The Perfect Calaveras County Weekend Getaway (2024)

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Want to know how to have the best Calaveras County weekend getaway? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know!

Calaveras County is just Northwest of Yosemite National Park, making it the perfect outdoors weekend getaway!

There is a great mix of hiking, wine tasting, historic sites, and parks that there really is something for everybody.

You can see our full experience exploring Calaveras County in this video on our YouTube Channel.

Natural Bridges Trail

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Calaveras County Weekend Getaway

Let’s explore the perfect weekend getaway itinerary in Calaveras County.

✅ Take A Hike At Natural Bridges Trail

This is the best way to start your day.

In the Summer and on weekends this trail gets busy and parking is limited.

We did this on a Tuesday morning and only saw 2 other people on the hike around 9 am.

When we returned around 10 am there were 2 or 3 groups arriving and embarking on the hike.

Natural Bridges Trail is about a 2 miles round trip hike.

It’s almost completely downhill on the way there, which means it’s almost completely uphill on the return.

So be sure to bring plenty of water!

As you take this trail down to the river, you’ll come across the cave pictured below.

You can take a canoe, kayak, or inflatable raft through this cave to the other side.

Our hostess at our wine tasting said it leads to a little cove where people like to hang out in the Summer.

Also peep the massive pine cones along the trail – pictured by my shoe for size reference.

✅ Explore Historic Downtown Murphys

Within Calaveras County is a historic town called Murphys.

My favorite thing about this town is probably when driving in, the first law office you see is called “Murphys Law”. (If you know, you know)

After our morning hike to Natural Bridges Trail, we drove about 10-15 minutes up the road to Historic Downtown Murphys.

We parked at the Old Schoolhouse, which is generally used for downtown overflow parking.

✅ Visit The Old Schoolhouse

This historic schoolhouse is being restored and sits just on the edge of downtown.

There’s plenty of free parking here and it’s a good starting point for a day in town.

Historic Downtown Murphys Old Schoolhouse

✅ Grab A Cup Of Coffee At Gold Country Roasters

Just at the bottom of the hill from the schoolhouse is this coffee shop.

They have lots of fun flavors of espresso and lots of neat pastries and treats.

We opted for the Almond Joy Espresso which is made with espresso, chocolate milk, almond, and coconut syrup.

We also shared a double chocolate scone that was surprisingly soft and fluffy.

This was the perfect treat after our morning hike.

Inside of the coffee shop is a board of monthly specials for drinks and these were some of the highlights:

Secret Garden – matcha latte with lavender syrup

Pooh Bear – espresso, milk, honey, and cinnamon syrup

April Showers – espresso, milk, maple spice, and white chocolate

Cherry Tree – espresso, milk, cherry, and white chocolate

✅ Browse The Local Boutique Shops

Just around the corner from the coffee shops is a row of boutique shops.

They have everything from clothing, to accessories, to household items, to souvenirs.

Pictured below are a pair of brown boots I purchased from the Jane & Jean Boutique that happened to be on clearance!

There’s also another coffee shop in this area that is Star Wars themed called The Darkside Cafe.

We were visiting on a Tuesday and a lot of places in town are closed in the middle of the week.

So we weren’t able to shop everywhere, but we were still able to see and do a lot.

Weekends are definitely the best time to visit!

✅ Have Lunch At V Bistro and Bar

As we made our way down Main Street, it was getting ready to be lunch time.

A frequent town visitor had chatted with us about 3 favorite lunch spots that are open on Tuesdays, and we were sold on this one.

She described V Bistro and Bar as an “eclectic menu and interesting”.

We sat outside in the courtyard by the fountain, which was nice.

V Bistro and Bar in Downtown Murphys

The weather was in the low 70s and sunny, but not too breezy.

As an appetizer, we shared the bleu cheese stuffed bacon wrapped dates.

bleu cheese stuffed bacon wrapped dates from V Bistro and Bar in Downtown Murphys

I could’ve just had 10 of these as my whole meal!

We also shared a small cup of spinach and tomato soup.

small cup of spinach and tomato soup from V Bistro and Bar in Downtown Murphys

As our main course, we shared the Provençal Chicken Sandwich which is made with grilled and sliced chicken breasts, sliced grapes, arugula, herbed goat cheese spread, and honey dijon mustard on a french roll.

