Growing up in San Francisco, I loved learning about the Gold Rush in school. I was fascinated by how California was born out of rowdy boomtowns and the lawless Wild West. So I was excited to move to Sacramento recently and visit nearby Gold Rush towns like Sutter Creek, which is located in the heart of Amador County. We stayed for one night, which felt like the ideal length for a stay. The town itself is very small, and it was nice to wander around without a lot of pressure to see a long list of sights that is usually the case when we are in a larger destination. Here’s a recap of how we spent our time in Sutter Creek, California.
24 Hours in Sutter Creek, California
We arrived around early afternoon, and decided to walk around Main Street and imagine what life was like at the height of the Gold Rush. The Main Street itself is only a few blocks, but there are a lot of historical buildings packed into this small area that include:
- Sutter Creek Theater-a great place to catch a movie, theater production or concert in a building that dates back to the 1920s.
- Monteverde General Store Museum-a preserved general store from the 1800s that is run by volunteers and open on weekends (though it’s recommended that you call for a tour in advance).
- Sutter Creek United Methodist Church-a classical example of a small gold mining church with its sky-high white steeple.
- Hotel Sutter-hard to miss this beautiful old building in the middle of the street that serves as a hotel, bar and restaurant.
Afterward, we ventured up a bit further to Miners’ Bend Park, an impressive display of gold mining tools from nearby Argonaut, Sutter and other gold mines. If you’re curious about learning how gold mining worked, this spot has a lot of informative plaques about the entire process, including how risky it was for those involved.
We wandered around in the surrounding neighborhood, and admired the historical Victorian Homes that were located right off of the main thoroughfare.
Later in the afternoon we headed out to Historic Sutter Creek Grammar School, which was founded in 1870. It was one of the largest schools in the area for its time, and is currently being used as a community center. The building stands high on a hill and provides excellent views of Sutter Creek below.
Later that evening, we had pizza on the back patio (see review below) and then walked along the creek as the sun set and children splashed around in the water.
The next morning we made our way over to Jackson and went to the Amador County Museum, to learn more about the local history of the area and view artifacts that were donated by local residents over the past 70 years. The museum is housed in the historical Brown family mansion, one of the town earliest residents. There is also a Kennedy mine replica tour that’s worth checking out as well.
Restaurants in Sutter Creek
Gold Dust Pizza-a local favorite that has outdoor seating and has some of the best pizza I’ve had in a long time, no joke. Also love a restaurant that is on theme. The Gold Digger is popular for meat lovers, and the Vegetarian (a personal favorite) is piled high with fresh veggies.
Buffalo Chips-for a hearty homemade breakfast (as well as delicious sandwiches) this is the place to go in town. Make sure you save room for the homemade pie.
Sinas Backroads Café-a small neighborhood spot that is known for their delicious biscuits and gravy, and chicken salad sandwiches.
The Sutter Restaurant (Hotel Sutter)-for a classy meal with ambiance that’s hard to beat you can either dine in the formal dining room or al fresco on the second floor balcony. Try the blacken shrimp or a steak sandwich.
Where To Drink In Sutter Creek
Choc-O-Latte-a great spot to grab coffee or a cup of cocoa with a side of truffles to snack on.
Sutter Creek Provisions-part market, part tap room, this place is good to try some craft beers or stock up for a picnic.
Scott Harvey Wines Tasting Room-has delicious wine and friendly, informative staff that do a great job explaining the history of the wines. Wine tasting is seven dollars per person, but is waived if you buy a bottle.
Where To Stay In Sutter Creek
Hanford House Inn-luxury digs downtown that come with all the stops (complementary wine and warm scones delivered to your door in the morning). Full breakfast included as well.
Days Inn-great no frills place to stay that is walking distance from the downtown area, breakfast included, microwave and mini-fridge is provided allowing you to easily prep meals within your room.
Hotel Sutter-a classic spot to stay right in the middle of the town.
Places To Visit Nearby Sutter Creek
If you have extra time, these other Gold Rush towns in Amador County are worth visiting, especially neighboring Jackson.
Downtown Jackson-another cute old mining town to walk around in and explore sights like The National Hotel, and The Serbian Bakery for its insanely addictive morning buns and the sweetest owner.
Chew Kee Store Museum (Fiddletown)-A great place to learn about the Chinese history during the gold rush and the influence they had in places like Fiddletown. This store used to be owned by an herb doctor that treated Chinese miners, as well as Chinese railroad workers later. Open on weekends.
Getting to Sutter Creek
An easy hour drive from Sacramento, Sutter Creek is located on the historic Old Route 49 Highway, which was the road the miners embarked on to seek their fortune in 1849. Within Amador County (aka deep into California’s Gold Country), the other towns nearby include Jackson (county seat), Amador City, Ione, Fiddletown, Volcano, and Pine Grove where you can explore quant gold mining towns. Sutter Creek is a small town, but within a quick 10 minute drive over the hill to Jackson, there’s a Walgreens, Safeway, and other restaurants.
When To Go To Gold Country
Summer is not the best time to go since it can be in the 90s or above. I’ve been back during the winter when it’s quite cold, but it was nice seeing the area decked out in lights and seasonal decorations. I would love to go during late autumn and seeing the fall foliage.