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Fresno - Yosemite - Gold Country - Lake Tahoe - Sacramento...

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Fresno - Yosemite - Gold Country - Lake Tahoe - Sacramento...

I'm in first stages of planning trip to this region of the world. I've never been to any of these places before and of course, I'm wanted to see/do as much as possible. I was thinking about flying into Fresno, going to Yosemite, seeing gold country, then driving to Lake Tahoe, back into Sacramento, then depart out of Sacramento.

We're not into extreme outdoors activities, so Yosemite will not be focus of this trip. We do like beautiful scenery and history, along with nice places to stay and good food.

Any general thoughts on how long you think this trip might take? How many days should I be planning on? Should I be thinking about scaling back trip? Thanks.

Placerville, CA
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1. Re: Fresno - Yosemite - Gold Country - Lake Tahoe - Sacramento...

A very nice trip you have planned...

I think that if you're not a hiker or an outdoors person, or a photographer, one day in Yosemite might be enough (that is, from early morning till dark). It's gorgeous there, but if you are only going on the trails near parking, you'll be able to see things in one day. If you like scenery and history, Highway 49 is the way to go from Yosemite area to Placerville. In mid-May, the hills will be green and lush. Expect fluctuating temperatures. Lots of historic gold rush towns along the way, from Jamestown to Jackson to Sutter Creek and Placerville. All of these towns have neat old main street downtowns that are lots of fun. You'll find gold panning and gold mine tours, indian casinos, shopping, and bed and breakfasts. Coloma, where James Marshall discovered gold, is nearby and is a state park. In Placerville, the downtown is very vibrant. Try this site:


or this one:


In Placerville, I recommend Sweetie Pie's for breakfast, in nearby El Dorado (Hwy 49 + Pleasant Valley Rd) I recommend the famous Poor Red's BBQ, and in nearby Diamond Springs I recommend Diamond Chinese (absolutely no ambiance, but popular with locals - the cherry chicken is yummy).

For Jackson and Sutter Creek, you might want to look up Amador County websites:




Both counties have beautiful scenery and lots of wineries and farm trails. As for amount of time to spend, it depends on how much you like to mosey along!! I think at minimum 2 to 3 days.

Head up Highway 50 eastbound towards South Lake Tahoe. East of Placerville is Camino, home of "Apple Hill". Lots of farm trails here, some farms may be open...Boa Vista is always open. Check that "visit el dorado" link. Pollock Pines is at the pine line. Take a deep breath, and enjoy the view of the ridges. Do pull over for Bridal Veil Falls for a photo, it's very pretty and no hiking involved. All this will take you only a few hours (from Placerville to South Lake Tahoe). Lake Tahoe...it will take a day to drive around. Too cold for swimming in mid-May. Lots of places to explore by car,though. Gorgeous! Places to eat...for informal lunch or dinner, try Izzy's Burgers on the South shore on your way to the Nevada side of the lake. Great burgers, fries, and malts. I usually recommend Womack's BBQ,it is southern style, but that might not be what you want on vacation (since y'all are southerners)...if you are going to get a buffet at one of the casinos, DON'T do the Horizon buffet, yuck. If you are willing to shell out $26/ea for dinner (less for lunch), the Forest Buffet on the 18th floor of Harrah's is outstanding in food and view...especially at sunset. On the northwest side of the lake, in Tahoe City, I recommend the Sunnyside Restaurant (and it looked like a lovely hotel, too). So, depending on what you want to do in Tahoe, at least 2 days.

Back down to Sacramento...you could actually go down Highway 80 from the north side of the lake, if you don't want to repeat the same stretch of Highway 50. In Sacramento there is a lot to do. I recommend the free Capitol tour. The capitol is a beautiful building, just restored. The gardens are outstanding and free as well. Also in the city is the incredible 1800s era just restored Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, also downtown, as well as the just-opened newly restored Stanford Home. There is also the Victorian Governor's Mansion, Sutter's Fort, the Indian museum, and the Railroad Museum (which I found fascinating, and I'm not a railroad buff). There is Old Sacramento, the Crocker Museum, the Towe Auto Museum. Try this link:


There are some neat hotels, like the Sterling Hotel near downtown. A Sacramento tradition is Frank Fat's, whose chinese restaurant has been open since the mid 1800s. I would think a minimum of 2-3 days in Sacramento, again, depending on what you want to do. A secret that nearby state workers know about...shhh...on 10th Street (one-way, north) between R Street and P Street, on the right hand side of the street, is a fortune cookie factory. Walk inside the screen door, and you'll be greeted, and ask for a bag (or more!!) of their "TV cookies", which are their irregular cookies, but very tasty, and a bargain at $1 per bag.

Well, for me, I would do 10 days to do this trip. And no hard and fast itinerary, just do it as you find it, and enjoy it. You'll not be in "high season" yet, so there shouldn't be much competition for hotel/motel rooms. Waterfalls in Yosemite should be great at that time of year. Have a great time!!

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2. Re: Fresno - Yosemite - Gold Country - Lake Tahoe - Sacramento...

just my opinion...i am not a hiker either but trying to do yosemite in 1 day is tough. i could easily spend 3 days there without going on hikes or any strenuous activity.

you said it won't be the focus of your trip, but i think it is by far the best thing in your itinerary.

Oakland, California
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for Yosemite National Park
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3. Re: Fresno - Yosemite - Gold Country - Lake Tahoe - Sacramento...

ducky's got a great itinerary there for you, but I agree that you need more than one day in Yosemite. To be able to see the Big Trees, and Glacier Point, and all the waterfalls, and take some lovely strolls on paths over the river where you can get some wonderful photographs, you would need a jam-packed 2 days at least.

After flying into Fresno, you could spend your first night in the hstoric Wawona Hotel, where they have an excellent dining room and are close to the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees, where you can take a one hour tram tour of the biggest trees from spring to fall.

Then the next day get up and head towards the valley, with a detour to Glacier Point Road, all the way to the end, where you can look straight down 4000 ft. into the valley below. This is about a 2 hour well-worth-it detour. Then you'll head into the valley, stopping at Inspiration Point just onthe other side of the tunnel to get your must have photograph of you and the Valley behind you. Once you're in the valley, you'll want to have time to see the Visitor Center, to take the Valley tram tour, and to stroll along the paved walkways near the village for some tremendous scenery. By the time you get done with that, it will be dark, and unless you love driving on winding, unfamiliar mountain roads in the dark, you'll be much happier staying in the valley that night and heading out to the Gold Country the next day.

That's one girl's opinion, anyway!

Saint Germain...
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4. Re: Fresno - Yosemite - Gold Country - Lake Tahoe - Sacramento...

MacJack is a girl? It made me chuckle the assumptions on makes just by the user name.

For Gold Country & some great historic touring once outside Yosemite, Make a stop in Jamestown and the 1897 Railroad. Following highway 49 north, catch Columbia State Park, a restored gold mining village with woodend sidewalks and dirt street open to foot and horse drawn carriage traffic only. From there, take a short detour off of Highway 49 to route 4. At Murphys make sure to stop at Ironstone, if not for the wine, surely for the Gold Nugget they have in the vault at the museum. The town of Murphys is quaint, plenty of dining, museums, art galleryies and an old time holel with a great old bar, good for a sing-along with locals. Leaving Murphys, I would continue up route 4 about another half an hour to Calaveras Big Trees State Park, a far better big tree experience than those in Yosemite.

These are our favorite things to do. For more details and direct links to activities try browsing the Tuolumne County visitors Bureau website, www.TCVB.com

Have a great holiday!