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19 Best Things to Do in Murphys, California

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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 of 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, as well as small towns such as Angels Camp.

It is a quiet and charming community full of wine tasting, tasting rooms with different foods, and restaurants and cafes on Main Street in downtown Murphys. The small town is less than an hour from Calaveras Big Tree State Park, Bear Valley Ski Resort, and the historic Mercer Caverns.

For those who want to experience small-town life in California, many concert series occur during the summer months in Murphys. These series feature live music, food tasting, and 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.

TL;DR

  • Most significant landmark – Mercer Caverns
  • Park to visit – Murphys Community Park
  • Free activity – Art on Main
  • Activity for kidsCalaveras Big Tree Guided Walking Tours
  • Activity for adults – Ironstone Vineyards
  • Place to eat – Grounds Restaurant
  • Nightlife – Hovey Winery Tasting Room
  • Best-all-around accommodation Courtwood Inn

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, United States

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

Mercer Caverns was discovered in 1885 during the gold rush era by gold miner Walter J. Mercer. After its discovery, plenty of tours were given for as little as 50 cents a day! Nowadays, tours are held during the summer and winter months.

The caves are one of Calaveras County’s best-hidden gems. Science enthusiasts can enjoy the many sights inside the cave system, such as limestone rocks and crystals that hang down, almost touching you!

Remember that tours change according to the weather and the time of year. For the most updated information, click here to learn 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, United States

Have you ever wondered what tasting wine made from grapes grown on vines over 100 years old is like? 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 making wine, for wine tasting, food pairing, and fine dining. The friendly service at Ironstone Vineyards 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 weddings, 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.

3. Forest Meadows Golf Course

Forest Meadows Golf Course Scenery
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 633 Forest Meadows Dr, Murphys, CA 95247, United States

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 9-hole golf course has many activities and is only a short drive from Downtown Murphys. You can play a game and then return to town in time for an evening dinner. Forest Meadows Golf Course has an indoor golf club!

Music enthusiasts will be delighted to know that many local artists will be playing year-round for free at the golf course! The music will range from 70s classics to blues, pop, rock, and 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, take in the sights of the water hazards and 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!

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4. Murphys Village Toy Store

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

Address: 402 Main St D, Murphys, CA 95247, United States

Not every attraction at Murphys has to cost a fee to get in! The Murphys Village Toy Store is one of the best things to do in Murphys for adults and children alike! This toy store is 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 their store and smiling wide.

Murphys Village Toy Store specializes in high-quality boutique toys and educational gifts. It is one of the best places in Murphys to shop for souvenirs, truly feel what the community is like, and buy your little one a game or toy 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 deals on Booking.com and Hotels.com.

See Related: 17 Things to Do in Mariposa, California

5. Val Du Vino Winery

Glass of Wine at Val Du Vino Winery
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 634 French Gulch Rd, Murphys, CA 95247, United States

Murphys is known for its many wine-tasting rooms; one of the best is at Val Du Vino Winery. This winery specializes in Rhone varietals, Italian varietals, and Spanish varietals. It is located 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 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, CA 95247, United States

Joma’s Artisan Ice Cream allows you 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 served delicious ice cream to tourists and locals alike. It is known for its creamy texture and natural flavors, which combine well with its 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 your date and enjoy a scoop of the best ice cream in Murphys, California, before heading 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.

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7. Take a Trip to Grounds Restaurant

Grounds Restaurant Entrance
image by Inspiration380557/TripAdvisor

Address: 402 Main St, Murphys, CA 95247, United States

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 in Murphys, California, and there is minimal wait time with its ample staff!

Grounds also offers wines from local vineyards, a full bar, coffee, pastries, delicious food, and a great atmosphere. For those looking for the best restaurant to take your date to 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.

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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, United States

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

You can catch plays from Shakespeare to adaptations of Mark Twain in the 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 website here.

9. Visit Bear Valley Resort

Room at Bear Valley Resort
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 2280 CA-207, Bear Valley, CA 95223, United States

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 is one of the best things to do near Murphys, California!

The resort is located high in the Sierra Mountains. It is packed with outdoor activities, including sledding, skiing, tubing, fishing, and boating. 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, which is less than an hour’s drive from Murphy, visit their website.

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10. Stevenot Winery

Stevenot Winery Establishment
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 458 Main St #3, Murphys, CA 95247, USA

Look no further than the Stevenot Winery in the heart of Murphys for wine tastings beautifully paired with gourmet foods! 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, which means that this place might be jam-packed with visitors when you visit.

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

Stevenot Winery is unique because you can visit two locations, one in nearby Vallecito, some 10 minutes from Murphys, and the other in the fabulous tasting room in Downtown Murphys.

This tasting room is open all week and is only for guests over 21 years old. If you have a larger party of 9 to 12 guests, you can make reservations ahead of time on the weekends to visit their full winery in Vallecito.

Their flexibility lets people 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.

11. Moaning Caverns Adventure Park

Moaning Tour Caverns
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 5350 Moaning Cave Rd, Vallecito, CA 95251, United States

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. The Moaning Caverns is home to the single largest cave chamber in all of California.

