DAY ONE, Sunday
We headed out early in the morning and drove up the 5. The drive was easy, although there are very few places to stop for lunch if you don’t want fast food, however, I was thrilled with the number of Starbucks drive-thrus (my weakness). We arrived in Nevada City around 2:30 pm and checked into the Northern Queen Inn (http://www.northernqueeninn.com). I wrote a full review in the hotel section, but we were very happy with the cabin we had. It had room for the family, a microwave and fridge and was clean. The pool was small – but the kids didn’t care and it was a great place to spend some time after dinner and before bed.
We drove into town for dinner (it is possible to walk, but with 2 kids and a baby, we thought the drive was better). We walked around and went in the shops and read the plaques of the historic buildings. We had dinner at Las Katarinas Mexican restaurant. Food was great, lots of locals were in there and the service very friendly.
DAY TWO, Monday
BRIDGEPORT HISTORIC STATE PARK
We drove out to Bridgeport Historic State Park. We were some of the only people there. The kid sloved playing in the South Yuba River.
We return to the hotel in time to catch the 12 noon train ride. It took you up to an old Chinese Cemetery. The cemetery wasn’t real big, but the conductor had wonderful stories and history about it. Enjoyed listening to him. My son’s day was made when he came back and asked him to ride shotgun with him back to the station.
We drove into Auborn in the early afternoon, figuring we would shop a bit then eat. Very unimpressed with Auborn, ended up turning around and heading back to Nevada City.
Had dinner at Citizen's Restaurant (www.citizensrestaurant.com). A good family restaurant. Extremely friendly staff and good food. I tried one of the local wines with dinner, Nappiar’s Rose. It was excellent, the chef came out and talked to me about some of the local wines and suggested several others.
That evening we decided to surprise the kids by driving into Grass Valley to the miniature golf course. Took us forever to find it (only had an address and the fact it was off the freeway… Finally found it and it was closed on Tuesdays. Ended up back at the hotel and went swimming – kids were happy, so we were happy.
DAY THREE / Tuesday
Started driving south on the 49 (beautiful road) towards Murphys. Our first stop of the day was in Placerville and the Hangtown’s Gold Bug Park. If you don’t have time to go to other mines, this would be okay, but it was a very short self guided tour with not much to see. There were some trails around there – however, we did not go on any. They also have “gold panning” for $2 and hour. The kids had fun finding fool’s gold.
After leaving Placerville, we stopped at Marshall Gold Discovery State History Park. Didn’t spend much time there, but walked around to the different buildings and provided our kids some information on the historic significance of the site.
Last stop of the day before heading to Murphys was Sutter Gold Mine. We got there right before a tour left (they leave on the hour). Unfortunately, there website did not mention that children under 3 were not allowed on the tour, so I stayed behind while my hubby took the other two on the tour. It was worth it though as they came out grinning ear to ear and all excited about what they saw. For their souvenir, we let them get a geo to crack. Amazing what is great fun for a child.
We pulled into Murphys late afternoon and checked in to Murphy Suites. Loved the hotel, clean, big rooms, and nice pool area for the kids. Full report in the hotels reviews section. Would definitely stay there again if we return with the kids. After getting changed, relaxing for a bit we headed into town. Unfortunately, it seems most of the town is closed Sunday – Wednesday, so it took a while to find an open restaurant. We ended up at Murphys Grille, and had a wonderful meal. The service and food quality was excellent. Walked down the street and indulged in an ice cream sundae at Peppermint Stick Ice Cream Parlour.
Went back to the hotel, poured a glass of local wine, and relaxed in the Jacuzzi while the kids swam.
DAY FOUR / Wednesday
Started the day at Mercer caverns, we got there when they opened, but had to wait 30 minutes for the first tour (they run on the ½ hour). We were the only ones there so had our own private tour. The cavern and history was very interesting. There are a lot of stairs (very steep stairs in parts), you go down @16 stories and back up a different route. You do stop at each level so it isn’t too bad. I did it with the baby in a sling and my two other kids had no problems what so ever and loved the cavern tour.
Next stop was Ironstone Vineyards. The grounds were beautiful, the tour okay, I didn’t feel it went into the wine making process as much as I would have liked, and spent more time talking about how you can use the facilities for weddings, parties, etc… and about their theater. The wine itself is okay – nothing to write home about though – very much a “mass-produced” wine taste. The museum was small, but had some interesting things in it, and the 44 lbs piece gold is very impressive. We had a nice lunch from the deli there, good lunchmeats and breads.
CALAVERAS BIG TREE PARK
Headed out to Calaveras Big Tree Park in the afternoon. We went to the north grove and walked through it. Were very impressed with the amount of trees, how nice the park was and how uncrowded it was. If we had more time we would have love to go through the south grove as well… something to do next time. After hiking through the grove, we drove farther into the park and stopped at Beaver Creek. The kids had a blast splashing around in the river with other kids.
DAY FIVE / Thursday
Last year we visit Jamestown, Columbia State Park and Sonora. We spent a day digging and sluicing for gold with California Gold. We had such a good time that we returned again this year. (http://www.goldfun.com/). Joshua Vick’s who is in charge is a wonderful, intelligent person who is a wealth of knowledge on gold exploration and history. You get to dig in the riverside, use sluices and keep the gold you find.
DAY SIX / Friday
Home again, home again….