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Tuolumne County: Girls Trip

August 28, 2017 | Jen Lopez

by Mackenzie Rodgers, Digital Content Coordinator

It is a rare but necessary occasion in all women’s lives when they can find the time to get together with the best of friends; sharing new adventures, hikes, drinks, and laughter. If you’re planning a girl’s trip or would like to, we would love to inspire you to take the trip of a lifetime to California’s beautiful Tuolumne County.

Everyone knows that location is everything, and Tuolumne County is exactly where you want to stay when it comes to California dreaming and adventure seeking! Tuolumne County makes up over 50% of Yosemite National Park! And let me tell ya, there’s nothing like a 4-mile round trip hike to a beautiful waterfall (Wapama Falls in Hetch Hetchy at Yosemite NP) and an endless amount of conversation topics to solve all of the world’s problems with your best friends.

Wine and Cider Tasting
Locally made wine and cider make for a great reason to hit the town by day! Main Street in Jamestown has two wonderful tasting rooms of Gianelli Vineyards and Inner Sanctum Cellars! On your way back from Yosemite National Park? There’s a tasting room in Groveland! Yosemite Cellars has great wine and amazing vibes just waiting to be sipped! Indigeny Hard Cider Reserve is in Sonora and offers locally made cider and spirits tasting! Take a tour to see how the legendary cider is made then enjoy picnicking in their lovely apple orchard or wander along several trails that wrap around the gorgeous facility!

Great Theatre
Tuolumne County is one of the most popular regional theatre destinations in Northern California, and there is more than one way to experience it! Enjoy professional award-winning theatre in the ambiance of the fully renovated historic 121-year-old Theatre, only at the Fallon House in Columbia State Historic Park! (One of two locations) This cultured theatre hosts musicals, comedies, dramas and are all produced year-round by Sierra Repertory Theatre.

Paint a Masterpiece
Sometimes all you need is your best friends, a few bottles of wine… And paint! Located in Historic Downtown Sonora, Brush and Cork will supply you and your friends with all the materials needed for a fun night of painting seasonal inspired pieces! Paint easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions with your personal artist guide, to create a featured piece of art, that starts on a pre-drawn canvas. No experience necessary for a good time like this!

Yoga in the Mountains
If you thought a yoga studio was relaxing, you will love yoga in our High Sierra! Mountain Om Yoga frequently hosts yoga retreats in calming local settings. Recently, these inspiring women hosted a series of classes at Kennedy Meadows Resort and Pack Station, where they taught classes in a beautiful mountain meadow. There is so much to choose from with options like: a day hike and yoga session at an Emigrant Wilderness lake, a yoga retreat night of camping beneath the Stanislaus National Forest sky, or a yoga session followed by horseback riding in the wilderness. Check out their calendar of scheduled classes to see where your next adventure could take you!

Detox
Go for an ionic detoxing foot soak or spend some time in the sauna at Amala Detox and Tea Lounge in Historic Downtown Sonora. They specialize in tea for ailments, ionic detox foot soaks and readings, infrared sauna and esthetician services. Top your relaxing afternoon off with exploring the downtown shops and art galleries. Combine upbeat, high end boutiques with antique thrifting gems and you’ve got the downtown Sonora shopping aesthetic! Immerse yourself in the free spirit of California and waltz through our amazing art galleries filled with pieces by local artists. (While downtown be sure to stop by the Tuolumne County Visitors Center for more local tips from our friendly team!)

Visit www.VisitTuolumne.com to find lodging, including quaint B&Bs, cabins and more, for your perfect girls trip to Tuolumne County.

Cast Your Line in Tuolumne County

August 3, 2017 | admin
Fly fishing Kennedy Meadows

It’s a fisherman’s paradise in Tuolumne County.  From the alpine lakes of the High Sierra to the foothill reservoirs to the Tuolumne River, they’re the perfect spots for anglers of all experience and variety. Fishing the Emigrant Wilderness lets you get off the beaten path, take in the breath-taking beauty of the High Sierra and keep yourself supplied in fish dinners for your trip. You can also fish on the Stanislaus National Forest and in Yosemite National Park, there are plenty of water ways to test your skill.

With so many locations to choose from we thought we’d give you a good starter list. We are sure these spots will get you hooked!

