3-Day Yosemite/Gold Country Itinerary
- Leave the Bay Area, Sacramento or Central Valley in the morning and head for Yosemite National Park.
- Spend the day in Yosemite, using the free trams or shuttle buses as to enjoy the splendor of the valley.
- Leave Yosemite before dark and return to Groveland.
- Dine at the rustic Evergreen Lodge near the entrance of Yosemite or continue on Hwy 120 to Groveland to the elegant Groveland Hotel, the Pine Mountain Lake Country Club, or the historic Hotel Charlotte (depending on the size of your group)
- Try to catch a performance at the Yosemite Courtyard Theatre in Groveland (summer only).
- Don’t miss the Historic Iron Door Saloon which is the oldest continuously operating saloon in California.
- Most of the lodgings in the Groveland area serve breakfast so you can leisurely eat and leave by 9:00 am to get to Columbia State Historic Park (via Hwy. 120 to Hwy. 49) by 10:30 am.
- Today, Columbia appears much as it was at the height of the gold rush circa 1850 with restaurants, saloons (Sarsaparilla a specialty), a barber shop, bank, blacksmith and business places where craftsmen may be seen working at their trades. Approximately 3 hours will acquaint you with the park.
- Stagecoach rides, horseback tours and gold panning complete the gold rush experience.
- Walking tours led by historically knowledgeable guides can be arranged through the museum.
- Columbia State Historic Park, known as the “Gem of the Southern Mines” during the Gold Rush era, still has many of the original buildings which have been preserved and are now maintained by the State.
- Take a look at the Columbia School House and attend an 1850’s class in session. Or get a map at the Museum for your “Cemetery Walk” where you learn about the tales of how these deceased families pioneered the area.
- Visit 49er Mine Supplies or Hidden Treasures Gold Mine & Matelot Gulch to learn about gold mining.
- Dine at one of the many fine restaurants in Sonora (Christopher’s Ristorante Italiano, Outlaw’s BBQ & Steakhouse, Alfredo’s, Talulah’s) or Banny’s Café and Wine Bar at the Mountain Springs Golf Resort.
- Return to your hotel.
- The next morning, after breakfast, head down to Sonora to explore this fabulous Gold-Rush era town
- While in Sonora, check out the excellent Tuolumne County Museum on Bradford Street. It is housed in the old historic jail and always has excellent exhibits, books, and records. Or visit the Veterans’ Museum or our Firemen’s History Museum.
- At the west end of Bradford is a miniature park with some mining artifacts and a picnic table. Several parks along Washington Street are also nice rest or picnic spots.
- Then head on down the road to Jamestown (or “Jimtown” as it is sometimes called) where historic buildings and antique shops abound.
- Treat yourself to some wonderful ice cream at Here’s the Scoop, famous for their over 700 different cookie cutters.
- Jimtown is also known for the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park just a few blocks south of town. The railroad has been used for over 300 movies and TV shows (especially the steam trains) including My Little Chickadee (W.C. Fields and Mae West), High Noon, Little House On the Prairie, Back to the Future III, and Unforgiven. It opens at 9:30 am and you can take a guided tour, walk around the grounds, and watch videos on the history of the railroad and the movies filmed there (closed Mondays).
- April through October the trains are running and you can take a ride if you are there on the weekend. In November the trains only run on Saturdays. Trains are available for charter as well.
- If you don’t mind driving back to the your home-base in the dark, try one of the wonderful restaurants in Jamestown such as The Willow Steakhouse & Saloon (they have a resident ghost), Historic National Hotel, Morelia Mexican Restaurant, Azzo’s or Kamm’s Chinese Restaurant.
- Of if you are heading to north or south destinations spend the night in Jamestown and continue on the next morning.
You have covered a lot of scenery and history in three days – just enough to whet your appetite for a return trip. You can later choose one of our more extended itineraries. Check our website for listings and locations of lodgings and restaurants.
Have a great trip!!