Northern California is just the best place for road trips. There are beautiful places to see, interesting people to meet, and fun activities all along the way. If you are looking for some fun towns to visit, the options are really endless and you can definitely find some really amazing towns in any of Northern California’s four corners. For the sake of simplicity, however, we created this road trip that takes you to these amazing 10 towns in a little under 8 hours of driving.
This road trip will take you through several historic towns in Northern California. You will see evidence of the logging and mining history that put this area on the map in the first place.
Founded in 1850, Weaverville is a historic California Gold Rush town. Nestled at the foot of the current Trinity Alps Wilderness Area, Weaverville was once home to approximately 2,000 Chinese gold miners, and had its own Chinatown. Logging and tourism were the economic mainstays of Weaverville for many years. It is the home of California's oldest continuously used Chinese temple. The Joss House is now managed by the park system and is open to visitors all year round.
The primary industries in Chester are lumber production and tourism. Chester serves as the retail center for the Lake Almanor region of California, and derives a significant portion of its economy from the tourist trade, and to a lesser degree from construction to new residents and businesses. It's a great place to stop and refuel on food and gas before you head farther into the mountains.
Quincy started as a Gold Rush community in 1858. Like most of the communities you will visit on this drive, Quincy is located in a Mediterranean climate. This means that it sees hot summers and wet, often snowy, winters.
Graeagle (pronounced "Grey Eagle") is a remote little mountain town that was founded in 1916 as a lumber town. It was named Graeagle after a naming contest to select a better name than "Davies' Mill;" the winning entry contracted "Grey Eagle Creek" to Graeagle. It's a fun town and beautiful location.
Your next stop is Downieville, a gem of Sierra County that is popular among mountain bikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Gold was discovered by Francis Anderson on 14 Sept. 1849, at the location where the town now stands. It's a fun, historic town whether you come for a short visit or a long stay.
6. Nevada City
Originally a Nisenan Maidu village, Nevada City is a gold rush town that was settled by miners and prospectors in 1849. Today, it's known for its historic charm and great arts and food scene. You will definitely want to stop here for a meal at one of the unique and delightful restaurants.
7. Grass Valley, CA
Located just a hop, skip and a jump from Nevada City, Grass Valley is also a great place to stop and soak in some gold rush history. It was settled by miners from Cornwall, England, and still holds on to its strong Cornish heritage.
The largest town you will see on this drive, Auburn has some sprawling areas but an amazing historic downtown area. It's located on the North Fork of the American River and is a popular place for outdoor recreation.
The site where gold was first discovered on the banks of the South Fork of the American River, Coloma is now a sleepy little town of just about 600 people. Much of the town is actually part of the State Park that commemorates this historic spot. Many of the original structures of the gold rush still stand here.
Known as Old Hangtown because of its dark gold rush past, Placerville is the lifeblood of the Gold Country. Walk along Main Street and enjoy the stores and dining options that will surprise you with their sophistication. There is also many great wineries in this area, if you are interested in exploring the surrounding countryside.