California Road Trip – Gold Country


Gold Country in northern California offers heart-stopping adventures and stunning tranquil settings. Either way, nature will knock your socks off. This week-long California road trip adventure was full of so many different activities and of course, lots of fun.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

California Road Trip

This California road trip was through Gold Country on the picturesque Highway 49 where scenic Gold Rush-era towns and outdoor activities are in abundance. Our trip started and ended in Sacramento. Besides a phone dropped in the water and blowing up two tires on the car , our road trip went smoothly!

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

Let’s first introduce my squad that joined me on this California road trip. This trip was with Visit California, and there were groups of people from all over the world going on different road trips at the same time. I think I had the best team out there! Joining me were Daniel from Austria, Jonjo (aka JJ) from the UK, Naoko from Japan and Hyo-Jin from Korea.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

Day 1 – Sacramento

I had a few extra days in Sacramento prior to this trip, and absolutely loved it. It is a very bike friendly community and I would definitely go back again to explore more of the area.

Sacramento Underground Tour

Take an entertaining and informative tour through the underbelly of Sacramento with the Underground Tour. During the floods of the 1860’s and 70’s, the city had to be “jacked up”, meaning literally raised up to avoid further damaging flood waters. We walked among hollow sidewalks, sloped alleyways and underground spaces. Hilarious but knowledgeable guides made the tour incredibly entertaining.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

Railroad Museum

We had an event dinner at the California Railroad Museum, which is located along the waterfront in Old Sacramento. Here the railroad is brought to life with immaculately restored engines and cars. You will learn why the railroad has kept the Golden State steaming along for nearly 200 years.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

Tower Bridge

Make sure you go to see the Tower Bridge which is painted a shimmery gold and looks absolutely brilliant at sunset….a true California golden moment. At sunrise and sunset, the golden glow of the Tower Bridge matches that of the cupola on the State Capitol Building which is just down the street. Until 1963 this bridge carried railroad traffic in the center, with vehicles to the sides.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

California’s State Capital

Delve into California’s unique history, while enjoying the architecture of the State Capital in Sacramento. Self-guided and guided tours are available, and they also have a museum! The tours offer an interpretive information of the historic offices, legislative chambers and stunning artwork located around the Capitol building.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

Where We Stayed & Ate

In Sacramento we stayed at the Embassy Suites Riverfront Promenade which is on the waterfront right beside the Tower Bridge and across the street from Old Sacramento. We walked everywhere or used bike/scooter sharing with Jump.

I really enjoyed breakfast at Pushkins which had great gluten free/vegan options. If you are a fan of Mexican food, check out Zocalo which had scrumptious ceviche.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

Also, all road trips require a vehicle and Avis deserves a special shout out for the rental and for coming to the rescue when we got two flat tires.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

Day 2 – Folsom

Most commonly known as Folsom Prison and a Johnny Cash song about it, Folsom is situated in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. There are approximately 95 miles (152.8 km) of trails around Folsom that give you a spectacular views of the lakes and rivers in the area.

Cycling the Johnny Cash Trail

When in Folsom, why not do what the Johnny Cash fans do? Take a bike ride! The Johnny Cash Trail is a paved, multi-use trail that winds its way behind the City Hall campus, along the American River and across the Robbers’ Ravine Bridge. The ravine served as a hideout for stagecoach robbers back in the day. This trail is so easy, and it was so fun riding the electric bikes they are made easy for everyone to drive!

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

Kayaking at Lake Natoma

The Lake is a slender, five-mile stretch of water running alongside Folsom. It was formed by the expansion of the American River as Nimbus Dam backs up the river to slow the waters from Folsom Dam. The calm waters are perfect for stand-up kayaking. I am a huge fan of kayaking and it was such a horrible day out but as soon as we got on the water the sky cleared up for us and we got some sunshine.  You get to see all the bridges including rainbow bridge!

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

Where We Stayed & Ate

In Folsom, I’d suggest you check out Karen’s Bakery and Cafe and Mas Taco Bar. For a special treat (if you are a chocolate lover) pop into the Chocolate Architect. During our time here, we stayed at Natoma Inn.

You can watch my California road trip vlog below or on YouTube for better quality.

Day 3 – Placer County

Placer County sits 132 miles northeast of San Francisco and 100 miles west of Reno. Outdoor enthusiasts love at the county’s abundance of year-round recreational activities at its hundreds of miles of breathtaking national forest, parks.

