Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Auburn, CA

  • Published 2022/09/12

Situated on the foothills of the Nevada Range, the city of Auburn is bordered by Sacramento and Reno, Nevada.

The indigenous Nisenan people were the first to establish a settlement in the area.

In 1848, French gold miners camped in what would later be known as the Auburn Ravine after finding gold deposits in its soils.

Known for its California Gold Rush history, the city is a registered California Historic Landmark and houses 19th-century style buildings from its golden years.

It is not only rich in history but is also brimming with fun activities and mouth-watering dishes that are guaranteed to make your visit worthwhile.

So, if you’d like to experience the rich mining history of this city, here are the best things to do in Auburn, California:

Take a Walk around the Historic Old Town Auburn

Aerial view of Old Town Auburn

Devin Powers /

Old Town Auburn is the city’s heritage district located on Lincoln Way.

Take a self-guided walk and admire 19th-century-style buildings that will transport you back to the Gold Rush years of the city.

Drop by Auburn Old Town Art Gallery, where artworks of around 50 local artists in different media are featured for souvenirs.

Welcome sign of Old Town Auburn

Noah_Loverbear, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Try local favorite Old Town Pizza for a slice paired with local craft beer to recharge after a tiring stroll.

If you happen to be visiting on the weekend, the farmers’ market is open every Saturday for fresh produce and handmade artisanal goodies.

If you love history and arts, Old Town Auburn has so much in store for you.

Buildings along Old Town Auburn

Bobak Ha’Eri, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go Back in Time at the Bernhard Museum Complex

The Bernhard Museum Complex is a history museum located on Auburn Folsom Road.

It houses Traveler’s Rest, a hotel popular among miners in the mid-1800s and one of the oldest buildings in Placer County.

The hotel was converted into a home in 1858 and a winery in 1874.

Today, the Bernhard Museum Complex comprises the restored winery, processing building, and Victorian-style home with tour guides in costume.

Marvel at the collection of wagons and winemaking tools displayed throughout the complex.

Learn more about life in the 19th century in this living history museum.

Get Breakfast at Edelweiss Restaurant

This well-loved local restaurant has been an Auburn institution since it opened its doors in 1989.

Edelweiss Restaurant is a family-owned diner on High Street, best known for its delicious omelets.

If you love breakfast food, this is the place to be as they serve all-day breakfast.

Make sure to try their Edelweiss Special Breakfast, which consists of two poached eggs, ham, or sausage sandwiched in an English muffin and drizzled with their special avocado sauce.

Their hangover omelet will perk you up after a night of drinking with Ortega chili, onion, bacon, and cheddar.

There is also a meatless omelet menu if you like a lighter meal, with one of their bestsellers being the Poor boy, which is topped with zucchini, tomato, bell pepper, onion, and cheese.

For hearty, home-cooked meals, try out Edelweiss Restaurant any time of the day.

Explore the Auburn State Recreation Area

Scenic view of Auburn State Recreation Area

StephanieFarrell /

Adrenaline junkies are in for a treat in this 42,000-acre park along the American River.

The Auburn State Recreation Area lies in what was supposed to be land dedicated to the proposed Auburn Dam.

The rapids of Auburn State Recreation Area

StephanieFarrell /

You can do all sorts of outdoor recreational activities like hiking, trail running, swimming, boating, and camping, making the City of Auburn declare itself the “Endurance Capital of the World.”

One of the area’s popular spots is the American River Confluence—a swimming hole with shallow waters perfect for your kids.

Waterfalls at Auburn State Recreation Area

Thomas A. Price /

Lake Clementine is also a must-see with its clear waters and perfect conditions suitable for kayaking.

If you are looking for an adventure-packed trip, check out the Auburn State Recreation Area.

Hiking bridge at Auburn State Recreation Area

ZikG /

Drink World-Class Beer at Moonraker Brewing Co.

Named Best New Brewery in California, Moonraker Brewing Co. promises a beer-drinking experience like no other.

Founded in 2016, the brewhouse on Earhart Avenue operates its taproom using 1100 solar panels as part of its environmental efforts.

Quench your thirst with their wide selection of beers on tap and in the can.

Food trucks are also on standby if you want a perfect pair for your beer.

Try Moonraker Brewing Co.’s uniquely-named taps like Wave Theory, Foamwalker, and Atomic Betty.

Take a Sip of Handcrafted Wines at Mt. Vernon Winery

Mt. Vernon Winery is a family-founded winery in the Sierra foothills.

It is one of the first wineries in the region to produce Old Vine Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and aged barrel-fermented Chardonnay.

They serve a variety of handcrafted wines and ciders that you can enjoy in their tasting room—a beautifully-restored 1950s milk house that overlooks the vineyard.

You can also do an outdoor tasting on their back patio while listening to live music.

If you want to make your visit memorable, book seats in their Wine Cave Dinners, where their in-house chef prepares a six-course dinner for guests paired with wines handpicked by their winemaker.

Mt. Vernon Winery is a must-see for wine enthusiasts and casual drinkers alike.

Go Horseback Riding at Hidden Falls Regional Park

The waterfall at Hidden Falls Regional Park

Alisa_Ch /

Located on Mears Place, Hidden Falls Regional Park boasts a 30-mile multiple-use trail for hiking, running, biking, and horseback riding.

Observe the beautiful flora and fauna of the region while walking down the park’s trails.

Challenge yourself while admiring the scenic views by horseback riding amid foothills and waterfalls.

Aerial view of Hidden Falls Regional Park

Alisa_Ch /

There’s an observation deck atop a hill overlooking the falls for a better view.

There are plenty of shaded areas inside the park but be sure to bring water on your way up to keep yourself hydrated during the hike.