Yosemite

Hetch Hetchy
If you have a hankering to do some fishing in Yosemite, Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is calling your name. It’s not generally a place you think of fishing, but nestled in the northwest corner of Yosemite National Park, you are not only sure to reel in a beauty, but you’ll surely be awed by the beauty surrounding you. No swimming or boating is allowed in the reservoir but cast your line year-round!

Tuolumne River fishing in YosemiteTuolumne River
The Tuolumne River meanders through Yosemite’s spectacular alpine meadows and high country landscape. This is the ultimate for relaxing trout fishing once Highway 120 (Tioga Pass) opens for the season through November 15th.

High Sierra

Pinecrest Lake
Located just 30 miles outside of Sonora along Highway 108, Pinecrest Lake is a traditional favorite for of fishing and recreation! The lake is regularly stocked with rainbow trout. You can fish from the accessible pier or the shore or launch your boat. In addition to catching your fill of trout, there’s also camping, swimming and a 4-mile hiking trail around the lake.

If camping isn’t quite your style you can enjoy a cabin or a townhouse at Pinecrest Lake Resort. The adjacent marina has paddle boats, kayaks, party boats, sailboats and motorized fishing boats for rent.

Fly fishing Kennedy MeadowsStanislaus and Tuolumne Rivers
Not only are Tuolumne County’s rivers beautiful, but they’re also swarming with wild and stocked trout just waiting to bite at the end of your line. Check the Stanislaus National Forest’s website for some spots along Hwy 108 or Hwy 120.

Gold Country

Lake Don Pedro
Set amongst the rolling foothills of the Tuolumne County countryside, Lake Don Pedro is open to fishing year-round. Cast your line for several bass, land-locked salmon and trout species, to name a few. For the first time, Lake Don Pedro will be one of the locations of the 2018 Wild West Bass Trail Tournament in March. Watch VisitTuolumne.com or our Facebook page for details as the event gets closer. Two marinas, campgrounds and swimming and picnic areas make the lake a great spot for the whole family.

New Melones Lake
The lake is most noted for its small and large mouth bass, but you’ll also find salmon, crappie, trout, catfish and blue gills. Try your luck in one of the many fishing tournaments held at the lake throughout the year. Check out the Bureau of Land Management’s page on Fishing at New Melones Lake for more detailed information.

After fishing you can take in the flora and fauna of the area on one the many trails. There is plenty of camping and the marina offers houseboat, patio boat and water toy rentals to double the fun you can have at the lake.

Guided fishing trip in Tuolumne CountyGuides

Yosemite Fly Fishing Guide
Let Yosemite Fly Fishing Guide service put together a private, customized fishing trip in Yosemite National Park. With over 1,300 miles of the rivers, creeks and streams within the park boundaries, Yosemite offers an epic array of opportunities to cast your line.

ECHO Adventure Cooperative
ECHO Adventure Cooperative offers family, introductory and experienced catch and release fly-fishing excursions in Yosemite and in the Tuolumne River watershed.

Visit www.VisitTuolumne.com for more information on all there is to see and do and to find lodging in Tuolumne County.

Summer Unplugged: A Technology Detox

July 28, 2017 | Jen Lopez

by Mackenzie Rodgers, Digital Content Coordinator

Whether it’s work related, educational, or social, technology has been a focus of nearly everything we do. Believe me, I get it. As a digital content coordinator for Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau, my job revolves around the stuff. I live on social media, but that doesn’t mean I thrive on it.

Sonora Pass Stanislaus National ForestI’m a Tuolumne County local, and I take pride in where I live, so it is important for me to take advantage of my location. With Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest, my backyard is pure bliss when I take the time to enjoy it. Being in nature always allows me to get acquainted with myself without the pressures of a “like” or a “follow.” Just a few hours unplugged in nature refreshes my mind, increases my energy, and improves my problem-solving skills. I find myself being the most creative when I’m hiking around Pinecrest Lake or taking in the fresh spring air and wildflowers of Red Hills in Chinese Camp. When it comes to life outside of work, less posting equals more living.West Side Trail

There’s nothing quite like going a bit off the grid to disconnect from the cyber stress and plug into the Earth’s natural source of energy. The goal is usually to go beyond the bounds of cellular reception and take in the adventure now to post about it later. I came up with a list of activities that I’m looking forward to accomplishing this summer that are sure to inspire a technology detox.

