Located at the heart of Gold Rush country, Placerville is the ideal California destination to experience four distinct seasons. Visitors will find numerous recreation and educational opportunities for any time of the year. Placerville is home to the last gold mine in California open to visitors, and is just a stone's throw from a premier river destination. With winding roads through farmer's markets, historic encampments and Wine Country, Placerville offers adventure in every direction.
Things to do in Placerville
Placerville is in El Dorado County, where the golden state’s Gold Rush era comes alive. See how the area transformed over the past century and a half by taking an educational tour at the El Dorado Museum. Examine locally significant artifacts and explore family histories of locals and native tribes. Imagine you’re back in the gold rush era as you explore the Gold Bug Mine, one of the last few California gold mines visitors can explore safely. You could also opt for a guided tour of the Priest Mine. Drop by the Joshua Hendy Stamp Mill to see where gold was separated from rock, and Hattie’s Museum for displays of mining tools.
Winemaking is now one of Placerville’s biggest industries, so stop by the Boeger Winery to sample some of the area’s finest. They grow 90 percent of their own grapes to create top quality wine. For more of a rustic charm, try the Gold Hill Vineyard, which has been around since 1980. This establishment yields 2,500 cases of wine each year, with a 50-acre vineyard and tasting rooms for both wine and beer. If you’re a wine connoisseur, try Holly’s Hill Vineyard, where they only grow Rhone grapes. If wines aren’t your thing, Placerville is also known for its apple cider. Around since 1915, Boa Vista Orchard is open daily year round for crisp apple ciders, fresh produce and delicious baked goods.
Day trips from Placerville
Placerville is about halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, surrounded by a great many lakes, rivers, mountains and parks. Incredible views of the 10,000-foot mountain peaks along El Dorado County’s eastern border are a given. Drive just 40 miles in that direction, and you’ll be in Carson City, Nevada’s state capitol. Head up north from Placerville, and you’ll find Coloma, the town where gold was first discovered in California over 150 years ago. Learn more about the town and its history at the Coloma Gold Discovery Site, or the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. Take the country roads down south from Placerville to find the best wine country in the Sierras. Small, off-the-road wineries offer flair, flavor and congeniality local to the region. To the east of Placerville is the historic town of Camino, now known for its Apple Hill, where orchards abound. Sample quality cider and pick some seasonal fruit for the full orchard experience. Head a bit further east to get to Lake Tahoe, a superb destination for outdoor activities. Camp, hike, fish or swim by the lake during the summer months, and ski, go sledding or snowboard on the slope of the Sierras come winter. If Lake Tahoe seems a bit far, the American River is another choice pick for the outdoorsman. White-water rafting and kayaking on the rapids are a must, but there’s also camping, hiking and biking for those shy of the water.
Whether you choose to stay at a rustic lodge or a grand country home, the sense of welcome in Placerville will remain constant. Enjoy the full extent of Placerville’s hospitality at a bed and breakfast inn, where simple pleasures such as tea and treats will round out your stay. For a bit more luxury, many of Placerville’s reasonably priced hotels and motels are located along highway U.S. 50. If “roughing it” is more your style, pitch a tent on the Finnon Lake Campground, or rent a cabin by the lake.
Transportation in Placerville
The Placerville Airport is the closest in terms of air travel. For roadies, California State Route 49 and U.S. Route 50 are the two major highways serving Placerville. California State Route 49 runs north and south. Travelers can take this highway to visit communities in the Sierra Nevada foothills. U.S. Route 50, a part of the Lincoln Highway, runs west to Sacramento and east to South Lake Tahoe. For public transit users, the El Dorado Transit system serves the region. Route 20 provides weekday service through Placerville from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Riders can connect to other El Dorado Transit routes from the Missouri Flat Transfer Center.