America, Countries

Gold rush to beat cost-of-living crisis

Go West young man (or woman) and join the gold rush to beat cost-of-living crisis… just like they did, of old.

Tuolumne County’s Gold Country is one of those heritage holidays we love.

And we’re told it is alive with thriving historic towns including Jamestown, Sonora and Columbia.

Experience the Old West like nowhere else by taking a ride on the famous Sierra No. 28 locomotive, panning for gold and taking a drive along Historic Highway 49.

As the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, Tuolumne’s Gold Country has a three-day itinerary.

And that will feel like you’re in an old-style Western.

Morning has broken

Dead man’s hand: Or is it?

Heading out of San Francisco and Sacramento, Jamestown is the first town in Tuolumne County.

And you’re starting point on the first morning.

Jamestown is where gold was first discovered in the county.

And several of the town’s buildings that date back to the 1870s are now quaint historic inns, restaurants, shops, microbreweries and wine tasting rooms.

The kind which bring back memories from Knott’s Berry Farm for me, which those of you know SoCal, Southern California will be familiar.

For a true Gold Country experience, start your day by getting your hands dirty panning for gold like the 49ers once did.

Busy on a sunny afternoon

Outlaw: But I broke out

Visit Railtown 1897 State Historic Park to explore 24 acres of preserved Sierra Railway.

Take a guided tour of the historic roundhouse and locomotives and be sure not to miss the Movie Railroad Exhibit.

Hop on a train for a 45-minute trip through the scenic Sierra foothills.

And before leaving, stop by The Depot Store, a railroad specialty store for authentic souvenirs.

We’re thinking Waltons and Little House on the Prairie here but we’re open to being surprised.

Some enchanted evening

Grab a bite at Jamestown’s Main Street.

There are a variety of local restaurants in historic inns that will suit all tastes.

And the Jamestown Hotel is a great historic option as it was built in 1858.

After dinner, take a short 15-minute drive to Columbia State Historic Park, which preserves the historic downtown district that was once a bustling, lively gold town.

And you’ll stay in the heart of the park at one of two historic Victorian Inns – the City Hotel or the Fallon Hotel.

The next day

Ride on: California’s pastures

Wake up in Columbia State Historic Park where travellers can stop by the working blacksmith shop.

Take lunch at Columbia Kate’s Teahouse, then explore the unique shopping opportunities available at Columbia Merchants to find the perfect souvenir.

Spend the rest of the afternoon experiencing an authentic stagecoach ride.

Dip your own candle and dress up in costume for an old-fashioned photo or catching a show at the historic Fallon House Theatre. 

After exploring Columbia, drive 15 minutes to reach Sonora and wander around the town’s iconic shops in historic buildings, each with their own unique story.

Tour the Tuolumne County Museum, which is housed inside the former county jail built in 1866. 

And as you can see I’ve got form, although also for breaking out. 

Enjoy dinner at local hot spot Flappy’s Pizza Co.

And head to the quaint mountain town of Twain Harte, to experience more history in the ‘Gateway to the Sierra’.

Named after Mark Twain, Connecticut’s finest, and Bret Harte, the small town charm will win all hearts.

With a selection of charming B&Bs, rustic resorts and quaint cabins to choose from. 

And finish with a flair

Saddle up: In Colorado


After grabbing breakfast at Bean Around the Block, head east on Highway 108 for more adventure and some breathtaking scenery.

Saddle up for a horseback ride, and Colorado Jim would be proud of me, into the wilderness to see the Sierra as the pioneers did.

Seasonal trips  are available at Aspen Meadow Pack Station or higher up in the mountains at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station

Take a short drive to the town of Tuolumne for a bite to eat at Cover’s Apple Ranch.

It serves lunch and handmade traditional bakery items, fresh-pressed cider, jams and sauces.

Go Issy, go: On the plains

Afterwards, enjoy an easy hike along the West Side Trail, which follows the old railroad line of the Hetch Hetchy and Yosemite Valley Railway.

This idyllic trail features interpretive signs, scenic vistas and colourful wildflower meadows.

And it is the perfect end to a historic stay in Yosemite’s Tuolumne County. 

Head south to stay and enjoy the wonders of Yosemite National Park, or east to experience the incredible High Sierra.

Whichever route you choose, there’s no wrong way to end your trip to Tuolumne County. 

 But keep your find to yourself… you know those nuggets you got from the gold rush to beat cost-of-living crisis.



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