Summer Unplugged Bucket List:

  • Go kayaking at a lake in the High Sierra! The Pinecrest Lake Marina has kayak rentals for affordable prices by the hour! Never been? The ‘Dock Crew’ is super friendly and always happy to give a quick overview on how to not flip your kayak over.
  • Whitewater rafting trip with friends! Local rafting companies offer excellent excursions (I haven’t been but it’s on my list!) Their Tuolumne River trips are a must!
  • Hetch Hetchy ReservoirHike to a waterfall! Wapama Falls at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park is an 5.5 mi/ 8.8 km trek round trip, and the water is roaring this year! (BONUS: it’s of the quiet part of Yosemite and 95% of visitors never even experience this area of the park)
  • Do yoga in a wilderness meadow! Kennedy Meadows Yoga, hosted by Mountain Om Yoga is the epitome of a serene unplugging vacay! The yogi girls are #Goals and combine that with the Emigrant Wilderness #Views and I’m so there!

Inspired by what you read? Explore Tuolumne County now and share your adventures with us later on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Visit www.VisitTuolumne.com for more information on all there is to see and do and to find lodging in Tuolumne County.

 

Gain Some Altitude & Cool Off in the High Country

July 20, 2017 | Jen Lopez

Both of Tuolumne County’s mountain passes are open for the season, so it’s time for you to explore the breathtaking High Sierra. Experience the enchantment of unique and incredible mountain formations and beautiful rivers and streams along Sonora Pass, Highway 108. Behold the beauty of Yosemite National Park’s less explored alpine meadows and mountain peaks along Tioga Pass, Highway 120. Explore both scenic mountain passes or take some extra time to cover both on a loop. Here’s what you won’t want to miss.

 

Highway 108, Sonora PassTwain Harte welcome sign

  1. Twain Harte: Take in a round of golf or mini golf
  2. Pinecrest Lake: Rent a boat, fish, hike, swim, camp and take in a current movie in a lake shore, outdoor movie theatre under the stars in Stanislaus National Forest.
  3. Donnell Vista: Get blown away by the scenery with sweeping views of the Dardanelles and Donnell Lake.
  4. Trail of the Gargoyles: A scenic 1 ½ mile walk has sweeping views of unique geologic features and formations which shape the Sierra.
  5. Kennedy Meadows: Take a scenic trail ride, hike, camp or fish.

Where to Stay in Twain Harte
Where to Stay on Upper Highway 108/Sonora Pass

 

Highway 120, Tioga Pass

  1. Groveland: Visit for quaint coffee and tea shops, gift stores, mountain biking and historical points of interest, or take a trail ride the at Pine Mountain Lake equestrian center.
  2. Whitewater rafting: Go for a wet and wild ride on a trip down the Tuolumne River.
  3. Carlon Falls: Hike to the waterfall for a picnic lunch along the bank of the Tuolumne River or enjoy a refreshing swim.
  4. Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias: Walk among the giant trees in 1 of the 3 giant sequoia groves of Yosemite National Park.
  5. Tuolumne Meadows: Take in the spectacular sweeping views during a hike around the spectacular alpine meadow.Whitewater rafting on the Tuolumne River near Yosemite

Where to Stay in Groveland
Where to Stay on Highway 120

For updated 24-hour road and weather conditions for Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park, call 209-372-0200 and press 1.  This information is also available on the park’s website at www.nps.gov/yose.  For current road conditions for Sonora Pass, call 1-800-427-7623 and enter “108” at the prompt. You may also call the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau at 800-446-1333.  Visit www.VisitTuolumne.com for more information on all there is to see and do in Tuolumne County.

Bring Your Four Legged Family

May 3, 2017 | admin

We know our four-legged family needs a vacation too. Tuolumne County offers plenty of dog-friendly activities. Here are some ideas for your pet-friendly vacation.

Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails

There are many dog friendly hikes near Yosemite. What better way to explore the region than hiking with your dogs through some of the most beautiful terrain in California.

Dragoon Gulch Trail in Sonora is a 2.5 mile loop that follows Woods Creek. Enjoy the flora, interesting rock formations, and breath-taking vistas too.

New Melones Lake and Recreation Area just outside of Sonora and Angel’s Camp is a full package of fun. Taking a dip in the lake, cast a line to reel in a big one, or tackle some or all of the 20 miles worth of trails.

