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California's Best Preserved Gold Rush Town

Located in the heart of the California Mother Lode, Columbia State Historic Park is a living gold rush town featuring the largest collection of existing gold rush-era structures in the state. Visiting Columbia is like traveling back in time to the sights, smells, and sounds of a nineteenth century mining town—merchants and docents dressed in 1850’s attire, a whiff of coal smoke from the blacksmith shop, and the rumble of a stagecoach pulling into town! Spend the day enjoying fun activities for the whole family. Pan for gold, explore exhibits, ride the stagecoach, discover unique shops, and learn about the rich history of the California gold rush on a guided town tour.

Location of Columbia on California state map.

Columbia’s streets are lined with a variety of shops with many offering merchandise inspired by what one might find when shopping during the 1850s-1870s. Restaurants, ice cream parlors, candy stores, saloons, and a tea house stand ready to quench your thirst, satisfy a sweet tooth, and fill your appetite. Enjoy a cold bottle of Sarsaparilla to get a taste of the old west and then head over to the portrait studio and dress up for an old-time photo. Visit a working blacksmith shop where you can watch iron being skillfully forged into finished goods through fire, water, and shaping on an anvil. You can also buy a personalized horseshoe souvenir!

Conveniently located off of Highway 49, Columbia is an easy and scenic drive that neighbors other historic towns in the Sierra Nevada foothills including Sonora, Jamestown, and Angels Camp making it a popular destination for day-trippers and weekenders alike. Columbia is also easy on the budget with free admission, free parking, and free guided town tours by costumed docents. You can even bowl for free in an antique bowling alley next to the museum! Enjoy a packed lunch at one of the many picnic tables and barbecue grills around the park. With so much to see and do in the area, why not plan an overnight stay for a relaxing and unhurried visit? Several affordable lodging options are available in town including hotels, cottages, and RV campgrounds.

Columbia, California, lithograph c1855
Columbia lithograph c1855, Bancroft Library
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Come discover Columbia, "Gem of the Southern Mines", and explore the rich history of this charming California Gold Rush town. Businesses and park exhibits are open year-round, seven days a week. Columbia also hosts several living history demonstrations, school programs, and special events throughout the year. We have provided information on our website to help you plan your next trip to Columbia. You may also call us at (888) 488-1850 for more information. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Things to do

  • Take a free town tour
  • Visit the museum
  • Explore interpretive exhibits throughout town
  • Learn about the Gold Rush from costumed docents
  • Pan for gold
  • Ride the stagecoach
  • Get your old-time photo made
  • Make a candle
  • Get a personalized lucky horseshoe at the blacksmith
  • Explore the old schoolhouse
  • Go bowling at the old-fashioned alley
  • Fill your appetite at the restaurants
  • Whet your whistle at the saloons
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth at the candy stores and ice cream shops
  • Shop for unique gifts and souvernirs at the merchant stores
  • Stock up on provisions at the mercantile
  • Watch a play at the theater
  • Enjoy several year-round events
  • Extend your stay at one of the hotels or cottages