Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, Coloma (pictured above). Trace the beginnings of California’s Gold Rush on a guided tour of this 576-acre state park, which features a Chinese general store and a replica of Sutter’s Mill. Stop by the shabby-chic Argonaut Farm to Fork Café for house-made gelato, artfully poured cappuccinos, and live music. 530-622-3470.
Gold Bug Park and Mine, Gold Bug Park, Placerville. Venture deep into a hard-rock gold mine, where costumed guides bring history and geology lessons to life with animated storytelling. Learn how gold is extracted from milky quartz at the stamp mill and watch a blacksmith forge iron and steel at his workshop. 530-642-5207.
Lava Cap Winery, Placerville. Three generations of winemakers use sustainable farming practices on volcanic soil to cultivate their award-winning petite sirah, sangiovese, barbera, and zinfandel. Lava Cap is also known for its buttery chardonnay, which goes well with the winery’s artisanal cheese plate. 530-621-0175.
Amador Vintage Market, Plymouth. Chef-owner Beth Sogaard is the go-to caterer for Amador County’s winegrowers, so it’s no surprise that her fresh salads, sandwiches, house-made breads, and truffled potato chips pair well with wines. Pick up a preordered picnic lunch en route to visiting nearby wineries, including Vino Noceto. 209-245-3663.
Hanford House Inn, Sutter Creek. This Gold Rush town B&B combines the sophistication of a boutique hotel with the thoughtful touches of a family-owned operation. Breakfast is prepared with ingredients handpicked from the on-site garden, when available, and a complimentary glass of Amador County wine is offered during happy hour. 209-267-0747; hanfordhouse.com.
Murphys. About two-dozen boutique wineries populate four blocks of this old gold-mining town. A good way to discover downtown Murphys’ culinary treasures is on three-hour food, wine, and history walking tours (800-407-8918; local-food-tours.com), which includes stops at a gourmet cupcake shop, an olive oil tasting bar, and the local-favorite Val du Vino Winery.
Moaning Cavern Adventure Park, Vallecito. Hanging by the rope takes on new meaning for adventure-seekers rappelling 165 feet into Moaning Cavern, said to be the largest cave chamber in California. Those who prefer a more down-to-earth approach can descend a 100-foot steel spiral staircase to explore towering stalagmites, ancient stalactites, dramatic draperies, and mammoth flowstones. 209-736-2708.