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19 Fun & Best Things to Do in Murphys, California

19 Fun & Best Things to Do in Murphys, California

Murphys, California, is one of the best places to relax, unwind, and explore some of the most historic sites in California. Established almost 200 years ago, Murphys has a rich history as a mining community, Gold Country and was the birthplace for many of the first millionaires in California.

It sits at the base of the Sierra Foothills, about a two-hour drive southeast of Lake Tahoe. Nearby cities include San Francisco and Sacramento and small towns such as Angels Camp.

Now, it sits as a quiet and charming community full of wine tasting, tasting rooms with different foods, and also different restaurants and cafes on Main Street in downtown Murphys.

There are plenty of things to do in Murphys, California. From outdoor activities, such as hiking near the Ebbetts Pass or Moaning Caverns, even food tours at their local farmers market event, guided walking tours, and wine tasting, there’s something for everyone in Murphys.

The small town is less than an hour’s drive away from Calaveras Big Tree State Park, Bear Valley Ski Resort, and the historic Mercer Caverns.

For those that want to get a taste of small-town life in California, there are many concert series that occur during the summer months in Murphys, full of live music, food tasting, and so much more.

With a wide array of shopping, tours, and historical gold rush sites, there’s virtually no shortage of things to do in Murphys, California.

This is one of the coolest small towns for people to explore the other side of California without the sandy beach advertisements, glitz, and glamour, learn more about the Gold Rush era, and enjoy the beauty of the Sierra Foothills.

TLDR

Check out this list of some of the best things to do while visiting Murphys, California. 

  • Most significant landmark – Mercer Caverns
  • Best park – Murphys Community Park
  • Best free activity – Art on Main
  • Best activity for kidsCalaveras Big Tree Guided Walking Tours
  • Best activity for adults – Ironstone Vineyards
  • Best food – Grounds Restaurant
  • Best nightlife – Hovey Winery Tasting Room
  • Best-all-around accommodation Courtwood Inn

The Best and Fun Things to Do in Murphys, California

1. Mercer Caverns

Mercer Caverns Tour
image by Dave Bunnell is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Address: 1665 Sheep Ranch Rd, Murphys, CA 95247

Mercer Caverns is perhaps one of the most memorable experiences you’ll have in Murphys. This is an activity that can be done by anyone of all ages, so long as you’re able to traverse the winding over 400 steps located inside as you descend through this magical cave.

Mercer Caverns was actually discovered in 1885 during the gold rush era by gold miner Walter J. Mercer.

After its discovery, there were plenty of tours given for as little as 50 cents a day! Nowadays, tours are held during the summer months and also during the winter months. Make no mistake, the caves are one of the best-hidden gems of Calaveras County.

For science enthusiasts, you can enjoy the many sights inside of the cave system, such as limestone rocks and crystals that hang down almost touching you!

Keep in mind that tours do change from time to time according to the weather and the time of year. For the most updated information ,click here to find out more about booking a tour and buying tickets for this fascinating archeological find deep in the heart of California’s desert.

See Related: Free California Travel Guide: Printable Guide to Travel

2. Ironstone Vineyards

Ironstone Vineyards Building
image by Jeffrey Beall is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Address: 1894 6 Mile Rd., Murphys, CA 95247

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to taste wine made from grapes grown on vines over 100 years old? Now you can by visiting the Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys, California!

This is one of the best things to do in Murphys, California, to learn about the process of making wine, for wine tasting, food pairing, and fine dining.

The friendly service at Ironstone Vineyards is what sets it apart, as are the many good food options paired with your favorite wine year-round!

You can also explore the different gardens in the area, as well as learn more about the wine-making process and the history of Murphys.

If you love a good tasting room filled with history, are exploring different wineries to hold special occasions such as a wedding, and want to explore the beauty of living near the Bay Area, visiting this Vineyard is one of the best things to do in Murphys.

For reservations for tastings, click here to find out more and get pricing options.

Looking for more wine trips in California?

