Next time you find yourself in the Greater Sacramento area, set aside time for exploring the old gold mining town of Auburn, California. It’s so historical, that it’s even registered as a California Historical Landmark! When gold was first found there, in 1848, it quickly became flooded with many hopefuls making the short wagon ride from Sacramento. Years later, the Central Pacific Railroad made Auburn one of its stops, allowing more travel to the town. While the gold may be gone, Auburn still has other treasures to left to uncover.

auburn landscape
Auburn landscape – Photo courtesy of Foothill Farmers’ Market Association

Where to Stay

If you have a day or two to hang around town, check out the selection of bed and breakfasts available, like The Flower Inn. Located about 10 minutes outside of Auburn, you’ll find the well-restored 1905 farmhouse filled with local art, antiques, and cozy charm. We’ll take our homemade breakfast in the Hibiscus Cottage. Please and Thanks.

The Enchanted April Inn is another great place to stay. You’ll find this country estate seven miles out of Auburn in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Also check out Christmas Tree Vineyard Lodge for someother housing options. If anything just to see what the place looks like. The name is enticing on its own.

Where to Explore

Fun Fact: Auburn City was declared the Endurance Capital of the World in 2003. Which is incredibly accurate considering it’s home to some incredibly challenging events. If you’d perfer something a bit more tame, feel the wind on your face as you travel back in time on Highway 49  via motorcycle or convertible. The Foresthill Bridge is not to be missed!

Parks are ample with trails for exploring and enjoying via horseback, mountain bike, or foot. When you’re ready to hit the water, don’t be foolish and miss the whitewater rafting. Auburn has three of the Nation’s finest whitewater rafting runs. Looking for something a bit more tame? Rent yourself a boat, drop the anchor, and sunbath at Lake Clementine!

lake clementine auburn ca
Lake Clementine Photo courtesy of Dileep Aduri

If you prefer to explore indoors, then you’ll want to check out the shopping options of Old Town and Downtown Auburn. There’re plenty of mom and pop shops selling unique items to take back to your corner of the world. Perhaps we’re a bit partial, but these antique shops look like they have some treasures in them!

The town’s golden history is on display at the Bernhard Museum, one of the oldest buildings in the county! Back in 1851, it was the town hotel! Here are a few other museums that are worth your time. If you’re into interesting architecture, look for the brick, Auburn City Hall. The brick building is one of the most photographed things in town. Even the town fire house is picturesque. Look for the red and white steeple!

downtown auburn ca
Downtown Auburn – Photo courtesy of


Where to Eat

Katrina’s Cafe is a great place to grab breakfast. Just remember, this cash only cafe is on everyone else’s mind, too. Seating is limited, and if you arrive past 8:00AM, expect to wait a bit.

When you are thinking you want something light for your afternoon hike, hit up Awful Annie’s to grab a sandwich and some fruit for energy. If you’d rather skip the hike and diving head first into some dessert, order their famous bread pudding with brandy sauce. Feeling thirsty? The locals declared their Bloody Mary the best in town. If tomato juice isn’t your thing, order a sarsaparilla- served in a boot.

It’s dinner time and you’re making reservations at Monkey Cat, named after the legendary creature. They’ll tell you more at your table while you glance over the wine list and steak choices.

Feeling thirsty? Grab yourself a tall brew of the good stuff at Auburn Ale House. Serving up craft beer and food seven days a week, Auburn is a must for Mike anytime he comes to town. Can’t say we blame him, especially because there’s a spooky history at Auburn Brewery. It’s actually  linked to the most infamous crime ever committed in the city back in 1904.

If you are feeling like a local, hit up the Foothills Farmers’ Market for some produce to have an impromptu picnic!

auburn farmers market
Photo courtesy of Foothill Farmers’ Market Association

There’s a little something for everyone in Auburn, thrill seekers, foodies, and folks who really just want to chill out in the mountains. If you put Auburn on your list of places to visit, let us know what you think!