West Side Trail was originally a three-foot narrow gauge railroad first operated under the name of the Hetch Hetchy & Yosemite Valley Railroad, starting in 1898. Today this trail is open for hiking and biking for all skill levels. The trail is developed from the east boundary of the Tuolumne Township to approximately four miles beyond the Stanislaus National Forest boundary.

For the bit more adventurous hiker:

Preston Falls Trail in the Stanislaus National Forest is a intermediate 8 mile dog-friendly hiking trail outside of Groveland. In addition to a lovely waterfall, you might spot wildflowers, chirping birds and depending on a season you might find the perfect spot for a quick swim.

Photo Credit: Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau

Dog-Friendly Parks and Attractions

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park – All board! Dogs are welcome on the train and throughout the park. There is both self-guided and ranger-guided tours of the working roundhouse and movie museum. On weekends, April – October you can enjoy a 45 minute steam train tour of California’s Gold Country.

Columbia State Historic Park, a real, working Gold Rush town and historic park, let’s you step back in time with activities like candle dipping, panning for gold, sipping sarsaparilla and shopping in some stellar old fashioned stores. Don’t miss taking your dog on Quartz Mountain Stage Coach rides.

Stop into Indigeny Reserve, a lush 160 acre apple orchard nestled in the hills of historic Sonora. Enjoy some of their hand-crafted hard cider and apple brandy that has been aged in oak barrels. There is a lovely shaded outdoor area where pets are welcome.

Pet-Friendly Dining
Dori’s Tea Cottage is located in the historic site of one the first U.S. Postmasters, Minnie Feretti. In this charming historic setting you will find not only delicious gourmet teas but selection of yummy lunch items. Dogs are welcome in the outdoor seating area.

Pop into Here’s the Scoop and enjoy an old time atmosphere with old fashioned ice cream and homemade goodies. Dogs are welcome in the outdoor seating area.

Pet-friendly Lodging
There are several lodging options in Tuolumne County where you and your dog will feel right at home.

 

Be sure to check out the National Park Service page for information on dogs in Yosemite.

 

It’s wild all these flowers!

March 24, 2017 | admin

As the age old saying goes “April showers bring May Flowers!” Here in Tuolumne County we are fortunate to have a very long wildflower season thanks to our varying elevations. In fact, you can catch wildflowers here from March to September so long as you know where to go! We have put together some insider tips for catching that perfect shot or just smelling roses.

As your out and about be sure to tag us in your Instagram posts so we can marvel at the beauty you discover. #VisitTuolumneCounty, #MyTuolumneCounty, #TuolumneCountyWildflowers. Check out this little delight we found near the Chinese Camp Visitor Center:


Yosemite National Park

Let’s start by saying we would be crazy not to mention all the wildflowers you can spy while in the park! The park has put together some great resources for finding wildflowers within the park including a common wildflower illustration guide, a short video series, and a guide to wildflower trails.

Common Wildflowers in Yosemite
Yosemite Wildflower Video Series
Wildflower Guide


Early Season March-May

Dragoon Gulch Trail

This 2.5 mile loop is a series trails that offer varying difficulty and plenty of flora to explore. The City of Sonora has created a great resource of what you can expect to encounter on the trail.

West Side Trail

The West Side Trail in Tuolumne is easily accessible perfect for morning or late afternoon leisurely walk or bike ride along the flower-lined path with fantastic vistas. The trails website is a great resource for planning you adventure.

New Melones Lake Area

This area is one of the earliest to bloom in Tuolumne County. The trails are generally easy without too much elevation gain. But if you’re in for a little workout the wildflowers along with incredible views can be found along the Table Mountain Trail. In the spring, summer and fall the rangers of the New Melones Dam offer ranger led hikes teaching you about the wildflowers and history of the area. Check in with the Visitor Center for days and times to join in.


Mid-Season June-July

The Red Hills Recreation Management Area

The Red Hills Recreation Management Area consists of numerous easy loop trails through the serpentine landscape and is a locals’ favorite for wildflower viewing. You may even cross paths with a road-runner while you explore. The area is located near the junction of Highways 49 and 120 in Chinese Camp.

Big Trees State Park

While the BIG TREES do not exactly grow wild flowers, they are quite the sight to be seen. Do not worry there is no shortage of foliage growing in the area. You can expect to see Purple Milkweed, Pearly Everlasting, Wild Daisy, American Winter Cress, Red Snow Plant and Chinquapin.

