Historic Jamestown has a lot of "firsts" to its credit. It's the first town you come to when you drive into Tuolumne County on Highway 108. It was also where gold was first discovered in the County. From rich history to outdoor adventure, we've compiled a list of five things you must do when visiting Jamestown.
You don't have to be a history buff to appreciate the heritage of Jamestown; the many stories and experiences here are palpable throughout the community. Nowhere is that more clear than the historic restaurants and inns. Places like the National Hotel & Restaurant or Jamestown Hotel combine historic charm with comfortable, modern amenities so your stay is as memorable as it is relaxing. You don't even have to leave some of these spots for a great meal, as both the National and Jamestown Hotel have fabulous restaurants attached.
There is something magical about the allure of an old-fashioned steam locomotive. Who hasn't wanted to pull the chain to hear that iconic whistle echo through time? Railtown 1897 State Historic Park is a trip through history featuring "Movie Star locomotive" Sierra #3. The iconic engine has at least 80 movie and television credits from 1919 all the way to the mid 1990's. Perhaps the most famous appearance was as he ill-fated train used by Doc Brown and Marty McFly in Back to the Future III.
Weekend excursions on the historic trains are now open again! Docent-lead tours are currently on hold during the pandemic, but visitors are encouraged to go on the self-lead tour and bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the grounds. When normal activity resumes, the trains take guests on a 6-mile, 45-minute journey through time and California's Gold Country.
The aforementioned locomotive isn't the only Jamestown resident to have film credits to its name, many a location scout has chosen a Jamestown attraction as a backdrop for their film or show. Some of the more than 200 locations are highlighted along the Walk of Fame stretching from downtown all the way to the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. You'll see iconic locations from "Petticoat Junction", "Little House on the Prairie", "Bonanza" and of course, "Back to the Future III."
You'd be hard pressed to find a bad time to hike in the back country around here, but the best time is in spring when you can see countless wildflowers blooming in an endless sea of color. The near by trails at The Red Hills Recreation Management Area and Table Mountain Trail are both ideal areas to capture the beauty.
The Red Hills are a bit of a standout in the area, as the geology is different resulting in a diverse array of plant life growing in the rare type of soil found here. In addition to the abundant plant life, the area is home to all sorts of animals like deer, fox, bobcats and nearly 90 different bird species. Bald eagles call the reserve home during the winter months as well.
The Table Mountain Trail is another hike where you can trek trails bordered by lupine, poppies and other wildflowers during the spring. In addition to the flowers, the top of Table Mountain provides stunning, panoramic views of New Melones Reservoir in one direction and Jamestown in the other. Bring a camera, and be sure to keep an eye on weather conditions before you go. The top of the mountain has little shade, so it's important to properly prepare.
What trip is complete without sampling wines from local vintners? Like so many other places, Gianelli Vineyards is tied to the history of Jamestown. The land had been farmed by the Gianelli family since the late 1800's. It was in 1980 that Ron Gianelli turned his agricultural attentions towards wine. The family's strong ties to their Italian heritage are evident in both their wine varieties and winemaking methods. Some of these varieties had never been made outside of Italy before the family brought them to Jamestown.
The tasting room is open Thursdays through Sundays. In addition to a full flight of award-winning wine samples, the tasting room offers breathtaking views of the same countryside that attracted the family here nearly a century and a half ago.