15 Best Things to Do in Columbia, CA

Things to Do in Columbia, CA
Kit Leong / shutterstock.com

Founded in 1850 as a boomtown because of the gold rush, Columbia in Tuolumne County, California, became the "Gem of the Southern Mines.”

Columbia will take you back to the scent, sight, and sounds of the 19th-century mining town.

You’ll find merchants clad in 1850s clothes; there’s also a blacksmith shop that emits a faint smell of coal smoke.

Different shops and boutiques line the streets specializing in 19th-century goods.

Columbia’s current population is 2,633, according to the projections of the most recent US Census estimates.

Bring the whole family and visit the city and discover the wonderful things to do in Columbia, California!

Experience the Gold Rush at Columbia State Historic Park

Horses at Columbia State Historic Park
Michael Vi / Shutterstock.com

If you’re looking for an ideal family getaway, Columbia State Historic Park is the best place to go.

With the park’s elevation of 2,100 feet in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, summers may become hot while winters become rainy with occasional snow.

Located on Broadway St., three miles north of Sonora, Columbia State Historic Park offers family camping, group camping, and environmental camping.

Shops along Columbia State Historic Park
Kit Leong / Shutterstock.com

Also known as Columbia Historic District, it’s a state park society and National Historic Landmark District that preserve the historic downtown of Columbia, California.

Almost 30 buildings stood in this park during the California Gold Rush, and most of them remain today because of preservation.

You can bring your dog along but only in outdoor areas and as long as it is on a leash.

City hotel at Columbia State Historic Park
Michael Vi / Shutterstock.com

Go Organic at Columbia Mercantile 1855, the Gold Rush Way

Columbia Mercantile 1855 is a unique gold rush-style provisioned grocery store which opened in 2018.

Located on Jackson St., it provides full-service groceries focusing on natural and organic products and conventional items.

It supports the necessities of residents and visitors of Columbia and provides a substance of “downtown community,” no matter if you’re an adjacent neighbor or just initially discovered Columbia.

This grocery store sells organic produce, staples, spices, freshly-baked sourdough loaves of bread, dairy and cheeses, different beverages, and frozen and microwaveable meals, to name a few.

Columbia Mercantile 1855 is sure to have something you need because it houses a Music Supply Store, Argonaut Fine Art Gallery, OTC Pharmacy and Sundries, a Garden, Homegoods, Collectibles, and Antiques.

Experience Soap and Candle Making at Seven Sisters Soap & Candle Company

Want to try something else and make it a lucrative business someday?

Your whole family can try soap and candle making at the Seven Sisters Soap & Candle Company on Broadway St.

You can make your own candle with the help of their expert staff, the same way people make candles in the 1800s.

Seven Sisters Soap & Candle Company sells excellent handcrafted scented candles and has a DIY section of supplies for making candles and soaps, as well as the biggest array of incense.

Try their handmade goat milk soap that provides extra moisturization for dry skin, acne, psoriasis, and eczema.

Step Back in Time at Columbia Booksellers & Stationers

Situated in Main St., you’ll find Columbia Booksellers & Stationers inside Columbia State Historic Park, which offers a one-of-a-kind shopping experience for goods or wares.

You might find this merchandise available during the height of the California Gold Rush period between 1850 to 1870.

Once you enter the original 1854-built brick store, you’ll feel like stepping back in time when you see how storekeepers dress during the 1850s.

You’ll hear the creaking sound of the hardwood floors under your feet and feel the warm glow of the original lighting fixture.

Enjoy exploring a wide diversity of extraordinary books, crafts, novelties, toys, replicas, souvenirs, and accessories for every budget and age.

Enjoy a Stagecoach Ride at Quartz Mountain Stage Line

Before, you can just see them in the movies, but now you have the opportunity to experience what it feels like riding an authentic stagecoach.

The state modified the stagecoach concession’s interior to make it more informative and ADA-amenable.

For generations, Tom Fraser's family continues to welcome local residents and visitors worldwide to explore their Horse Drawn Carriage site and their Stagecoach operation.