Take a side trip and book a Napa & Sonoma Valley Full-Day Wine Trip.

3. Forest Meadows Golf Course

Forest Meadows Golf Course Scenery
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: 633 FOREST MEADOWS DR. MURPHYS, CA 95247

Nothing is more relaxing than being in a quiet town, spending hours talking with your friends and enjoying a nice game of golf! If you’re in Murphys, California, one of the best things to do to enjoy your time here is to book a tee game at the Forest Meadows Golf Course!

This golf course has a wide array of activities and is only a short drive from Downtown Murphys.

You can play a game and then make your way back into town in time for an evening dinner. Forest Meadows Golf Course is a 9-hole course that also comes with an indoor golf club as well!

For music enthusiasts, you’ll be delighted to know there are many local artists that will be playing year-round for free at the golf course! Music will range from 70s classics to blues music, pop, rock, and much more.

Book your tee time today by visiting their website and finding a time that works for you! After you’re done with your tee time, stop by inside for an evening beer and take in the sights of the water hazards, surrounding oak trees, and unwind.

If you need a lodge to stay in after those long hours of golfing, we recommend the Courtwood Inn in Murphys!

See Related: Best Golf Bachelor Party Destinations to Visit

4. Murphys Village Toy Store

Display at Murphys Village Toy Store
image by Murphys Village Toy Store/Facebook

Address: 402 Main St. Suite D, Murphys, CA 95247

Not every attraction at Murphys has to cost a fee to get in! In fact, the Murphys Village Toy Store is one of the best things to do in Murphys for adults and children alike! This toy store is located in the heart of the Motherlode in Downtown Murphys.

They have been a fixture of the community for over 30 years! One of the best photo opportunities you’ll get while visiting this town is sitting down with their local frogs just outside of their store and smiling wide.

Murphys Village Toy Store specializes in high-quality boutique and educational gifts. This is one of the best places in Murphys to not just shop for souvenirs but also to truly feel what the community is like and also buy your little one a game or toy that is created with education in mind.

You can learn more about store hours and visiting times on their website.

Looking for hotels near the store?

You can find the best accommodation and get the best deals on Booking.com and Hotels.com.

5. Val Du Vino Winery

Glass of Wine at Val Du Vino Winery
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: 634 French Gulch Road Murphys, CA 95247

Murphys is known for its many wine tasting rooms, and one of the best is here at Val Du Vino Winery. This winery specializes in Rhone varietals, Italian varietals, and Spanish varietals.

It is located right at the edge of Main Street in Downtown Murphys and exemplifies the high-quality wines grown from the Sierra Foothills!

Indoor and outdoor daily wine tasting sessions are both available here, and it is one of our best picks to explore Murphys since it is within easy walking distance to other wineries and shops in Downtown Murphys.

To learn more about how to book a reservation at Val du Vino, join their wine club, events such as BBQ tastings, or shop for wine you can take home with you, visit their page here!

See Related: Northern California vs Southern California: What’s the Difference?

6. Joma’s Artisan Ice Cream

Ice Cream at Joma's Artisan Ice Cream
image by Joma’s Artisan Ice Cream/Facebook

Address: 386 Main St, Murphys, California 95247

Joma’s Artisan Ice Cream gives you the chance to clear your palette and is one of the best things to do in Murphys, California, for children and adults alike!

This local ice cream shop has been serving up delicious ice cream to tourists and locals alike and is known for its creamy texture natural flavors, and combines well with their fresh-baked cookies.

If you’re looking for an ice cream cake for special occasions, Joma’s Artisan Ice Cream also has you covered!

They’re open every day until 6 pm, so you can stop by with your children or with your date and enjoy a scoop of the best ice cream in Murphys, California, before heading over to your wine tasting event!

Learn more about their hours and products on their webpage, and stop by yourself for a delicious scoop of their ice cream.

