Holidays mean snow, Santa and greenery in northern California’s Gold Rush country.
Coloma. America’s most historic gold rush town, is holding an old-fashioned Christmas celebration in the heart of the Gold Rush, high sierra country. There’s no better way to ring in the holidays. In this annual family celebration and fundraiser for Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, local residents recreate an 1850’s country Christmas. The fun starts in early December.
Pick up a freshly-made wreath to decorate your home, or go to the wreath-making booth and build your own. Costumed volunteers are ready to share the art of cornhusk dollmaking or ropemaking with you and your children. More vendors will sell you beautiful hand-made crafts and products — great for gifting or holiday festivities. When you get hungry, visit the food vendors for pioneer cooking or old-fashioned goodies, or try freshly fragrant, hot roasted chestnuts.
Don’t miss the old-fashioned Santa and Mrs. Claus if you have children who want photographs with Santa! No visit is complete without old-fashioned children’s games from Victorian times. They’ll want to play on a special hill of snow brought fresh from the mountains for their enjoyment. All ages enjoy the 19th century Christmas programs and plays. The stroll through this historic village includes the blacksmith shop, where costumed experts give live demonstrations in the art of ironworking.
The Park is open from 8 am to 5 pm, and the Museum is open from 10am to 3pm seven days a week, except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. The Park is located on Hwy 49, south of Auburn and north of Placerville, about 1 hour east of Sacramento.
Make historic Placerville on Hwy 49 your base for Gold Country exploring. While you’re celebrating holidays, tour a local winery, pan for gold, go kayaking, or enjoy a hike. Stay at the picturesque EdenVale Inn, a superb Sierra Foothills bed and breakfast overlooking a small lake.
Nevada City: As the site of the Empire Mine, here’s a gold rush bonanza town if there ever was one. This picturesque village north of Coloma began as a boomtown thriving with Welsh and Irish miners, but today it’s a tiny time capsule with both a New England feel and California style spirit. Nevada City and nearby Grass Valley go all out for the holiday season, with special events, theatrical weekends, holiday food and wine dinners, plus Victorian shopping areas festooned with wreaths, mistletoe and glitter galore. Just an hour east of Sacramento, it’s worlds away.
Columbia: Founded at the height of the gold rush, Columbia is a village where a delightful 2 block long piece of the old west has been preserved for your pleasure. Columbia is a national historic site that is an hour south of Placerville. It’s family-friendly and has hosted actors and filmmakers for TV series like Little House on the Prairie and many, many western films. Costumed volunteers pull out the welcome mat and open their doors each Christmas with special festivities including blacksmithing, and behind-the scenes stories of the gold rush era. Just 3 hours from San Francisco, and one hour from Yosemite National Park, it makes an ideal weekend getaway.