Placer Valley's Historic Highway 40 Meanders Through Roseville, CA

Photos include clockwise from upper left: Deidre Trudeau, owner of Artful-Blend Gallery; Frank L. Dobek, CSCS USN Ret. looks at display at Roseville Telephone Museum; Roseville Magic Circle Theatre; dessert from Cascades Restaurant; William Harrison, an 8th blood Maidu Indian offers animal tracks classes at Maidu Interpretive Center.

Roseville---A visit to California Gold Country’s Historic Highway 40 in Placer Valley yields riches more precious than the nuggets found in Auburn in 1849, just a stone's throw from the highway. This Placer County destination includes a treasure trove of museums, healthy produce, gourmet dining, art gallery shopping, live theater shows and even gaming casinos. Comfortable, new hotels and a scattering or chain restaurants and stores provide the creature comforts to rival any world class destination. Why not make it a  weekend getaway to remember? Sacramento International Airport is one of the easiest to fly into and navigate, and from there, you can rent a car and drive out to Roseville, the perfect home base for this trip.

Located just minutes from Auburn's historic gold mine, one of the longest producing and wealthiest mines, cities and towns such as Roseville, Rocklin and Lincoln line an historic route whose fame now stems from its growth as a sprawling suburb. Less than 30 minutes east of Sacramento, this region once served the flood of immigrants who came for gold. The new wealth lies in the land itself―corporate offices, housing tracts and shopping plazas dot the landscape next to historic mines and museums. 

A boon for tourists who don’t like roughing it, you can immerse yourself in the region’s history, art and culture while maintaining a comfortable lifestyle (you don’t have to give up your Starbucks coffee or Internet connectivity.) New hotel accommodations and fine dining options make it easy for guests to linger and enjoy the real bounty—premier produce organically grown, crafted boutique wines borne out of the hills where gold once stemmed and old-fashioned hospitality. Newcomers are invited into shops, restaurants, art galleries and museums where they are treated like old friends.

Spectacular attractions include musical and popular play performances by Magic Circle Repertory Theatre Company at Tower Theatre, a renovated 1940 Art Deco movie house. Special festivals and events throughout the year celebrate Maidu Indian culture, cowboy poetry, pottery arts, wine, mandarins, strawberries and eggplant, all part of the local culture. Mingle with locals, including many old-timers, who were born and grew up in the region. If its stories you want to hear, you'll usually find someone willing to bend your ear in Roseville.

It takes approximately 90 minutes to fly from Orange County or Los Angeles to Sacramento (385 miles distance), where you can rent a car to explore the region. Reserve a room or small apartment-style unit at the Marriott Residence Inn, Courtyard by Marriott or Fairfield Inn, all located in the same complex in Roseville. You can walk across the street to a themed golf and water park, restaurants and even Starbucks.  Several of the hotels feature indoor swimming pools, breakfast meals and evening snacks. They also include free wireless Internet. Each hotel includes professional, amiable staff who make your stay pleasant.

An ideal vacation for couples or families, there are numerous museums, sports parks, gambling casinos and even Lake Tahoe mountain recreation nearby. Learning opportunities abound as you not only see the artifacts of another era, but sometimes meet the participants of a special culture. From the Maidu (Indian) Interpretive Center where a Maidu descendant teaches animal tracks classes, to Roseville Telephone Museum where locals drop by and discuss the early phones they remember with a crank  handle that dialed a connection to a party line shared by eight Roseville families, history comes alive through the folks that have lived it.

While locals are eager to share their stories about olden days, younger generations also embrace many of the traditions. One example is entrepreneur Bill Rieger, who operates a successful construction business near Lake Tahoe, but drives regularly to his fruit farm along Historic Highway 40 in a little town called Penryn. That's where he makes rare persimmon treats by hand and sells them to top chefs in Los Angeles. Among his clients are the Wolfgang Puck restaurants. Featured in the Los Angeles Times in a story called, “Massaging the Persimmon,”  Rieger practices the ancient art of hoshigaki. In the Spring 2006 guests will be invited to his farm in Penryn for a class that teaches students how to make this delicacy. It’s an honored  tradition in Asian culture. For now, you can order his dried persimmon products by calling. Penryn Orchard Specialties, Penryn, CA. 916-769-5462.

If you love food, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried Newcastle Produce, 9230 Cypress Street, Newcastle, for snacks and refreshments.  Newcastle is known for its fresh, locally grown fruits, nuts and  vegetables, plus an amazing bakery and deli.  Contact:  Janice Thompson, Owner, (916) 663-2016,  Fresh salads made from the vegetables harvested on their farm that’s been in the family for over 100 years are sold with pride in colorful displays in the country-style store. The lettuce seems greener and the fruits more luscious because they are grown in rich soil and climate conducive to great harvests. The extra ingredient (TLC - Tender Loving Care), comes from the pride the Thompson family shares in a business that's served hundreds of thousands of delighted customers since the late 1800s.  Special desserts and cakes are prepared daily for guests to enjoy.  Fresh pumpkin torte, small lemon custard cups with almond crust and even a Mad Hatter’s cake are a few of the items you may wish to purchase. A pastry chef who’s been preparing deserts for 30 years joined the staff recently and delights in seeing guests comment about her confections.

Treasures to last a lifetime include lush colors of the changing leaves, subtle fragrances of trees, mouth-watering gourmet foods, fine art and dozens of things to explore. For information on planning your trip to this must-see destination, contact Placer Valley Tourism, 300 Harding Blvd., Suite #109, Roseville, CA  95747. Phone: (916) 773-5400.