Loading...
   Lodging       Eat & Drink       Recreation       Shopping       Historic Sites       Gas & Grocery       Services       Wi-Fi       Directory   
Eat & Drink Informal Map
Eat & Drink Formal Map
Lodging Map
All Maps
Maps in PDF
Experience Sonora, California
Each step down Washington Street in Historic Sonora is a step rich in history. The street was an Indian trail until the Gold Rush transformed it into a mining camp, with canvas tents and colorful flags flying from the brush houses built by the Mexicans. Imagine it with throngs of miners walking down the street, gambling tables made of rough-hewn wooden planks set up in front of each establishment.

These temporary structures were eventually replaced by wooden buildings, most of which burned in the Great Sonora Fire of 1854. The town was then quickly rebuilt, largely with brick.

Many historic buildings from those times remain. The Gunn House, now a hotel, was once the office of the Sonora Herald newspaper, established in 1854. A few blocks west of Washington Street on Bradford sits what was once the county jail, now a museum, with a few jail cells still intact. A tiny park near the museum has early gold mining equipment—an arastra, a stamping machine, and a Pelton water wheel.


The City Hotel building, once an 1850s elegant hotel, remains, as does, across the street, the Sonora Inn, at the turn into the 20th century considered one of the most elegant hotels in the state.

A block west of Washington Street is the Tuolumne County Courthouse, built in 1898 of distinctive yellow pressed brick. It is still used today.

At the north end of the street is the well-known Red Church, built in 1860. Across the street is the Morgan Mansion. The Fire Museum includes a small park with a hand fire cart.

Sonora has many places to eat, from coffee houses to formal restaurants offering Mexican (of course), Chinese, Thai, pasta and Italian, and Barbecue and steak.

Informal places include sandwich shops, including bagel sandwiches, hot dogs, pizza, and light fare at various coffee houses, and ice cream. One sandwich & ice cream store has a historic saloon bar and the downstairs bookstore has the look of an underground quartz mine.

There is also shopping, with gift shops and antique stores carrying many unusual items.

What's New: A sandwich and ice cream store, the Sonora Creamery, has moved from East Sonora to the south end of Washington Street in downtown Sonora.

Video of the 2012 Amgen Tour Bicycle Race (Sonora to
Clovis leg) includes shots from the Mother Lode Roundup.
Gold Rush History
In its Gold Rush heydey Sonora was the most ethnically diverse, cosmopolitan, and tolerant town in the Sierra. It was the only town with a significant number of women.

The town's existence resulted from conflicts that Mexican miners from the province of Sonora had with American miners when they tried to mine near Jamestown. The Mexican miners eventually moved a few miles up Woods Creek—where Americans thought there was no gold—and found a rich supply of the metal.

It was originally known as Sonorian Camp, and miners from Chile, Peru, Argentina, France, and other countries came as well as Mexicans. The Mexicans and South Americans, unlike the Americans, brought their women. Later women from France and elsewhere, hearing of the large population of women, came here too.

Weekends in Sonora were a wild scene, as miners from camps all around came to town for supplies and recreation. There was much gambling, drinking with the most expensive spirits, bull fights, even fights between bulls and Grizzly bears. Many costly items were on sale that miners could pay for with the gold they had recovered with only a few hours of work.

In late 1849 a town government was established with the name of Sonora, with a Town Council who were Americans but sympathetic to the foreigners. The town organization allowed the construction of a hospital, needed because large numbers of the Mexican miners were suffering from scurvy. The population was about 5,000.

In June 1850 the new California legislature's ill-conceived Foreign Miners Tax took effect, levying a $20 per month tax on all foreign miners, far beyond the ability of the average miner to pay. Overnight the population of the town decreased by four fifths. The town became dangerous, with many people attacked in their tents while sleeping or on the roads, by marauders who were thought to be Mexicans.

Sonora's town leaders hired a well-known attorney to challenge the law as unconstitutional, but this was unsuccessful. Eventually, however, the tax was repealed, then later followed by a tax at a much lower rate.

After the placer gold from the streams was mostly played out, Sonora continued as a gold-mining region because of its substantial underground "pocket" mines, in which highly concentrated gold could be found in the quartz. This was before the technology existed to extract gold from low-grade quartz and gold rock. Sonora's pocket mines and its status as the county seat and business center of the Southern Mines allowed it to survive while many other mining camps became ghost towns.

For more on the history of the town see History of Sonora and Life at Sonora 1849-52





Events in Sonora
May 17, 2014–October 18, 2014
.
Sonora's Farmers' Market. 
Every Saturday morning throughout the summer enjoy buying your choice of fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers and much...
Details

June 13, 2014–July 27, 2014
.
"Pump Boys and Dinettes" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
The 'Pump Boys' sell high octane on Highway 57 in Grand Ole Opry country and the 'Dinettes', run the Double Cupp diner...
Details

June 27, 2014
.
TGIF Downtown Sonora. 
The Sonora Chamber of Commerce and the Merchants of Historic Downtown Sonora invite you to the Historic Downtown and...
Details

July 10, 2014–July 13, 2014
.
77th Annual Mother Lode Fair. 
Featured events include carnival, live entertainment, music, destruction derby, agricultural displays and more! Ticket...
Details

