Frommer'sFrommer's
    32 Activities

    The Riches of California's Gold Country

    The Riches of California's Gold Country
    Starts from

    Sacramento

    Transportation

    By Car

    Guidance

    Self-Guided

    Activities

    32

    Duration

    4 days

    Length

    370 mi

    In partnership with

    Visit California

    Guide details

    Starts from

    Sacramento

    Transportation

    By Car

    Guidance

    Self-Guided

    Duration

    4 days

    Length

    370 mi

    History and CultureNatural AttractionsGastronomy
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    Created By:

    Highlights

    • Follow the winding Highway 49 through rolling hills, mountain passes, and former boomtowns.
    • Explore the legacy of Johnny Cash.
    • Enjoy one of the oldest wine regions in the state.
    • See towering redwoods and, bizarrely enough, a forest full of rubber chickens.
    The Gold Rush and its history are what the area is known for, but when the gold mines tapped out within a decade, residents turned to Mother Nature's riches, planting vineyards and orchards. The overlooked and underrated Shenandoah Valley is an uncrowded alternative to the Napa and Sonoma wine regions, and the Apple Hill area produces some of the best fruit in the West.

    Categories

    The Gold Rush and its history are what the area is known for, but when the gold mines tapped out within a decade, residents turned to Mother Nature's riches, planting vineyards and orchards. The overlooked and underrated Shenandoah Valley is an uncrowded alternative to the Napa and Sonoma wine regions, and the Apple Hill area produces some of the best fruit in the West.

    In partnership with

    Visit California
    Frommer's Travel Guides

    Frommer's Travel Guides

    • Follow the winding Highway 49 through rolling hills, mountain passes, and former boomtowns.
    • Explore the legacy of Johnny Cash.
    • Enjoy one of the oldest wine regions in the state.
    • See towering redwoods and, bizarrely enough, a forest full of rubber chickens.

    Travel itinerary

    Traveling East to Explore How the West Was Won
    10 Activities

    Day 1

    65 mi0.1 mi

    Traveling East to Explore How the West Was Won

    Explore California's origin story through the settlement that was a catalyst for the Gold Rush, as well as a museum focused on the workers and machines that carved a railroad path through the Sierra. Stroll a path dedicated to country superstar Johnny Cash and his impact on a remote prison, then walk the streets of one of the state's most historical towns, where some of the buildings are unchanged from pioneer times. Photo credit: Courtesy That Dam Place
    Exploring the Sierra Foothills, From Gold Rush to Grapes
    7 Activities

    Day 2

    73 mi

    Exploring the Sierra Foothills, From Gold Rush to Grapes

    While this region was initially built on gold, its importance as a wine-producing area is increasing. After stopping at the site that was Gold Rush ground zero, enjoy tastings at popular Gold Country wineries near Placerville and in the Shenandoah Valley wine region. Dig into hearty, downhome barbecue in El Dorado, then cross the street for elegant wine-and-chocolate pairings before a sophisticated dinner and bedding down in a Gold Rush-era Victorian hotel. Photo credit: Courtesy of Amador Cellars
    Land of Big Legends and Even Bigger Trees
    8 Activities

    Day 3

    84 mi

    Land of Big Legends and Even Bigger Trees

    After exploring the Mark Twain–infused history of Calaveras County and its jumping frogs, witness the majesty of some of the world's tallest trees. Go from high to low by descending into an ancient cavern, then explore the "rubber chicken forest" at Gold Country's quirkiest winery, and settle down for dinner where the likes of Horatio Alger and Ulysses S. Grant broke bread. Photo credit: Maria Camillo
    A Taste of Tuolumne County, From Gold Panning to Riding the Rails
    7 Activities

    Day 4

    149 mi

    A Taste of Tuolumne County, From Gold Panning to Riding the Rails

    After a jolt of java, visit one of the region's most historic towns, followed by a surprising tasting room where apples are the fruit of the vine, and a chance to explore historic Jamestown, where the local state park is dedicated to steam engines and the role they played in Gold Country history. Photo credit: Spud Hilton
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