Downtown Sutter Creek, essentially just Main St, has a number of old buildings, many quite attractive, along with various stores, eateries, etc. It is fairly touristy, more so even than many Gold-Rush towns, and most stores are geared toward "gifts" as well as art, wine-tasting, and the like. It is similar, both size, appearance, and general touristiness, to Murphy's although it is not quite so ritzy and upscale, with fewer expensive art galleries, etc.
Sutter Creek is the center of a broad region of foothill wineries which are each an attraction in themselves, but for those limited in time, a stop at Sutter Creek Winetasting is a substitute. Tasting is free, so customers have little to lose. We tasted wines from Crystal Cellars, Gold Hill Vineyards, and Le Mulet Rouge. The white wines that I tasted were not be taken seriously by wine enthusiasts but would be OK for those needing something sweet. The reds that I tasted were, unfortunately, in most cases below average relative to what can be found in California. I found them closed on the bouquet, thin on the palate, and empty on the finish. Some wines seemed salty on the finish--a very bad attribute. Of the the three wineries, Gold Hill performed the best overall in my tasting, and I reluctantly bought a bottle of Cabernet Franc that showed some promise--though not in the cellar. For the $30- spent on the bottle, I could have just as easily gone to the local Safeway and bought 3 bottles of reliably better cheap wine from the jug wine industry. But, these are in some cases estate wines that show the character of the region. As a viticultural region overall, Amador vineyards have not lived up to the historical reputation, except for the occasional good Zinfandel and Barbera, I'm afraid. So, while visiting the historic cellars, or enjoying the vista of an old head pruned Zinfandel vineyard, of one or another winery around Sutter Creek, don't set your sights on the quality found in other viticultural regions of California. Only Temecula County, just north of San Diego, vies for the bottom in terms of the rot gut competition. But, you be the judge. The tasting rooms were lively places to be too.
In front of the Bellotti's American Exchange Hotel, a horse pulled wagon that takes tours of town when weather permits. We didn't take it, so I don't know what the rates were, but I saw several families take the ride. Since Sutter Creek has many steps and some hills, this might be a good way to go for senior citizens and small children who want to participate in town discovery.
271 Hanford St., , Sutter Creek, California 95685
Good for: Solo
53 Main St., Sutter Creek, California, 95685, United States
Good for: Business
161 Hanford St., Sutter Creek, California, 95685, United States
Good for: Business
61 Hanford St, Hwy 49, Sutter Creek, California, 95685, United States
Good for: Business
77 Main St., Sutter Creek, California, 95685, United States
Good for: Couples
75 Main Street, Sutter Creek, California, 95685, United States
Good for: Business
77 Main St., , Sutter Creek, California 95685
55 Eureka St, , Sutter Creek, California 95685
The Sutter Creek Palace is a steakhouse/roadhouse-type place with a bar in an old hotel/saloon building. It has indoor seating as well as shady patio seating in the back. The food is fairly standard but pretty good, steaks, chicken, burgers, etc., and the place has some charm.
Smack in the middle of Main Street in Sutter Creek is the The American Exchange Hotel, which claims to be one of the oldest continuously operating hotels in California. On the first floor, there's the hotel lobby (with an antique safe), a bar, and restaurant with views out to the street. We lunched here with good friends. I had a glass of local red Zinfandel wine, that was good (but I forgot the name), while my buddy drank a Guiness. My wife and my friend's wife drank iced teas. We eat ordered a hot sandwich. As I recall, my friend and I ordered Chicken Parmesan sandwiches, which had breaded and fried chicken with several types of cheeze between sourdough bread. My wife ordered a Grilled Chicken sandwich, and my friend's wife ordered an Italian sausage sandwich that had cheeze. Our plates cames with french fries. The orders came out in prompt fashion, but my wife's order was screwed up and had to be returned to the kitchen. It wasn't a busy time, with only one other party in the restaurant, so the mistake was hard to justify. Since my wife eats like a bird, the rest of us tried to stall for time, hoping for a quick delivery of her food as ordered. Overall, the food was good though even if the service not perfect. The wine list is full of local wines at reasonable prices, and there's a full bar with Guiness on tap. The total bill for food and drinks, including tip, was about $60-, which isn't bad really for four people.
79 Reviews and Opinions
There are a limited number of tour buses that go this way, mostly enroute to the Indian gambling casinos with possibly a stop in town. But, most people will get to Sutter Creek and the other gold mining towns along Hwys 49 and/or 88 by either their own or a rental car. From San Francisco, take the freeways leading to Stockton at I-99 (see Mapquest.com). Then take Hwy 88 all the way. Hwy 88 was once the pass over the Sierra Nevada Mountains that Kit Carson pioneered, but is less frequently used today than are either Interstate 80 or Hwy 50. It links Stockton with US Hwy 395 in Nevada. This is just one of three all-weather routes over the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and rarely closes except in terribly snowy conditions. The other two all-weather routes over the mountains are Interstate 80 and Hwy 50, with Hwy 88 serving as an alternate route should Hwy 50 become closed. This is a great scenic route. The landscape just east of Stockton begins with a flatland of pleasant orchards of stone fruits, such as cherries, and nuts, particularly English walnuts, and grapes. There are a number of good roadside stands along the way. Once past Lockeford, the road begins to rise into ranch lands of rolling hills of typically dry grass studded with large and beautiful oak trees, and periodically by expansive grape vineyards. Continue to follow the hwy 88 signs until reaching Hwy 49. At that point you'll want to turn left and then take virtually the next right into town. There's a sign directing traffic into the old town on Hwy 49. Beyond Jackson/Sutter Creek, Hwy 88 leads into the forested and steep Sierra Nevade Mountains, with major destinations being El Dorado National Forest, Mount Zion State Park, and Kirkwood Mountain Ski Resort. At the summit of the Hwy 88 pass is a monument dedicated to Kit Carson, the famous scout who pioneered this route for immigrants traveling west to the mining country. Before the transcontinental railroad was buif, this was a major route for transport of gold back east.