7. Take a Trip to Grounds Restaurant

Grounds Restaurant Entrance
image by Inspiration380557/TripAdvisor

Address: 402 Main St, Murphys, CA 95247

Looking for a local restaurant that has been with Murphys, California, since before its revival? Look no further than Grounds Restaurant!

Their owner, River Klass, is actually trained in Parisian and French cuisine. This is one of the best restaurants to eat at in Murphys, California, and there is minimal wait time with its ample staff!

All the wines from local vineyards are also located at Grounds since it has a full bar, coffee, pastries, delicious food, and a great atmosphere. For those looking for the best restaurant to take your date for special events, Grounds is the perfect place to visit!

Learn more about how to contact the restaurant for allergen information or other pertinent information on their webpage.

See Related: Best Tropical Destinations in the World

8. Visit Murphys Creek Theater

Performers at Murphys Creek Theatre
mage by Murphy’s Creek Theatre/Facebook

Address: 580 S Algiers St, Murphys, CA 95247

Murphys Creek Theater is one of the best places to take your special someone out on a date, explore the finer arts, and also catch a show and complete your evening trip. Murphys Creek Theater puts on various shows, and they are also highly trained in the fine arts.

You can catch plays from Shakespeare to adaptations of Mark Twain in the very heart of Murphys with the help of the incredible actors and friendly staff here at the Theater!

The year-round live theater is sure to be a memorable part of your trip, and best of all, it’s great for both adults and children. For more information on current shows and booking tickets, visit their online website here for more information.

9. Visit Bear Valley Resort

Room at Bear Valley Resort
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: Skyline Bear Valley Resort, 2280 CA-207, Bear Valley, CA 95223

If you’re stopping by Murphys but want to go somewhere to enjoy the fun afternoon in the snow, then try taking a day trip out to Bear Valley Resort! This resort is only a short drive from the town (around 42 minutes), and it is one of the best things to do near Murphys, California!

The resort is located high in the Sierra Mountains, and it is packed with outdoor activities, including sledding, skiing, tubing, sledding, fishing, and boating, and during the summer months, you can spend hours riding your mountain bike through its beautiful back trails.

While a ways from Murphy, this resort is definitely one of the best places to stay in the region To learn more about how to book a visit and buy tickets to this fabulous resort that’s only less than an hour’s drive from Murphys, visit their online website for more information.

See Related: Most Beautiful & Best Vacations in the US

10. Stevenot Winery

Stevenot Winery Establishment
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: 458 Main Street #3, Murphys, CA 95247

For those looking for wine tastings that are beautifully paired with gourmet foods, look no further than the Stevenot Winery located in the heart of Murphys!

This is one of the best local wineries to get your palette wet and explore the many different flavors of wines grown in the surrounding Sierra Foothills.

Stevenot Winery has a reputation for demanding and serving the very best wonderful wines to customers, and that means that this place might be a big jam-packed with visitors while you visit.

However, it is worth the wait, as they have a wide selection of wines to choose from, flights of wine, and wine pairing with foods.

What makes Stevenot Winery unique is that you can visit two of their locations, one of which is in nearby Vallecito, some 10 minutes from Murphys, and the other located inside of the fabulous tasting room in Downtown Murphys.

This tasting room is open all days of the week and is only for guests over 21 years old.

If you have a larger party of people, from anywhere between 9 to 12 guests, you can make reservations ahead of time on the weekends to visit their full winery in Vallecito.

Their flexibility allows people to get the most out of their wining and dining experience with Stevenot Winery. Learn more about visiting times and how to book a visit on their website.

Thirsty for more wine?

Take a side quest and enjoy a Napa Valley All-Inclusive Private Full-Day Wine Tour.

11. Moaning Caverns Adventure Park

Moaning Tour Caverns
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: 5350 Moaning Cave Road, Vallecito, CA, 95251

No visit to Murphys would be complete without taking a short trip down to the Moaning Caverns in Vallecito.

This is one of the best places to visit near Murphys, California, for adventure seekers, science enthusiasts, adults, and children alike. The Moaning Caverns is home to the single largest cave chamber in all of California.