Throw on our Antique Archaeology “Sweet Pickin’” dark heather grey t-shirt on your next walk about town!






14 thoughts on “Weekend Escape: Auburn, California”

  1. Clifford

    Hello Sarah,

    Nice story about Auburn. I live about four hours from it. I haven’t been up there in awhile.
    Did Mike, Frank, and the rest of America Pickers film crew get the chance to explore/pick there??


  2. Al & Shirley Kapitan

    Hi Mike
    Thanks for the invite but we just can’t make it.
    We love the photo of Downtown Auburn.
    You are so lucky to be able to travel to such great places.
    Our best to you and yours.
    Al & Shirley Kapitan

  3. Cal

    I remember going to Auburn, California when it was a small town. We camped at a campground near by, out in the country, open space for miles. Some people bought land building homes. It was a quaint little town with antique stores and Mom & Pop restaurants…. We all came to get away from big city life…… Then city government and the powers the be said let’s open the land for big stores, like Wal-Mart, kmart; shopping malls with large movie theaters and fast food restaurants, throw in some motels and also build sub division homes for the workers in the stores and fast food places. NOW Auburn is just another big city with big city traffic and the scurg of big city.

    1. Theresa Ares

      I’m sorry. I HAVE to say something. I have lived in Auburn for 17 years and I still love it You can keep Sac, even Roseville. Driving by all the history around, the original homes, one of the oldest high schools in CA, a beautiful sunset and a lit up 19th century courthouse that still holds court every day. Oh, and you can actually look up at night and see the stars. Yes, there is more traffic, etc, but you don’t have to drive far or even out of Auburn for EVERYTHING you need. (Except Trader Joe’s!)

  4. Tyler Lovejoy

    Great Read! Gold was actually discovered in 1848 by Claude Chana in the Auburn Ravine. If you’re in town and in need of a good brew and deli sandwich, check out Little Belgium Deli in downtown.

  5. David Sims

    I love reading about Auburn, I joined the Navy and never moved home, gold was discovered at sitters mill and the American river in the 1849 I think not 1948. I think Auburn Is a great place to live, 100’s of my family still live there. I went to placer High. I live on bell road right at the end on a small ranch. Dad was a ranch manager there, he worked from mr. Mc Crary. I have great memory’s of there. There still might be good picks there on what left of the out building, lots of old tools and odds and ends.

  6. Judy Zukas

    The gold is far from gone! I live an hour from auburn and we own a placer claim on the middle fork of the Yuba river and get lots of gold- dredging. Ps our comcast is broadcasting 3 minutes of your program and wondered if you could find out why- we miss seeing you!

  7. Corvetteman

    l lived there for a couple of years and found it a really nice community.Lived in Lake O the Pines and them moved into town on Channel Hill Rd. We always enjoyed eating at Grumpy’s and The Little Red Wagon out at the turn off to Lake of the Pines. I haven’t been back since we left in ’80 but plan on going back now that am retired and full-time RV’ing. We also liked Placerville…across the canyon. Wish I’d had my Corvette then. Hwy 49 would’ve been a blast.

  8. Joyce Cristoni Boltz

    I pass by Auburn every time I go to Sacramento. I live about 15 miles past Auburn. Or 5 miles before Grass Valley CA. I live in Alta Sierra Village and we are fighting right now to keep Big business out of here. We don’t want Walmart, Cosco or any other stores pushing out our mom and pop stores. The powers that be are already taking out more trees this year to widen Highway 49. I wish all the flat landers would stay on their flat land with no trees and leave our trees alone. PS love your show Mike

  9. Maxine Jordan

    You made me so homesick. I lived in Sacramento for many many years. My daughter lived in Lake of the Pines there in Auburn. My grandkids were brought up there for a while. Then we all moved to Kure Beach NC. It’s beautiful here but I am a native Californian and I miss it when I see pictures or stories about it. Love our pickets. Love the show.

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