Venture to the Southern Golden Country in the Sierra foothills for a rewarding stay in one of the charming historic towns along scenic Highway 49.
It's a city with a small-town charm. And that's just scratching the surface when it comes to the mining of all the visual and historical – among many other things – attractions that draw visitors in droves to the city of Jackson nestled in the heart of the Mother Lode. The proof is in the numbers. While this quaint and quiet city in Amador County is home to just 4,300 residents, the number swells up to more than 15,000 on the weekends when the tourist traffic is at its busiest.
Columbia State Park just outside of Sonora is a gem of a tourist attraction with its stage plays in the Fallon House Theatre in addition to its Main Street "City Hotel" and restaurant, gold panning and an occasional stage coach ride.
The cruising excitement of past years continues to be an integral part of Manteca's history as three longtime members of the community recalled where they were in the 1940s to the 1960s and what they were doing.
MODESTO - The spirit of vintage cars and cruising is eternally captured in Modesto: the hometown of George Lucas and location where famous film American Graffitti was shot just over 40 years ago. While Lucas' famed film may not be in theaters anymore, locals keep the spirit of American Graffiti alive through the annual summertime American Graffiti Festival presented by the North Modesto Kiwanis Club.
If you squint your eyes you can see a little bit of Al Nunes in Paul Le Mat's character from American Graffiti.
RIPON – Commander Ernie Tyhurst of the Clinton McCausland Post 190 of the American Legion has a history of service to his community and to his country during his colorful lifetime. He joined the Legion four years ago and is in his second year in its leadership. He is now a life member.
RIPON – Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars' Post 1051 in Ripon, John Franscella, has served three tours aboard the U.S.S. Hancock assigned to the F-8 Fighter Squadron in the Gulf of Tonkin between 1968 and 1970.
While Memorial Day allows locals to take a moment to thank veterans for their service and sacrifice, several veteran organizations continue to contribute year-round to the community. From supporting sober graduate nights to hosting flag retirement ceremonies, veteran societies such as the American Legion support and further the goals of the community through their financial contributions.
LATHROP – Charles McGonegal is looking to boost membership at the Sharpe General Depot American Legion Post 632.
MANTECA – The briefcase sits on a ledge near the front window of the Village Sandwich Shoppe, open and overflowing with folders and paperwork.
The impact the American Legion has had on the lives of veterans – even those who don't know that the organization exists – is unquestioned.
When you visit the famous wine-growing region of Napa, perhaps there is no local attraction that captures the spirit of your journey better than a ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train. Hop on board this historic train and you'll chug your way through scenic vineyards to wine-lover's heaven.
Zombies are on the horizon for the Sierra Dinner train chugging out of its Oakdale station this summer. Also new to the long established attraction that featured a Murder Mystery and a Christmas Train is a Beer Train that is coming in mid-August.
The last time I rode aboard the ACE train was five years ago.
In the heart of the town that labels itself as the Gateway to Yosemite, aka Groveland, is a quaint cottage where you can relish being pampered by almost everything that is traditional English before you head out to the wilds. That place is Dori's Tea Cottage & Café at 18744 Main Street, which is also Highway 120. The famous
MODESTO – You need your porcelain. You need your finest china. And you absolutely need your tea.
ANGELS CAMP -Three miles north of Arnold off Highway 4, the colossal trees of Calaveras Big Trees State Park stand in quiet testimony to prehistoric times. These massive relics, which can reach a height of 325 feet and a diameter of 33 feet, are descended from trees that were standing when dinosaurs roamed Earth, and birds, mammals and flowering plants began to appear. Some of today's trees are thought to be as old as 2,000 years.
TURLOCK – With the spookiest holiday just around the corner, the city of Turlock has both children and canines covered with events including BARKtoberfest, a downtown trick-or-treating event, and Haunted Housing at California State University, Stanislaus.
LATHROP – Trick-or-treating is so passé.
STOCKTON – Halloween in Stockton has something for folks of all ages.
Most Halloween celebrations last for just a day. At Manteca Care and Rehabilitation Center in Manteca, it will be double the fun in two days full of costumes, cupcakes, and live entertainment.
MANTECA – There's Pixie Woods in Stockton and Micke Grove in Lodi – places that offer plenty of attractions and recreational facilities for the young.
PATTERSON – Whether kids like to skate, bike, or even rollerblade, the skate park in Patterson is the only place to go according to local skateboarders Abraham Garcia-Ramos and Joel Becerril.
STOCKTON – Pixie Woods Amusement Park was once described as Stockton's own fairyland for the "young in age and young at heart."
MODESTO – "Dad – what are we going to do today?"
Its been called California's Main Street. It splits from Interstate 5 some 90 miles south of Mt. Shasta – the state's most imposing volcano – and remerges with Interstate 5 at the base of the Grapevine that takes you over the Tehachapi Mountains and dumps you into the Southland.