Eat, drink, play

There’s much you can see, do and ex­pe­ri­ence when you visit this small town near Yosemite.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Travel - By JACKIE BUR­RELL

LIKE many Gold Rush towns, Grov­e­land, has a check­ered his­tory, one rich in booms, busts, rogues and min­ers. Of course, the town’s name was not nearly as bu­colic back in 1848, when it was part of the Sav­age Dig­gins. To be fair, the place was named af­ter set­tler James Sav­age, but con­no­ta­tions tend to stick when you’ve got min­ing camps named af­ter hang­ing trees.

Gar­rote was the hap­pen­ing place in the 1850s, not just a spot for sum­mary ex­e­cu­tions – both here and at nearby Sec­ond Gar­rote – but a thriv­ing town filled with sa­loons, din­ing halls and gam­bling es­tab­lish­ments. By the 1870s, the bus­tle had sub­sided and the 100 towns­folk who re­mained thought it might be time to re-brand their town with some­thing less “stran­gle-y”.

By the time min­ers flocked back in 1875, wooed by ris­ing gold prices and the prom­ise of riches deep un­der­ground, Gar­rote had be­come Grov­e­land. By the early part of the 20th cen­tury, this town of 10,000 had be­come a pop­u­lar way sta­tion on the Big Oak Flat, the road that leads to Yosemite’s north­ern­most gate­way.

You can still see the ves­tiges of that Wild West past in this cosy town, where the main drag is lined with his­toric inns, along with some great spots to nosh, sip and browse. Here’s just a sam­pling.

DRINK: The Iron Door Sa­loon

You can­not visit Grov­e­land with­out pop­ping into Cal­i­for­nia’s old­est con­tin­u­ously op­er­at­ing sa­loon. The bar opened its doors in 1852 as Peter King’s Gran­ite Store, a gen­eral mer­can­tile, where min­ers could belly up to the bar – planks plunked atop bar­rels – and get a drink. From the 1860s to the 1880s, the bar func­tioned as both sa­loon and post of­fice. You can’t buy stamps here any­more, but you can en­joy a cold IPA and a burger, as you lis­ten to live mu­sic, gawk at the moose heads and rub el­bows with lo­cals and vis­i­tors alike.

De­tails: Open daily from 7am to 1am, at 18761 Main St, Grov­e­land.

EAT: Fork & Love

With chef Aaron Haas at the helm, this charm­ing restau­rant at the ren­o­vated Ho­tel Char­lotte of­fers cre­ative, sea­sonal cui­sine and tasty craft cock­tails. We’re talk­ing Sierra Pack Mule (US$9/RM39) and High Plains Drifter (US$11/RM47) cock­tails, chimichur­ridriz­zled squash (US$8/RM34) and gnoc­chi (US$15/RM64) to die for. Dur­ing the sleepy win­ter months, the restau­rant is only open for Sun­day brunch and spe­cial events, but it re­opens in March with Sun­day brunch and din­ner ser­vice on Fri­days and Satur­days, ex­pand­ing to five days a week in April.

De­tails: Ho­tel Char­lotte, 18736 Main St, Grov­e­land; www.forkandlove.com

DRINK: Moun­tain Sage

Don’t miss this quirky cof­fee­house-bou­tique-gallery-nurs­ery, even if you’ve al­ready en­joyed break­fast at your ho­tel, whether it’s the Char­lotte or the his­toric Grov­e­land Ho­tel, where the rooms are win­somely di­vided into “deca­dent”, “truly deca­dent” and “ex­tremely nice” cat­e­gories.

Wan­der through the maze of rooms at Moun­tain Sage – the lounge, art gallery and cloth­ing bou­tique are near the front, the cof­fee bar is at the back. Grab a latte or Amer­i­cano, then mosey out­side to check out the gar­dens. Did we men­tion the sum­mer mu­sic se­ries?

De­tails: Open daily from 7am to 3pm at 18653 Main St, Grov­e­land.

PLAY: Grov­e­land Yosemite Gate­way Mu­seum

If his­tory’s your thing, pop into this small mu­seum in­side the Grov­e­land Li­brary. Staffed by en­thu­si­as­tic do­cents from the South­ern Tuolumne County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, the mu­seum traces the dig­gins’ Gold Rush his­tory and the decades that fol­lowed, in­clud­ing the build­ing of the con­tro­ver­sial O’Shaugh­nessy Dam that turned Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Val­ley into a vast reser­voir. There’s a model of the Longfellow Mine and Mill, com­plete with mov­ing parts, and ex­hibits on the fam­i­lies that set­tled this area – in­clud­ing the Ewing fam­ily, which pro­duced three gen­er­a­tions of Yosemite park rangers.

De­tails: Open 1 to 4pm, Sun­day to Thurs­day; 10am to 4pm, Fri­day to Satur­day, at 18990 Main St, Grov­e­land; www.grov­e­land­mu­seum.com.

EAT: Kevin and Randi’s Old Fash­ioned Meat Mar­ket

If you’re head­ing to Yosemite, swing by this lit­tle butcher shop and deli first for pic­nic fare. Ev­ery­thing’s made to or­der and the menu ranges from veg­gie wraps and Ital­ian subs to ci­a­batta rolls filled with corned beef and swiss, roast beef and chipo­tle-ched­dar or turkey, cran­berry and cream cheese (US$7.95/RM34 each ). Then hit the road for Hetch Hetchy, where pic­nic ta­bles come with spec­tac­u­lar views.

De­tails: Open 8am to 5pm, Mon­day to Satur­day, at 18687 Main St, Grov­e­land. – The Mer­cury News/Tri­bune News Ser­vice

High­way 120 is the main drag that leads from Grov­e­land to Yosemite. — Pho­tos: ARIC CRABB/TNS

Built in 1852, the Iron Door Sa­loon is Cal­i­for­nia’s old­est, con­tin­u­ously op­er­at­ing sa­loon.

Owner Jess Gar­cia runs Grov­e­land’s Moun­tain Sage Cof­fee Shop.

It’s not every town jail that has Tesla charg­ing sta­tions nearby.

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