Thinking about taking a trip to Tuolumne, California? Well here are all the best things to do while you're there...
How to get to Tuolumne
A great way to get to Tuolumne, California, is to take an Iceland Air flight to San Fransisco then it's about a three-hour drive from there. I flew from London Gatwick with a quick stop in Reykjavik, and the 11-hour Iceland Air flight was dreamy. Although, I do regret wearing skinny jeans on a long-haul flight. But that's no-one's fault but my own...
Places to stay in Tuolumne
Stay in a wagon at Yosemite Pines
What could be better than staying in a renovated wagon in the beautiful surroundings of California?! The Yosemite Pines air-conditioned and heated wagons sleep four people. They're furnished with a super-comfy king-size bed and bunk beds (as a woman of height, you'd think sleeping in a bunk bed would be a nightmare, but these were genuinely nicer than sleeping in my own bed at home). But if you've got your own RV, there are plenty of great options at Yosemite Pines for that too, so you can just park up and get the fire going for a night of S'mores.
Oh, and did I mention there's a petting zoo, complete with goats and alpacas. ALPACAS!?
After spending two wonderful nights in the Yosemite Pines wagon, I packed up my bits and headed to historic Sonora for a couple of nights at the Sonora Inn. Located right on the main strip of downtown Sonora, the hotel makes for a great choice if you want to be slap, bang in the centre of it all.
Things to do in Tuolumne
Take a hike up Hetchy Hetchy
If you're going to visit Tuolumne, you'd be crazy not to take a hike up Hetchy Hetchy. Walking around the idilic lake will make you forget all your troubles. But remember to wear sensible shoes, drink lots of water and pack your sunscreen. Yes, I realise I'm not your mum - but this stuff's important, okay?
Kayaking on Pinecrest Lake
Kayaking is one of those activities that you can really tailor to your own needs/abilities. Want to challenge yourself and row to the other side of the lake? Go for it! Want to gently paddle into the middle of the lake, set your paddle down and just chill? You got it.
And yes, I did the latter and I've never been happier.
Go horse riding in Kennedy Meadows
As someone who has never ridden a horse (I've ridden a llama and a camel, but the less said about that the better...), I was a little nervous. But my mind was soon put at ease at Kennedy Meadows. A group of us, led by a real-life cowboy, took an hour-long trek around some of the most beautiful surroundings I've ever seen. Despite my horse Dick's (be careful how you read that...) best efforts to ignore me entirely, by the end of it I was a total convert. Horse riding at Kennedy Meadows was a real highlight of my trip, and I'd make sure it's at the top of your to-do list during your trip to Tuolumne.
Stop by Railtown 1897 State Historic Park
Take a step back in time (or Back To The Future - more on that later) by visiting Railtown 1897. If you're a railway enthusiast, this is the place for you. Equally, if films are more your thing, the Historic Park houses the exact train that was used in that infamous Back To The Future 3 scene. Pretty cool, huh?
Visit Columbia State Historic Park
Another way to discover the history of Tuolumne is to spend the day at Columbia State Historic Park. You'll learn how this gold-mining town came to be while wandering the streets, which are lined with a variety of shops and boutiques with many specialising in nineteenth century goods. Plus, restaurants, ice cream parlours, candy stores and saloons. And if you ask nicely, the saloon owner will tell you all about the local hauntings. Not for the faint-hearted...
Eat lunch at Columbia Kate's Teahouse
After working up an appetite panning for gold and avoiding ghosts at the Columbia State Historic Park, take your hungry self to Kate's Teahouse for iced tea and the most amazing egg salad sandwich you've ever had. Oh, and maybe try the chicken pot pie. And the quiche and savoury bread pudding. And actually, if you've got space for pudding, better get some of their sweet treats for the table too...
Have a foot soak at Amala Detox & Tea Lounge
If your feet are tired from all the hiking and other fun activities, make time for a foot soak at the Amala Detox & Tea Lounge. Providing tea for ailments, ionic detox foot soaks and readings, infrared saunas, and a whole lot more, this will have you feeling back to your old self in no time.
Take a wander around the Sonora Farmers' Market
Nothing will take your mind off a *cough* hangover *cough* like taking a gentle stroll around the Farmers' Market in Sonora. Plenty of fresh fruit and baked goods will get that fuzzy head sorted before you know it. Although, if that fails, nothing works better than hair of the dog in my opinion.
Cider-tasting at Indigeny Cider Reserve
As a person who hasn't been able to stomach even a drop of cider since a certain incident at the local park 17 years ago, I wasn't totally convinced that an afternoon of cider-tasting was going to be my favourite stop on my Tuolumne trip. But even the biggest scrumpy-hater has to admit that the Indigeny Cider Reserve is the most beautiful setting for an afternoon in the California sunshine.
As well as learning how cider, apple brandy and a number of vodkas are made, this 160-acre preserve and apple orchard make for the most amazing venue for events such as weddings and birthday parties.
And guess who'd changed her mind about cider by the time she'd left...
Get creative (and drunk) at Brush & Cork
If you're looking for a fun way to spend an evening, you could do a lot worse than Brush & Cork. Enjoy a glass of wine/20 glasses of wine (always drink responsibly...) with your friends while you create a work of art. And before you start panicking that you're about as skilled at art as Gemma Collins is at ice-skating, you'll be equipped with an outline to begin with, and Judy Grossman - the owner of Brush & Cork - will take you through it step-by-step. It's kinda like painting by numbers for tipsy adults. You can't argue with that...
For more information on visiting Tuolumne, California, click here.
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