locomotives—are on exhibit, and there are interactive displays and a play area for kids. Two nearby affiliated attractions (both free) worth a peek if they're open are the re-creation of the circa-1876 Central Pacific passenger station (930 Front Street) and the Huntington, Hopkins & Company Hardware exhibit (113 I Street), a facsimile of a 19th-century hardware store.

    125 I St., Sacramento, California, 95814, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $12
  • 5. Capitol


    Built between 1860 and 1874 and topped by a 128-foot gilded dome, the Capitol functions as a working museum and, since 1869, the active seat of California's government. When it's open, you can wander freely past reproductions of century-old state offices or join a guided tour. Portraits of former governors on display include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronald Reagan, Earl Warren (later Chief Justice of the United States), and Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown, whose father was also governor. Tours of the 40-acre Capitol Park, which contains a rose garden, a fragrant display of camellias (Sacramento's city flower), and more than 1,000 types of trees from around the world, take place on Sunday and Wednesday.

    1315 10th St., Sacramento, California, 95814, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed weekends
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  • 6. Cappelli Wine

    Taking a cue from European shops selling everyday wines by the tap, Marco Cappelli, a respected winemaker and consultant, opened this downtown Placerville winery and tasting room in 2023. Although his wines are inexpensive, Cappelli knows where the best Northern California grapes grow. A Clarksburg Chenin Blanc and a Fair Play Barbera ranked among his early coups, all the more so given their price: less than $15 a bottle.

    484 Main St., Placerville, California, 95667, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings from $5
  • 7. Casino Mine Ranch

    Two brothers opened this winery named for the ranch their iconoclastic great aunt—described as a cross between Annie Oakley and Zsa Zsa Gabor—purchased in 1936. The siblings added another parcel, where tastings are held in or outside a stylish terrazzo-floored, glass-walled structure with views of the lake that fronts the property. Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Tempranillo are among the strong suits; the Greco white (from a grape either Greek or southern Italian) is among the intriguing lighter wines.

    10690 Shenandoah Rd., Plymouth, California, 95669, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings from $20, Closed Tues. and Wed.
  • 8. Columbia State Historic Park

    Columbia, whose mines yielded $87 million in gold, is both a functioning community and a historically preserved town. Usually you can ride a stagecoach, pan for gold, and watch a blacksmith working at an anvil. Street musicians perform in summer. Restored or reconstructed buildings include a Wells Fargo Express office, a Masonic temple, an old-fashioned candy store, saloons, a firehouse, churches, a school, and a newspaper office. At times, all are staffed to simulate a working 1850s town. Also in the park is the Fallon House Theatre, a gorgeous Victorian structure that hosts plays and live music. The town's two reasonably priced historic lodgings, the Fallon Hotel and City Hotel, perch you in the past.

    11255 Jackson St., Columbia, California, 95310, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 9. Crocker Art Museum


    Established in 1885, Sacramento's premier fine-arts museum specializes in California art, European master drawings, and international ceramics. A highlight is the magnificent Great Canyon of the Sierra, Yosemite (1871) by Thomas Hill. Some works are displayed in two architecturally significant 19th-century structures: the original Italianate Crocker residence and a villa-like gallery. A contemporary, 125,000-square-foot space hosts outstanding traveling exhibitions.

    216 O St., Sacramento, California, 95814, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $15, Closed Mon. and Tues.
  • 10. Edio Vineyards at Delfino Farms

    Apple growers since 1964, the Delfino family occupies one of El Dorado County's most idyllic sites. Joan Delfino's apple pies and fun farm events gained the clan early notice. In the 2010s, her grandchildren started a winery named for her husband, local agricultural icon Edio Delfino. They pour their superb whites and reds in a gleaming-silver contemporary space whose patio perches over apple trees surrounded by grapevines ringed by a forest. Wine tasting takes place year-round; bakery visits, apple events, and indie concerts occur seasonally.

    3205 N. Canyon Rd., Camino, California, 95709, USA

    Sight Details

    Tasting room closed Tues. and Wed. Rate Includes: Tastings from $15
  • 11. Empire Mine State Historic Park

    Relive the days of gold, grit, and glory, when this mine was one of North America's biggest and most prosperous hard-rock gold mines. The Empire-Star Mine complex yielded an estimated 5.8 million troy ounces of gold from 367 miles of underground passages. You can walk into a mine shaft, peer into dark, deep recesses and almost imagine what it felt like to work this vast operation. The grounds have the Bourn Cottage (exquisite redwood interior; call for tour times), picnic tables, and gentle trails—perfect for a family outing.

    10791 E. Empire St., Grass Valley, California, 95945, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $5
  • 12. Holly's Hill Vineyards

    The founders of this woodsy hilltop winery 7 miles south of Apple Hill tasted Châteauneuf-du-Pape on their honeymoon, sparking a lifetime passion for Rhône wines made in classic French style. Mourvèdre is a specialty, by itself and in blends with Grenache, Syrah, or both. Carignane, Counoise, and other Rhône reds are also made, along with whites that include the Roussanne-dominant Patriarche Blanc blend. Taste these estate wines in a space with views extending 75 miles on a clear day.

