fun to do kids gold country california   Travel for Kids
  | California

Gold Country

Gold nugget
In 1848, gold was discovered on the American River, and everything changed. People rushed to California and mining towns sprang up overnight in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The gold mines are long gone but Highway 49 is dotted with historic towns that keep the Old West alive. Traveling the Gold Country with kids brings out the adventurer in all of us.
California Gold Rush Towns Photo Album
  Old Sacramento
Northern Gold Country
  Nevada City
    Grass Valley
    Coloma - Marshall Gold Discovery SHP

Apple Hill

Southern Gold Country
    Murphys & Vallecito
    Angels Camp

Columbia State Historic Park

  Go rafting – On hot summer days, one of our favorite things to do in the Sierra foothills is rafting on the American River. Choose from South Fork two hour family float trips (kids 4 and up), to half day trips (7 and up), Middle Fork rafting trips with rapids for thrill-seeking teens, or two day trips overnight.
    Guides, lifejackets, paddles, helmets, rafts, are provided, just wear lots of sunscreen, water shoes or sandals (no flip flops), and be prepared to get wet. Rafting companies are located on Highway 49 around Coloma.

Fun food


Strike it rich at old-time ice cream parlours or "confectionery" candy stores as you travel Highway 49. This is our personally-researched list of favorites: Sweet Delights on Highway 49

family hotels gold country california
There's plenty of fun things to do with kids in the Gold Country, but as you travel down Highway 49, you'll need a fun place to stay.

Here's our own Travel for Kids hand-picked list of family hotels for the Gold Country, all styles and price ranges, near to places you'll want to explore:

Gold Country family hotels
kids books gold rush california
childrens books california Gold Rush  

All about the gold rush, how gold was found, staking a claim, l boom towns, striking it rich. Essential guide to miners and mining – panning techniques, sluices, hard rock mining, miner's tools, what's a stamp mill, inside a mine and hazards of life underground. Detailed illustrations and historical photographs. (Picture book)



"Boys, I believe I found a gold mine!" exclaimed James Marshall on January 24, 1848. This was the beginning of a stampede to the goldfields. First hand accounts of hardships, toil and treasure, vividly illustrated. (Illustrated chapter book)


Gold! Gold from the American River! history gold rush california kids
what was the gold rush  
What Was the Gold Rush?
Joan Holub, Tom Tomkinson

Illustrated history of the Gold Rush, from discovery of gold here at Coloma, to growing boomtowns, miners at work in the goldfields, tales of riches and losses, plus historical photos. (Chapter book)



Teenage Jack and his family butler, Praiseworthy, head for the gold fields of California, traveling by sea around Cape Horn. In Hangtown, the resourceful Praiseworthy takes to gold panning with an umbrella and bare-knuckle fighting, and together they strike pay dirt. Exuberant, high-spirited reading. (Chapter book)


By the Great Horn Spoon adventures kids gold rush california
Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea  
Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea
Tony Johnston, Stacy Innerst

Tall tale of Levi Strauss, who came to the gold fields and had the bright idea to make denim pants for the miners, pants that even horses couldn't tear in two. And what happened to all those barrels the miners were wearing? (Picture book)


Chang's Paper Pony
Eleanor Coerr, Deborah Kogan Ray

Little Chang helps his Grandpa Li peel potatoes in the Gold Ditch Hotel kitchen, but he yearns for a pony. Chang pans for gold so he can buy a pony, but finds treasure in the most unlikely place – under his feet. (Easy reader)


Chang's Paper Pony chinese kids gold rush california
Rachel's Journal pioneers california kids  
Rachel's Journal
Marissa Moss

1850. Rachel's family travel in a covered wagon to California, passing herds of buffalo on the prairie, surviving treacherous river crossings and poisoned waterholes, until journey's end at the Sacramento Valley, "the land of milk and honey." Like a long lost scrapbook, filled with personal details and drawings, this is a gem. (Illustrated chapter book)


Bandit's Moon
Sid Fleischman, Jos. A. Smith

Mistaken for a young muchacho, Anny Rose (from Vermilion Parish, Louisiana), rides with the dashing bandit Joaquin Murieta, the "Robin Hood" of the Sierra foothills. A funny swashbuckling adventure. (Chapter book)


Bandit's Moon gold rush california
(More children's books on other California pages)
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