Fodor's Expert Review Empire Mine State Historic Park
Starting with the "secret map" that mine management hid from miners, you can relive the days of gold, grit, and glory, when this mine was one of the biggest and most prosperous hard-rock gold mines in North America. Empire Mine yielded an estimated 5.8 million ounces of gold from 367 miles of underground passages. You can walk into a mine shaft and peer into dark, deep recesses, and almost imagine what it felt like to work this vast operation. Dressed-up docents portraying colorful characters who shaped Northern California's history share stories about the period. The grounds have the exquisite Bourn Cottage (call for tour times), picnic tables, and gentle trails—perfect for a family outing.