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When most people think of California's Gold Country, they imagine dusty streets dotted with cowboys ready to draw at a minimal slight; false front buildings populated with gruff prospectors conning visitors' cash to dig for fool's gold; and loose women falling off bar stools. Not so much anymore. Sutter Creek may have once been one of Gold Country's roughest cities, but these days you'll find a surprisingly sophisticated town with its hat tipped to its history. Home to ambitious winemakers and foodies, Sutter Creek bills itself the "Jewel of Gold Country." Even though neighboring Coloma often gets credited as the first place people struck ...

When most people think of California's Gold Country, they imagine dusty streets dotted with cowboys ready to draw at a minimal slight; false front buildings populated with gruff prospectors conning visitors' cash to dig for fool's gold; and loose women falling off bar stools. Not so much anymore. Sutter Creek may have once been one of Gold Country's roughest cities, but these days you'll find a surprisingly sophisticated town with its hat tipped to its history. Home to ambitious winemakers and foodies, Sutter Creek bills itself the "Jewel of Gold Country." Even though neighboring Coloma often gets credited as the first place people struck gold, John Sutter's men actually scored the state's first riches in Sutter Creek. The massive migration to the region morphed this one-time tent city into a supply center for hard rock miners. Long after the gold hunters gave up on this Sierra foothills town, forward thinking artists and renegades arrived to open B&Bs, restaurants, and antique stores in the historic buildings surrounding the Gold Country relics. These days, the only gold you are likely to find is in the shape of a bottle of Zinfandel. Winemakers inhabit the rolling hills, inviting tourists to sip for way less than they can in Napa Valley.

Michele Bigley
About the Expert

Michele Bigley is the author of Northern California: An Explorer's Guide and Great Destinations Kauai from Countryman Press.

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Michele Bigley for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Located central, eastern California, 35 miles from Sacramento.
  • Research: Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Early fall, late spring