Auburn is a charming town located in Northern California, home to great food and drinks and access to the outdoors. First, I wanted to share a little story as to where this ultimate weekend guide to Auburn, California began.
I smiled to myself as I got off the phone. My husband, who shares the same office and hometown with me, even stopped and said, “Did I just hear we are going on a campaign trip to Auburn?” I couldn’t believe it myself. As we were booked in at the Park Victorian Hotel for our time in Auburn, I clicked through the photos on their site, grabbing Travis to look at them with me, gasping, “did you even know this place existed?”
Though I grew up in Auburn and was there until I was 20 years old, it was evident I was returning as a guest, better yet, a traveler.
I thought I knew everything about Auburn and often thought of my hometown as that place that most recognized as a stop on the way to Tahoe. As I started to dive deeper into the new business opening, the coffee shop that changed Old Town forever, and after seeing it on the cover of Sunset Magazine, I knew it was much more than my childhood memories.
On this trip, I came back for three nights as a visitor sojourning at the Park Victorian Hotel, not the usual stay at my parent’s home down the road. Auburn had so much more to offer and certainly, it’s a destination destined for weekenders and adventure seekers alike. So as I set out to rediscover Auburn, I couldn’t help but feel emotional.
Part of me was in disbelief that this was for work, that is, writing about my hometown. The other part of me felt the pressure to truly represent this wonderful, historic town in the foothills to who it is today and capture its full potential — a place filled with endless outdoor adventure and culinary experiences like wine tasting and farm-to-table dining.
I can’t help but feel overjoyed, to have tears rush to my eyes as I savor this chance to share Auburn with you. It’s the town I met my husband, where my parents raised me, and the place that largely shaped who I am today. So as I write and share about this slice of heaven in Northern California, bear with me if words can’t capture just how special this place is.
I’ll do my best, but trust me when I say, Auburn is even that much better experienced in person.
The Ultimate Weekend Guide to Auburn, California
Getting to Auburn, California
Auburn CA to Sacramento is only a quick forty-five minutes. Right off Highway 80, we usually get there from San Francisco in around 2 hours (with no traffic). A car is needed to get around and it’s a perfect road trip kind of place.
Auburn California Weather
Auburn has a very seasonal climate. During the winter, you’ll want a few layers to bundle up in. The summers can get hot which is why you’ll find most soaking in the sun on the lakes or rivers. My favorite time of year to visit Auburn is in late Spring or early Fall!
A popular question is: does Auburn get snow? In my lifetime, I have only seen it a handful of times. It’s typically a light blanketing that melts off by the end of the day.
(Auburn Co-op pictured above)
Where to Stay in Auburn, California
The Park Victorian: The boutique, 6-room hotel sits overlooking the historic part of Auburn. It has the keys to the city in terms of location and is certainly the best for staying overnight.
Chic rooms that are bright and cheerful, make for a cozy stay that feels like home. The beds are from Tucked In, Auburn’s natural bedding store — they are so good you’ll probably pick up one for yourself. It’s an intimate stay as breakfast is served family-style downstairs, with fresh cinnamon rolls, coffee, and hot dishes. Certainly, it’s one of the more memorable hotels I’ve stayed at in California in a long time.
Where to Eat in Auburn, California
The food scene is an ever-changing landscape in Auburn. Many new restaurants are opening and those classic institutions are still there. Here are some of the new, some of the old, and those you definitely cannot miss.
Carpe Vino: Hands down the best restaurant in Old Town for elevated cuisine. The service is incredible, the food is great, and what they’re doing with the menu is brilliant. Think nectarine and ricotta cheese tartines, truffle popcorn to snack on, and lamb meatballs. Oh and their wine list? Endless.
Pour Choice: This place is somewhere I find myself at least twice a day. A two-story, modern yet cozy cafe meets bar is where all roads seem to lead. I’ll go in for a great cup of coffee with avocado toast and then return for a charcuterie board paired with a local beer on tap. And I’m not embarrassed to say, sometimes I’ll even stop in the third time after dinner for a drink.
