As you drive through rural California, you’ll come across many charming, sweet little towns but you’ll find that none are as memorable and friendly as Sonora. The historic gold rush town can be found on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and is filled with sights and attractions that are fun to explore.
1.Sierra Repertory Theatre
© Sierra Repertory Theatre
The Sierra Repertory Theatre is the brainchild of five artists who were performing in a university drama program, and as time progressed, realized that they would like to establish their very own performing arts center. The center started in a tin warehouse which they converted into a rustic 99-seat theater. Today, the establishment has blossomed into an impressive professional arts organization which is constantly recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council. In 1997, Sierra Rep also became the resident theater company for the Historic Fallon House and now presents nine main-stage shows annually at both locations.
13891 Mono Way, Sonora, CA 95370, Phone: 209-532-3120
© Indigeny Reserve
Indigeny Reserve started when the Watson family decided to purchase the 80-acre apple ranch across from their home. After they spent years transitioning into an organic operation, they found that nearly half the apples were not salable - and so they began producing hard cider. As they delved into the hard cider industry, they found that leftover product could be converted into brandy and vodka, and the Indigeny Reserve was born. You can find the family in the wonderfully rustic cidery and distillery which were constructed using harvested and repurposed oak and cedar wood which were milled on site. Tours of the facilities are provided so that visitors can get a behind-the-scenes view of operations.
14679 Summers Ln, Sonora, CA 95370, Phone: 209-533-9463
3.Black Oak Casino
© Black Oak Casino
The Black Oak Casino offers gaming, fine dining, entertainment, and a stunning resort to ensure that you have a good time when visiting Sonora. The casino floor has slot machines, table games, a poker room and all of the other facilities you love when it comes to the ultimate gaming experience. There are nine dining establishments for visitors to choose from, no matter if you’re in the mood for a romantic fine dining experience or a quick drink and snack. After a day at the casino, the night’s not over - experience some of the area’s best nightlife with the casino’s clubs, musical performances, and comedy acts at the Willow Creek Lounge. Afterwards, have a good night’s rest in their Spa Suite King Room or one of the other rooms before you do it all again the next day.
19400 Tuolumne Rd N, Tuolumne, CA 95379, Phone: 877-747-8777
4.Veterans Memorial Hall & Military Museum
© Veterans Memorial Hall & Military Museum
The Veterans Memorial Hall & Military Museum is a lovely establishment filled with interesting artifacts and memorabilia. Visitors will be able to see antique guns and uniforms, historical portraits, and historical records, as well as some unique gems like accurately-detailed models of military equipment. Some of the most popular displays are of a rare plaque from the Spanish American War and a large anti-aircraft gun which can be seen from outside of the building. There are several friendly curators throughout the museum who would be more than happy to share military stories or give in-depth details about the artifacts on display.
9 N. Washington Street, Sonora, CA 95370, Phone: 209-533-0923
5.Tuolumne County Museum
© Tuolumne County Museum
Housed in what was once the Tuolumne County Jail, the Tuolumne County Museum converted the jail into a turn-of-the-century museum and office while still maintaining the cultural integrity of the building. For example, the outdoor patio which visitors can relax on was once the prisoner’s exercise yard. The exhibits themselves are outstanding and tell a wonderful story of how the area has progressed over the years. You’ll be able to see costumed mannequins, antiques, and old photographs all separated by the six geographical regions of the county. Popular displays include those on the Knights Templar, pioneer guns, and original furniture from when the building was used as the primary jail.
158 Bradford St, Sonora, CA 95370, Phone: 209-532-1317
6.Dragoon Gulch Trail
© Courtesy of araho - Fotolia.com
The Dragoon Gulch Trail is a wonderful place to spend the day outdoors while in Sonora. Located in the heart of the city, the natural trail spans over three miles and gives you the unique opportunity to explore the Mother Lode’s oak woodlands. As you walk along the trail, you will be able to see spectacular views of the city, stunning vistas of the towering mountain ranges, charming seasonal creeks, and an array of flora and fauna. The trails vary in difficulty and you can choose which route to go based on whether you’re in the mood for a casual stroll or a strenuous hike. Cyclists are also invited to enjoy and explore the trails.