North Grove Big Trees Flower Guide
South Grove Big Trees Flower Guide


Late Season August-September

Emigrant Wilderness Area

If you are up for some serious off the beaten path foraging for flowers Emigrant Wilderness Area is quite a gem. There are several Day Hike options if overnight in the wilderness isn’t your cup of tea. The Gianelli Cabin area offers a moderate trek of about 4.5 miles. You will see Spreading Dogbane, Bloomer’s Goldenbrush, Purple Sand Spurry, and Scarlet Gilia to name a few.

Sonora Pass Area

If you have ever had an itch to get a small glimpse into the travelers of the Pacific Crest Trail, now is your chance. Along this more difficult trail you will run across Mules Ears, Sneezeweed, Blue Flax, and Wandering Daisy. Since this will be an out and back excursion you can decide how far you would like to go but suggest shooting for 2 to 3 miles before you turn around.

Even if you’re not a hiker, just a drive along Highway 108 towards Sonora Pass uncovers some hidden gems for wildflower viewing such as Kennedy Meadows.

Top 7 Reasons to Visit Highway 120 Today!

March 2, 2017 | Jen Lopez
TuolumneWildflowers

While an incredible rainy season has a portion of Highway 120 temporarily closed beyond Crane Flat towards Yosemite Valley, there’s plenty of reasons to keep your plans to visit, including visiting the under loved but so amazing (and open!) north side of Yosemite.  Here’s more reasons why you should head on up Highway 120:

  1. The Hills are Alive It’s been a while since we have seen the rolling foothills leading into Tuolumne County this green! Tie that in with a spectacular backdrop of the snow-covered Sierra Nevada mountains and you have an epic scenic drive as you enter Tuolumne County.
  2. Mountain Sage NurseryGet Your Groove on in Groveland Maybe you recently read in the Bay Area News about all the ways to play at Highway 120’s Groveland? In case you didn’t here’s some tips for a good place to start! Go: The Iron Door Saloon Sip: Mountain Sage Coffee, Yosemite Cellars (by appointment) Explore: Yosemite Gateway Museum Eat: Fork and Love Restaurant Fork and Love meal Sleep: Hotel Charlotte
  3. Bragging Rights Did you know that 95% of visitors to Yosemite National Park only see 5% of it? Be part of the 5% to see the less-visited, yet equally as stunning parts of Yosemite like Hetch Hetchy and the Merced and Tuolumne Groves of Giant Sequoias. Here’s what John Muir had to say about Hetch Hetchy: “After my first visit, in the autumn of 1871, I have always called it the Tuolumne Yosemite, for it is a wonderfully exact counterpart of the great Yosemite…”
  4. It’s Just Snow Fun! Take advantage of the incredible snow conditions by visiting the Crane Flat snow play area.  You can also opt for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing through groves of giant sequoias.
  5. Hetch Hetchy ReservoirYou’ve Heard of Powerball, How about Powerfalls? Above record rainfall equals amazing waterfalls and they are booming at Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Reservoir!  Grab your friends and family and get ready for a selfie using Wapama Falls as your background.
  6. We’re on Wildflower Watch We are starting to see signs that we will soon be in the middle of wildflower madness! Already daffodils, poppies and other early bloomers are peaking through the earth’s surface throughout the area.
  7. It’s Easy and Affordable Fun With a variety of lodging options from bed and breakfast inns to historic hotels and top-rated lodges, Highway 120 is perfect for an affordable and fun getaway. Book your stay today!

For updated 24-hour road and weather conditions for Yosemite National Park, call 209-372-0200 and press 1.  This information is also available on the park’s website at www.nps.gov/yose.  You may also call the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau at 800-446-1333.  Visit www.VisitTuolumne.com for more information on all there is to see and do in Tuolumne County.

6 Day California Road Trip: Sacramento To San Francisco

January 13, 2017 | Jen Lopez

Follow our jam-packed road trip through Sacramento, Folsom, El Dorado, Tuolumne County, and San Francisco. There’s so many amazing things to see and do in the gorgeous part of California, and the best way to explore is by road.

