23 Best Things to Do in Placerville, California
By VacationIdea Staff on March 7, 2023 - Updated
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Most visitors come to Placerville to tour the many vineyards and wineries, but even if you are not a wine lover you will find plenty to do in and around Placerville. You can tour a real gold mine at the Hangtown Gold Bug Park, take the kids to pick apples, or spend some time hiking and exploring in Eldorado National Forest. Other attractions include the Community Observatory, the Sherwood Demonstration Garden and the Eldorado Fairgrounds.
1. Community Observatory
© Community Observatory
After spending a busy Placerville day exploring vineyards and orchards, the Community Observatory invites you to come and explore the heavens using their 14-inch and 17-inch reflecting telescopes. The observatory is located in an isolated area far from the light-pollution of the city and offers you the chance to enjoy an interesting journey around the planets, guided by the observatory staff. You are welcome to visit the free observatory any clear weekend night or on selected Saturday mornings for solar viewing using their safe solar telescopes.
Community Observatory, 6699 Campus Dr, Placerville, CA 95667, Phone: 530-622-7130
2. Hangtown’s Gold Bug Park
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At the Gold Bug Park you and the family can step back in time to the infamous gold rush days of the 1800’s and visit two of the original gold mines which were in operation back then. The Gold Bug mine can be toured at your own pace with the aid of an audio guide, while Priest Mine only allows you to visit as part of a guided tour. Both mines will give you an indication of the difficult times faced by the early miners who had little more than rudimentary mining equipment (pick and shovel). After you have toured the two mines you can visit the working Blacksmiths Shop, the historic Stamp Mill and the Mining Museum. Young visitors can enjoy panning for gems at the panning trough.
Hangtown’s Gold Bug Park, 2635 Gold Bug Lane, Placerville, CA 95667, Phone: 530-642-5207
3. Lava Cap Winery
© Lava Cap Winery
Named for the unique volcanic soil that covers the Apple Hills region in the beautiful Sierra Foothills, Lava Cap Winery has been producing premium wines since 1986, using grapes sourced from some of the highest altitude vineyards in California. The distinct Terroir of the area produces big bold wines with intense aromas and rich fruit flavors. When you visit the estate you will be warmly welcomed to their tasting room where you can sample the latest releases and join their wine club, which offers a host of benefits. You are welcome to bring along a picnic to enjoy in the beautiful gardens, against a back-drop of the beautiful Sierra Mountains.
Lava Cap Winery, 2221 Fruitridge Rd, Placerville, CA 95667, Phone: 530-621-0175
4. Holly’s Hill Vineyard
© Holly’s Hill Vineyard
Occupying an enviable hill-top location (at an elevation of 2700 feet) in the heart of the Pleasant Valley region of El Dorado, just south of Placerville, Holly’s Hill Vineyard specializes in producing only Rhone varietal grapes. Visitors are welcomed to their light and airy tasting room where you will be able to taste some of their delightful artisanal small-batch wines while enjoying the outstanding views. Rhine varietals available at the winery include Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Cinsaut, Mourvedre and Syrah. If you love classic-style Rhone wines it would make sense for you to join their wine club which offers up to 20% discounts on purchases and the chance to snap-up popular and limited release wines.
Holly’s Hill Vineyard, 3680 Leisure Lane, Placerville, CA 95667, Phone: 530-344-0227
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5. Boeger Winery
© Boeger Winery
The Boeger estate has been in existence since the gold rush days. Many years after the Prohibition shut down the original winery, the estate was bought by present owners Greg and Sue Boeger who became the first vintners to produce wine in the El Dorado AVA since the Prohibition. Greg Boeger has a fascination with under-appreciated and under-utilized grape varietals such as Berbera, Refosco and Aglianico and his experimentation has led to some wonderful award-winning Boeger wines. You are welcome to visit their estate tasting room where you can choose from a Signature Wine Tasting and a Select Wine Tasting under the guidance of their enthusiastic wine guides.
Boeger Winery, 1709 Carson Rd, Placerville, CA 995667, Phone: 530-622-8094
6. Eldorado National Forest
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The sprawling Eldorado National Forest offers nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts a pristine outdoor playground to explore. You will be able to enjoy a wide variety of outdoor activities including hiking and backpacking, fishing, mountain biking, camping and wild-life watching and boating. There are hundreds of miles of hiking, biking and horse-back riding trails to explore and several boat launching sites. The campgrounds offer mostly basic tent sites (non-electric) and there are some rustic cabins available. All the campground offer picnic tables, fire-rings, vault toilets and some have potable water available. In winter you can enjoy snow shoeing and cross-country skiing.