It is available to tour every single day, rain or shine, and you can even book a visit here to explore unchartered areas of the cave for an extra price!

Fortunately, most tours are guided through a single metal staircase that descends into the first chamber of the cave. For outdoor enthusiasts and those that want to explore the cave even further, there are longer tours available to explore the second chamber of the cave.

It’s also good to know that there are other fun things to do surrounding the caves, from ax throwing to shopping around for unique gifts and souvenirs.

If you’re looking to explore the cave and its many marble deposits through unchartered areas, make sure to book your visit at least two days in advance so the crew has time to prepare for your unique visit!

The moaning caverns are sure to be one of the most interesting and unforgettable parts of your visit. For more information on booking a tour here, visit the website for the latest updates.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Malibu, California

12. Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Calaveras Big Trees State Park Sceneries
image by Joyce NL is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Address: 1170 CA-4, Arnold, CA 95223

Calaveras Big Trees State Park is one of the most beautiful and well-protected state parks in California. That’s because it is home to giant sequoias that tower over the campsites located on the North Grove and South Grove of this state park!

With over 130 available campsites, Calavera Big Trees State Park is one of the best sites to settle down with your loved ones, take in the sights of the thousands-year-old giant sequoias, and truly feel at peace and at home amongst nature.

Fortunately, it is only a 21-minute drive from Murphys, California, meaning you can visit all of the beautiful wineries and vineyards in the evening, prepare your camping gear, and then head out and be in the midst of the beautiful sequoias in under half an hour!

This state park is also dog friendly and has many paved paths where you will be able to easily hike and stroll through the trails, but keep in mind that some of these trails might not show the trees in their full glory.

If you’re ready to get up close and personal with these trees, review the dog handling rules and other relevant information located on their site!

Book your appointment ahead of time so you can enjoy this magical state park just a few minutes from Murphys, California.

You won’t regret coming here to unwind and enjoy the rest of your trip! If you don’t want to go on a full-blown camping trip, you’ll be happy to know that there are also day walking tours available for visitors here too.

13. Hovey Winery Tasting Room

Hovey Winery Tasting Room
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: 350 Main St A, Murphys, CA 95247

The Hovey Winery Tasting Room is one of the highest-rated wine tasting spots in Murphys, and is also one of the most beloved gems in the city.

This winery is named after its former owner, Chuck Hovey, whose community members gathered around him and helped him create the Hovey Winery Tasting Room into the high-quality boutique wineries it is today!

This is one of the best places to get your palette excited and explore the many different types of varietals they specialize in.

For those visiting Downtown Murphys, this is one of the best tasting rooms to help you get a feel for the local community and to help you truly be a part of this unique town and community. If you’re new to wine tasting, don’t worry.

This tasting room will help answer any and all questions about food pairings, and they are open almost daily! For a fun twist south of the border, they also offer Taco Tuesdays during the summertime!

To learn more about how you can take your date here to get the best wines in Murphys, visit their website here to get the latest updates on hours of operation and more. Reservations are recommended for groups of 7 people or more.

See Related: Best Wedding Destinations in the US

14. Prospect 772

Prospect 772 Scenery
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: 772 Appaloosa Road Angels Camp, CA 95222

Prospect 772 is a beautiful winery located just outside of Angels Camp near Murphys. What sets them apart is not only their wide selection of wines but also their many events, including live music, dancing, and private events in the heart of Calaveras County!

For hardcore quaffers, Prospect 772 is one of the most fun things to do in Murphys, and there’s no shortage of wines or good food that you’ll be able to experience in this beautiful vineyard.

Interested in learning how to play Bocce Ball like the locals? Prospect 772 also offers you the opportunity to learn this sport, which makes it all the more charming!

Book your reservations or learn more about visitors’ information on their site. Walk-ins are welcome, but remember that they will not take priority over already reserved guests.

