The History: Some 40 miles northwest of the entrance to Yosemite National Park is Tuolumne County, incorporated in 1850 as one of California’s original 27 counties. The courthouse, of course, played a key role in the development of this essential local government. Yet the original structure, built in 1853, became dilapidated in just a few decades. The “new” courthouse, designed in the Spanish Revival style and resembling the old missions of California, was completed in 1900; its foundation required 500 barrels of cement, 300 wagonloads of gravel, and 150 loads of sand. Other essential sites include the lobby of the Bradford Place Inn, an old-fashioned B&B built in 1889 as a private residence for a Wells Fargo agent; the Tuolumne County Museum, which formerly served as the jail, dating to 1866; and the Opera Hall.
Where to Play: Learn more about the area’s history at the Tuolumne County Museum; then live it by staying at the Bradford Place Inn. Golfers should head to Saddle Creek Golf Resort, one of the top courses in northern California. And of course you’ll want to sample some of the wineries tucked in the foothills, like Ironstone Vineyards.