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Gold Country: Sutter Creek, Calif.

An attractive, design-forward town that makes a great base camp for exploring the region.

Main Street in historic Sutter Creek California, image
Photo caption
The historic buildings on Main Street in Sutter Creek, Calif., now house boutiques, antique shops, art galleries, wine tasting rooms, and restaurants.

Easily the most “happening” of Amador County’s Gold Country towns, Sutter Creek has a 19th-century Main Street so picturesque it could be a stage set. But Sutter Creek isn’t stuck in the past; it has become something of a destination for design-conscious visitors, with a wealth of furniture and arts-and-crafts shops carrying a global, if eclectic, sensibility. Most visitors to the area make Sutter Creek their base camp for exploring Amador County. Sutter Creek Visitors Center: 71A Main St., (209) 267-1344, Area code is 209.

to do
Located in an old brewery, Chaos Glassworks is a working glassblowing studio and gallery. Like a Dale Chihuly exhibit without the crowds, the works on display are a riot of fluid form, and the artists, David and Heather Hopman, are friendly and accessible. 121A Hanford St. (old Highway 49), 267-9317. Sutter Gold Mine is about as hands-on as history gets. Put on a hard hat and go underground to tour the tunnels of this hard-rock mine, which operated until 1989. 13660 Hwy. 49, between Amador City and Sutter Creek, (866) 762-2837,

Design mavens visit Sutter Creek just to see what’s new at Water Street Antiques & Interiors, which recently expanded to fill a former car dealership at the southernmost end of town. Best known for imported European pine furniture, the shop now houses a worldwide selection that’s a paean to color and texture, with iridescent Indian textiles, rainbow-hued glassware, painted furniture, and more. 33C Main St., 267-0585.

The soothing sound of flowing water greets you as you duck under strings of twinkling lights into the garden patio of Susan’s Place Wine Bar & Eatery, a favorite destination for healthy, Mediterranean−inspired cuisine with a West Coast twist. Salads are a specialty, and the grilled eggplant stands out. 15 Eureka St., 267-0945, The kind of European-style cheese shop you’d be more likely to find in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto than in the Sierra foothills, Sutter Creek Cheese Shoppe reflects the changes coming to this town. A sandwich board on the sidewalk lists the day’s new arrivals or specials; cheese fondue is served some winter weekend afternoons. 33B Main St., 267-5457,

To find a place to stay, visit

Photography by Eleanor Caputo

Check out the rest of our California Gold Country package:
Amador City: Antiques and boutiques
Angels Camp: More than Mark Twain
Jackson: Main Street meets mining town
Murphys: Tasting rooms and gold lore
Plymouth: Top-notch eats and wines

This article was first published in September 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.