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Folsom, Calif.: Historic Streets

Sutter Street, in the old downtown district, offers shopping, dining, and access to the American River Parkway bike trail.

Folsom family by Lake Natoma, Folsom, Calif.
Photo caption
Tree-lined Lake Natoma lies a few minutes’ walk from Folsom’s old town.

Forget the old-time prison blues. Tucked just above Lake Natoma in Folsom, Calif., you'll find old Sutter Street, a relic of Folsom's raucous past that's trying out a new image. This compact, walkable district boasts great eats, access to recreation trails, and shopping for new and vintage merchandise. A light-rail extension from Sacramento means you don't even have to battle traffic to get there; but if you're driving, take the Folsom Boulevard exit off Highway 50 onto the Sutter Street ramp. Area code is 916.

  • The old town abuts the American River Parkway bike trail, which runs all the way to Sacramento. Pick up a trail map or rent wheels at Bicycles Plus and join the enthusiastic explorers you'll see on weekend mornings. 705 Gold Lake Dr., 355-8901.
  • Fuel up right next door at Karen's Bakery Café, where her luscious blackberry–sour cream muffins and s'mores brownies star. The café also dishes out upscale salads and tasty sandwiches. 705 Gold Lake Dr., 985-2665,
  • Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park offers insights into the history of electrical power (check out the hulking 1895 generators), views of Lake Natoma, and walking paths that lead to Maidu grindingrocks. Riley St. at Scott St., 988-0205.
  • Get a lunch to crow about at the Black Rooster, a hopped-up coffeehouse with weathered brick walls (the building once housed a saloon). There you can sample not just fair-trade coffee but also panini on crusty bread and local wines. 807 Sutter St., 357-0115.
  • Nearby, floating bubbles beckon shoppers into Not Too Shabby, a hip haven filled with rehabbed vintage furniture, dangling chandeliers, homemade preserves, and aromatic soaps. 306 Riley St., 985-8979.
  • Hungry crowds throng to casual Chicago Fire for deep-dish pizza. A pie takes up to 45 minutes to bake—but you can order a quicker-cooking thin-crust variety. While you wait, snack on a garlicky baked artichoke or tasty Greek fries. 614 Sutter St., 353-0140.

Photography by Mitch Tobias

This article was first published in September 2007. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.