This was served with a side of french fries!

Provençal Chicken Sandwich and french fries from V Bistro and Bar in Downtown Murphys

This place is apparently well known for its drinks because that’s what everyone around us seemed to be there for.

We would’ve loved to try some desserts, but we were way too full.

V Bistro and Bar in Historic Downtown Murphys in Calaveras County, California

✅ Admire Calaveras County’s Historic Buildings

While roaming around town you’ll notice how historic Murphys really is.

We walked past this cute little hut that just said “ice box” on the side.

So I have no idea what it is, but it’s cute. The Historic Hotel and Saloon is also a nice building.

It looks like it would be an old Tuscan villa from the side.

I’d love to stay right in town some time to just enjoy the restaurants and the wine tasting rooms.

✅ Enjoy Tasting Calaveras’s Local Wines

Speaking of wine tasting rooms, Murphys has plenty of them!

We were graciously hosted for 2 wine tastings while we were in town recently and I’m excited to share about these experiences because they each had their own unique qualities.

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☑️ Hatcher Winery

Our first stop was the Hatcher Winery Tasting Room.

This one is downstairs in a cellar, which is super neat.

It has a great vibe and is a local favorite.

Hatcher Winery in Downtown Murphys

The frequent town visitor I mention earlier said this is the place to go for the most wine in a single tasting.

We already had this one lined up, so we were happy to hear such a glowing review.

If you go wine tasting in Napa, you might get 4-6 tastings for $40.

But here in Murphys, this tasting menu of 9 wines is only $20!

Plus, your tasting fee is waived if you purchase any bottles of wine.

wine tasting at Hatcher Winery

When we go wine tasting, we intend to buy a bottle of whatever was our favorite.

Sometimes we can’t find anything we loved enough to take home and sometimes we can’t narrow it down to just one bottle.

At Hatcher Winery, we took home 3 bottles of very different wines!

our favorite wines from Hatcher Winery

All of the wines on this visit were between $16-$32 per bottle.

I’ll spare all the descriptions since there’s just so many.

But we tried a Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Barbera, Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Sewell, Merlot, Syrah, and a Viognier Ice Wine.

wine tasting at Hatcher Winery

The first bottle we chose to take home is the Parcel 17, which is off menu.

I believe it’s some sort of red blend.

Another bottle we purchased is the 2016 Reserve Zinfandel.

During the tasting we were able to sample the Estate Zinfandel and the Reserve Zinfandel side by side to compare. So that was cool.

Last but not least, we also brought home the 2019 Viognier, which is a white wine.

We don’t purchase too many of those, so that’s a big deal that we found one we liked enough to bring home.

Hatcher Winery Tasting Room in Historic Downtown Murphys - off menu tasting red wine

☑️ Lavender Ridge Vineyards

Our second wine tasting of the day was just upstairs at the Lavender Ridge Vineyards Tasting Room.

What’s unique about this one is that it really represents all things lavender.

They had a shop where you can buy almost anything lavender, including bushels of lavender.

Lavender Ridge Wine Tasting Room in Downtown Murphys

We bought two to mix in with our fake flowers in the kitchen.

They give off the lavender aroma for about a year or so, so we’re looking forward to that since they are low maintenance.

At home I have all kinds of lavender scented things like candles, essential oils, a lavender infused eye pillow, and lotions.

The other unique aspect to this wine tasting is that it is actually a wine and cheese tasting (with honey and crackers too).

The wine and cheese pairing here is $15 and includes 3 white wines and 3 red wines plus a welcome wine and a dessert wine.

wine and cheese pairing at Lavender Ridge

The bottles of wine on this menu were all between $24-$36, so very reasonably priced.

For white wines we tried their Cotes de Calaveras Blanc, Grenache Blanc, and Viognier.

For the red wines we tried the Cotes de Calaveras Rouge, Syrah, and Petite Sirah.

The dessert wine we tried at the end is called the Miners Nightcap and is fortified with brandy.

With the cheeses, the one up at the top of the photo was paired with the Cote de Calaveras Blanc.

