Top 15 Things to Visit/Do in Arnold/Calaveras
1. Coming from the SF Bay Area and the East Bay, you will pass by Tracy, CA on 580 East. Check out the outlet stores.
2. In Manteca, stop by for snacks at the Nature’s Corner fruit stand on the right side of the Highway 120 road before turning left on the corner of Jack Tone Road. Aside from the sweet strawberries, the kids loved the huge bag of homemade kettle corn.
3. In Copperopolis, go for ice cream at Cruisers Ice Cream Parlor after refilling your gas tank. There is a nice, clean bathroom there as well as at the Snaps Coffeehouse and Wine Bar. The coffeehouse also has free internet access. They have lip-smacking yummy blended mochas and sandwiches. Beside the coffeehouse is an elegant home goods store called Copper Proper and across the square, Fancy Pans. Hungry? You’ll find a full service Italian restaurant and bar called Panini’s Italian Grill. We had Mother’s Day lunch there last year and it was lovely! Trivia: Most of the stores are owned by retirees from San Ramon, Ruby Hill, Pleasanton and Livermore. This is also a picture perfect location. The town square was patterned after the town in the Back to the Future movie.
4. Play golf at the elegant Saddle Creek Resort in Copperopolis.
5. In the town of Murphys, eat lunch or dinner at Grounds Restaurant or the Fireside Grill on downtown Main Street. Shop. Get coffee and baked goods at Aria bakery. Walk around and enjoy the quaint downtown. There is also a creek by the parking lot with picnic benches.
6. Go on an easy flat hike and see the thousands-old giant sequoias at the Big Trees State Park. Entrance fee per car is $6.00.
7. For the daring and fearless ones, go white water rafting at the North Fork Stanislaus River! A few days before your trip, schedule a shuttle pick up close to Big Trees State Park, 15 minutes away from the cabin. This shuttle will take you to the white water rafting spot.
8. Or….Pack lots of food for a picnic. (There’ s a Chinese resto, RoundTable Pizza, an 800-calorie-but-oh-so-worth-it Snickers mocha coffee shake at the Bistro Espresso internet cafe, or Big Trees Market grocery all within the same strip mall on Highway 4, close to the cabin.)
Drive about 20 minutes east on scenic highway 4/Ebbett’s Pass towards Bear Valley to Lake Alpine. Rent kayaks or enjoy the beautiful pristine lake. Ebbett’s Pass is closed off during the winter.
9. Wanna explore a real cave? Visit Moaning Caverns in nearby Vallecito, CA. Go underground and descend into the depth equal to the height of the Statue of Liberty on a safe, guided tour. The kids loved it. We’ve done the tour three times. Fun!
When done exploring the cave, go on a heart-thumping zip line ride outside. They also sometimes have a rock climbing wall for kids and big kids who are waiting around for their brave friends to be done with their zip line challenge.
10. Hike 2 miles from the parking spot off the road on Parrot’s Ferry Road in Angel’s Camp and visit the Natural Bridges. Wade in the stream at the mouth of a river cave.
12. Try antique-hunting in downtown of Angel’s Camp. Visit nearby New Lake Melones for fishing, a picnic and water sports. Count as many frog sculptures as you could find. Mark Twain wrote a piece on the “jumping frogs of Calaveras County.” This town adopted the frog as its mascot. They even have annual frog jumping races!
12. Drive to the old town of Sonora and go antique-hunting on Main Street. You will drive by the breathtaking Lake Tulloch on your way there.
13. Visit Columbia State Park, a town reminiscent of the 1800?s Gold Rush era with restaurants, museums, gold panning activities, etc. There is no entrance fee to the town. Check out the old fashioned Nelson’s Candy Kitchen, Brown’s Coffee House and Sweet Saloon for ice cream and Devon’s Bakery (yummy pecan bars and sticky buns!) Most 4th graders in CA go on a field trip here, and many often go back on their own with their families. You can ride a stagecoach, make your own colorful candle and visit an authentic one-room schoolhouse up the hill. And since you are in Gold Country, the kids would love to do gold panning at the Matelot Miner’s Supply for $6.00.
14. If you have relatives who like casinos, there’s something for them, too--Jackson Rancheria Casino.
15. Go biking or rock climbing! Bear Valley Ski Resort is not just a winter destination. Check out their summer activities, and info on trails.