Quartz Mountain Stage Line also offers horse-drawn carriages used for any event, such as weddings, anniversaries, parades, funerals, and anything that you can think of using the best breed there is.

Invite the whole family to ride the stagecoach and see how your children will love a different kind of experience and adventure riding one in real life.

Indulge Your Sweet Tooth at Columbia Candy Kitchen

Signage of the Columbia Candy Kitchen
Hannah Ferris Photography / Shutterstock.com

People of all ages would never want to miss visiting the Columbia Candy Kitchen, and so should you!

The Nelson family never fails to continuously bring joy to people young and old all over the world with their delicious chocolates and candies.

Located on Columbia Candy Kitchen uses only the finest and freshest ingredients cooked in their copper kettles and cooled on marble tables that are more than a century old.

Their specialties that you must try include pine nut rolls, English toffee, homemade marshmallow bars, and seasonal chocolates such as dark chocolates with Himalayan sea salt and chili chocolates.

If you’re diabetic, you can still enjoy their delightful sugar-free confectioneries, such as pecan caramel clusters, peanut butter cups, and cherry cordials, among others.

Have Fun Skating at the Columbia “Ice” Skating Park

The holiday is just around the corner, which means snow and ice everywhere.

One of the best ways to celebrate it is with the family and ice skating at the Columbia “Ice” Skating Park.

This skating park features an outdoor 70 feet x 40 feet synthetic ice rink suitably situated a one-half mile east of Columbia State Historic Park.

Located on Yankee Hill Rd., Columbia, “Ice” Skating Park uses a solid polymer material structured for skating using normal metal-bladed ice skates.

Parking is restricted to a total of 25 spaces, and each space has reservations for every session.

Pan a Gold at Matelot Gulch Mining Company

If you have a passion for gold, go straight to the Matelot Gulch Mining Company and start panning.

This family-owned structure started its operation in 1964 and, since then, offers reasonable panning for gold and souvenirs in the state’s historic park.

Located on Main St., the Matelot Gulch Mining Company provides an economical and fun learning experience for all ages.

All of the panning options enable you to pan for genuine natural gold and gemstones.

The best part of it is there’s no limit to the time or fun you’ll get in your gold panning adventure, and you choose from Eureka, Adventure, Gold, and Deluxe pan.

Satisfy Your Cravings at El Jardin Mexican Restaurant

If you’re craving Mexican food, El Jardin Mexican Restaurant is the best place to go, located on Broadway St.

This famous restaurant uses the freshest ingredients sourced from the finest components using raw, genuine spices and procedures to produce true Mexican cuisine.

Their menu offers a full-bodied and varying taste of the most celebrated and loved Latin dishes.

Bring your family or friends to El Jardin Mexican Restaurant and indulge in their best-selling nachos, guacamole dip, quesadilla, soups, salads, and a lot more.

Enjoy their sumptuous food and excellent customer service.

Get the Finest Leather at Ebler's Leather & Saddlery

Signage of Ebler's Leather & Saddlery
Hannah Ferris Photography / Shutterstock.com

If you happen to be in town and are looking for something chic that will last longer, drop by Ebler's Leather & Saddlery for a good find at a good price.

The store offers original American-made vintage and new leather wallets, leather purses, and wallets.

If you love boots, then you’re in luck because they have a vast supply of cowboy boots for men and women.

Cutout of a boot at Ebler's Leather & Saddlery
Hannah Ferris Photography / Shutterstock.com

Located on Main St., Ebler's Leather & Saddlery has used and vintage saddles readily available if you need a replacement for your old or worn-out one.

Also, check out their Native American Jewelry, vintage leather fringe jackets, pre-owned leather vests, Pendleton wool jackets, and contemporary wool jackets in lovely shape at reasonable prices.

Other Things to Do Nearby

You can also explore nearby cities and towns and experience the beauty they have to offer.

