California Gold Rush Towns

Quaint Gold Rush Towns Offer 21st Century Twists


Downtown Auburn, California – Photo by Jana

What do you think of when you imagine California’s Gold Rush towns? Probably decrepit structures, museums filled with dusty miner’s relics, and maybe the opportunity to do a little gold panning.

You wouldn’t exactly be wrong; the Gold Rush towns of the Sierra Nevada foothills maintain much of their original mid-1800s character, and anyone who calls himself or herself a history buff would be impressed by the ’49ers’ very visible legacy.

Walk down any Main Street in the Mother Lode, and you’ll see what we mean. McDonald’s and Starbucks are conspicously absent. Instead you’ll glimpse a tableau of restored Victorian buildings and balconies adorned with old-fashioned bunting, perhaps with a horse and carriage parked out front.

But appearances can be deceiving! California Gold Rush towns may look antiquated, but within their city limits beats the heart of a hipster.

Nowhere else can you find a more perfect blend of history and contemporary delights. Whether you’re visiting Placerville, Angels Camp, Nevada City, or any of several other Gold Rush towns, you’ll be blown away by all there is to see and do.

Browse in the many museums. Tour the Mother Lode’s most haunted buildings (no shortage of ghosts here!). Peruse art collections. Shop for unique home-decor items. Dine at some of the most fabulous restaurants in Northern California. Stay at a historic hotel or bed and breakfast. Explore nearby caves. Attend a live theatrical performance or world-class concert. The list goes on and on.

What you might not know about these Gold Rush towns is that they’re also gateways to California’s most interesting wine region. The Sierra Nevada foothills have long been associated with great winemaking, but it seems the secret’s just getting out.

Beautiful wineries with award-winning wines dot the entire landscape, and you’ll find the whole wine tasting experience extremely laid-back and friendly. Most tasting rooms don’t charge, and you’re likely to strike up interesting conversations with the vintners themselves.

So what are you waiting for? Explore California’s Gold Rush towns. See how rich they are in history and culture. Marvel at the fact that there areno places quite like them anywhere else in the world.

Don’t know where to begin? We’ve put together a list of the major Gold Rush towns, along with what we consider to be their Top 10 must-sees and must-dos. Our list starts with Gold Rush towns north of Interstate 80 and works its way south following Historic Highway 49 and spanning several counties including Placer, Amador, and Calaveras.

Take a look, and start mapping your itinerary. We guarantee you’ll catch “gold fever!”

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