Auburn State Recreational Area

In the heart of gold country, the Auburn State Recreational Area is this beautiful natural setting where a relaxing hike can melt the cares away. There is boating, fishing, camping, mountain biking, horseback riding, and yes, gold panning! People still do it, if only for fun.  I legit cant say anything but good things about Auburn it was a dream nature heaven…I just loved it!

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

We went to the Lake Clementine Dam and just a short walk from the top of the dam you can walk down to the lake level. We also went rock climbing at the Cave Valley (aka Auburn Quarry) . It was so fun! I have only been indoor climbing before, so getting to climb was amazing and I was so proud myself.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

Foresthill Bridge

The Foresthill Bridge, which soars 730 feet above the American River’s North Fork, is the 4th highest bridge in the US and the tallest in California. It was definitely worth the stop on my California road trip through Gold Country.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

Where We Stayed & Ate

In Auburn, we stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn. We also stopped by the Park Victorian Inn for cocktail hour. For dinner we were treated to a Taste of Placer County dinner at the PaZa Winery which I highly recommend.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

Day 4 – El Dorado County

El Dorado County is a year-round vacation destination overflowing with outdoor adventure, a welcoming wine and agricultural scene, enriching family activities, and a proud Gold Rush history.

Fishing at Henningsen Lotus Park

Learn how to fish trout with the best – the folks at Trout Unlimited. Patience is key! Fishing is an art, and these guys no how to show you the best tips and tricks for fishing trout in the rivers of gold country.  Beside the cute outfit, I grew up camping and fishing, so this was a home run for me. We sadly didn’t catch anything, but it was still so fun. Check out details here.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

Rafting on the American River

Mother Lode River Center Adventure Park rafting in Marshall Gold State Historic Park, while floating in a raft down the south fork of the American River. The Mother Lode River Center has whitewater river rafting to get the adrenaline pumping.  Rafting was so great you can raft through so many different grades and our team went in two different boats I was in one boat with the lovely guide Thomas and then the rest of team was in another boat.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

Where We Stayed & Ate

In the Coloma area, we lodged at the Coloma Cottages which are just below famous Troublemaker rapids on the South Fork of the American River and within walking distance to the Marshall Gold Discovery State Park . I’d also suggested you try Marcos Cafe for lunch or dinner.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

Day 5 & 6 – Calaveras County

Calaveras County is a year-round travel destination in beautiful Gold Country and the spectacular High Sierra between Yosemite and Lake Tahoe. Calaveras has award-winning Sierra Foothills wineries, unlimited recreational opportunities and picturesque Gold Rush towns.

Calveras Big Trees State Park

Calveras Big Trees State Park became a state park in 1931, to preserve the giant sequoias, found all around Northern California. This includes the “Discovery Tree” a/k/a the “Big Stump.” It is the first Sierra redwood tree discovered by Augustus T. Down back in 1852. Big tree state park was by far my favorite place. These trees were so stunning and so huge!!!  There are so many paths you can take, and you can explore a lot of the park.  I would love to go back and explore more of the park.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

Moaning Cavern

Moaning Cavern Adventure Park is home to the single largest cave chamber in all of California. Moaning Cavern was discovered by miners in 1851, and it is so massive that it could hold the entire Statue of Liberty inside of it. Early visitors would climb into a large bucket and be slowly lowered down. Nowadays, a spiral staircase provides easy access, or, if you prefer you can repel the 50 meters from the top of the chamber to the bottom.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

Here you can take a cave tour, have a ziplining adventure and enjoy stunning views along the way.  Sadly not everyone in our group got to go ziplining because there was lighting too close…next trip for sure will try again. Moaning Cavern is definitely a must see stop on your California road trip.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

New Melones Lake

New Melones is located between the historic mining towns of Sonora and Angels Camp on Highway 49. New Melones Lake Glory Hole Recreation Area offers spectacular outdoor recreation on and the 3rd largest reservoir in California making it the perfect place for a relaxing boat ride.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

Natural Bridge at Calveras

This two-mile round-trip hike to the Natural Bridge in Calveras is not for the faint of heart but is so worth it! It is a steep hike down and a heart-pumping hike back up. Along the way you will see gorgeous limestone caverns, carved out by Coyote Creek.  

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

Where We Stayed & Ate

In Murphys, we stayed both nights at Murphy’s Suites. For meals, my top suggestions would be The Lube Room Saloon and Crusco’s Ristorante.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

We also had an extra special dinner at the Ironstone Vineyards.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.
Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.com shares about her California road trip through Gold Country along Highway 49.

A very special thank you to Nathaniel, Christina, Max, Joe and Kim for helping me with photos from this trip.

This California road trip blog post is brought you in collaboration with Visit California. Thank you for supporting the destinations that support me