Source: 6 Day California Road Trip: Sacramento To San Francisco

Ten Winter Weather Options to Slow Down, Stay Dry and Drink-Up in Northern California’s Quaint Gold Country Towns

January 12, 2017 | Jen Lopez

The forecast for this time of year is wet weather, and while California always needs it, it’s not always a welcome sight for visitors who have planned a trip to the Gold Country area along Highway 49. The county’s main visitors center (542 Washington Street in historic Sonora) hears a familiar children’s song in visitor comments: “It’s raining, it’s pouring, I think this place is boring, what’s there to do to have some fun ‘til sun comes out in the morning.” Here are the area experts’ ten suggestions:

1. Step back in time on a museum tour. There are several museums in Tuolumne County where visitors learn about the rich Gold Rush history, view historical artifacts and discover geological sites.

  • Tuolumne County Museum is located in downtown Sonora in what was Sonora’s original Jail, which is reason alone to pop in, but the depth of their collection is astounding. Learn about the gold rush and the enterprising spirit of our county’s earliest residents. The museum is open Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Tuolumne County Veterans Museum located on Washington Street in downtown Sonora displays uniforms and weapons used in past wars. This is a must-see for history buffs.
  • Columbia State Historic Park Museum. Learn about Columbia’s contribution to the Gold Rush and what everyday life was like for its residents. The museum is open daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. inside Columbia State Historic Park, a free state park operating as an 1850’s mining town. Enjoy a libation to warm up at the What Cheer Saloon at the City Hotel or a spot of tea at Columbia Kate’s.
  • Groveland Yosemite Gateway Museum is located at 18990 Highway 120 (adjacent to Mary Laveroni Park heading to the Highway 120 entrance to Yosemite National Park) and has a large display of mining equipment, wildlife and geology exhibits. The museum is open Sunday to Thursday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. While you are in Groveland, don’t miss California’s oldest drinking establishment, the Iron Door Saloon, or Charlotte Hotel’s Fork & Love Restaurant.

2. Challenge the spirits. Get in the spirit with wine and cider tastings. Many are free of charge (a welcome change from Northern California’s better-known wine regions) or charge a nominal fee for tastings.

  • Indigeny Reserve is located on Summers Lane outside of Sonora. They offer an informative distillery tour with tastings of cider, vodka and brandy, and well curated gift shop showcasing local artist works—reason alone to visit. Open Monday through Wednesday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Thursday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Gianelli Vineyards tasting room is located on Main Street in quaint Jamestown. Everything about their foothill appellation mimics that of Italy with winemaking techniques so authentic they can easily say “our wines speak Italian.” Their hours invite a long, leisurely afternoon of day drinking.   Monday through Thursday afternoons from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 12:00 to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Inner Sanctum Cellars tasting room is also located on Main Street in Jamestown. They offer Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a just-released Peach Sparkling wine. Their tasting room shows off their mettle with and industrial feel and they have a quaint patio in the back with a fire pit to roast chestnuts and marshmallows. Open Thursday from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. www.innersanctumcellars.com. With such close proximity, we suggest tasting room crawling to both, followed by a lovely meal at the Historic National Hotel or The Jamestown Hotel.
  • Twisted Oak in the nearby town of Murphys takes a whimsical approach to wine tasting with their rubber chicken ranch. (You’ll see what we mean.) They have two tasting rooms, one on Red Hills Road in Vallecito and one on Main Street in Murphys. Both offer a good selection of both red and white varietals. Open Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and weekends from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Ironstone Vineyards – This winery is one of the largest wineries in the region and is located on Six Mile Road in Murphys. It has a large tasting room, deli, museum, banquet rooms, amphitheater and beautifully manicured grounds. It’s Heritage Museum is a tribute to the Gold Rush, displaying artifacts from the 19th century gold mining area and from the Miwoks, early Native American inhabitants who lives in this area. The focal point of the museum is the largest Crystalline Gold Leaf specimen in the world, weighing 44 pounds. Located inside the Heritage Museum, the Heritage Jewelry Shoppe offers visitors a unique opportunity to take home a piece of California’s rich history. Open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tours are offered Wednesday through Sunday at 1:00 p.m.

3. Lace up some history at Long Barn Lodge for Ice Skating. Families have been coming to this rink for generations, once an actual barn housing the miners’ mules during winters, on Highway 108. The ice skating rink is open daily 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Both the experience and the price is vintage:   $8.50 plus $2.50 for skate rentals. 

4. Go antique and thrift store shopping. There’s nothing better than wild weather outside for permission to stay inside poking around previously owned finds. The county has a variety of both antique stores and thrift stores. A good place to start is the Good Stuff on Pesce Way, just off Highway 49 next to ARCO AMPM in Sonora.

