Travels in and around Sacramento, California

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California tourists know big city names like Sacramento, but a visit to Northern California offers more than one opportunity to enjoy the area. A great place for a classic road trip, Camino, Coloma, Columbia, Jamestown, Placerville, Sonora, and  Tuolumne County are full of attractions just around the next bend in the road.

Sacramento

Sacramento is one of California’s largest cities and full of family friendly attractions. Museums dedicated to such topics as transportation, art, and history can all be found here along with shops, restaurants, and “Old Sacramento, a registered national landmark and state historic park”. With the diverse offerings there is something that will appeal to every family member.

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Trains, cars, or both? Sacramento is home to the California State Railroad Museum and California Auto Museum. Transportation and the area’s history are closely tied as the city was part of the transcontinental railroad and Pony Express. The Railroad Museum not only displays restored locomotives and train cars, they also feature “40 one-of-a kind exhibits”. Here you can learn about railroad history from 1850 to the trains we ride today. A mile down the road the Auto Museum is full of examples of more modern four wheeled transport. The collection features cars from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, originals and restorations.

california railroad

Art? The Crocker Art Museum is a perfect stop. Opening in 1885 the museum is a part of history too, the “first public art museum in the Western United States”.  Enjoy more than the art when visiting, there are also live events, tours, and classes for kids, adults, or the whole family. When planning your trip be sure to check out their Events Calendar on the site.

History? Old Town Sacramento Historic District is a living piece of the past. Shops once supplied miners in search of gold, now those historic buildings house shops and eateries that appeal to new visitors in the area. The Sacramento History Museum is there to expand your local knowledge or if you want to go back before the city was founded try the California State Indian Museum.

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California Gold Rush

Gold brought the original settlers to the region and now you can learn about the history and recapture the experience at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma Ca. James Marshall triggered the “largest migration in history” when he discovered gold in 1848. With a museum, gold panning, candle and rope making you can spend the afternoon living history.

Want more? Hangtown’s Gold Bug Park & Mine combines education and nature. Whether you take advantage of the hiking trails or investigate the two hard rock mines in the park, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about history and enjoy the Placerville countryside. Gold was becoming harder to find by 1852, this is what made mining become more popular. The only gold mines still owned by the state of California, you can take a tour into these two hard rock mines (either guided or self guided) 362 feet into Gold Bug Mine, as well as visit the black blacksmith shop, stamp mill, museum, and more.

gold mine

Looking for a full immersion into the Gold Rush? Columbia State Historic Park is the perfect answer. Costumed tour guides lead you through the preserved Mother Lode town, once the second largest city in California. Now home to an authentic stagecoach, locally made sarsaparilla soda (which is delightful and should be tried), a blacksmith’s forge, and saloon. “Columbia is a real town”, full time residents live the 1850’s lifestyle, practice the trades of the time, and you can join them to eat, drink, sleep, and be a part of living history.  Shops keep regular business hours, but the town never closes. No driving through though, cars are not allowed here. Visitors are hoofing it, by foot or horse back because this is the real deal historical experience. You can even stay overnight in guest houses and hotels, right on Main Street. This was an amazing experience, and one that you and your family will treasure.

jr ranger

Visit Apple Hill

The ranches and farms that make up Apple Hill is a top destination for food and fun. For every season, year round, they welcome visitors. From apples to berries, from pumpkins to pine trees for the holidays, Apple Hill tops the list of outdoor activities. Over 50 ranches and farms are part of Apple Hill. You can find details on the Apple Hill site. Here are the ones we visited.

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Rainbow Orchard, which serves their specialty, “Hot Apple Cider Donuts”, is known for their Bake Shop and produce. A 3rd generation family farm they grow apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, and blueberries. Their farmers market is open in the fall, “Labor Day weekend and daily from September 10 through Thanksgiving weekend.” If you are looking for blueberry picking the season runs from early/mid June through mid/late July, and they are open Friday through Sunday.

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Harris Tree Farm has been operating in the community for over 150 years and 7 generations since 1857. Open all year from 9:30-4:30 this is the spot for fruits and vegetables, fresh flowers, or picking a pumpkin or Christmas tree depending on the season.  If you get hungry a visit to Irene’s Kitchen will hook you up with pies, turnovers, jams, and butters. Their motto, “We believe in operating a sustainable farm and forest. By using local sustainably produced products you support a healthier economy, environment and community which benefits us all.” stands out.

apple picking

Abel’s Apple Acres combines beautiful views, hot BBQ, homemade fudge, candies, and of course apples. Best of all they are dog friendly, so if you are looking for a place for the whole family, two legged or four, this is it. Pony rides, the pumpkin patch, and a walk through maze add to the time spent enjoying all the edible goodies.  They are open to visitors “Labor Day Weekend to 3PM Christmas Eve”.  

 

 

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Comments

  1. Sacramento is a city I don’t hear too much about compared to some others in California. Wow, so many fun things to see and do, it would be fun to spend some time there!

  2. This looks like a great place to visit.

  3. Yeah I heard that Sacramento is old mining country – is it? Will have to go and check it out myself, can’t wait, thanks for the guide!

  4. My grandsons have been learning about Native Americans this year in school and would love to visit the California State Indian Museum!

  5. Good to know about these things to enjoy in Sacramento. My friend moved there last year and hopefully, we get to visit them soon and check those things out.

  6. Maggie Miller says:

    That looks like so much fun! My son who is now a teen was a Thomas the Tank FANATIC AND STILL to this day we love to see trains. I would have a blast there with the kids! Great pictures too – looks like there are multiple picture opportunities there to capture the memories!

  7. This is one place I’ve always wanted to go. Those photos look so wonderful. Looks like an amazing place to be.

  8. We lived in Northern Cali for years and have visited Sacramento several times. I never knew Apple Hill was comprised of so many farms. We’ve only visited a handful of the orchards and would love to visit a few more

  9. Living in NYC, it’s rare I get out to California. I’d love to get out to Sacramento some day and check out all the scenes!

  10. I live in Los Angeles. I can honestly say, I don’t think I have ever been to Sacramento before!! I think it’s something I should do in the near future since, it’s pretty dang close!

  11. Ann F. Snook-Moreau says:

    Sacramento looks like a fun place to learn about history. It seems like it has a slower pace, which I think would surprise some people about California!

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