When you think of visiting California, the first place to pop up in your head is likely without a doubt—Los Angeles. And while the City of Angels is incredible, there are so many other parts of the state worth exploring.
One region in particular is known as Gold Country; home to a wide range of beautiful places that will take your breath away.
Here’s 10 reasons why you’ll love exploring California’s Gold Country:
It’s easier to get to than you think
It’s been about a year since Air Canada has offered daily non-stop flights from Vancouver to Sacramento. This links the two cities together easily. Bonus: it’s also only a two hour flight away.
Road tripping is probably your best option when exploring the vast region. So rent a car from the airport and head out on an adventure. There’s lots to do and see along the way.
It’s rich with history
It’s not called Gold Country for nothing—it’s actually where gold was first discovered in California. In 1848, James W. Marshall was near the town of Coloma when he saw something shiny in Sutter Creek. Now, there is a gold discovery site set up in Coloma and the gold theme is evident throughout the region.
Home to charming small towns
When traveling through Gold Country, you will discover a plethora of quaint little towns just brimming with charm. One of our favourites is Old Town Auburn in Placer County. The tiny town is a destination in itself; with adorable cafes, restaurants and shops set in a secluded area near many wineries and breweries.
The cutest B&B
Speaking of Old Town Auburn, it has one of the most adorable boutique hotels and B&B’s—the Park Victorian Inn. It features six different rooms, all with their own unique theme and decor. It’s an accommodation that manages to look classy while remaining super cozy.
Also, homemade cookies await you once you check in and a hearty spread of buffet eats are put out to start your morning off right. It also has a sprawling patio, twinkling lights and the best views overlooking the serene Old Town Auburn.
Goat brewery, need we say more?
Another big draw to the area is Goathouse Brewing Company. It’s a goat farm, brewery (in a barn) and an overall wicked spot to spend an afternoon. They specialize in “farm to tap” brewing where you can also see the hop fields and orchards where all the ingredients are grown from. They don’t bottle anything, so it’s all part of the experience to go out and drink while soaking up the ambience.
Everyone comes here, from couples and friend groups to families with their kids and dogs (literally). But everyone has a great time. A rotating selection of food trucks are also available on-site.
Popular hiking destination
If you’re driving through the region, there’s lots of good places to stop and get a good sweat session in. One of the most popular routes in Placer County is the Lake Clementine Loop. It takes you through the California countryside with wildflowers and scenic river views. It also has the best finale, the gorgeous cascading waters of Rainbow Falls are waiting at the end of the trek.
If you drive through Sierra City, you have to hike part of the Pacific Crest Trail. It became super popular after the book Wild was released, and even more so after a movie was made from it. The iconic trail starts near the border of Mexico and actually ends near the BC border. But the stretch in Sierra City is the perfect place to get a feel for the trail.
River rafting galore
Another popular activity to take part in while visiting Gold Country is river rafting. Enjoy the rushing rapids along the gorgeous American River. There are different stretches of the river depending on your experience level but it’s always a good time when out on the water. If you check out the South Fork of the river, you’ll float right by Coloma (the site of the first discovery of gold in California).
Mountain bike the day away
If you’re an avid mountain biker, or just curious to try it out—you’re going to want to head to the super small town of Downieville. It’s a popular mountain biking destination and has trails suitable for all skill levels. Or, if the trails are not your thing—just biking through the town and exploring its history is a fun way to spend an afternoon in the great outdoors.
Go ‘au naturel’ (or not) at Sierra Hot Springs
One of Sierra City’s most popular attractions is its hot springs. But warning: clothing is optional here. But for the timid, they have some private bath tubs located in the middle of the woods with a tube flowing through filled with hot spring water. So basically, anyone can have their own private hot spring tub party—you know, if that’s your thing. Even if it’s not something you would typically do, it’s definitely worth it for the experience.
Lake Tahoe is a stones throw away
A more well-known destination can be found after exploring all of the above more secretive spots. Lake Tahoe is a must if you’re in the area. The mountains, lush greenery and stunning water really just can’t be beat. It’s the perfect road trip to help get you back to nature and enjoy a variety of landscapes that all have something different to offer.
California’s Gold Country is one of the states best hidden gems. If you love outdoor activities, vast wineries and breweries, as well as historical little towns—you’re going to love it.
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