5. Go down under and stay dry – View beautiful geologic formations in one of several underground caverns.

  • Moaning Caverns is located in Vallecito (just 15 minutes from Sonora) on Parrotts Ferry Road, offering a trip into their cavern via a three-story spiral stair case. They also offer cave rappelling and gem mining, and in good weather, outdoor zip lining.  Open Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m.  to 4:00 p.m. and weekends from 10:00 a.m.  to 5:00 p.m. Tours cost $17.50 and are every hour on the hour. For the month of January, they are offering a “Get Fit in a Cave” special to save 20% on cave tours.
  • California Caverns is located in Mountain Ranch (about an hour’s drive from Moaning Caverns) and offers several room/chambers in a cave system to view. They are open Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and weekends from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tours cost $17.50 and are every hour on the hour. For the month of January, they are offering a “Get Fit in a Cave” special to save 20% on cave tours.
  • Mercer Cavern is located in Murphys (30 minutes from Sonora) on Sheep Ranch Road and offers several rooms and chambers in a cave system to view. It is relatively flat and open for visitors with mobility needs. Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

6. Go cosmic bowling at Black Oak Casino Resort. Their 24-lane Brunswick Bowling Center is open daily beginning at 9:00 a.m. and offers Cosmic Bowling Friday and Saturday beginning at 6:00 p.m. A full game arcade and Sports Grill completes the visit.

7. Play indoors for a while at Black Oak Casino Resort. The casino has a special penny slot area to pass the time without spending a fortune.

8. Enjoy local art – even some made by you.  There are several galleries in downtown Sonora, Jamestown, Twain Harte, Groveland and many spots along the way. At Brush and Cork, visitors can paint their own masterpiece by following the step-by-step designs of owner Judy Grossman, who refers to the experience as “Grown Up Paint By Numbers.”  (The grown-up part is the BYOB to enjoy a bottle of local wine…) Visit the website for hours and special painting class themes.

9. Visit Cover’s Apple Ranch for Mile-High Apple Pie. Along with ranch tours, a petting zoo, family-owned Cover’s best asset is a restaurant for generous portions of comfort food like biscuits and gravy, French toast, soups, salads and wonderful sandwiches. Wash it down with their hand pressed cider and save room for a piece of mile-high apple pie made in their bakery for dessert.

10. Take in a play. Sierra Repertory Theatre kicks off its 2017 season on February 18 with “Sister Act” in East Sonora and April 14 with “Noises Off” at the Historic Fallon House Theatre. Tickets are $28.00 – $35.00 with matinees making them a fun way to get out of the cold, while seeing first-rate live theatre at unheard of prices.

Tuolumne County is located just 2 ½ hours from the San Francisco Bay Area, making this area an easy day trip, but the area’s abundance of unique lodging beckons a stay overnight – or two. Book directly from the visitor website at VisitTuolumne.com for the options of hotels and motels, cabins and bed and breakfasts, casino hotels and historic inns.

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2017 Bucket List for Fun & Adventure in Tuolumne County

December 21, 2016 | Jen Lopez

The new year is here and it’s time to think about your Bucket List for 2017. The opportunities for fun and adventure in Tuolumne County are endless, but here are some ideas to get you started planning your trip(s) in the upcoming year. As you can see, any month is a good month to come visit us.

Januarylong-barn-ice-skating-2011-allison-fairfield

February

March

April

May

June

Julytwain-harte-mini-golf

August

Septemberbiking-tuolumne-county-trails

OctoberOctober 25, 2015 Indigeny Fall Festival, Indigeny Reserve, Sonora, California

November

  • Complement your great outdoor adventures with a visit to Tuolumne County’s boutique tasting rooms, where friendly ambiance is paired with unique Sierra foothill varietals.
  • Show your creative side and meet new friends at a fun painting party/class at Brush & Cork in Sonora.

Decemberchristmas-train-2011-030

Are you ready to get going? You’ll find lodging options for every taste and any budget, from river-side campgrounds to modern resorts in the High Sierra, in the heart of Gold Rush towns and near Yosemite National Park. Go to VisitTuolumne.com to start planning your getaway today.

Travel Tip: Don’t wait until the last minute to reserve lodging for June through September and winter holiday periods–those times fill up fast.