It is open to the public every day, rain or shine, and you can even book a visit to explore unchartered cave areas for an extra price!

Fortunately, most tours are guided through a single metal staircase that descends into the cave’s first chamber. For outdoor enthusiasts and those who 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 for unique gifts and souvenirs.

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

The moaning caverns will surely 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.

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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, United States

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

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 home amongst nature.

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

This state park is also dog-friendly and has many paved paths. You can 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 their site’s dog-handling rules and other relevant information! Book your appointment beforehand to 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 day walking tours are also available.

13. Hovey Winery Tasting Room

Hovey Winery Tasting Room
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 350 Main St A, Murphys, CA 95247, United States

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. His community members gathered around him and helped him transform the Hovey Winery Tasting Room into the high-quality boutique winery it is today!

This is one of the best places to get your palette excited and explore the 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 is open almost daily and can answer any questions about food pairings. 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 to get the latest updates on hours of operation and more. Reservations are recommended for groups of 7 people or more.

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14. Prospect 772

Prospect 772 Scenery
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 772 Appaloosa Rd, Angels Camp, CA 95222, United States

Prospect 772 is a beautiful winery outside Angels Camp near Murphys. What sets them apart is their wide selection of wines and 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. This beautiful vineyard offers no shortage of wines or good food. Interested in learning how to play Bocce Ball like the locals? Prospect 772 also allows you 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 St, Murphys, CA 95247, United States

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

You can stop by and enjoy the many flavors of olive oils and truly understand how these olives are grown to make a difference in 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, as well as gifts and recipes you can take home afterward, are available! 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!

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16. Murphys Community Park

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

Address: 505 Algiers St, Murphys, CA 95247, United States

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 also hosts many live events, such as music, so be on the lookout for any upcoming events if you want to participate and get a feel for the small-town charm 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, concerts and live music will be held for free throughout the year! Depending on the time you visit, you might be lucky enough to catch a show. Two huge bocce ball courts are also located nearby for some extra fun.

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 for children to enjoy.

In addition, you can reserve the park all for yourself and your guests, including an area 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 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 be 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
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 488 Main St suite 103, Murphys, CA 95247, United States

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 can answer any questions about your interest in their art collections.

Art on Main brings together the 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.

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18. Aloria Vineyards

Aloria Vineyards Scenery
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 448 Main St C, Murphys, CA 95247, United States

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

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

If you want to enjoy their delicious selection of wine, you can visit their wine shop 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 at their tasting room in Murphys. You can visit their webpage for more information about wine tastings in Murphy or the vineyard to book events.

19. Lavender Ridge Vineyard

Lavender Ridge Vineyard Interior
image by Lavender Ridge Vineyard/Facebook

Address: 425 Main St # A, Murphys, CA 95247, United States

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 home after your long adventure at Murphys. Visit their page for information on how to book a wine tasting or wine pairing.

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How to Get Around 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 for a better vacation.

Getting Around Murphys, California with a Family

Couple in car with a map on a road trip
magdel3na / Adobe Stock

Renting a car is the best way to travel through this city with a family so you can be prepared for the coming adventures! An SUV or larger car is ideal if you plan to trip to the Calaveras Big Trees State Park.

If you don’t have much gear, a smaller car will do so if it is well-maintained and can handle the desert heat. Whatever you choose, please do yourself a favor and get it squared away ahead of time with someone like Kayak.

Getting Around Murphys, California Downtown Solo

Murphys, California winter view
Jakobemerson / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

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

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

Traveling to Murphys, California, Alone by Train

Modesto Amtrak Train Station
Fenric / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

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, about an hour from this city.

Flying into Murphys, California

Interior of large passengers airplane with people on seats and stewardess in uniform walking the aisle
Matej Kastelic / Shutterstock

Those who want to travel by plane are 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

A woman getting into a rideshare
AntonioDiaz / Adobe Stock

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 Modesto Train Station if traveling solo or with family.

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Places to Stay in Murphys

1. Courtwood Inn Top Recommendation

Courtwood Inn is a small, family-run bed & breakfast in Murphys, California. It has a garden with hammocks and Adirondack chairs. The large room offers a sunny terrace overlooking the hills of Calaveras County. Breakfast includes an organic egg dish, fresh fruit, homemade granola, juice and coffee. The room also features a king-sized bed, writing desk, reading chair, flat screen TV and private bath with a Jacuzzi tub.

2. Murphys Suites

Murphys Suites is a family-owned motel that provides you not only with comfortable and affordable accommodation, but also with a great view of the surrounding area. It is located in the heart of gold country, just 1.8 km from Wyldewood, where you can go fishing or hiking. The property features free WiFi access and serves a continental breakfast every morning.

3. Murphys Inn Motel

Enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Sierra Nevada foothills at Murphys Inn Motel. Located in Murphys, this motel features air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi access. Accommodation will provide you with a flat-screen TV with satellite channels and a seating area.

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