Hidden Falls Regional Park has a kid-friendly trail, so you can enjoy its stunning views with the whole family!

Hikers at Hidden Falls Regional Park

Shannon Mendez /

Learn about the Local History at the Gold Rush Museum

Mining is part of Auburn’s rich history, and you can learn more about it at the Gold Rush Museum at the old Railway Depot on Lincoln Way.

At the height of the California Gold Rush in the 1850s, Auburn was one of the biggest mines in the state, with John Q. Jackson, an agent for Wells Fargo & Company, shipping over 750 pounds of gold to San Francisco in one month.

The Gold Rush Museum features a replica of a mining tunnel you can walk through, an assayer’s office, and a miner’s cabin diorama.

Learn about the gold mining techniques used in that time and how hundreds of tons of gold were transported out of Auburn during the rush.

You can also experience panning for gold and watch a documentary about the Gold Rush.

Have a Cup of Coffee at The Pour Choice

The Pour Choice prides itself as the first and only craft coffee bar and tap room in California.

Located on Sacramento Street, the cafe-cum-bar is known for its high-quality coffee, tap beer, and wines.

Pair your breakfast sandwich with a cup of their handcrafted cappuccino, or enjoy a slice of their quiche with a glass of sparkling wine.

Both indoor seating and the patio are beautiful spots for your Instagram-worthy photos.

For a good coffee, good food, and great ambiance, come to The Pour Choice when you visit Auburn.

Drive across the Foresthill Bridge

Daytime view of the Foresthill Bridge

Wirestock Creators /

The Foresthill Bridge is a 730-foot bridge crossing the North Fork American River.

It is the fourth-highest bridge in the US and is a Hollywood star on its own, having been featured in movies like XXX, where Vin Diesel jumped off and parachuted.

Notes etched on the light-green railings of the bridge will give you all the feels!

A river under the Foresthill Bridge

Chris Allan /

Its height makes it an excellent spot for viewing the American River and the surrounding mountains.

Visit the Foresthill Bridge and enjoy the best view in the city.

Aerial view of Foresthill Bridge road

Devin Powers /

Marvel at the Construction of Bloomers Cut

Bloomers Cut is a section of rail tracks that pass through mountains and deep ravines with 63-foot-high walls.

The cut has been dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World” for the extraordinary skills and labor put into its construction.

Located on Rogers Lane, Bloomers Cut was completed in 1864 as part of the Transcontinental Road and has remained unchanged, proving how advanced the technology was then.

Walk down the narrow pass as you appreciate the men who built this masterpiece.

Be sure to wear the right shoes because some parts of the cut are steep, and the rail tracks are rocky.

Catch the Auburn Symphony in a Concert

The Auburn Symphony is the pride and joy of Placer County, playing a diverse selection of music from pop to classical.

The group holds season concerts at the Placer High School Auditorium, the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, and the outdoor venue Cooper Amphitheater at the Auburn School Park Preserve.

They also conduct outreach programs for youth to develop the talent of local musicians.

If you’re a fan of classical music, be sure to book your tickets to one of their concerts.

Support the Auburn Symphony and the city’s budding young musicians!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Admire the Architecture of the No Hands Bridge

Scenic view of No Hands Bridge

StephanieFarrell /

Originally known as the Mountain Quarry Bridge, the No Hands Bridge is a railroad arch bridge crossing the North Fork American River.

Constructed in 1912 to transport quarried rock, it was designed by architect John B. Leonard and was the longest of its type at the time, spanning 482 feet.

Today, the bridge is used in endurance races and by tourists who want spectacular views of the river and its surroundings.

Aerial view of No Hands Bridge

Bob Reynolds /

Fun fact: The bridge’s nickname reportedly came from an equestrian who would drop her reins while crossing the bridge.

For a unique sightseeing experience, include the No Hands Bridge on your bucket list.

Visit Newcastle Lavender Farms

Located just 10 minutes outside Auburn is the family-owned Newcastle Lavender Farms.

The farm offers a private session on the lavender fields during their season if you want professionally shot photos.

For a fee, you can attend their open farm events, including a bundle of freshly picked lavender, or their wreath-making classes held during summers.

Available on-site are lavender-infused products like lotion, body butter, and oil roller.

Newcastle Lavender Farms is a great pitstop for those looking for an Instagrammable spot.

Have a Picnic at Griffith Quarry Park

Welcome sign of Griffith Quarry Park

Noah_Loverbear, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located in the town of Penryn, Griffith Quarry Park is a former granite quarry that once housed the Penryn Granite Works office.

The park is a California Historical Landmark with three-mile-long scenic trails and picnic areas where you can enjoy a day with your family.

The quarry pit gets filled with water during the rainy season and receives lush undergrowth and flowers during spring.

There is also a museum featuring the area’s quarrying past.

Griffith Quarry Park should be included in your list of places for short hikes and picnics.

Go Wine Tasting at Dono dal Cielo

Newcastle is a haven for wine lovers.

Dono dal Cielo is a 15-minute drive from downtown Auburn and offers an excellent wine-tasting experience.

You can try all their wines for a fee or opt for a bottle and relax while listening to live music.

Their covered patio has a romantic ambiance perfect for dinners, while the expansive grassy space is great for picnics.

Your whole family will enjoy Dono dal Cielo as dogs are allowed inside the estate, too!

Final Thoughts

Auburn is every adventurer’s dream destination with its endless trails, gorgeous waters, and countless outdoor activities.

The city is also a haven for culture, arts, and good food.

Whether you are the always-on-the-go type or the laid-back type, Auburn’s got your back.

You’ll never run out of places to explore or food to try, so on your next vacation, consider visiting this city and trying the best things to do in Auburn, California.

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