As you cross the Rainbow Bridge - which spans the sparkling American River - or drive through the tree-lined shade of Folsom Boulevard, you are struck by an essential element of Folsom: It's pretty here.
Folsom is bordered on the north by Folsom Lake, an 18,000-acre, man-made lake that draws more than four million visitors a year, according to the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The town also is intersected by a wide stretch of the American River called Lake Natoma, which is ringed by walking, biking, and equestrian trails. Both bodies of water are places to sail a boat, catch a fish, or find a quiet, sandy spot to swim or sunbathe. Folsom has miles of preserved wetlands and creeks, also bordered by developed trails, rolling hills, and an abundance of beautiful views.
Located about 20 miles east of the city of Sacramento, in Sacramento County's easternmost corner, Folsom is considered the gateway to the Sierra. The foothill county of El Dorado, famous for its wineries and apple orchards, is just minutes away; South Lake Tahoe, with its gambling casinos, winter ski resorts, and summer recreation, is only 90 miles to the east and San Francisco is approximately 120 miles to the west.
Originally a gold mining town, and the site of the first passenger rail system west of the Rockies, Folsom is steeped in a rich and colorful history. The Historic District -- or Old Town as it is also called -- consists of fine homes and historic landmarks from this era, as well as the city's original downtown, now an eclectic collection of antique stores, gift shops, art galleries, and restaurants.