Loading...
   Lodging       Eat & Drink       Recreation       Shopping       Historic Sites       Gas & Grocery       Services       Wi-Fi       Directory       Getting Here   
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
September 28, 2016–October 2, 2016
.
"Cyrano" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
This classic romantic comedy of 17th century France has been given a 21st century feel with a snappy modern adaptation....
Details

October 5, 2016–October 9, 2016
.
"Cyrano" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
This classic romantic comedy of 17th century France has been given a 21st century feel with a snappy modern adaptation....
Details

October 6, 2016
.
Ladies Night Out in downtown Sonora.. 
A community breast health awareness event presented by the Sonora Regional Medical Center. Live music and entertainment.
Details

October 8, 2016
.
2nd Saturday Art Night in Sonora. 
Now in it's 6th year, from 5 to 9 pm in historic downtown Sonora. Look for banners up and down Washington Street. This...
Details

October 12, 2016–October 16, 2016
.
"Cyrano" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
CLOSING WEEKEND!! This classic romantic comedy of 17th century France has been given a 21st century feel with a snappy...
Details

October 13, 2016
.
Paranormal Mysteries at the Tuolumne County Museum. 
Tuolumne County Museum Curator, Billie Lyons will host an exciting and informative history programfeaturing the results...
Details

October 13, 2016–October 30, 2016
.
"Dog Sees God Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead" at Stage 3 Theatre. 
"The characters - teenage and reckless - are both genuine, sympathetic and unquestionably cruel. Growing more...
Details

October 15, 2016
.
Sonora Toy Run by Harley Davidson. 
Join the popular Sonora Toy Run by bringing one toy and one non-perishable food item. Register at Modesto Harley...
Details

October 15, 2016
.
Free Walking Tour of Sonora. 
To end our Farmer's Market, the City of Sonora will host our 1st Historic Walking Tour of Downtown Sonora at 11:30 am....
Details

October 15, 2016
.
Chamber Orchestra Concert at the County Cowboy Church. 
The Fortieth year of celebrating the music of Johann Sebstaian Bach includes this Chamber Orchestra Concert featuring...
Details

October 18, 2016–October 19, 2016
.
Annual Health Fair in Sonora. 
Information booths, vendors, services, free tests and much more throughout the Mother Lode Fairgrounds off Highway 49....
Details

October 20, 2016–October 31, 2016
.
"Realms of Horror" in Sonora. 
A haunted house annually presented by 4-H in a house by Sonora Lumber at 730 S. Washington Street.. NOT FOR THE LITTLE...
Details

October 22, 2016–October 23, 2016
.
All Hallows Eve Fantasy Faire. 
The original modern themed costume Play Fantasy Festival in the Mother Lode of California 'where imagination can become...
Details

November 5, 2016
.
156th Annual Fireman's all in Sonora. 
A very Historic event continued at the Sonora Opera Hall. Enjoy the past in this exceptional recreation of the original...
Details

November 11, 2016–November 13, 2016
.
The ITSA Film Festival in Sonora. 
Two day Film Festival at the Sonora Opera Hall, free admission. Includes submitted films, guest speakers, special...
Details

November 11, 2016–November 13, 2016
.
"A Christmas Story" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
In this Christmas adventure like no other, young Ralphie Parker's fervent campaign for a Red Ryder BB gun unfolds...
Details

November 12, 2016
.
2nd Saturday Art Night in Sonora. 
Now in it's 6th year, from 5 to 9 pm in historic downtown Sonora. Look for banners up and down Washington Street. This...
Details

November 16, 2016–November 20, 2016
.
"A Christmas Story" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
In this Christmas adventure like no other, young Ralphie Parker's fervent campaign for a Red Ryder BB gun unfolds...
Details

November 23, 2016
.
Thanksgiving with Friends in Sonora. 
A free Thanksgiving dinner at the Heart Rock Café.
Details

November 23, 2016–November 27, 2016
.
"A Christmas Story" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
In this Christmas adventure like no other, young Ralphie Parker's fervent campaign for a Red Ryder BB gun unfolds...
Details

November 25, 2016–November 27, 2016
.
42nd Annual Christmas Craft Faire in Sonora. 
This highly regarded festival features over 150 great quality craft artists, up tempo and varied music, street...
Details

November 25, 2016–November 26, 2016
.
Hometown Crafters in Sonora. 
This hometown event features home made holiday items at the Sonora Opera Hall.
Details

November 25, 2016
.
33rd Annual Downtown Sonora Christmas Parade. 
Starts at 5:30 pm promptly, rain or shine! The spirit of Christmas will fill the streets as brightly lit floats, autos,...
Details

November 25, 2016–December 18, 2016
.
"Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits Vol. 1" at Stage 3 Theatre. 
In this long-running Off-Broadway hit musical revue, Broadway's greatest musical legends meet Broadway's greatest...
Details

November 30, 2016–December 4, 2016
.
"A Christmas Story" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
In this Christmas adventure like no other, young Ralphie Parker's fervent campaign for a Red Ryder BB gun unfolds...
Details

December 2, 2016–December 4, 2016
.
"Sounds of the Season" in Sonora. 
Columbia College Community Chorus will present holiday music at the Sonora Opera Hall.
Details

December 7, 2016–December 11, 2016
.
"A Christmas Story" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
In this Christmas adventure like no other, young Ralphie Parker's fervent campaign for a Red Ryder BB gun unfolds...
Details

December 10, 2016
.
2nd Saturday Art Night in Sonora. 
Now in it's 6th year, from 5 to 9 pm in historic downtown Sonora. Look for banners up and down Washington Street. This...
Details

December 13, 2016
.
Songs of the Season at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
SRT''s annual Songs of the Season will be held on Tuesday December 13 at 7:00 pm at the East Sonora Theatre. This one...
Details

December 14, 2016–December 18, 2016
.
"A Christmas Story" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
CLOSING WEEKEND!!! In this Christmas adventure like no other, young Ralphie Parker's fervent campaign for a Red Ryder...
Details

December 16, 2016
.
Pop Hudson Memorial Christmas Sing in Sonora. 
At 12:30 pm, the community gathers to join in Christmas Carols, led by various organizations and groups. Get the...
Details

February 18, 2017
.
Sierra Repertory Theatre Gala and opening of "Sister Act". 
The 38th Season will open with a Gala and performance of "Sister Act" based on the Whoopi Goldberg film. For more...
Details

February 19, 2017–April 9, 2017
.
"Sister Act" at Sierra Repertory in Sonora. 
The 38th season opens with "Sister Act", an uplifting musical nominated for five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. A...
Details

May 6, 2017–May 7, 2017
.
Mother Lode Round–Up Parade & Rodeo by Tuolumne County Sheriff's Posse. 
At 10:00 am on Saturday the Posse will feature one of the longest parades in California in historic downtown Sonora....
Details

May 12, 2017–June 11, 2017
.
"The Fantasticks" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
"The Fantasticks" is the longest-running muscial in the world. At the heart of its breathtaking poetry and subtle...
Details

July 21, 2017–August 20, 2017
.
"The Great American Trailer Park Musical" at Sierra Repertory.. 
"This wheel-spinning, mud-splattering good time of a show is the theatrical equivalent of a bag of Doritos. You can't...
Details

October 6, 2017–October 29, 2017
.
"The Glass Menagerie" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
The autobiographical play that made Tennessee Williams famous is a drama of great tenderness, charm and beauty which...
Details

December 1, 2017–December 23, 2017
.
"Another Night Before Christmas" at Sierra Repertory Theatre. 
The 2017 season closes with a charming new musical. Karol, a disillusioned social worker, is trudging home one cold...
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.