Avoid Crowds and Enjoy the Best of America’s National Parks
Savvy travellers with a little planning can do more, see more and save more when visiting Northern California’s Gold Rush area and national park jewel, Yosemite, during the week.
By travelling mid-week to this popular region, adventurers snag lower rates on accommodations, avoid crowds and traffic, and spend more time to exploring Gold Rush history, the High Sierra mountains, and Yosemite National Park.
While the weekend will have foodies waiting for tables, weekdays allow permission to dive right in to delicious, unique, farm-to-table foods.
Let’s taco about it. Taco Tuesday at the Standard Pour puts a personalized flair on the authentic taco by utilizing local and sustainable ingredients. Taco Tuesday happens weekly from 11am-8:30pm, with a different selection of tacos every week. Located in East Sonora, this restaurant takes pride in their unique menu and diverse selection of beer and wine, standard-pour.com.
Take a nice mid-week stroll through Historic Downtown Sonora and land in a rustic, lively restaurant and bar. Emberz offers live music on Wednesdays from 6 pm – 8 pm, making this the best night to experience their signature cocktails and wood-fired pizzas. No need to worry about the appetizer of loaded tots. Dancing to Tuolumne County’s local musicians will burn those calories off, emberzzz.com.
Mike’s Pizza of Sonora
“Too much pizza!” said no one, ever at this pizza joint. Serving up specialty pizzas like the Motherlode and Italian Meatball is on tap on Wednesdays at Mikes Pizza’s All You Can Eat Pizza Night weekly from 6 pm-8 pm. With arcade games, large screen TVs, and a huge dining area, this is the place, mikespizzasonora.com.
Yosemite National Park
Say goodbye to the crowds and hello to the open air, and even wide-open parking spaces. The ever-so-popular Yosemite National Park has more than 5 million visitors annually, and most on weekends. This makes mid-week days a good way to avoid the crowds, lessen the wait at park entrances or spend time circling the parking lot for spot. The extra time allows for more activities like hiking Hetch Hetchy and the Tuolumne Grove of giant sequoias. Then, spend those precious saved moments on the receiving end of a gracious bartender. Stop by the oldest continuously operating drinking establishment in California, the Iron Door Saloon, visit the Bistro and Bar at the Historic Hotel Charlotte, or stop by Yosemite Cellars for wine tasting, all in the park entrance town of Groveland.
High Sierra and Gold Country
Bumper to bumper, slow moving traffic? Not here and certainly not in the middle of the week. Traffic relief helps give travelers more time to explore the High Sierra and Gold Country in the same day. Hike, bike, boat and fish; there’s no need to choose just one. With less traffic, all four can happen in one day. With all the time saved, visitors can turn back the calendar pages to the 1850s at Columbia State Historic Park. Stroll the streets along with period-costumed docents, pay a visit to the blacksmith, get a sweet treat at Nelson’s Candy Kitchen, and refresh with tea and a scone from Columbia Kate’s Teahouse.
Local Farmers Markets
Get farm-fresh with Tuolumne County’s mid-week farmers markets. Tuolumne City hosts local vendors and live music at the Memorial City Park every Wednesday evening from June-September (5 pm – dusk). Columbia State Historic park hosts a seasonal farmers market on their main street from May-October 5 pm-8 pm. The town of Groveland invites Yosemite adventures to stop by their seasonal farmers markets during the months of May-October; farmsoftuolumnecounty.org.
Keep pinching those pennies with lower accommodation rates throughout Tuolumne County. While the weekends may be more popular, the weekdays are more accommodating. Not only will visitors save on their stays, they will be guaranteed to find a room. Most hoteliers will provide visitors traveling mid-week a lower rate, leaving a little extra to spoil themselves with an upgrade or room service. To check rates and book rooms visit, visittuolumne.com
Inner Sanctum Cellars Thirsty Thursday- Enjoy a mid-week celebration with Inner Sanctum Cellars’ Thirsty Thursdays. Owners Karen and Pete Luckhardt use their wine enthusiast minds to create a weekly wine cocktail to share with their guests every Thursday. With specials like a white wine Sangria, blackberry Ombre sparkler, and strawberry-lemonade Mimosas, visitors will want to travel to Jamestown every Thursday, innersanctumcellars.com.
Go ahead and rejoice, “It’s Finally Friday!” and Ginelli Vineyards will have guests dancing with joy at their Friday Happy Hour from 5 pm-6 pm. Located in Jamestown, this is the place to sip Gold Country’s liquid gold. Wine lovers of every ilk can work through their award-winning uncommon Italian varietals, gianellivineyards.com.
Located in Sonora, this 160-acre apple ranch is open all week, so visitors will not miss their chance to taste the popular crisp ciders, rich apple brandy and their infused vodkas. The perk of mid-week tasting is Indigeny Reserves half-price growler refills on Wednesdays which can make an out-of-towner show up like a local. An insider tip for heading out to the apple ranch: stop at a local deli or restaurant, grab lunch to go, and enjoy it outdoors at Indigency’s picnic area, indigenyreserve.com.
Black Oak Casino Resort
Multiply your fun by up to twenty times with Black Oak Casino Resort’s up to 20X Points Promotion on Thursdays. If the gaming floor isn’t paying out the dance floor surely will. Catch live entertainment on Thursday nights in the Willow Creek Lounge, blackoakcasino.com.
Chicken Ranch Casino
Two times the fun in Tuolumne County with Chicken Ranch Casino’s Wednesday Night Slot Tournament. This casino claims that, “Nothing Feels Better than Yelling BINGO!” and dares patrons to get their game on. Checkout their web page, chickenranchcasino.com, for mid-week bingo specials.
About Tuolumne County, California
Tuolumne County rhymes with “Follow Me,” located 133 miles/200 km east of San Francisco, is a pristine, scenic expanse reaching into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Gold was discovered in Tuolumne County in 1848, setting off the major gold rush of 1849.
The main highways leading to the picturesque drive from the San Francisco and East Bay Area are Highways 108 and 120 from the west and Highway 49 from the north. The State Highway 120 entrance to Yosemite National Park is considered the “front door” of the park for the San Francisco Greater Bay Area. The Stanislaus National Forest, Yosemite National Park, and other surrounding areas provide natural vistas and settings for hiking, water skiing, horseback riding, rafting, camping, snowmobiling, boating, snow skiing, fishing and other outdoor activities.
Seven restored historic hotels, four golf courses, numerous and varied dining establishments, historic saloons, five wineries and hard cider distillery, train rides, casino, seven museums, two state historic parks, five live theaters, and many bed-and-breakfast inns are among the many other attributes that make the county a year-round vacation destination.