Escapes: Columbia, a golden celebration

03/24/2013 12:00 AM

03/23/2013 7:33 PM


A golden celebration

Return to the gold mining era, as Columbia State Historic Park near Sonora gears up to celebrate the 163rd anniversary of the discovery of gold at the site first called Hildreth's Diggings, later Columbia.

The town of Columbia will celebrate this milestone Wednesday with a speech in front of the museum, cake and punch for visitors and costumed volunteers at other buildings.

Learn about the Gold Rush and the thousands of people who flocked to the area. By 1852, Columbia boasted 150 businesses. Today, it's a state historic park.

The celebration is free to the public and will take place from noon to 3 p.m. The park is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, visit


Annual trout derby

Drop a line at the Rancho Seco annual trout derby, sponsored by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Those who catch the heaviest fish will win cash prizes (ranging from $10 to $100) during the April 6-7 event.

Participants can fish from the pier as well as from small boats (no gas motors). The lake was recently stocked with 2,000 pounds of different kinds of trout.

The event runs from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine, at Rancho Seco Recreational Area: 14440 Twin Cities Road, Herald.

Tickets are $5 per person, plus a park entry fee ($10 per car, $8 for seniors). California fishing licenses are required for those age 16 or older. For more information about the event, visit or call (916) 732-4913.


Blooming good time

Hike up the hills of Mitchell Canyon at Mount Diablo State Park for a chance to see an area exploding with wildflowers.

The Mount Diablo Interpretive Association is leading the two-hour hike at 10 a.m. April 21. Hikers will assemble at the Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center inside the park, which is located in Walnut Creek.

The trail takes hikers over moderately hilly terrain where they can identify early blooming wildflowers such as Indian warriors, baby blue eyes, Chinese houses and lupine, and learn how they got their names.

The hike is free, but there is an entrance fee of $6 per vehicle. For more information, visit


Legoland hotel opens

Lego fans, rejoice. The first Lego-themed hotel in the United States is set to open April 5 in Carlsbad.

The 250-room luxury hotel includes three different themed floors – "Pirate," "Adventure" and "Kingdom" – and includes close to 3,500 Lego models that took 3 million Lego bricks to build.

The hotel is near the Legoland park and comes with animated smoke-breathing dragons, a pool, restaurants, lounge and new Castle Play area.

Rates start at $149 per night. For more information, visit or call (877) 534-6526 for reservations.


Shoot to thrill

Charlie Willard of the Sierra Camera Club will show you how to improve the look of your vacation photos during the No Reservations Travel Club meeting on April 2. The meeting starts 7 p.m. at the Arcade Library's community room, 2443 Marconi Ave., Sacramento.

Willard will be covering everything from travel photography and photographer etiquette to composition, equipment and more.

All are welcome to attend the free event. For information, call (916) 457-1426 or visit



Tim Swanson, Features Editor

(916) 321-1606,

To submit events or news about travel and recreation activities, travel talks as well as organized day trips with costs up to $100, please send information at least three weeks in advance to Traveler, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852, fax (916) 556-5625 or email: Priority will be given to events free to the public.


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