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Oct 5, 2013 01:09 PM

Jamestown - Columbia - Murphys area?

I thought it would be fun to spend Halloween night at the historic (and supposedly haunted!) 1857 City Hotel in the old gold rush town and state park of Columbia, CA.

Does anyone know of any really good (or really fun and interesting!) places to eat nearby? I'm happy to stop anywhere en route or even continue up to 35 mins. in any direction past, for a memorable experience. The main consideration is that we'd like to try and find a destination that complements the overall theme of this trip; ie. halloween festive, historic 1800s setting. etc. Preferably some place with very good food as well!

It could be an old b&b or inn, a hotel saloon, or even just a really great restaurant at the edge of the Sierras that would seem well suited to our ghostly forty-niner excursion. Themed "murder mystery" dinners or the like would be ideal; so long as the ingredients are fresh and the food preferably better than just 'acceptable'.

On a similar note, we'll be driving up to Mokelumne Hill and Placerville the following afternoon, continuing on our journey through the California Gold Rush, and would welcome any suggestions for good/fun/interesting lunch spots and watering holes.

Thanks in advance!!

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  1. It could be anywhere along or near the 580 btw...

    I think we'll be leaving from Niles because it looks like the Silent Movie Theater will be exhibiting a fun Halloween themed 16mm 'kiddie cartoon cavalcade' which I'd like to try and catch, though it's uncertain as of yet.

    1. Does anyone know if the restaurant in the 1859 Historic National Hotel in Jamestown is any good?

      I was looking at this, but the fixed prix menu sounds absolutely disgusting to me:

      2 Replies
      1. re: OliverB

        I agree -- that menu does not look good. I had lunch there a couple of years ago. It's an attractive room and the food was fine, but not special. I wouldn't do dinner.

        1. re: Glencora

          Thanks, for affirming... if it were a table d'hote, I'd probably chance it because you could always stick with something simple and straightforward, but at $70/person and that gross sounding menu (salmon baked in phyllo with plum sauce... barf!!!) I don't think so! My wife likes the idea of the Murder Mystery evening, which could possibly be fun... but it's still a restaurant first and foremost. I know there's great pizza at The Prospector in Twaine Harte, but the atmosphere is not very holiday spirited, so we'll probably stop in for lunch the next day. I have a short list of some other fun looking places in Jackson, Pine Grove and Pleasant Valley, but they are quite far and we'll also probably save them for the following day. For some reason, there doesn't seem to be much going on for Halloween in Columbia, which is strange considering it's economy relies almost exclusively on tourism.

      2. We stayed once at the Imperial Hotel in old Amador City, off of highway 49. It's a little farther north, off of Highway 49, but still on your way to Placerville. It's an original 1879 building with only a few rooms upstairs. The restaurant is not groundbreaking, but does perfectly acceptable California cuisine.

        No themed dinners, but just walking around the little town and visiting a few close by small wineries was great entertainment for the afternoon/evening. No humors of haunting either.

        When my SO and I stayed there, off season, we were the only guests, so after the manager locked up for the night we had the place to ourselves.

        5 Replies
        1. re: pamf

          Thank you Pam,

          We've never been up in the 'Gold Country' before and I'm wondering if it's worth staying over two nights just to see all the old historic towns?

          We're staying overnight at the old City Hotel in Columbia, CA on the 31st to celebrate Halloween. The next day we were planning on driving a couple of hours north, just to check out a few more towns and 'gold rush' attractions, but I'm not sure whether we need to spend another night or if we should just drive back into the city. This is a c&p of my list of old west hotels and inns, historic restaurants & saloons and gold rush cities and ghost towns in the area:


          • Groveland - Hotel Charlotte

          • Jamestown - 1859 Historic National Hotel / Jamestown Hotel

          • Columbia - City Hotel / Fallon Hotel

          • Murphys - Murphys Hotel

          • Mokelumne Hill - Hotel Leger

          • Amador City - Imperial Hotel

          • Volcano - St. George Hotel

          • Placerville - Historic Cary House Hotel

          • Grass Valley - Holbrooke Hotel


          • Jamestown - 1859 Historic National Hotel Restaurant, The Willow Steakhouse

          • Twain Harte - The Prospector

          • Angels Camp - Angels Camp Mercantile

          • Jackson - Teresa's Place

          • Pine Grove - Giannini's Italian Dinners, 88 Giant Burgers To Go, Munnerlyn's Ice Creamery

          • Pleasant Valley - Poor Red's Bar-B-Q

          • El Dorado - Poor Red's Bar-B-Q - (Golden Cadillac!)

          • Placerville - Restaurant at the Holbrooke and The Golden Gate Saloon


          • Jamestown - Gold Prospecting Adventures, Railtown 1897 State Park

          • Columbia - Columbia State Historic Park

          • Murphys - Mercer Caverns

          • Angels Camp - Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway, Angels Camp Museum and Carriage House, California Caverns

          • Placerville - Placerville Historical Museum, Eldorado National Forest

          • Coloma, CA. - Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park

          • Grass Valley - Empire Mine State Historic Park, Northstar Mine Powerhouse & Pelton Wheel Museum

          I don't want to veer too far away from food, but I'd really appreciate it if anyone could offer some feedback on whether it's worth spending a second night to experience more of the area or whether it's just "more of the same" and not to bother without a destination in mind. We've only skirted the towns going to and from the Sierras; into Yosemite and up to the Mammoth area. I'm wondering whether any of these places are actually destination worthy in that we should extend an extra night to explore more of the old main streets and museums of the historic towns or if one full day is enough?

          1. re: OliverB

            Of course it all depends on your schedule, but it's a lot of driving, so for me an extra night would make for a much more relaxed trip.

            Also, you didn't mention any winery visits. There are some very interesting small wineries in Amador and El Dorado counties and they are nothing like the busy, touristy scene you get in Napa.

            1. re: pamf

              Thanks Pam!

              I hadn't even thought of wineries; perhaps because we just spent time up in Mendocino, drinking our way through the entire area. Any recommendations?

              I just found a wonderful looking historic b&b in Placerville called The Davies Family Inn at Shadowridge Ranch with private cottages that I'm going to try and book for Nov. 1st!

            2. re: OliverB

              It's gorgeous up there. This time of the year, the trees are probably changing color. The towns are absolutely worth taking time to explore. You haven't mentioned Nevada City, but it's near Grass Valley and I prefer it. The nearby Empire Mine is worth a visit. I remember a lovely dinner in a converted house in Nevada City, but it's been a while so I can't be more specific. Definitely stay a second night.

              1. re: Glencora

                Definitely do not miss Nevada City if you're near the Auburn area, plenty of good eats there and around Grass Valley.

                Some interesting events and such also, check out Erin's blog from the Outside Inn. Could easily spend a couple of days there and not take it all in.


                on page 2 scroll down to the Deer Creek Tribute Trail, one of the more creative endeavors i've seen.


                Be aware there is a cold front expected to hit tomorrow and Thursday, but it's just as beautiful dusted in white.

                Here's a photo of Broad St. in winter.