5 Counties Worth Visiting in Gold Country – Pt. 4 Calaveras County

Destination 4 in my Gold Country series is Calaveras County. Located a little further inland and north, this county has a whole lot to offer.

Downtown Angels Camp.

If you’re visiting the area for the first time, you may be wondering why there are so many frog-related items, signage, etc. in the area and more specifically in the city of Angels Camp. The love affair with frogs dates back to the publication of Mark Twain‘s 1865 short story called The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, which was based on a true story about a local gambler named Jim Smiley used to organize some frog jumping bets.  And since 1928, the county has been organizing an annual Jumping Frog Jubilee, which has now grown into an international frog jumping contest. It is the longest running and biggest county fair in the area with more than 50 000 attendees, farm exhibits, cake baking, free entertainment, rodeos, demolition derbys and of course, a frog jumping contest.

But frog jumping isn’t the only thing the county is renown for, the county is also home to 100 miles of hiking trails as well as one of the largest reservoirs in California. Outdoor recreation is one of the main draws of the area, with the presence of river rafting, cycling and equestrian trails in the area. The Calaveras Big Trees State Park is where the sequoias were found in 1853.

The Moaning Cavern Adventure Park is also a big draw in the area. The park offers not only a cavern tour but also the opportunity zip line. The cavern is California’s deepest cave chamber, it takes you sixteen stories underground via a spiral staircase. The cavern tour teaches you the history and geology of the cavern including how the massive stalagmites and flowstones formed and how people first explored the cave. Lengthier tours are also available for those seeking to climb, crawl and squeeze themselves through wilder areas of the cave.

The zip line is located just a few steps away from the cavern and offers a twin 1/4 mile zip line experience with incredible views of the local valley. It’s a great activity to do with the entire family.

One of the main towns of the county, Murphys is recognized as a culinary centre with a large offering of independent restaurants and shops. There are more than two dozen wine tasting rooms just on Main Street. Murphys is also the birthplace of local favourite Gold Country Roasters, which is THE place for coffee in the county and beyond.

All of the local shops and restaurant in Murphys have been preserved so well.

In addition to attracting the outdoor and culinary types, the towns of Murphys, Angels Camp and Arnold are also a very popular destination for the motorcycle community. Hundreds of motorcyclists cruise around the windy country roads of the county and populate the roads throughout the year.

Just some of the hundreds of motorcycles that roam through the area every week.

For more information on Calaveras County, go here.

Check back tomorrow for my final Gold Country destination – Tuolumne County.

5 Counties Worth Visiting in Gold Country – Pt. 3 Amador County

This week’s 3rd Gold Country destination and my personal favourite from my most recent trip to the area is Amador County.

Located in the Sierra Nevada, Amador County is home to some of the best wineries and cutest little historic villages in all of California. The beautiful rolling hills and sun-drenched area has made it a prime location for family-run wineries. Wineries such as Vino Noceto (“California’s Sangiovese Specialist”) and Iron Hub (which has the prettiest tasting room in all of California no doubt), offer award-winning food-friendly wines and the most luxurious wine tasting experience. A lot of these wineries are solar powered and use their properties to educate locals and tourists alike on the art wine making.

Vino Noceto produces 10 000 cases of wine a year and once a year, during the 1st weekend of March, they organize a “Behind the Cellar Doors” event, where the public gets to learn about the evolution of wine with tastings from the barrel, bottle to vintage wines.
This family-run winery distributes its wine only locally so paying them a visit is well worth it!

In addition to wine making, the area is renown for its top notch farm to fork restaurant selections including, Plymouth’s Taste Restaurant, which not only has vegetarian offerings but also a full vegan menu. It’s the best place for a date night or an elegant evening of fine dining. The use of local and fresh produce is key to chefs and restauranteurs in the area.

This is a pb&j sandwich done dessert style. The most delicious!

A must-visit in the area is the historic village of Sutter Creek, named after prospector John Sutter. There are tons of unique accommodations, shops and bars to check out on the village’s main drag.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the area, The Foxes Inn, is a beautiful Victorian gem dating back from the mid 19th century. Their sumptuous guest rooms take you back in time and offer a royalty-like stay. Plus, their quality chef-prepared 2-course breakfast is cooked-to-order and features some of the most delicious local produce.

You sleep like a king or queen in this vintage bed!

Outdoor enthusiasts won’t be disappointed as there is ample terrain to explore in the county. The Eldorado National Forest is a wonderful option for hiking, camping and fishing. There are a handful of lakes and reservoirs to also visit. Plus, with the county’s 10,000-foot rise in elevation, you can even do some winter activities like skiing or snowshoeing in the colder months on the slopes of the Kirkwood Mountain Resort.

Amador County is without a doubt one of the best kept secrets of Gold Country and California as a whole. An absolutely charming region!

Tomorrow, the Gold Country series continues with – Calaveras County!

