Near the crossroads of Highways 49 and 88, on the way to Kirkwood Mountain Resort, the town of Sutter Creek lures travelers with fun shops inside 19th-century buildings. Pop into Fine Eye Gallery for metalwork bats and pottery, or the Antique Gardener for galvanized tubs and fragrant candles. Wander the cavernous Water Street Antiques & Interiors, stocked with reclaimed wooden furnishings and unique home décor pieces. Take a break with a juicy burger at Buffalo Chips or a flight of sparkling wines, including almond- or peach-flavored bubbly, at Le Mulet Rouge’s tasting room. Time your visit just right, and you can go back in time at the Monteverde Store during its limited weekend hours. It’s been preserved just as it was in 1896.
U.S. Route 50 runs from Sacramento to Maryland by way of South Lake Tahoe and its several ski resorts. Pull off in Folsom, the city that Johnny Cash put on the pop culture map. The Big House Prison Museum* displays photos and news clips from the country singer’s famous 1968 concert. Other exhibits are decidedly darker: homemade shivs confiscated from inmates and an eight-foot-tall Ferris wheel made out of 250,000 toothpicks by burglar William Jennings-Bryan Burke during his 23 years of incarceration. If you prefer a day outdoors, head for the water: Folsom Lake State Recreation Area offers hiking and biking trails, fishing for trout and largemouth bass, and watercraft rentals (if the water level permits). *The Big House Prison Museum is temporarily closed.