We’re in the midst of the holidays, seeing friends and family – the perfect opportunity to discuss individual and family travel plans, as well as vacation plans for the coming year.
As you see old friends and family over the holidays and around the dinner table, plan to get adults and kids talking about their favorite travel destinations and their hopes and dreams for travel in 2023 .Don’t let contributors talk about only their exotic destinations (such as European river cruises, a trip to Greenland, or family explorations in England or Ireland). And don’t let you and your family/friends be among those people who, if they ever move, will realize they’ve never seen some of the top travel attractions in their own backyard. Therefore, think about holiday travel locally as well as vacation planning for 2023, considering local, regional, national and worldwide destinations.
To focus interest on the thrills of nearby travel, today we’ll offer ideas within an hour of San Joaquin County, looking north, east, south, and west. To our north, a combination of the city of Sacramento and its bisecting American River offers a host of great travel destinations. Old Sacramento, with eight museums including the California Railroad Museum, Sacramento History Museum, SMUD Museum of Science and Curiosity, California Auto Museum and nearby Crocker Art Museum and many shops and restaurants, makes it a destination of holiday special.
Just to the north is the confluence of the American River and the Sacramento River at Discovery Park and one mile of the 34-mile urban jewel, the American River Parkway system, with biking and hiking trails that provide scenic access to the American River. Depending on the time of year, the American River offers hiking, biking, bird watching, fishing, swimming, tubing and river rafting sure to thrill young and old alike.
In the east, the destinations are arranged like jewels on the Gold Rush Highway, Highway 49, from the place of gold discovered in 1848, Coloma, south to the city of Sonora and Tuolumne. I’ve always suggested, for those who want to get serious about exploring the history of the Gold Rush, that they start in Coloma, the site of Sutters Mill where gold was discovered by James Marshall in January 1848. Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park is where you start. , featuring the recreated Sutters Mill, significant exhibits of gold mining equipment, hydraulic water cannons that gobbled up the hills for their gold content, all presented in a park that provides a scenic introduction to Native American and Gold history Rush.
Then travel southeast down Highway 49, with historic stops in towns like Placerville, Plymouth, Amador City, Sutters Creek, Columbia, Sonora and Tuolumne City. Make Sutters Creek, with its active and historically preserved Main Street full of shops, restaurants and wine tasting spots, a stop (lunch and refreshments at the Sutter Creek Hotel, the oldest continuously operating hotel in the state, or two blocks away , Gold Dust Pizza right in Sutter Creek). Columbia and Sonora are also favorites, with active shopping and historic districts.
Heading back south, plan a “back to nature” visit to Caswell Memorial State Park, south of Ripon. The park features riparian oak forest along the Stanislaus River. Within Caswell’s 258 acres is a wonderful campground and hiking trails along the lazy river. The park is home to several endangered species, such as the armored rabbit, and offers ancient forest orchards where Native Americans like the Yokuts would gather acorns, hunt and fish.
Look west to the vast expanse of the San Joaquin and Sacramento River deltas. The Delta has so much to offer, from the days when mighty steamboats connected San Francisco to Stockton and Sacramento. The suggested starting point is a trip west of Lodi on Highway 12, then following the river road to Isleton, Walnut Grove and Locke.
Visitors to Locke are wise to stop first at the north end of Main Street, where the former stable is now the Locke Boarding House Visitor Center, offering historical insight and is free. A host of museums include the Locke Memorial Park and Monument (honoring the Chinese who farmed and helped build bridges and railroads at the turn of the century) and the Dai Loy Museum (displaying gambling implements). Stop at Al’s Place on Locke for food and libation, in the heart of Old Chinatown that still functions in a state of arrested decay.
The wonderful Delta Meadows Trail begins at the border between Locke and Walnut Grove (use the AllTrails smartphone app for details on hikes like this one). The several-mile walk begins along stilts built by Chinese laborers more than 100 years ago, through riparian forests, swamps and meadows with a dizzying dose of quiet solitude. Much to our surprise we discovered a large part of the Delta practically untouched by man.
Next week, we’ll be offering ideas of a regional nature, where a two- to three-hour road trip will take you to some of the world’s best travel gems. In the meantime, share your favorite travel destination, providing a short paragraph of “what, where, when and why” and a photo if you have one. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org; we will share many of your suggestions in late December, through January.
For more information: American Riverregionalparks.saccounty.net; Caswell Memorial State Parkparks.ca.gov; Gold Rush Highway 49visitcalifornia.com/experience/highway-49/; Lockenps/gov/places/locke-historic-district.htm; Marshall Gold Discovery State Parkparks.ca.gov; Old Sacramentooldsacramento.com; San Joaquin/Sacramento Deltavisitcadelta.com; Sutters Creeksuttercreek.org.
Contact Tim, email@example.com. Happy Holidays!