Saturdays in downtown Sonora, nestled in the Sierra foothills, start taking on a chill come November. When the weekly Sonora Farmer’s Market ends its season next week on Oct. 17, one of the city’s great places socialize will be gone for quite some time. Open from mid-May to mid-October for approx. five months, this farmer’s market is a social event unto itself. While larger urban markets offer year-round shopping events in which California grown produce can be purchased, the smaller mountain communities such as Sonora and even Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino mountains showcase a very local flavor, much like a town social.
Having the good fortune of attending the event one weekend during my visit to the California Gold Country, I was amazed by several things–the size of the rich, red strawberries, the hugs and smiles, and the entertainment that included the school kids who had learned to play songs on a fiddle. If I could have captured it in a bottle, I would open it now. Or better yet, it’s the perfect time to take a trip before winter comes. Among the highlights of this region is Calaveras Big Trees State Park which offers some amazing trails where the trees are the stars that steal the show. It’s one of the most beautiful places to visit and see in all of California. There are several affordable hotels in Sonora, and if you think you are going to have to rough it, the big box has made its way into Gold Country. You’ll find Walmart, Starbucks, and Applebees, plus a Best Western hotel and several other chain hotels.