Fodor's Expert Review Columbia State Historic Park
Columbia is both a functioning community and a historically preserved gold-rush 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. The park also includes the Historic Fallon House Theater, a gorgeous Victorian structure where Broadway-quality shows are performed. The town's two 19th-century historic lodgings, the Fallon Hotel ($) and City Hotel ($–$$) perch you in the past; reserve a room or cottage at www.reservecalifornia.com.