These days, California might be best known for its pristine beaches, giant sequoias, and vast expanses of farmland. But there’s another side to the Golden State, one rich in history and built on the promise of prosperity. After all, it was neither Hollywood nor Silicon Valley that tempted thousands to set out west and set down roots in California — it was gold, and the chance to strike it rich in the land of opportunity. In 1848, when James W. Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, he spurred a mad influx of people to the Sierra Foothills. The Gold Rush would become one of the largest mass migrations in American history, an event that would change the identity of the state forever, in part by causing the widespread displacement and oppression of northern California’s native people.
Today, California Gold Country is where past meets present, where some of the oldest wine grapes in the country sprawl out over rolling hills and destination roadside markets continue to thrive through three generations of change. From Sacramento, where the city’s eponymous river snakes its way under the Tower Bridge, to a Gold Rush-era building housing an ambitious brewery in California’s tiniest town, Gold Country offers tastes of California not found anywhere else in the state. There’s still plenty of opportunity to discover something great — that is if you know where to look.