Things To Do in Gold Country

Fun things to do in Gold Country include gold panning, horseback riding, train rides, cave exploration and more fun activities. Snow runoff from the Sierras makes Gold Country a premier spot for whitewater rafting and recreational boating including houseboating. Whether it be a houseboating on a lake or zip lining through sequoias, California Gold Country has plenty of fun things to do.


The Sacramento River Train is located off Interstate 5 in Woodland. This two and one-half hour train ride takes you from Woodland to the Sacramento River where it then follows the river to West Sacramento, Cross over an 8,000 foot long wooden trestle, while traveling through the state's most production farming region. Murder mystery, train robbery and many more themed tours are available. When in season, sample fresh fruit and products from the area at Uncle Ray's Fruit Stand.

Sacramento River Train
341 Industrial Way
Woodland, California 95776
(530) 666-6756

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The Sacramento Southern Excursion Train is located off Interstate 5 in Old Sacramento State Historic Park. Situated at Front and K Streets, train excursions include a 6-mile, 40-minute vintage train ride along the levees of the Sacramento River. The train operates on the weekends and departs every hour from 11am to 5pm. The Sacramento Southern Excursion Train is run by the California State Railroad Museum which is also located in Old Sac.

Old Sacramento State Park
Front and K Streets
Sacramento, California 95814
(916) 445-6645

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photo courtesy of Hornblower Cruises & Events

Hornblower Cruises is located off Interstate 5 in Old Sacramento State Historic Park. They offer dinner and lunch cruises aboard luxury and historic vessels. Choose from a one hour narrated cruise to learn Sacramento's history or longer cruises aboard a luxury paddlewheel boat. Menu choices may include Spinach Basil Gnocchi, Pollo Borracho & Carnitas, Asiago Caesar Salad, Polynesian Chicken Noodle Salad and much more.

Hornblower Cruises & Events Old Sacramento
1206 Front Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
(530) 666-6756

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Highway 49

Downieville Outfitters is located off Highway 49 in the northernmost part of Gold Country. Downieville Outfitters offers mountain bike and backcountry skiing tours. Enjoy over 14 miles of panoramic vistas, lush trails and steep descents in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Several trail options can be combined at just over a mile in length to over 14 miles. Trails are available the beginner to expert rider. Bring your own ride or rent some of their full-suspension Enduros. Shuttles are available for one-way rides. During the winter, DVO offers backcountry ski tours to the rugged Sierra Buttes. Strong intermediate to expert skills are necessary.

Downieville Outfitters
114 Main Street
Downieville, CA 95936
(530) 289-0155

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Gold panning in Gold Country is a serious activity. It would not be surprising to find gold worth hundreds or even thousands your first time out. You need to know how and where to do it without getting yourself filled with buckshot. Outfitters and guides can be arranged at Gold Prospecting Adventures in Jamestown. They can teach you how to 'Placer Mine' correctly and where the most productive streams and rivers can be accessed. Other places we know you can try gold panning without a problem include Malakoff Diggins State Park and South Yuba River State Park. Consider camping at a mining camp like Coloma Resort or Roaring Camp Mining Co. where they'll teach you how to pan for gold.

TIP: Woods Creek is still a very productive creek near Jamestown. Make sure the waterway you're panning in is not on private property and always ask permission from local property owners if in doubt.

Gold Prospecting Adventures
18170 Main Street
Jamestown, California 95327
(800) 596-0009

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Yosemite National Park

The Sierra Railroad Dinner Train is located in Oakdale just west of Yosemite National Park. From Oakdale many tour options are available for trips through Gold Country. Example of packages offered are overnighters in Jamestown or Sonora, train and raft tours, dinner trips and much more. Available shows include murder mysteries, train robberies & gunfights and movie railroad trips.

Sierra Railroad Dinner Train
220 South Sierra Avenue
Oakdale, California 95361
(209) 848-2100

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Sugar Pine Railroad is located in Fish Camp just south of Yosemite National Park off Highway 41. The route traverses through the pines from Fish Camp to Oakhurst and back. Many tour options are available including full meals and train cars include open-air and enclosed.
Note: Check out our Yosemite page for more to see and do throughout Yosemite.

Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad
56001 Highway 41
Fish Camp, California 93623
(559) 683-7273

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Yosemite Ziplines & Adventure Ranch is located off Highway 140 at the western entrance to Yosemite National Park. Zoom along 7 zip lines totaling 3800 linear feet. Other challenging thrills include Pirates Crossing, Rickety Bridge, a Giant Cargo Net and rappelling. Learn how to pan for gold and gemstones in their authentically designed sluices.

Yosemite Ziplines & Adventure Ranch
4808 Highway 140
Mariposa, CA 95338
(209) 742-4844

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All Regions

Take advantage of nature's roller coaster in the American and Stanislaus Rivers. Navigate through Gold Country in an inflatable raft. Choose from scenic routes that pass directly through historic gold camps to adventurous class 4+ thrill rides. Camping and meal options are available. Season ranges from April to October depending on water levels. MORE

Gold Bug Mine, Placerville

Gold Country has a plethora of Mines and Caverns awaiting exploration. Stalactites and stalagmites are strategically lit for ominous displays of middle-earth beauty. Descend by rope rappel 165-feet to the bottom of Moaning Cavern, take a modified shuttle into the depths of Sutter Gold Mine, or descend a stairway to the emerald underground lake of Black Chasm. MORE

Horseback Riding is available from in Gold Country from Murphys to Yosemite National Park. Whether looking for a short trek or a pack trip into the wilderness, there are many stables in Gold Country that can accommodate your interest. MORE DETAILS

Lakes with boating, fishing, water-skiing and more can be found throughout Gold Country from Bullards Bar north of Grass Valley & Nevada City to Lake McClure south of Angels Camp & Sonora. Many of these lakes offer camping with some even offering houseboat rentals. MORE DETAILS

Houseboating in Gold Country is available at several lakes including Bullards Bar Reservoir, New Melones Lake, Don Pedro Lake and Lake McClure. Houseboats have all the amenities of modern motorhomes with several additions that can include a hot tub, patio deck with barbecue and diving platform and much more. MORE DETAILS

Forest Meadows Golf Course

Golf courses are abundant in Gold Country from Nevada City to Porterville. In addition to the challenging DarkHorse Golf Club in Auburn, Gold Country offers links courses, championship courses, executive courses and more. MORE DETAILS

Kayak rentals, kayak tours and kayak lessons are offered in Gold Country from Nevada City to Coulterville. In addition to kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) has become a popular activity. We also provide info for stand-up paddleboard rentals, paddleboard tours and paddleboard lessons. Peacefully explore the lakes of Gold Country. MORE DETAILS

Bear Valley Mountain Resort

Ski resorts and snow parks are located just outside Gold Country in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Choose from the large and challenging Kirkwood (normally grouped with the Lake Tahoe ski resorts) to the smaller but still impressive Bear Valley, Dodge Ridge, and Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area (located in Yosemite National Park). These resorts are a less crowded alternative to many of the overcrowded resorts located just over the ridge on the eastern side of the Sierras. MORE DETAILS

Activities by Region

California by Region

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