Dragoon Gulch Trail Head: 680 Woods Creek Dr, Sonora, CA 95370, Phone: 209-532-3508
7.Mountain Springs Golf Club
© Courtesy Michael Flippo - Fotolia.com
Designed by Robert Muir Graves, the Mountain Springs Golf Club in the heart of Sonora offers a championship 18-hole course for golfers of all skill levels to enjoy. The scenic golf course can be found right in the middle of the Gold Country and offers stunning views of the Sierra Nevada foothills. Mountain Springs has become one of the most popular golfing facilities in the area since it opened in 1990. Within the golf club you’ll find additional features such as putting greens, a driving range, a fully-stocked pro golf shop, and four sets of tees to accommodate golfers of all abilities.
17566 Lime Kiln Rd, Sonora, CA 95370, Phone: 209-532-1000
8.Potato Ranch Llama Packers
© Courtesy of oroszgy - Fotolia.com
Situated at the foot of the incredible Sierra Nevada mountain range in Sonora, Potato Ranch Llama Packers are the only Northern California outfitter renting trained pack llamas. They have over 26 years of llama packing experience and their services are suitable for both day hikers and overnight hikers. Llamas are a great addition to any backpacking trip as they can lessen your burden by carrying equipment or make it a fun experience for young children who are accompanying you. All of the llamas from Potato Ranch are calm, friendly, and use to the nimble terrain of the surrounding trails such as John Muir, Pacific Crest, Tahoe Rim, and Ansel Adams Wilderness.
15025 Potato Ranch Rd, Sonora, CA 95370, Phone: 209-588-1707
© Diamondback Grill
The Diamondback Grill is a casual, family owned and operated eatery which offers an array of delicious culinary concoctions for residents and visitors of Sonora. It’s a great place to have a quick bit or a casual meal with friends and family. Their menu includes a range of sandwiches, burgers, salads, as well as an extensive wine list in their adjacent wine bar. Patrons rave over the restaurant’s delicious food, friendly staff, and ample portions. The garlic fries are a popular favorite and you should definitely try them during your visit. Other popular items from their menu are the BLT with Applewood bacon, the grilled cheese sandwich, and the Ortega Jack burger.
93 S Washington St, Sonora, CA 95370, Phone: 209-532-6661
© The Peppery
The Peppery Gar & Brill opened to wonderful reviews from the people of Sonora in 1994 - since then, it has only grown to be bigger and better. Patrons of the restaurant are guaranteed a fun dining experience complete with a menu filled with delicious dishes that the entire family will love. The restaurant ensures that everything on the unique menu is made using fresh ingredients that that nothing you eat is ever preprocessed or frozen. Delicious foods that you have to try while there are the pepper jack poppers, peppery fries, Louisiana-style gumbo, raspberry chicken salad, chipotle mushroom and swiss burger, and the BBQ tri-tip sandwich.
13494 Mono Way, Sonora, CA 95370, Phone: 209-533-9033
© Lighthouse Deli
The Lighthouse Deli is a wonderfully charming little eatery that can be found right in the heart of downtown Sonora. All of the food is prepared fresh daily and as you bite into your delicious meal, you’ll immediately recognize the passion and dedication of the kitchen staff. Every dish is carefully prepared using tried-and-tested recipes, unique flavors, and cooking methods which have proven to be perfect. Their Fish N’ Chips, for example, is dipped in a house made beer batter to ensure crisp and flavorful pieces of cod; it is served with house made coleslaw and French fries.
28 S. Washington St, Sonora, CA 95370, Phone: 209-532-1631
11 Best Things to Do in Sonora, California
- Sierra Repertory Theatre, Photo: Sierra Repertory Theatre
- Indigeny Reserve, Photo: Indigeny Reserve
- Black Oak Casino, Photo: Black Oak Casino
- Veterans Memorial Hall & Military Museum, Photo: Veterans Memorial Hall & Military Museum
- Tuolumne County Museum, Photo: Tuolumne County Museum
- Dragoon Gulch Trail, Photo: Courtesy of araho - Fotolia.com
- Mountain Springs Golf Club, Photo: Courtesy Michael Flippo - Fotolia.com
- Potato Ranch Llama Packers, Photo: Courtesy of oroszgy - Fotolia.com
- Diamondback Grill, Photo: Diamondback Grill
- The Peppery, Photo: The Peppery
- Lighthouse Deli, Photo: Lighthouse Deli
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of EKH-Pictures - Fotolia.com