Though it's often passed through quickly as travelers jet between the Bay Area and Tahoe or Yosemite, the Sacramento River Valley holds some of California's most fascinating history. In January 1848, the famous California Gold Rush started here, when a lumber mill worker near Coloma was attracted to a shiny rock glinting in the water. Within a year, California's first big boom began, with ... read more
prospectors arriving from, around the world to stake their hopes on a get-rich-quick scheme. Several generations later, California's other gold had taken root: agriculture. The broad central valley's fertile loam drew desperate workers during the nation's Great Depression and Dust Bowl, a pilgrimage immortalized in John Steinbeck's “The Grapes of Wrath.” Today, the region is still attracting migrants of many kinds – lots of whom spend their summers complaining about the brutal heat. But the oak-covered hills, the tubing-friendly rivers, the transporting historical sites and the shining lights of the state capitol make Sacramento and the Gold Country a worthy candidate for vacation time.