Guide: Welcome to California Gold Country

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These days, California might be best known for its pristine beaches, giant sequoias, and vast expanses of farmland. But there’s another side to the Golden State, one rich in history and built on the promise of prosperity. After all, it was neither Hollywood nor Silicon Valley that tempted thousands to set out west and set down roots in California — it was gold, and the chance to strike it rich in the land of opportunity. In 1848, when James W. Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, he spurred a mad influx of people to the Sierra Foothills. The Gold Rush would become one of the largest mass migrations in American history, an event that would change the identity of the state forever, in part by causing the widespread displacement and oppression of northern California’s native people.

A close up of an illustrated map of northern California including San Francisco, Sacramento, and Nevada City.

Today, California Gold Country is where past meets present, where some of the oldest wine grapes in the country sprawl out over rolling hills and destination roadside markets continue to thrive through three generations of change. From Sacramento, where the city’s eponymous river snakes its way under the Tower Bridge, to a Gold Rush-era building housing an ambitious brewery in California’s tiniest town, Gold Country offers tastes of California not found anywhere else in the state. There’s still plenty of opportunity to discover something great — that is if you know where to look.


An illustration of a California 49 highway sign on the side of a poppy-lined road.

Start planning your Gold Country adventure around these can’t-miss restaurants and sights.

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How to Plan the Perfect Gold Country Road Trip


An illustration of the Tower Bridge in Sacramento.

Sure, you’ve driven through on your way from the Bay Area to Tahoe. But here are compelling reasons to pull over.

Tag Along on a Sacramento Brewery Tour

How This Family Fruit Stand Became Northern California’s Best-Kept Pie Secret

Everywhere Worth Eating Between San Francisco and Tahoe


An illustration of a saloon with a Western facade and people enjoying drinks outside, one standing by a horse.

Napa may get most of the shine, but the Sierra Foothills claim a rich winemaking history — and a tradition of innovation.

Big Beer Ambitions in California’s Smallest Town

Inside Amador County’s Only Natural Winery

10 Drive-Worthy Wineries in Gold Country

Why the Sierra Foothills Remain a Land of Opportunity


California golden poppies in the foreground with mountains and a river illustrated behind.

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