Highway 49 has brilliant spring wildflowers, green, green hills, and a burgeoning crop of restaurants and wineries
Photo by George Olson
California’s Gold Country is famous for ... well, gold—enough of it to make some 1849 miners very rich. But in spring, these Sierra Nevada foothills shine with a different kind of wealth. Wildflowers pop into brilliant bloom, creeks burble, and the sun warms newly green hillsides. A drive along curvy, beautiful Highway 49 shows you Gold Rush history—you can’t drive a mile without spotting a historic plaque—but also shows off the region’s newfound sophistication: Nineteenth-century towns are sprouting cutting-edge restaurants, and side roads lead to some of California’s most innovative wineries.