As the starting point for the Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway, Arnold might be considered the gateway to the Sierra (and the big trees for that matter), but this rustic mountain town (elevation 4,000-feet) is a vacation destination in and of itself. Sure, Arnold is a great base camp for everything from skiing at Bear Valley to wine tasting in Murphys, but for a true mountain escape away from the crowds, you can stay right in town. We guarantee you won’t be bored. Here are the top seven things to do in Arnold…
Wander through some of the biggest trees on the planet. Just 3-miles from the heart of Arnold you’ll find Calaveras Big Trees State Park, where you’re able to see not one, but two groves of the world-famous Giant Sequoias up-close-and-personal. Visitors can hike, picnic, or even camp, among the park’s magnificent sequoias which can be as much as 30-feet wide and tower more than 300-feet above ground. It’s a mind-blowing experience to step foot beneath these giant trees knowing that their canopy holds its own ecosystem.
Snowshoe Brewing Company. This family-friendly brewpub specializes in handcrafted ales and gives a nod to the local area with beers like Snoweizen, Lodgepole IPA and Snowshoe Thompson Pale Ale. Belly up to the bar for a beer sampler, served on what else but a snowshoe-shaped tasting paddle. Hungry? There’s something for everyone on Snowshoe’s extensive, family-friendly menu.
Find “The Outhouse.” We’re not talking about that kind of outhouse! The Outhouse Collection (“The Outhouse” as locals call it) is a unique boutique in Arnold where you can get your hands on interesting gifts and treasures for your home, a special kiddo in your life or maybe even an aspiring chef you know. Plan on getting lost in this store for a while, but make sure to save some energy for another eclectic Arnold boutique worth checking out—Fine-Things, located in the Cedar Center. This neat little store has an ever-changing inventory of gifts, jewelry and home accessories.
Stand on “Top of the World.” There’s only one way to get to the top of the world from Arnold, and that’s via the Arnold Rim Trail (ART), a 17-mile wooded trail system that links the communities of Arnold to Hathaway Pines. Head to the trailhead at the Sierra Nevada Logging Museum and hike approximately 10.8 miles round trip with significant elevation gain and loss through beautiful pine forest to a stunning ridge and overlook known as, Top of the World. Linger as long as you like, or perhaps enjoy a picnic here, as you take in sweeping views of the Sierra in all directions.
Be transported to Italy. The setting at Sarafina’s Italian Kitchen might scream cozy log cabin (that’s part of its charm), but when you sit down for a classic Italian dinner here with good friends or family you’ll be temporarily whisked away to Italy…or at least your taste buds will be. This stellar restaurant is definitely not a secret and tables can be hard to come by, so reservations are a must.
Get geared up. Whether it’s the middle of the summer and you’re looking for a boat or paddleboard to take out on White Pines Lake, or there’s a fresh layer of snow and you’d love to strap on some snowshoes and make some fresh tracks along the Arnold Rim Trail, Sierra Nevada Adventure Company (SNAC) should be your first stop. This local outfitter and outdoor store has a variety of rental options and can always point you in the direction of a great adventure.
WHERE TO STAY IN ARNOLD
B&B’s, Inns and Lodges
- Mountain Retreat Timeshares
- Century 21 Sierra Property Rentals
- Cedar Creek Cabin Rentals
- Arnold Vacation Rentals