Parking and admission to Columbia is always FREE! There are no gates or ticket booths. Just park and walk into town and start exploring! Please note that some special events and/or activities require a fee to participate.
The museum and exhibits are open daily from 10am-4pm and are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Most Merchants are open from 10am-5pm daily during the Summer. The restaurants and grocery store typically have extended hours. Some merchants reduce their schedule to 5-6 days per week during the Spring, Fall, and Winter. Please check directly with merchants for individual operating hours and schedule. Columbia is a living town that also serves local residents which means it's always open and available to visit even after hours which makes it unique from many other gated State Parks.
There are several parking lots around Columbia. When arriving from the south on Parrotts Ferry Road, turn right at Columbia Street and then the first left into the lower parking area. There are also parking lots along the east side of Parrotts Ferry Road, the corner of Jackson Street and Main Street, the corner of Jackson Street and Columbia Street, and at the Schoolhouse off of School House Street. We recommend arriving early on event days as the parking lots fill up fast. Parking is free!
Public restrooms are located at the lower parking lot, behind the Jack Douglass Saloon, behind the museum, between the Firehouse and the Mercantile on Main Street, next to the St. Charles Saloon, and at the old schoolhouse.
An ATM is located inside the St. Charles Saloon at the corner of Jackson Street and Main Street.
The streets inside the historic district of Columbia are closed to vehicular traffic and are paved and mostly level. Accessible boardwalks line each side of the street and most businesses have push-button door openers at the entrance. Accessible restrooms are located at the lower parking lot, behind the Jack Douglass Saloon, behind the Museum, between the Firehouse and the Mercantile on Main Street, next to the St. Charles Saloon, and at the old schoolhouse.
Columbia is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills and enjoys a relatively mild climate. At an elevation of 2100 feet, the town is above the valley fog line and below the snow line making it an ideal destination year-round.
- Spring is mildly warm with average high temperatures from the 60s to 70s Fahrenheit. Occasional rain showers are possible, especially in early spring.
- Summer is warm to hot with average high temperatures in the 80s to 90s, though it can occasionally surpass 100°F on the hottest days. It is the dry season with very little rainfall.
- Fall is pleasant with cooling temperatures that average from the 60s to 80s. Rainfall begins to increase as late fall approaches.
- Winter is cool with average high temperatures in the 50s. December to February are the wettest months with a mix of rain and, occasionally, snow during the colder storms. However, significant snow accumulation is rare in Columbia due to the lower elevation.
Picnic tables are located throughout the park in the lower parking area, at the corner of State Street and Columbia Street, near the gazebo on the west side of Main Street, and on the corner areas of Jackson Street and Main Street.
Dogs are welcome at Columbia but not inside the historic buildings or restaurants. Please bring your own waste disposal bags and pickup after your pets. Thank you!
The Museum is located on the corner of State Street and Main Street and features artifacts dating back to the gold rush. There is also a short video about the history of Columbia available in the back room. There are several interpretive exhibits throughout the town including a dentist office, drug store, Chinese apothecary, justice court, assay office, Wells Fargo bank and freight office, a dry goods store, mining equipment, a firehouse, and more. Free town tours are offered on weekends year-round, and daily from June 15 - Labor Day. The walking tour begins at 11:00am in front of the museum and lasts about 45 minutes.
Columbia features the largest collection of gold rush era brick buildings in California dating back to the 1850s! The tall double door entrances allow sunlight inside which was a main source of light in addition to oil lamps back in the early days. Heavy iron fire doors at the entrances helped to protect the buildings when fires broke out in town. Many of the display cases, shelving, and lighting fixtures date back to the gold rush period.
Personal photography and videography in town is highly encouraged to capture and share your visit with family and friends who will appreciate this unique destination in California. As we like to say, it's hard to take a bad photo in Columbia because of the historic setting and the absence of modern distractions in town. Commercial filming and photography requires an approved permit. Visit the California State Parks website for more information.
There are lots of activities around the town including panning for gold, riding a stagecoach, making a candle, pony rides, dressing up and having your old-time photo made, blacksmith demonstrations, a game of bowling in the old-fashioned alley, watching a play at the theater, and exploring the labyrinth of rocks at the south side of town where prospectors mined for gold.
There are over a dozen shops in Columbia offering a wide variety of unique merchandise, gifts, and souvenirs. All merchandise is inspired by what one might find when shopping during the 1850s-1870s including leather goods, home goods, handcrafted metal works, jewelry, antiques, vintage toys, handmade candy, books and stationery, replicas and collectibles, gemstones and minerals, handmade soap and candles, Western and Victorian clothing, Columbia souvenirs, and silver and gold!
There are several dining options in town. These include grab-n-go takeout, allowing you to enjoy your meal in one of the beautiful picnic areas around town. Additionally, there are sit-down dining options available at various restaurants that offer a variety of cuisines. You can also find coffee and ice cream shops for a delightful treat while exploring the town.
A full-service provisioning Mercantile is located at the corner of Jackson Street and Main Street offering a wide variety of groceries including meats, dairy, bread, produce, beer, wine, soda, ice cream, cookies and sweets, sundries, an OTC pharmacy, and much more.
California State Parks operates two historic hotels and three charming cottages in town. Consider extending your stay to explore other nearby attractions for a relaxing and unhurried weekend in the Gold Country! Visit the Reserve California website and select Columbia SHP Hotels And Cottages for availability and reservations.
UPDATE: The State Park has closed the two hotels and cottages until the lodging concession has been filled. The City Hotel Restaurant and What Cheer Saloon, Fallon House Ice Cream Parlor, and Fallon House Theater are open. Lodging is available in nearby Sonora and Angels Camp.
There are two RV campgrounds in Columbia offering full-hookup sites and a variety of amenities. Please visit our Business Directory page and select RV Campground from the dropdown menu for more information.