Tap & Vine: Situated in the Downtown area, this restaurant is putting together incredible food. I had the chance to dine there twice (lunch and dinner) and both times, was blown away. Their salmon tartar, the egg pasta, and of course, a refreshing beer cannot be missed.
Restaurant Josephine: One of the newest restaurants to open in Auburn offers a seasonal menu that is rooted in French and Mediterranean flavors. They have curbside to-go and is right in the heart of downtown.
The Stonehouse (private dining): Family friends and the owner of the former Le Bilig French restaurant, Marc and Monica, are putting together these incredible dinner series at their house in Auburn, California. Named “The Stonehouse” as an ode to where you’ll be dining, incredible French food is served inside where views of vineyards lay in the distance. To book a private dining experience, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katrina’s: A childhood staple, this spot is the place to come for a weekend brunch or midweek breakfast — think your all-American classics.
Nectar Cafe: For those looking for healthy options with an array of vegetarian dishes, I love to come here for lunch downtown.
Tango Frozen Yogurt: For a way to cool off, head here for self-serve frozen yogurt.
Joe Caribe’s: One of my favorite places to get lunch or dinner, this Caribbean-inspired restaurant has incredible tacos and bowls.
Taco Tree: I went back and forth on whether or not to include this as it’s definitely considered fast food, but since it is my husband’s favorite place to grab a cheap taco and burrito (also a childhood staple), this diner-like stop is always around for those late-night eats.
Things to Do in Auburn California
Rise Up River Trips — rafting + fine dining on the American River
One of the highlights of my time this month in Auburn was the chance to whitewater raft down the American River. The best part? At the end of the river, a chef-prepared a fine dining dinner on the side of the river for us. This local, family-owned business is creating intimate, high-end custom experiences in Auburn’s great outdoors. For those who love to fly fish, float down the river, or shoot through the rapids, Rise Up River Trips is your premier guide for a one-of-a-kind experience. You can customize a guided tour and find the best fit for you and the family.
Auburn Co-Op (First Thursday of each month, May–September)
On the first Thursday of every month, the Old Town closes off the streets for a fun, community-oriented Co-Op. Local artisans, eateries, and shops set up in the street for everyone to come together and enjoy in one place. It’s lively with music and more.
Saturday Farmer’s Market
Each Saturday morning, the farmer’s market featuring locally grown produce and other vendors, come together. I love popping in to grab a fresh pastry and of course, a coffee at Clementine Coffee.
Take a picnic farmer’s market basket out on the Wine Trail
On this trip, we filled a basket full of goodies and made our way out on the wine trail to enjoy. We went to Paza Estate Winery, grabbed a glass of rosé, and enjoyed the picnic in the vineyards.
Hike your way through Auburn
Known as the endurance capital of the world, there are endless trails for hiking. Some of my favorites include Hidden Falls, Stagecoach Trail, and down into the American River canyon on your way to Cool. The Lake Clementine Trail under the Foresthill Bridge is also incredibly scenic.
Enjoy Spanish wines at Vina Castellano
Out on the Wine Trail of Auburn, I loved stopping at Vina Castellano to do a tasting inside their wine cave and then enjoying the afternoon at their scenic wine bar overlooking the pond.
Shop locally at the newly opened Martin Mattox
Well curated, this store everything you’ll want and more from vintage pieces to beautiful woven-bags — let’s just say I stocked up on a few essentials for the house and myself.
Stop by Four Tines Farm
On Sundays, open from 9-1, this family-owned farm has fresh produce right from their backyard for sale. It’s a perfect stop to stock up for the week.
Work your way through the Auburn Wine and Ale Trail
There are countless wineries and breweries that have been opening up in Auburn these past years. Moonraker, Knee Deep, and Crooked Lane are a few favorite breweries to stop in at. Take a look at this map to see everything on offer.
Restock your linens at Tucked In
In downtown, this organic bedding store has everything from sheet sets to beds and pillows. We loved ours so much (used at the Park Victorian) that we picked up a set for our house.
Here are more things to do in Auburn.
*Bon Traveler was welcomed as a guest of Explore Auburn. As always, all opinions are own.