If the season is right, Northern California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains will be embraced with crisp, fresh air and covered in a blanket of white. Winter wanders and gems will be found in the picturesque mountain landscapes and historical foothill towns of Tuolumne County. Within Yosemite National Park, the High Sierra mountains, and California Gold Country are plenty of activities to suffice any traveler in search of a winter getaway.
Take a refreshing trip to Tuolumne County, where you will get your fill of things to do and your wallet will stay full with off-peak accommodation prices.
Yosemite has quieted down, and it’s time to see the park in a new light. Hike or snowshoe amongst giant, ancient trees in the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias where their deep red bark contrasts the glistening snow, making for spectacular photo opportunities. Or head to Hetch Hetchy Reservoir for a calming walk alongside the deep blue water, and take in the sight of the surrounding snow-covered granite peaks.
Wander in Groveland, outside of Yosemite, and enjoy a warming latte or cocoa at Mountain Sage Café and Nursery or a one-of-a-kind seasonal brew at Around the Horn Brewing Company just down the road. Feel like shopping? Pop into some of the unique shops in town like Ranch Revived and ECHO Adventure Coop Basecamp to find gifts and seasonal decor to bring home.
Explore Gold Country starting with Columbia State Historic Park, and let your eyes and nose lead you into candle, candy, and provisional shops where their seasonal creations will fill you with enjoyment. Listen for the distinct sounds of a working Gold Rush-era town like the clanging from the blacksmith shop or clinking of the authentic stagecoach as it enters town.
In nearby Jamestown, become immersed in Wild West railroad culture at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, and stroll down Main Street where you’ll find restaurants and inns housed in picturesque historic buildings. Browse the shops and even find some treasures for your littlest family members and friends at Tiny Birds, Tiny Bees. If you're feeling that some wellness and and relaxation are in order, step into Healing with Jenia and Mountain Wellness.
In Downtown Sonora, you’ll find many shops, galleries, and restaurants located in historic buildings; as you step inside, you’ll see some interiors are left to show the architecture of 150 years ago. Also, take in a show at the Gold Country’s premier theater company, Sierra Repertory Theatre at either their East Sonora Theatre of historic Fallon House Theatre in Columbia State Historic Park.
A winter getaway isn’t a getaway without wine and cider tasting. Tuolumne County’s four wineries along with their tasting rooms are all locally-owned and operated and each has its own distinguishing varietals and location. Indigeny Reserve in Sonora is a locals’ and visitors’ favorite, serving delicious on-site created organic hard apple cider, which will ruin you for all other ciders, plus flavored vodkas apple brandy.
Sweet treats like pies, cookies, and scones are homemade with love and are plentiful at Cover’s Apple Ranch in the town of Tuolumne. While you’re there try their infamous and hearty chicken pot pie, which will get you warmed up in a jiffy.
High Sierra adventures await where brisk mountain breezes and the sight of glorious snow-covered trees and mountains will get you energized. Let all your worries get whisked away as you ski (or learn to ski) or snowboard at Dodge Ridge Mountain Resort or snow tube at Leland High Sierra Snowplay. The Long Barn Lodge Ice Rink is a true hidden winter gem bursting with tradition for those who are looking for indoor winter fun.
Visit the nostalgic mountain town of Twain Harte and enjoy a relaxing stroll to find some fun fashions at The Walk-In Closet or handy cooking gadgets to help with holiday cooking or gift giving at Harte of the Kitchen.
Seasonal cheer is found in every town throughout Tuolumne County. Events include the popular night-time Sonora Christmas Parade, the night after Thanksgiving, and the sights and activities of Christmas Town Sonora delight all ages. Experience holiday time during the Gold Rush as you rub elbows and roast chestnuts with the townspeople and miners during Miners Christmas at Columbia State Historic Park. The Polar Express departs Railtown 1897 State Historic Park for the “North Pole” on weekends following Thanksgiving.
You’ll need a place to stay during your visit. Pick from mountain resorts, historic inns, cozy vacation cabins (perfect for gathering the family), distinctive B&Bs, and full-service RV parks.
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If the weather is a bit adverse during your visit and you would rather stay inside, we’ve got you covered with plenty of things to do indoors. Take a look here.