Here’s your daily travel guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State. Each of these essential California adventures has been tried and tested by a Travel section staffer or contributor.
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Why: It was in the played-out boomtown of Angels Camp that a bartender told young Samuel Clemens the tale that became his first nationally acclaimed story -- "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," written under the pen name Mark Twain.
What: Twain retold his frog story -- which today might strike you as a juvenile account of cruelty to animals -- back in the 1860s, a decade after the peak of the Gold Rush. The town of Angels Camp, still sleepy and surrounded by hills that turn a gorgeous green in spring, stages a frog-jumping contest during the county fair every spring -- in 2018, May 17-20.
No matter when you turn up, you can catch up on past results by reading the sidewalk plaques of the Frog Hop of Fame along Main Street. You can also see the building site and mural at Main Street and Birds Way where Twain heard the story; and Jackass Hill outside town, where the author started writing it. (This year's Mark Twain Wild West Fest, a daylong community party, is set for Oct. 21.)
Where: The Frog Hop of Fame starts a few steps from the Calaveras Visitors Bureau, 1192 S. Main St., Angels Camp, 140 miles east of San Francisco, 340 miles northwest of downtown L.A. For a lively collection of restaurants, lodgings and shops, check out nearby Murphys, 8 miles northeast of Angels Camp.
How much: It's always free to walk Main Street. Frog jump contest entry fee: $5.