The long cheese in the middle was paired with the Cote de Calaveras Rouge and is made with all cows milk.

The final cheese was a Roquefort cheese with lavender honey and was paired with the Petite Sirah.

That one was definitely my favorite because of the strong flavor profile and the lavender honey.

Lavender Ridge Vineyards Tasting Room in Historic Downtown Murphys

✅ Explore Calaveras Big Trees State Park

After a full day of shopping, wine tasting, and eating, we drove up to Calaveras Big Trees State Park, which is only about 15-20 minutes from Murphys.

selfies at Big Trees State Park

Big Trees State Park has a great trail called the North Grove Trail that is just about 2 miles.

North Grove Trail at Big Trees State Park

Most of it follows along a boardwalk and a dirt path.

The entire hike you’re just surrounded by Giant Sequoias.

boardwalk trail at Big Trees State Park

I think my favorite part of the trail is that there were these benches where you can lean back and look up at all of the trees.

benches at Big Trees State Park

At this point in the late afternoon and early evening, the temperature was in the high 60s, which was nice for this trail because we didn’t get too hot.

At the beginning of the trail is the Visitors Center and bathrooms, so you’ll find everything you might need.

When you enter the park, there is a fee, which you can pay in cash or by card.

At the time we visited the day use rate was just $10.

When driving around the park we saw they have cabins and it looks like a great place for camping.

✅ Enjoy Dinner At Vaquero Mexican Restaurant

After our hike we were ready for dinner.

As we started our drive back to our hotel, we passed this Mexican restaurant in the town of Arnold.

The menus say the name is Vaquero, but out front, it says “of the Motherlode Authentic Mexican Cuisine”.

TripAdvisor lists this as a top dining location in the area, but the Apple Maps app will tell you it’s permanently closed.

There was lots of confusion around it, but we had to drive right by it anyway, so we decided to double check and it was in fact open.

We obviously started with the free chips and salsa.

free chips and salsa from Vaquero Mexican Restaurant

I don’t eat cilantro, so it’s really more of a treat for JP.

I’ll occasionally snack on some chips.

For our entrees, I went with the Chilean Sea Bass, which came with a side of beans and rice, plus a couple tortillas to make tacos with all the toppings.

Chilean Sea Bass from Vaquero Mexican Restaurant

JP went with the Carnitas Chimichanga, which is one of his go-to meals.

His also came with a side of beans and rice.

Carnitas Chimichanga with a side of beans and rice from Vaquero Mexican Restaurant

We were once again too full for dessert, but definitely enjoyed our meals.

Vaquero Mexican Restaurant in Calaveras County, California

Where to Stay in Calaveras County: WorldMark by Wyndham Angels Camp

What brought us up to Calaveras County in the first place was the Worldmark Angels Camp resort.

We have a sampler 2 year timeshare package with Club Wyndham, so we were trying to visit as many of their properties as possible.

For us this is about a 6 hour drive from home, so it’s a pretty simple drive for a 2-3 day getaway.

We could’ve definitely stayed longer and explored more restaurants, wineries, historic sites, and hiking trails.

You can watch the full walk-through video tour of the 1 bedroom units at Worldmark Angels Camp on our YouTube Channel.

If you’re a Club Wyndham member, you’ll also see this property called Club Wyndham Angels Camp.

Click Here To Book Your Stay At Club Wyndham Angels Camp Today!

Resources For Planning Your Trip To Calaveras County

If you need help planning your trip to Calaveras County, check out our Tips For Planning A Trip To Anywhere (A Step-By-Step Guide).

Also, read our Best Tips For Staying Safe When Traveling During Extreme Weather if you’re traveling during the heat in Summer or the snow in Winter.

Also check out our Best Tips For Staying Well While You Travel if you’re prone to getting colds or allergies when you travel or have other ailments.

Lastly, if you’re traveling on a budget, read up on our Best Tips For Traveling On A Budget: Your Guide To Planning An Affordable Trip.

Conclusion: Calaveras County Perfect Weekend Getaway

All in all, Calaveras County was the perfect weekend getaway for us.

We visited during Spring, but you can visit any time!

It’s on our list to visit again so we can do all of the things we didn’t get to this time around.

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