15. Marisolio Tasting Bar

Marisolio Tasting Bar Building Front
image by Marisolio Tasting Bar/Facebook

Address: 488 Main Street, Suite 101, Murphys, CA 95247

Marisolio Tasting Bar is one of the most unique attractions and tasting room attractions in Downtown Murphys. Located on Main Street, they offer olive oil tasting from some of the best oils, balsamic vinegars, and butters made by select artisans!

You can stop by and enjoy the many flavors of olive oils and truly understand how where these olives are grown to make a difference to the taste of the unique olive oil offered to you for your tasting session.

You can also book events, such as cooking classes and tastings of select olive oils! This is a fun place to get your belly full and experience the many beautiful tastes from around the world.

Olive oil tasting is available, along with gifts and recipes that you can take home with you afterward! To book your tasting event or participate in classes to learn how to cook like a pro, check out their page dedicated to showcasing their many events for the Murphys community!

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Oakhurst, California

16. Murphys Community Park

People at Murphys Community Park
image by Murphys Community Park/Facebook

Address: 505 Algiers St, Murphys, CA 95247

Murphys Community Park is one of the best places to visit with family and friends to have a picnic, small outing, or celebrate personal family events! There are lots of picnic tables at Murphys Community Park, where you can set up shop and enjoy a fun day out in the sun.

This park is also host to many different live events such as music, so make sure to be on the lookout for any upcoming events if you want to participate and get a feel for the small town charm here in Murphys.

If you have children, you’ll be happy to know that this park has many events for children. There is a farmers market open on Sunday mornings and afternoons, so you can explore the very best local foods that Murphys has to offer.

In addition to the farmers market, there will be concerts and live music held throughout the year for free! Depending on the time you visit, you might be lucky enough to catch a show. For some extra fun, there are two huge bocce ball courts also located nearby.

If you’re planning an event, Murphys Community Park might also be a great option. This park has a huge playground set, various lawn areas, and a jungle gym set for children to enjoy.

In addition, you can reserve the park all for yourself and your guests, including an area of the park known as Helen’s Hut. This hut gives you access to refrigeration so you can continue to serve your guests for however many hours you need!

Overall, the beautiful creek located inside the mark, and its many picnic tables and setups make this the perfect spot to plan a family reunion in Murphys, California! To find out more about booking information, check out their page.

Looking for a place to stay after a long day of running around this pleasant park?

Check into the utterly charming Courtwood Inn, just down the road. This lovely bed and breakfast will serve as a top basecamp for your Murphys adventures! You can also find rentals to stay on VRBO.

17. Art on Main

Jewelries at Art on Main
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: 466 Main St, Murphys, CA 95247

For art enthusiasts and lovers of unique gifts, Art on Main is perhaps one of the best attractions Murphys has to offer!

This unique contemporary art gallery features works from local artists, who also work at the gallery located on Main Street and are able to answer any and all questions about your interest in their art collections.

Art on Main brings together the very best pieces from artists in Calaveras County and is as much an attraction for tourists as it is an ode to the locals.

If you want to truly learn more about the history, modern work, and rich culture that encompasses Murphys, stop by Art on Main as one of your musts! For more on this gallery, visit their webpage.

Looking for California art scene?

Check out Los Angeles Arts District Bike Tour or take a side trip to Sand Diego for a Barrio Logan Food and Art Guided Walking Tour.

See Related: Best & Fun Things to Do in San Diego, California

18. Aloria Vineyards

Aloria Vineyards Scenery
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: 448 Main St C, Murphys, CA 95247

Aloria Vineyards is a Certified Sustainable Vineyard in California that prides itself on offering cultivated wines that have been grown, processed, fermented, and bottled in their very own vineyard!

Located near the banks of the New Melones Reservoir, this is one of the most beautiful vineyards to enjoy wine tasting and taking in the sights of the Sierra Foothills.