Get out of your comfort zone and try other things you have never done before for just a few minutes' drive away from Columbia.

Explore the Moaning Caverns Adventure Park

Are you up for an extreme challenge to tour the Moaning Caverns Adventure Park, which is only a 15-minute drive from Columbia (9.3 mi) via Parrotts Ferry Rd?

This extensive cave park encompasses California’s deepest cave chamber, allowing you to go down deep underground with a walk tour guide.

Kids will love mining gemstones at the custom flume and cracking geodes.

You can choose to wander the Spiral Tour, which climbs down 16-stories underground via the spiral staircase into the deepest cave development.

Or you can try the Expedition Tour and test your stamina and endurance using only a cave helmet as you climb, crawl, squeeze, and slide your way to the dark, wild areas of the cave.

Located on Moaning Cave Rd., Vallecito, Moaning Caverns Adventure Park got its name from the sound of dripping water that forms the ”moaning holes.”

There’s a gift where you can purchase minerals, rocks, jewelry, books, and souvenirs for yourself or as a present to a loved one.

Taste a Wine Sample at Indigeny Reserve

Indigeny Reserve is a prolific 160-acre preserve and apple orchard situated on the magnificent hills of Summers Lane, Sonora.

They produce homebrewed, premium hard cider, fruit-infused vodka, and apple brandy aged in old barrels.

The hard cider is gluten-free, while the apple brandy is organic and sustainably produced.

You have the opportunity to taste their valuable ware in their tasting room for just a few dollars.

There’s also a cidery, gift shop, and distillery that every visitor must visit together with the breathtaking view for just 18 minutes away from Columbia (9.3 mi) via Lyons Bald Mountain Rd.

Hike the Natural Bridges Trailhead

Get close to nature and, along with the family, take a hike at the Natural Bridges Trailhead, which is only a 10-minute drive (6.1 mi) via Parrotts Ferry Rd.

The two-mile round-trip hike will take you to impressive limestone caverns carved out by Coyote Creek.

When going to the site, look for the brown sign on the side of the road, saying “Natural Bridges Day Use Area.”

Take note that Natural Bridges Trailhead doesn’t allow dogs and bikes because of the natural formation’s geological sensitivity.

The US Bureau of Reclamation cleans and maintains Natural Bridges Trailhead located on Ferry Road, Vallecito.

Take a Refreshing Swim at the Coyote Creek Cave

Stay cool even on hot summer days at the Coyote Creek Cave located on Parrots Ferry Road, in Vallecito, only 10 minutes away from Columbia (6.4 mi) via Parrotts Ferry Rd.

Discover the absolutely remarkable swimming hole in North California that will surely blow your mind.

It doesn’t matter what time of year you visit Coyote Creek Cave, the water stays cold even on hot days.

Bring a headlamp and marvel at the beautiful stalactites along with the deviations of colors of the rocks inside the cave.

Snow melt from the Sierra Nevada mountains supplies Coyote Creek Cave with water — no wonder it’s cold!

Join the Whitewater Rafting Adventure with OARS California Rafting

Ready yourself for a thrilling adventure with OARS California Rafting, which stands for Outdoor Adventure River Specialists — an 18-minute drive from Columbia (12.4 mi) via CA-49 N.

Located on Ridge Rd, Mokelumne Hill, experience whitewater rafting you have never experienced before.

You can also trek the wilds of Yosemite National Park along with naturalist hiking guides.

OARS provides professional and committed river rafting guides to carefully guide you on your adventure.

Have a thrilling adventure of your life with whitewater rafting either on the American River, Stanislaus River, the Merced, or Tuolumne River.

Final Thoughts

Wherever you go, remember that you have to be careful while doing the activities you love.

You don’t have to spend too much because you can still have fun with your friends or family, even with a mere budget.

Get your bags ready and check out the extraordinary things to do in Columbia, CA.

Spotted a mistake, have some feedback, or just want to chat with our editorial team? Click here to get in touch.
Find out more about Travel Lens and read our editorial guidelines here.