There's more than gold in
them there hills!
Playland with a Heart
of Gold is how some refer to Tuolumne County, but whether you
pan for gold or wander through charming shops and stores in
historic towns like Sonora, you are sure to find plenty of
Sonora, established in
1848, has been the county seat of Tuolumne County since 1950.
Still the main hub of county activity, Sonora features many
well-tended Victorian homes, historic buildings, and a
beautiful downtown area designated as a California Main
Street City. Many of the buildings date back to the
1800's, including the picturesque courthouse on Washington
Street and the County Museum on West Bradford, which used to
be the county jail. Sonora has a wide variety of
accommodations and is a shopper's paradise with art galleries,
antique shops, jewelry stores, boutiques, and restaurants.
Located in Tuolumne
County, Sonora shares this part of the country with some of
the most beautiful natural scenery in the world, such as
Yosemite National Park where you can marvel at the spectacular
vistas as you descend into Yosemite Valley, see Half Dome,
Tioga Pass, Tuolumne Meadows, Mono Lake, and Tuolumne Grove of
The countryside offers
splendid beauty in every season. In the Springtime, the
foothills transform into a natural garden abundant with
wildflowers that carpet rolling meadows studded with oak
trees. The backroads in the Sonora and Jamestown areas bloom
with Buttercups, Fiddleneck, Shooting Stars, Five Spot, Baby
Blue Eyes, Phacelia, and Golden Poppies. The color of nature
is gentle, the welcoming sun is bright, and the air has a
lingering winter crispness.
comes alive with mountain festivals, theaters, and fairs.
Visitors invade welcoming towns that invite them to enjoy
a variety of activities from water sports to antique
hunting, golf, fishing, or panning for gold just like the
49ers of old. The days are warm, and the water feels good.
| Photo: Tribal Dancers
Me-Wuk Acorn Festival
Deep river canyons and
picturesque mountains with pine and cottonwood accompany your
travels as you go further up the elevations to wintertime ski
country. The Sonora Pass on Highway 108 offers the closest
route to ski areas like Dodge Ridge. Sonora may be at its most
magical as the whole town decorates for the holidays with a
Victorian splendor right out of the pages of a Dickens novel.
John Muir described the Sierra foothills as "a vast
golden flower-bed." Indeed, its spring can only be
rivaled by the rich abundance of color in the turning leaves
of autumn. The hamlets of Sonora, Jamestown, and other Mother
Lode communities exude a tumble-down veil of gold, orange, and
burnt umber that emits a romantic need to gather wood for a
cozy fire, bake pies, and prepare for winter.
It was over 150 years
ago that the discovery of gold forever changed the Sierra
Nevada foothills. Thousands of people from all over the world
descended on the Mother Lode. Many of these pioneer
descendants still live here, and the remnants of this history,
aside from the historic buildings, lies in the ambience of
Sonora and Jamestown, home to Railtown 1897 State Historic
Park, an authentic steam railroad. Local residents new and old
share an abiding respect and love of the area's history and
preservation, which they willing share with you.
To fully enjoy Sonora
and the surrounding area, you need to spend a few days. A
variety of lodging is available to you. There are some
wonderful Bed & Breakfasts, Country Inns, and small hotels
in the area. We recommend the special attention and historic
perspective accompanied by modern conveniences that you will
find at the inns and Bed & Breakfasts.
There are lots of
choices for dining in the gold country from small country
kitchens where you can get a good mountain breakfast, cafes
with wholesome specialities, and delis. Don't miss Josephine's
Restaurant in Sonora, where you can savor the fine flavors of
Italian and California cuisine to rival some of the finest
restaurants you would find in a city. Their wine list is
impressive and their chefs top-rated.
Activities all year
long are lined up for your pleasure as you discover the Mother
Lode. Fall brings the Me Wuk Indian Acorn Festival, Sonora
Blues Festival, Poison Oak Show (where you can discover the
beauty of Poison Oak without breaking out), Wild West Days,
and Moonlight Melodrama & Train Ride, Country Dances, and
Banjo Jams. In the Winter, you can attend many holiday events,
including a Victorian Christmas Feast, sing-a-longs, and
Widder's Ball. Sonora is a wonderful place to do your
Christmas shopping as you can wonder through magical shops,
boutiques, and art galleries.
Just three hours from
San Francisco, Sonora and the Mother Lode can be reached on
Scenic Highway 120, the most direct route from all Northern
California locations. Ascend Priest Grade from Lake Don Pedro
and in a short eight miles you are elevated 2,000 feet into a
world of adventure and beauty. Then next time you need a
getaway...think gold....get away to Sonora in Tuolumne County.
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