Favorite places in N. California | Spring Edition


Things to do in Northern CA

This week is Spring Break for my kids. Their spring break schedule used to throw me off, because when I was a kid, Spring Break would be the week AFTER Easter, not before. Oh well...in any case, they're home, so I have to figure out ways to keep them (and me) out of trouble. Below are some of my favorite things to do this time of year. So, if you are looking for things to do in Northern California for Spring Break (or any other time of the year) check them out! Most of them are open year round, with the exception of the flower farms.

You may have heard of these...

Living History Day in Coloma

This happens every second Saturday of each month. I love going here with my kids, especially when they are learning about California history. There are volunteers in period costume that children can meet and chat with, do some candle dipping, make rope and visit buildings that were built around the time of the Gold Rush.

Big Trees in Calaveras

is a State Park and, as the name suggests, it is home to many big trees. But OH do those trees have stories to tell! There is a one mile trail that you can stroll around with kids; It was easier to do this in the cooler weather because it got pretty warm in the summertime.

While you’re at it, plan your visit during the Jumping Frog Jubilee and Calaveras County Fair This is something I’ve been meaning to do for the past few years (and really tempted to enter my son into the frog jumping contest) Why not, right? The last time we were in Angels Camp, my son was 3 and his favorite part of our vacation was the stairs in the resort we were staying at. Oh how things change…

Fort Ross

Talk about photo opportunities! Situated at the coast, it is easy to imagine what life must have been like here when it was built. There are several buildings that you can enter and each one tells a story of the people that lived there. This building held samples of pelts that traders back then would sell. It was completely open and you could touch the different furs there.

Folsom Power House

is perfectly situated along the American River to use its power for electricity. When PG&E closed the powerhouse down in 1952, it was the oldest running hydroelectric powerhouse in the country. The original buildings are still there and you can have a picnic on the grounds. No matter how many times I visit, it's hard not to admire the ingenuity it must have taken to create something so spectacular and powerful.

While you’re in the area, visit the Historic Truss Bridge where you will see the cost for crossing. Leaving your cattle unattended is not allowed.

Empire Mine State Park

I think I’ve visited this park at least a dozen times since my kids were little. Every season there is something new to see. There is a rose garden at the estate, the trails and grounds are well tended, and the original buildings are still standing. You can also look down the old shaft where gold miners use to go for work every day. Gives you a WHOLE new perspective on the romantic idea of mining for gold. I wish I had pictures to share with you but they were stored on an external hard drive that I accidentally dropped (OUCH) and it will cost me $1500 to recover. I think I’ll wait until that price comes down a bit…

Tilden Railroad

I honestly think this is a secret because if you visit the link, it looks like no one has checked it since 2012. We met my brother there a few years ago when my son was still interested in trains. The big draw is riding on the miniature steam train that takes you on a 12 minute ride through redwoods and tunnels. I have to admit that I wanted to go on this again immediately after the ride ended. Both my brother and son are the youngest boys in their respective families (my brother is 5 years my junior, and my son - also 5 years younger than his sister). They are two peas in the same pod!

And don't forget...

Local flower farms – some favorites are Daffodil Hill in Volcano and Amador Flower Farm. Daffodil Hill is already closed for the 2017 season, after being open for only 2 weeks. Our area's unusually warm weather made them bloom early and they are already spent. It is a privately owned residence so don't be tempted to visit after the season's over. It will be considered trespassing.

Finally, my REAL FAVORITE places to visit

My most favorite places to visit are any of the Old Downtowns – if you are an old historic building junkie like me, historic old towns are the best. I can’t name my favorite, but the ones that immediately come to mind are Nevada City, Placerville, Folsom, and Sacramento. These are the ones that I visit most often, either by myself or with my kids because of the things to see. And ice cream shops. For bribing.


Claire Toney is a Northern CA Photographer who offers Child Portrait and Family Documentary Photography to families in Sacramento, Rancho Cordova, Folsom, El Dorado Hills, Granite Bay, Carmichael, Roseville, Newscastle, and all surrounding areas. Her favorite times of the year are the transitional weeks between Spring + Summer and Summer + Fall.

Contact her at (916) 769-5482 or claire@clairetoney.com to book a session.