July 11, 2014–August 10, 2014
.
"Accomplice" at Stage 3 Theatre. 
by Rupert Holmes! A comedy-thriller with more twists than a bag of pretzels. If we told you any more we'd have to kill...
Details

July 11, 2014
.
Annual Vietnam Veterans Golf Tournament at Mountain Springs. 
Enjoy a fun filled day of golfing at Mountain Springs Golf Course! Contests, prizes, awards dinner at Banny's Cafe!...
Details

August 8, 2014
.
Magic of the Night. 
Come to historic downtown Sonora and enjoy magicians, live music, street acting, dancing and specialty foods.
Details

August 29, 2014–September 21, 2014
.
"All My Sons" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
A powerful story of two families and a war-time catastrophe established Arthur Miller as a leading voice in the...
Details

September 6, 2014
.
Exotic Bird and Animal Show. 
Presented by Gold Country Avicultural Society.
Details

September 12, 2014–October 12, 2014
.
"The Lion in Winter". 
by James Goldman! It's the year 1183. You are the greatest power in a thousand years and the family has gathered for...
Details

September 20, 2014–September 21, 2014
.
Quilts and Threads Show. 
10am to 5 pm Saturday, 10am to 4pm Sunday, featuring quilter Cheryl Ferreira. Proceeds benefit community projects and...
Details

October 4, 2014–October 5, 2014
.
Celebrate Art Weekend. 
Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm at the Historic Dome Campus (251-C Barretta Street). Workshops, Demonstrations, On-Stage...
Details

October 5, 2014–October 26, 2014
.
38th Sonora Bach Festival. 
This Festival, a long-standing tradition for the Mother Lode, includes concert, recital and musical events at various...
Details

October 10, 2014–October 12, 2014
.
Mother Lode Art Exhibit. 
62nd annual juried art exhibit by the Mother Lode Art Association. Awards reception Friday night, free.
Details

October 11, 2014
.
Sonora Cajun Festival. 
Presented by the Sonora Sunrise Rotary Club.
Details

October 14, 2014–October 15, 2014
.
Tuolumne County Health Fair. 
Free admission, low-cost blood screenings. Don't miss this popular health event.
Details

October 22, 2014–October 31, 2014
.
Realms of Horror. 
4-H Haunted House at the J.S. West barn. Its features include a two story aged and creepy barn walk-rhrough filled with...
Details

October 24, 2014–October 26, 2014
.
62nd Annual Juried Art Show. 
Displays of works by local and regional artists at the Sonora Elks Lodge. Set up for artists will be from Monday...
Details

October 24, 2014–November 23, 2014
.
"The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
A hilarious tale of overachievers' angst chronicling the experience of six adolescent outsiders vying for the spelling...
Details

October 25, 2014–October 26, 2014
.
All Hallows Fantasy Faire. 
Live music, kids activities, family fun, fantasy village, fairies, fire eaters, dragons, marketplace, ancient warriors.
Details

November 6, 2014–November 16, 2014
.
Mountain Youth and Community Theatre Show. 
Community Show at the Webster Theater Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 pm, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 pm....
Details

November 8, 2014
.
2nd Saturday Art Night. 
5pm to 8 pm: Art, music, refreshments, free in downtown Sonora.
Details

November 8, 2014
.
Nutcracker Tea Party. 
Special Nutcracker Tea Party for children and adults especially decorated for the season featuring a large collection...
Details

November 14, 2014–December 21, 2014
.
"Greetings". 
by Tom Dudzick! It's a normal family Christmas - until an atheist and an angel show up. A moving comedy about family,...
Details

November 28, 2014–November 30, 2014
.
40th Sonora Christmas Craft & Music Festival. 
40th annual Festival at Mother Lode Fairgrounds on Highway 49 (Stockton Road). Spirited celebration of the season...
Details

November 28, 2014
.
Sonora Historic Downtown Christmas Parade. 
Christmas Parade in Historic Downtown Sonora at 5:30 pm. Floats, bands, Mr. & Mrs. Claus, store specials and food all...
Details

December 6, 2014
.
"Santa's Gone Hawaiian". 
Sixth annual family holiday concert of stories and songs at Stage 3 Theatre, 11am to 12:30pm. Features Peg Reza's Blue...
Details

December 13, 2014
.
2nd Saturday Art Night. 
5 to 8 pm, downtown Sonora. Art, music, refreshments. Free to all.
Details

December 19, 2014
.
Annual Pop Hudson Community Sing. 
The Community comes together to sing Christmas Carols and rejoice the season. Singing starts at 12:30 pm, each carol...
Details

December 19, 2014
.
Free Bean Feed. 
Annual Free Bean Feed at noon by Galen "Mut" Mutzner. Enjoy "Mut"s special cuisine before going to the Pop Hudson...
Details

December 24, 2014
.
Sonora Community Christmas Eve Dinner. 
Noon to 6 pm, free Christmas Eve Dinner!
Details

December 25, 2014
.
Christmas Dinner with Friends. 
1 to 4 pm, free dinner at the Sonora Opera Hall AND the Tuolumne Memorial Veterans Hall in Tuolumne City across from...
Details

(Events are courtesy of the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau)
Live Theatre
Live theatre has been a part of Sonora since its earliest days. Sonora today has two theatre companies—Sonora Repertory Theatre and Stage 3 Theatre.