Visiting Columbia is just like hopping in a time machine and heading to the old west; that's what Doc Brown did when Back to the Future III was filmed here. Experience what Gold Rush life was like in this town that feels like it's still the 1800's. Here are six ways you can best feel like you've traveled back in time.
The second you get here, ditch the car and opt for something a bit more appropriate for the location, like a Stagecoach!
The Quartz Mountain Stage Line is the closest you can get to riding in a time machine here, without a Delorean. You'll hop aboard an authentic stage coach and ride down Main Street just like the highfalutin visitor folk did back in the day. It's the perfect way to set the stage for a visit steeped in history.
The allure of gold brought tens of thousands of people here back in the 1800's. While the hills may not be as productive as they once were, gold can still be found here, and the Matelot Gulch Mining Store will help you find it. Their experienced miners will teach you just how it was done back in 1849 and help you find gold and gems. You can chose from a variety of options, from renting the pan and going it alone to a full lesson that guarantees you find gold. Plus, you get to keep anything you find! Even if you don't get rich, you'll feel like a million bucks when you see that color shining in the pan.
Every aspect of Columbia is meant to immerse you in Gold Rush era history. The merchants are no different, as every shop is staffed by someone who looks like they belong in the 1800's. The Columbia Mercantile is a historic grocery and general store. It's design hearkens to its "French Quarter" history. This is the place to hit to stock up on picnic supplies if you're looking for a fun, family picnic in the state park.
Fallon Ice Cream Parlor serves cones, sundaes and other sweet treats. Like everything else, it's straight from the Gold Rush. The must have, however, is an authentic sarsaparilla. You'll wonder why these aren't popular anymore as you sip and savor the history.
Parrot's Blacksmith is a fun way to see this fascinating craft in action. This is where you can get your very own personalized Lucky Horseshoe, and shop for coal-forged items for friends and family.
Head over to Kamice's Photographic Establishment where you and your friends and family can dress up in period garb and get your photo taken just like they did in the Old West. These make great souvenirs, and Facebook profile photos.
Towle & Leavitt is a fascinating store with a wide selection of gifts, jewelry and fancy goods. One of the most interesting options is their selection of period stationary and writing implements.
There are many more stores you can explore; where you could literally spend an entire day shopping through time.
You can stay in a regular hotel anywhere, but a 19th-century inn, now that's rare. Just like everything else in Columbia, the lodging is period authentic. Places like the City Hotel and Fallon Hotel and even the Columbia State Historic Park Vacation Cottages immerse you in the rich history of the Gold Rush, while also granting you a comfortable stay. Both hotels are restored, authentic buildings from the era, but have added modern conveniences like heating and air conditioning and indoor plumbing. After all, you only need just so much authenticity, right?
Seven Sisters Soap and Candle Company is a unique treasure of a business that is part store, part living history lesson. You can browse their store filled with handmade goats-milk soaps and candles. Or head over to the Candle Courtyard where you can wax nostalgic and try your hand at candle making. This was an incredibly valuable skill during the Gold Rush, what with not everyone having electricity and all. Today it's a great skill for making truly unique gifts, and fun.
Their expert staff will guide you using processes very similar to the methods in the 19th century. You can choose from various designs like simple candle sticks to shapes like flowers or hearts.
Theatre was an important part of the entertainment culture during this time. There weren't many options, so they put a lot of effort into every aspect of the experience. That holds true today, as these award-winning shows are held year-round in the beautiful, historic Fallon Theatre. The 134-year-old building has been fully renovated to both look the part, but also allow you to watch a show in comfort, namely with things like air conditioning.
The talented casts of everything from musicals to comedies and dramas will delight, as you sit in comfort and maybe just forget what year it really is for a while.