If you want to learn about California’s gold rush, you can just about travel back in time by visiting Columbia State Historic Park in California’s Gold Country.
The town of Columbia has many original buildings from the gold rush era, and with merchants in period costumes, it’s a completely immersive way to experience this important time in California’s history.
You can peek in the different buildings and learn about what life was like back then,
but you can also ride a horse-drawn wagon or stagecoach,
take a guided tour,
pan for gold,
dip a candle,
play old-fashioned bowling,
and climb on some of the many rocks left behind from the mining operations.
There are also restaurants, treat shops, and retail stores that are all true to the time period.
To complete your historical experience, you can stay in the Fallon or Columbia City Hotels, which are also restored historical buildings right in the heart of Columbia.
We stayed in the Fallon Hotel and absolutely loved it!
This is the sitting parlour:
and this was our room and balcony:
Because it’s a historical building, each room has a sink and toilet,
but the showers are shared in a common shower room.
We were very impressed with how spotlessly clean the showers were, and the shower room was spacious and provided privacy.
Also, luxurious robes are provided for the walk to and from the shower room,
as well as baskets with towels, bath mats, soap and shampoo that made it all easy to carry.
Another element of the historical experience is not having a TV in the rooms, so there was a collection of board games, children’s books and toys for use.
We LOVED playing games together as a family rather than watching TV!
(Free WiFi is available throughout the hotels and the historic park.)
Fortunately, the hotels do have completely modern air conditioning and heating – yay!
To add to your trip, some other family-friendly attractions that are very close to Columbia include:
Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, where you can get up close with historic trains, learn about the many movies that were made there and even take a train ride,
the super charming Twain Harte Mini Golf course,
and Moaning Caverns where you can explore a unique cave.
Columbia is located about 2.5 hours north of Fresno and 2 hours south of Sacramento.
Parking and entrance are free, and more information about the hotels and how to make reservations can be found on the State Parks website.
Columbia hosts several special events throughout the year, when there is even more living history and activities in the town.