If you want to enjoy their delicious selection of wine, you can do so by visiting their wine shop located on Main Street in Murphys! You can stay within the city and enjoy the comforts of the downtown area while also taking a sip of wine that transports you into the heart of the vineyard just an hour away.

Make sure to book a reservation ahead of time at their tasting room in Murphys. You can visit their webpage for more information about wine tastings in Murphy or visit the vineyard itself to book events.

19. Lavender Ridge Vineyard

Lavender Ridge Vineyard Interior
image by Lavender Ridge Vineyard/Facebook

Address: 425A Main Street  Murphys CA 95247

Lavender Ridge Vineyard is another great wine tasting spot to help you wrap up your trip to Murphys.

What sets them apart is not only their local and worldwide selection of wines but also their delicate cheeses made by renowned artisans. You can experience the very best cheese pairing here, as well as find select gifts made of…well…lavender!

This is one of the best places to unwind, restore your health, and prepare for the trip back after your long adventure at Murphys. For information on how to book a wine tasting or wine pairing, visit their page.

See Related: Best Places to Visit in the US

Getting Around While Finding the Best Things to Do in Murphys, California

It’s important to note that Murphys, California is a bit secluded and is considered a desert town. Although beautiful, there are certain ways to commute and get around this city to have a better vacation.

Getting Around Murphys, California with a Family

The best way to travel through this city with a family is to rent a car so you can be prepared for the coming adventures!

An SUV or larger car is ideal if you plan on taking a trip to the Calaveras Big Trees State Park. However, if you don’t have much gear, a smaller car will do so long as it is well-maintained and able to handle the desert heat.

Whatever you choose, do yourself a favor and get it squared away ahead of time with someone like Kayak.

Getting Around Murphys, California Downtown Solo

While you can also get around Murphys by renting a car, as a solo traveler, we recommend renting a bike or getting around on bike to explore the crevices of this small town!

Main Street is the main attraction here, so if you want to explore or take a bike ride near the community park, take your own personal bike with you for the trip.

Traveling to Murphys, California, Alone by Train

If you’re coming in from out of town, we recommend taking a train ride to catch some of the most beautiful glimpses in the Gold Country. The Modesto Train Station where Amtrak operates will be the nearest train station to Murphys and is about an hour out of this city.

Flying into Murphys, California

For those that want to travel by plane, you’re in luck! Calaveras County Airport is a short drive from Murphys, so you and your family can stop by on your way to other larger Bay Area cities like San Francisco or San Jose!

Rideshare Options in Murphys, California

Like other major U.S. cities, Murphys also has ride-share options, including Uber and Lyft, so you can get a ride to and from the airport or from the Modesto Train Station if you’re traveling solo or with family.

See Related: Best & Fun Things to Do in Bishop, California

FAQs for Best Things to Do in Murphys, California

What is the Best Thing to Do For Outdoor Enthusiasts in Murphys, California?

If you love the outdoors, we highly recommend venturing out a little bit further from Murphys and exploring the Calaveras Big Trees State Park. This is a protected park home to beautiful sequoias, where you can experience the enormity of these trees in person!

Where is the Best Place to Visit for Wine in Murphys, California?

The Ironstone Vineyards is one of the most renowned places to visit in Murphys, California, for wine tasting. The Ironstone Vineyards is home to events, weddings, and other wine tasting events to complete your trip to Murphys, California.

What are Some Free Activities in Murphys, California?

If you’re looking to enjoy the day outdoors with family, walking through Main Street or visiting the Murphys Community Park are both free and lovely events to get you through the day. While you might be able to reserve spots at the park, this isn’t necessary for a day of playing and exploring.

Where Can I Explore Art in Murphys, California?

Art on Main is one of the best places to visit for people that want to explore the local art in the city. Make sure to plan your visit ahead of time by looking at their site for available art galleries.

What Do I Do if it Snows in Murphys, California?

Grounds is one of the best restaurants in Murphys, California, and it has been a staple of dining here for the past several years. If it’s snowing in the area, stop by for a warm cup of coffee here.

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