    3680 Leisure La., Placerville, California, 95667, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings $10
  • 13. Lava Cap Winery

    Nineteenth-century miners knew that gold was nearby if they found the type of volcanic rocks visible everywhere on this winery's property. The rocky soils and vineyard elevations as high as 2,800 feet play pivotal roles in creating Lava Cap's fruit-forward yet elegant wines. Zinfandel, Grenache, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Sirah star among the reds, Chardonnay and Viognier among the whites. After a tasting you can picnic on the patio and enjoy Sierra foothills vistas.

    2221 Fruitridge Rd., Placerville, California, 95667, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings from $15
  • 14. Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park


    Leland Stanford, a railroad baron, California governor, and U.S. senator, expanded the original 1856 two-story row house on this site into a 19,186-square-foot mansion. The opulent space is open for touring except on days when California's governor hosts official events. After the death of Stanford's wife, Jane, Roman Catholic nuns transformed the mansion into an orphanage and later a home for teenage girls. Luckily for the restoration efforts, which began in 1986 following the state acquiring the property, the sisters had stashed many original furnishings and fixtures on the fourth floor, and the renowned photographer Eadweard Muybridge had shot images in 1872 that made clear what rooms looked like and where things belonged. Guided tours (first come, first served) depart hourly from 10 to 4.

    800 N St., Sacramento, California, 95814, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 15. Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park

    The American River's south fork slices through this park commemorating California's mining history. Trails lead from the parking lot to a statue of James Marshall with sublime views; beyond it to the north stands a working reproduction of an 1840s mill erected near where he first spotted gold. Most of Coloma lies within the park. Though crowded with tourists in summer, the town hardly resembles the mob scene it was in 1849, when 2,000 prospectors staked out claims along the streambed. Coloma's population grew to 4,000, supporting seven hotels, three banks, and many stores and other businesses. But when reserves of the precious metal dwindled, the prospectors left as quickly as they had come. Rangers give gold-panning lessons (additional fee) on most days.

    310 Back St., Coloma, California, 95613, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $10 per vehicle
  • 16. Moaning Caverns Adventure Park

    For different sorts of underground jewels, wander into an ancient limestone cave, where stalactites and stalagmites, not gold and silver, await. Take the 235-step Spiral Tour down a staircase built in 1922 into the vast main cavern, or descend farther on the Expedition Tour caving adventure. It's best to make a reservation here.

    5350 Moaning Cave Rd., Vallecito, California, 95251, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tours from $23, Closed Tues. and Wed.
  • 17. Newsome Harlow Wines

    Single-vineyard Sierra Foothills Zinfandels are the passion of Newsome Harlow's owner-winemaker Scott Klann. The ebullient Klann also makes Petite Sirah, Syrah, Carignane, and the Meritage blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals; whites include a Sauvignon Blanc on several local restaurants' wine lists. The in-town tasting room benefits from its upbeat staff, playful atmosphere, and indoor and outdoor tasting spaces.

    403 Main St., Murphys, California, 95247, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings $15
  • 18. Railtown 1897 State Historic Park

    A must for rail enthusiasts and families with kids, this is one of North America's most intact early roundhouses (maintenance facilities). You can hop aboard a steam train for a 40-minute journey—bring the dog if you'd like. The docents entertain guests with tales about the history of locomotion. Listen to the original rotor and pulleys in the engine house and take in the smell of axle grease. Walk through a genteel passenger car with dusty-green velvet seats and ornate metalwork, where Grace Kelly and Gary Cooper filmed a scene in High Noon. When offered, Polar Express excursions at Christmastime sell out quickly.

    18115 5th Ave., Jamestown, California, 95327, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Park $5, rides from $20 (includes park fee), No train rides Oct.–Mar. or weekdays (except Wed. in June and July)
  • 19. Starfield Vineyards

    Its many microclimates inspired owner-winemaker Tom Sinton to purchase a 67-acre hillside property he transformed into a showcase for wines from mostly Rhône and Italian varietals. With a nature trail, a 300-foot-long rose arbor, an events amphitheater, a lakeside pavilion, and an upper patio with views of trees near and far, the wines could have taken a back seat, but Sinton crafts them with such grace and precision that they more than match the setting and hospitality.

    2750 Jacquier Rd., Placerville, California, 95667, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings from $10
  • 20. Terre Rouge and Easton Wines

    This winery achieves success with two separate labels. Terre Rouge, which focuses on Rhône-style wines, makes some of California's most highly praised Syrahs. The Easton label specializes in high-scoring Zinfandels from old and new vines and does well with Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. You can picnic on the lawn here.

    10801 Dickson Rd., Plymouth, California, 95669, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings from $10, Closed Tues.

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