Updated: Mar 24, 2022
Unbeknownst to me until recently there's a lot more to the Sacramento area than Old town and the State Capitol Building. This entire area is filled with hidden little gems or should I say golden nuggets shining with personality.
I recently went on a trip up north for the purpose of visiting two of the oldest hotels in California that have been recently renovated, The Holbrooke and The National Hotel and I fell in love with the charm of these towns just as much as I did the beauty of the hotels. Our first stop on the way to the Holbrook was for lunch in a Old Town Auburn.
This little town gave me total foodie vibes. One of the coolest spots in town is an old saloon, turned eatery - the Auburn Alehouse, they have classic American eats & brews. The beer flight is a must along with this big carby beauty.
Another great part of this little town is that you can cover a lot of ground all by foot. After lunch I only had a half hour to explore this town as we were running late to our next stop. I was able to see a lot in that short amount of time. There are plenty of boutiques, vintage shops, and museums. I got to pop in to quite a few shops and they have the best vintage outfits which is something I'm really in to. There are also lots of old mining equipment around the town which make for fun photo opportunities.
Next stop was to the Empire Mine In Grass Valley, a fun stop for all ages. The mine is a state park and definitely a stop you want to make. Not only was it an operating gold mine for over a hundred years, but the mine buildings, owner's home and beautiful gardens and trails are all on the property and open for you to explore.
Admission is only $5.00 (children under 5 are free) and tour is included just make sure to find out to the tour schedules. parking is free
Grass Valley, CA
This little town in Nevada County is just so beautiful, home to the Holbrooke Hotel my main reason for visiting the town. This charming boutique hotel is one of the oldest hotels around and has so much history. It started off as a single story bar where the miners would hang after a long day of mining. It's went through a couple of fires in it's history and every time they rebuilt and eventually added the second floor and turned it into a hotel and continued to operate through it all including the prohibtion. It has now been renovated and is absolutely gorgeous, the theme is that of an explorer as a nod to Mark Twain, who is rumored to have been a frequent guest at this hotel along with five U.S. presidents.
The hotel also has a great bar and dining at the Golden Gate Saloon and The Iron Door an underground speakeasy which used to store bodies to keep them cool before they could be buried. There's so much history to this place I highly recommend making the Holbrooke a destination for your trip.
The hotel is rumored to be haunted, as you would expect of any place with as much history as this, but whatever spirits are lingering in this space are happy spirits emitting nothing but good energy, because I spent the night in this hotel by myself and never once did I get any bad vibes. I felt nothing but great energy and I could see why. I had such a great time there myself. The only sadness I felt was when I had to pack up to check out, but I quickly turned that frown upside down when I ended up in my third and final stop of this trip.
Nevada City, CA
This town was actually my favorite of the three. Another beautiful stay at the National Exchange Hotel the elegant sister hotel of The Holbrooke. This Victorian style hotel was also just renovated and has an equal amount of history. President Hoover actually lived in room 313 for some time, but this hotel is a nod to the women of the gold mining era, as you'll be able to see by the decor, wall paper and overall design. The restaurant is named after Lola Montez an Irish dancer who became famous as a Spanish dancer and as the mistress of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, she lived in Grass Valley for some time of her dance career and her home in Grass Valley is also a landmark, but she isn't the only woman this hotel is dedicated to it's for all of the woman of the time and as you walk around the hotel, the bar and the restaurant you'll notice photographs of women of the time.
The National isn't the only historical site in town, pretty much everything in town is special and historic - the courthouse, city hall, the local theatre, the fire company, the first law office and library. This little town offers shopping, dining, wine tasting, and even beautiful hiking trails nearby. I could have spent an extra day or two in this town alone.
So there you have it the three most charming towns in the Sacramento Metropolitan Area, but do yourself a favor and still visit Old Town Sacramento and the Capitol building if you haven't already been. I make it a point to visit every capitol building I have ever been near and The California State Capitol is the most beautiful one I've ever visited. As a Californian I may be biased, but I know beautiful architecture when I see it and this building is a thing of beauty inside and out. Just make sure to pay attention to the parking signs cause you don't want to get a ticket like I did when I was there.