5 Counties Worth Visiting in Gold Country – Pt. 2 El Dorado County

Today’s Gold Country destination is El Dorado County. The county is located entirely in the Sierra Nevada and ranges from the western foothills to the High Sierra in the east.

This is the location where gold was found for the first time!

Situated just a 45 min drive from Sacramento, El Dorado County is where James W. Marshall discovered gold in Coloma on January 24th 1848. Soon after, the population of the area exploded with miners hoping to strike it rich. Today, the area is home to more than 181 000 residents.

These days, the area is known for its wineries, 26 miles of biking and hiking trails, pristine public lands, glamping tents as well as fun outdoor water activities on the American River.

White water rafting has become a huge attraction in the area, thanks to companies like Raft California, that offer a multitude of organized excursions from a simple rafting trip to rafting and wine tasting, camping and so on. Rafting with the crew from Raft California, was hands down one of the coolest experiences of my life!

Talk about a thrilling adventure. I would go white water rafting again in a heartbeat!

The area is also filled with tons of cute farm to fork cafés such as The Argonaut, which is located just a stone’s throw from the river and the historic Sutter’s Mill Site, where gold was first found.

The first covered bridge in California was built in Coloma.

In addition to the protecting the rich history of the area, locals have worked hard at protecting the local environment and unique lands such as the Lake Tahoe area since the 1960 Winter Olympics hosted at Squaw Valley Ski Resort.

El Dorado County is an easy getaway to the Californian countryside for anyone coming from Sacramento and beyond.

For more information on El Dorado County, go here.

Tomorrow’s Destination – Amador County!

5 Counties Worth Visiting in Gold Country – Pt. 1 Sacramento

Thinking of heading to California this summer? Why not check out beautiful Gold Country? It’s now just a quick 90-min direct flight from YVR to Sacramento, thanks to Air Canada‘s new daily non-stop flight. Gold Country is without a doubt one of the most underrated areas of California. It has so much to offer – from its incredible history, to diverse landscapes, excellent wine and culinary experiences, just to name a few.

It was such a privilege to be able to take Air Canada’s inaugural flight to Sacramento!

I recently had the opportunity to explore some of Gold Country‘s most unique counties thanks to Visit California. Today we explore the 1st of 5 counties – Sacramento!

Sacramento

Did you know that Sacramento is the California’s state capital? Located right on the American River, this culturally and historically rich city offers its 500 000 residents and tourists, a plentitude of activities for history buffs, foodies, recreation enthusiasts, coolness seekers and beer drinkers. With more than 2 dozen museums, including the California State Railroad Museum (the biggest railway museum in North America) and the the Crocker Art Museum (which boast most than 18 000 works of art and is a great place for families and events!), the city of Sacramento will not only entertain you but also educate you on some of America’s most important history.

This is part of Cyrus Tilton’s exhibit entitled “The Cycle”. He was awarded the Crocker Art Museum’s inaugural John S. Knudsen prize for his overall body of work last March but sadly passed away before his exhibit was put up in the museum.

In 2019, the city will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad. Sacramento used to be the western terminus of the Pony Express (which was a mail service delivering messages, newspapers, and mail before the telegraph was established in 1861!) and then Transcontinental Railroad. The city used to be the furthest west you could go before reaching San Francisco.

Old Scaramento allows visitors to go back in time and rediscover the 1800’s. Due to serious flooding issues resulting from its proximity to the American River, Old Sac is now approximately 9 feet higher than in the 1800s. As a visitor, you can see some of the city’s remains and really get a feel for what it was like to be in an area that was bustling thanks to the Gold Rush in the 1800s.

Sacramento is a great destination for runners and cyclists because there are tons of beautiful trails to explore. The Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail leaves Old Sacramento and takes you on 32-miles along the American River. There’s also the Folsom Lake Trail than spans 34 miles and the Sacramento Northern Bike Trail, just to name a few. The city is also renown for it’s great running races such as the the CIM (a Boston qualifier event) and the American River Parkway Half Marathon.

I loved discovering cool local neighbourhoods when I travel so was excited to find out about Midtown and Lowbrau, thanks to the Sac Brew Bike tour. One thing visitors will notice is that the city is decorated with an abundance of beautiful street art. Also, the region of Sacramento has more than 60 breweries and used to be the biggest area in the world for hops before prohibition. Thanks to organizations like the Sac Brew Bike, the area is trying to bring back the hops to the city.

The entire Gold Country is renown for it’s farm to fork type-dining, a movement that sources local and fresh produces for its local consumers and restaurants. Many of Sacramento’s restaurants follow this practice, notably Lucca former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s go-to restaurant.

All in all, a visit to Sacramento will not only fill your cup of history but also culture, good food and good times!

For more information on the new Air Canada direct flight between Vancouver and Sacramento, go here. Thanks to Visit California for setting up this trip.

Tomorrow’s destination: El Dorado County!