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THinking of heading North this Friday...

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Northern CA
posts: 74
reviews: 6
THinking of heading North this Friday...

We are thinking of heading north (from the South Bay) to Jamestown with a 4 year old and a 7 year old. Any suggestions of places to stay, things to do, etc.?? Worth the drive, never been to GOld country...

Thanks,

Erica

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 11,338
reviews: 42
1. Re: THinking of heading North this Friday...

Railtown is there--a state historic park with old trains and railroad maintenance shops. You can take tours, visit the historic buildings, and ride the trains.

Columbia is a Gold Rush town preserved as a state park. Cars stay outside the historic town, so the atmosphere is maintained. You can stay at one of two historic hotels in town, dine at Gold Rush theme restaurants, pan for gold, & ride a stagecoach. The Sierra Repertory Company plays the Fallon House, a theatre inside one of the hotels. They may be doing Dickens' "Christmas Carol" now.

The shops have all kinds of fun stuff--handmade candles, soap, toys, candy, baked goods, old-fashioned kitchen items, etc. Most of the people working there wear period clothing.

I have two reviews for Columbia in the review section, one for the LickSkillet Cafe and one for the Columbia Inn. The Inn is a bargain in winter. You can walk across the street to the historic section, go back to the motel for a nap if you want, & return, all without moving your car.

Not all of Columbia is within the state park, but the best historic sites are. It is all level except for the schoolhouse and cemetery (next to each other) and St. Anne's Catholic Church. They are worth visiting but are on small hills. Be sure your kids get a good look at the "facilities" provided for school kids. Also, have them try sarsaparilla, the ancestor of root beer; you won't get something mass-produced, but a "micro-brew" made in Modesto to the specifications of the original Columbia company.

Also nearby is Sonora, the "metropolis" of the southern Mother Lode. It's much bigger and busier than Jamestown or Columbia. The traffic on main street can get very heavy, but if you imagine it with no cars, it is the perfect Gold Rush town.

Murphys is a little farther away but has a nice main street with a lot of restaurants and shops. Both Murphys and Sonora have good lodgings, but I really like staying in Columbia.

All of these places CAN get a little snow in winter, but are low enough so it doesn't happen too often.

Northern CA
posts: 74
reviews: 6
2. Re: THinking of heading North this Friday...

Thanks Frisco Roadrunner...Columbia Inn looks great but with only a 1 star in its class we were hoping for something a bit more "grand". Figured with such a small town feel, it might not be possible...anywhere in Sonora or close by towns that would have a bit higher star rating as far as hotels go? Sounds great otherwise and thanks so very much for your reply.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 11,338
reviews: 42
3. Re: THinking of heading North this Friday...

Sonora has a Days Inn that includes a historic hotel and a modern motel annex. It has more amenities, but still, the pool is outdoors on the roof...and it's winter.

http://www.sonoradaysinn.com/

Sonora also has a few chains like Best Western, many mom-and-pop places, and some B&Bs that you might look into. You would know whether your kids would enjoy a B&B.

The historic hotels within Columbia (the City Hotel and Fallon House) might be good for all of you. Being relics, they have some rooms without private baths, but you would want the convenience of having one. Staying right in a town where there is a Wells Fargo Express office next door and the stagecoach goes by on the street might be extra fun for the kids.

Columbia is not the kind of "Old West" town where they have gunfights in the street, so if you're concerned about that kind of trauma for the kids, you can rest easy.

Vacaville...
posts: 706
reviews: 26
4. Re: THinking of heading North this Friday...

Erica, my family and I stayed in Sonora this past summer, I wouldn't stay at the Days Inn, reason being look at their reviews on trip advisor. We stayed at the Gunn House just down the street from the days inn, very quaint, teddy bears on the beds and the Sonora Best Western which is a little further and near a more commercialized district. We definitely would stay at the Gunn House again, ask for a room in the back but don't think we'd ever stay at the Best Western again, even though we had a suite, eh it wasn't all that nice.

I agree about Columbia, it's a small little place, we went there too, but it was July 4, the Lickskillet wasn't open, don't know if they were closed for the day or forever...but there were loads of people there and if I had a restaurant that would be the day I would've been open. I guess I would call the hotel there and ask if they know if the Lickskillet is open for business these days. Columbia would be cute for the kids, but like I said it's not real big.

You may also enjoy the visitors center at New Melones Lake, educational and very nice "something to do". The lake itself is beautiful.

Have a great trip.

Northern CA
posts: 74
reviews: 6
5. Re: THinking of heading North this Friday...

Thanks to you both - we switched locales and are going to Monterey...we may actually have to make it a day trip!

All the best to you both.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 11,338
reviews: 42
6. Re: THinking of heading North this Friday...

I spent a couple days in Columbia this past week at the tail end of a 10-day vacation trip, and it was great! I had just come from crossing Nevada on US 50 (the Loneliest Road) in some ugly weather and needed the R&R. :)

It was cold but it didn't snow (snow is pretty uncommon this low). The only snow I saw was what was still frozen on my car from Nevada and the Sierra. I stayed at the Columbia Inn and walked everywhere. The Lickskillet Cafe was open and I had a fine Osso Buco dinner. At the Lickskillet (unlike in some places), the staff is glad to answer questions about the menu, and the offerings change seasonally or at the inspiration of the owner & chef.

Not many people were in town and it was very peaceful.

I hope Monterey wasn't too crowded to enjoy.

7. Re: THinking of heading North this Friday...

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