Mining, Wining, and Dining in Historic Amador County, California

Although Amador County has drawn visitors for more than a century,  in recent years a new found appreciation for its spectacular offerings has resulted in a surge of enchanted visitors.

Amador County’s assets include the lush Shenandoah Valley’s award winning wines, the gently rolling western slopes, and majestic mountain backdrops to the east. Some of the state’s finest skiing, golfing, dining, and lodging find their home in Amador County, the perfect destination for a weekend of history, culture, and recreational opportunity.

A perfect place to begin your Amador County visit is by beginning with the town of Plymouth located on Highway 49 just a few minutes south of a clustering of the Shenandoah Valley’s fine wineries.

There you’ll want to visit the Amador Flower Farm where you can walk through 12 acres of beautiful gardens while enjoying over 600 varieties of day lilies. This is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic lunch and some wine from one of your day’s samplings.

You may want to meander south on historic Highway 49 through Amador City and on into the charming town of Sutter Creek to browse and work up an appetite.

A fun and nearby diversion on the town’s outskirts is the Sutter Gold Mine where you can examine gold bearing quartz veins and mining displays, all deep beneath the ground in an actual working mine.

The town of Sutter Creek offers quaint shops, fine dining, and elegant accommodations. Two excellent picks are the ivy covered, red brick Hanford House or the turn of the century charms at the Foxes Inn of Sutter Creek. Both B & B’s are close to shopping and dining.

photo courtesy of Hanford House

On your final day consider a visit to Jackson, the county’s largest city and former gold rush camp. Although Jackson shows a modern side to visitors you can catch a glimpse of two of the deepest and richest quartz mines of the gold country.

Before departing, decide which of the charming nearby towns you’ll explore. To the west you’ll find the fascinating town of Ione which unlike most other Amador County towns was not founded on gold but rather as a stage and rail stop and later by agriculture and lay and stone production. Ione hosts the championship golf course, Castle Oaks, The Ione Hotel would be a natural choice for brunch or lunch along the way.

If you choose an eastern route you’ll find Pine Grove, Volcano, and Pioneer, each beautiful ad fascinating little gold rush towns.

Volcano, unquestionably one of the state’s most picturesque and intriguing small gold towns once produced 90 million dollars in gold. You’ll find no volcano there although the volcanic-looking limestone gave settlers a false impression.

Should you explore up-country you’ll find one of the Sierra’s most beautiful golf courses, Mace Meadows, where towering pines provide  a breath-taking view for the nature-loving golfer.

If you’re heading back to the west you’ll enjoy a stop in the tiny towns of Amador City and Drytown. Years ago quartz mining provided the economic base in these small towns and you can still see today, the head frame of the Keystone Mine. Both towns are known for excellent hiking and walking as the trails and roads all circle back to town. Amador City boasts the smallest incorporated city in California but both population and city limits.

So there you have it—-what began 150 years ago, as adventurers lusting after golden dreams of fortune has now become a second gold rush as the same rugged earth produces newer treasures for those seeking the growing legend of Amador County.