The “Innovations in Tourism Awards” is the Calaveras Visitors Bureau’s annual program designed to publicly acknowledge outstanding local businesses that have gone above and beyond to attract visitors to Calaveras through new or unique ideas, products or services.
These businesses are nominated and voted on by their peers for the Innovations in Tourism Awards. That means when you see the blue star innovator icon throughout this website, you know which businesses have been recognized by their peers and the CVB as being truly outstanding. From the first year of the awards in 2006 until 2012 one business was recognized each year by the CVB Board of Directors. Beginning in 2013 the program was expanded to recognize businesses in each of 6 different categories: attraction, event, lodging, restaurant, retail and recreation and the winner was determined by votes from other business in Calaveras County’s tourism industry. The nominee that wins the most overall votes from each category is also awarded the overall winner.
Beginning in 2017, the Innovations in Tourism Awards included two additional categories: Wedding / Event Venue and Winery.
Scroll down to see a full list of all past winners by year, with a description of why they won. Or see a full category of all past Innovations in Tourism award winners.
2017 Winners: 11th Annual Innovations in Tourism Awards
- Attraction and Overall Winner – Calaveras Big Trees State Park – for new photography walks – allowing visitors a new way to relate to nature while creating usable social media content.
- Event – Lumberjack Day – for their supervised kids zone with multiple, great activities allowing down time for kids and parents.
- Lodging – Bear Valley Mountain – for their new glamping option – a highly trending option for California tourism generating a huge social media buzz.
- Recreation – Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail – for increased development and mapping and an innovative marketing program tied in to a popular movie.
- Restaurant – Murphys Pourhouse – for their millennial parenting model – craft artisanal beer tasting combined with a playful space for families to enjoy.
- Retail – My Little Apple – for their children’s consignment model with collaboration with local artists creating a brick and mortar outlet for etsy artisans.
- Wedding / Event Venue – Arnold Black Bear Inn – for creating a simple, all-inclusive option with consistently high-end results.
- Winery – Twisted Oak Winery – for creating excellent original social media content for their Enchanted Garden Party.
2016 Winners: 10th Annual Innovations in Tourism Awards
- Lodging and Overall Winner – Calaveras Big Trees State Park – for opening vacation rentals at the park and planning the addition of in-park cabins to appeal to millennials.
- Attraction – Brice Station Vineyards – for their stellar work with their Hilltop Concert Series and Shakespeare on the Vine and for excellent social media work on Instagram.
- Event – Calaveras Arts Council – for their Ovations Series, free Music in the Parks plus new Ride4Art as fundraiser for arts in local schools.
- Recreation – Moaning Cavern Adventure Park -for their Zip Line Pumpkin Smash, Caroling in the Cave with Rappelling Santa + other Concerts in the Cave, bringing WiFi to the bottom of Moaning Cavern for social media sharing & attempting a Pokemon Go lure drop (the first in the County that we know of) offering a discount on walk tours to Pokemon Go players.
- Restaurant – Alchemy – for a huge selection of speciality beers (a favorite with visitors) + a great beer online blog, multiple highly regarded and attended special events including wine and beer pairings.
- Retail – Sierra Nevada Adventure Company – for helping to develop the popularity of disc golf all around the county, inspiring more courses to open up, donating outdoor recreation photography for promotion on social media, and for providing top quality equipment, assistance and advice for visiting adventurers.
2015 Winners: 9th Annual Innovations in Tourism Awards
- Attraction and Overall Winner – Brice Station Vineyards – for their Hill Top concert series and for hosting their Theatre Under the Stars series: Shakespeare on the Vine.
- Event – Calaveras County Fairgrounds – for bringing in new events like the Back Country Horsemen, and continually enhancing Fair & Frog Jump.
- Lodging – Worldmark by Wyndham – for consistently bringing in large numbers of guests and for their excellent concierge services at the front desk.
- Restaurant – The Pickle Patch – for their consistently great food, live music and Oktoberfest events.
- Retail – Gold Country Roasters – for roasting the most delicious coffee in the county and for introducing their story slam events and for winning a silver medal in the national Golden Bean coffee roasting awards.
- Recreation – Bear Valley Mountain – for bringing in high profile events and making snow to keep the mountain open during drought years.
2014 Innovations in Tourism Awards Winners
These outstanding local businesses were voted the winners in the 2014 Innovations in Tourism program by CVB member businesses.
- RETAIL & OVERALL WINNER – The Spice Tin for creating a retail environment that’s also an immersive sensory experience.
- ATTRACTION – Angels Camp Museum for their new special programs, extension of hours and huge increase in visitation.
- EVENT – Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee for annually bringing in over 45,000 visitors for frog jump, rodeo, demolition derby, the new outhouse race, etc.
- LODGING – The Murphys Historic Hotel for braving Hotel Hell, bringing in more events, building an outside bar and making other upgrades.
- RECREATION – Cave & Mine Adventures for developing the zip lines at Moaning Cavern Adventure Park and for operating and funding the Murphys Information Center.
- RESTAURANT – Outer Aisle Foods for their live music, events, farmers market and popular farm to fork model.
2013 Innovations in Tourism Awards Winners
In 2013, we expanded the Innovations in Tourism Awards to include six different categories + an overall winner with nominees being provided by CVB board members and member businesses. Winners were decided by the CVB membership by ballot.
- LODGING & OVERALL WINNER – Arnold Black Bear Inn, for their development as a premiere wedding destination and their new Top Chef Challenge event packages.
- EVENT – Twisted Oak Winery, for bringing a new venue to Calaveras’ evening entertainment scene with its Summer Concert Series.
- ATTRACTION – Calaveras Big Trees State Park, for their interpretive programs, warming hut and new visitor center.
- RESTAURANT – Sidewinders / Doke Sushi, for filling a culinary niche, offering live music, staying open late and being dependably high quality.
- RETAIL – Stories in Stones, for their unique retail experience and educational outreach.
- RECREATION – Arnold Rim Trail Association, for the planning and development of the Arnold Rim Trail and map.
Pre-2013 Innovations in Tourism Awards Winners
Before 2013, our Innovations in Tourism Awards program was much smaller. The Calaveras Visitors Bureau board recognized one business in the county for their outstanding contributions to Calaveras tourism.
- 2012 – Courtwood Wine Tours Chris & Larry Parker
- 2011 – Calaveras Concierge, Suki Tuthill
- 2010 – Bear Valley Mountain
- 2009 – O.A.R.S. Whitewater Rafting, George Wendt
- 2008 – Cave & Mine Adventures, Stephen Fairchild
- 2007 – Ironstone Vineyards
- 2006 – Murphys Vacation Rentals Anna Gutierrez, Motherlode Marketing