The American River flows beside this historic site, beneath a narrow automobile and foot bridge, skirting the spot where it all began for these little towns in 1848: the (James) Marshall Gold Discovery Site and (John) Sutter’s Sawmill. Coloma has been preserved as a state park, with remaining buildings and interpretive signage throughout depicting where buildings stood and where they’ve gone (most, it seems, burned up). The blacksmith shop still operates. The Argonaut Farm to Fork Cafe, located in the Old Schulze House, serves coffee and bagels, sandwiches and salads; ingredients come from nearby Bee Love Farms. (Its hours have been spotty during the pandemic.) Plan for several hours in Coloma—time enough to thoroughly explore the park and read all the fascinating stories. Best option: Take a guided tour, $3 apiece, and let a docent tell you all about it. As part of your trip, stop in at Sierra Rizing Bakery, Coffeehouse & Café in nearby Lotus (white-water rafting central!) for a hand pie or other goodie; the seasonal raspberry latte tastes yummy, too.