Eldorado National Forest, 100 Forni Rd, Placerville, CA 95667, Phone: 530-622-5061
7. Red Hawk Casino
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For something a little different during your visit to Placerville you can spend some time flirting with Lady Luck the Red Hawk Casino. The Casino has something to please all gamblers including over 2500 slot machines and more than 60 gaming tables. Non-smokers will be pleased to know that there is an entire floor reserved for non-smokers. The casino offers a child-minding service and there are 5 restaurants to choose from when you are hungry, including their popular buffet, a steak house and a fine-dining venue. The casino is open around the clock and offers a bus service to the Sacramento Bay area.
Red Hawk Casino, Red Hawk Parkway, Placerville, CA 95667, Phone: 888-573-3495
8. El Dorado County Historical Museum
© El Dorado County Historical Museum
You can spend a fascinating couple of hours at the Eldorado County Historical Museum, located near downtown Placerville, where you can step back in time to see how the early Native American people and the gold rush pioneers of El Dorado County lived. The extensive permanent exhibits include beautifully crafted baskets and tools used by the early Maidu, Miwak and Washoe people, gold mining equipment including pans and stamp mills and many items associated with the farming industry which eventually replaced gold mining in the area. The museum is open from 10am Wednesday to Sunday and docent guided tours are available. Children will particularly enjoy a ride on the El Dorado Western Railroad (only on Sundays) and the museum store, which stocks collectables like train whistles, gold vials and other interesting mementos.
El Dorado County Historical Museum, 104 Placerville Dr, Placerville, CA 95667, Phone: 530-621-5865
9. Larsen Apple Barn
© Larsen Apple Barn
After the Gold Rush gold ran out, many former pioneer miners turned their hand to growing crops, mainly apples and grapes. Today you can sample some of the tastiest apples and apple products at the Larsen Apple Ranch, which was founded back in the 1860’s. You can easily spend a few hours at the ranch which produces over 20 varieties of apples and boasts a wonderful bakery which produces every kind of apple (and other) delicacy you can imagine. If you don’t feel like apple pie you can enjoy a delicious lunch from their deli. Children will enjoy exploring the outdoor Family Park while adults can learn all about the early days of apple production at the Larsen Family Museum.
Larsen Apple Ranch and Barn, 2461 Larsen Drive, Camino, CA 95709, Phone: 530-644-1415
10. Boa Vista Orchards
© Boa Vista Orchards
Scenically located in the Apple Hill region of Placerville, the Boa Vista Orchards is an excellent attraction from families visiting Placerville. September to November is the best time to visit, when it is time to harvest many of the fruits produced on the farm and the Halloween pumpkins are waiting to be collected. Boa Vista is open all year round and you can always find something fresh and delicious at their daily Farm Market, Bakery and Cider Press. Delicious lunch-time treats are available off the barbecue or you are welcome to bring in your own picnic to enjoy in the grassy meadow.
Boa Vista Orchards, 2953 Carson Rd, Placerville, CA 95667, Phone: 530-622-5522
11. High Hill Ranch
© High Hill Ranch
High Hill Ranch is the largest farm in the Apple Hill area, offering year round fun and games for the entire family. Although growing wonderful apples is their main activity, the ranch is also home to a restaurant and bakery which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and there are great activities for children to enjoy including a Pick-Your-Own Pumpkin Patch (for Halloween), trout fishing, pony rides and hay-wagon tours of the orchards. The ranch is a hive of activity during the summer harvest months (harvesting starts in mid August), hosting the Apple Hill Arts and Crafts Show (from August to December) and several other events. Do not leave without tasting their freshly-pressed cider and their legendary Apple Pie.
High Hill Ranch, 2901 High Hill Rd, Placerville, CA 95667, Phone: 530-644-1973
12. Miraflores Winery
© Miraflores Winery
At the beautiful Miraflores Winery you can enjoy sampling a variety of New World-style wines presented in an Old World Setting. The winery was established in 1998 and now comprises 45 acres, producing 16 different grape varietals. The tasting room was carefully designed to offer an elegant Mediterranean atmosphere and incorporates character-full aged wooden beams and stone floors. In summer you can sit outside on the stone terrace and enjoy fabulous food and wine pairings presented by a succession of guest chefs. The tasting room offers barrel tastings and guided wine tastings daily and you can book a vineyard tour from Tuesdays to Fridays.
Miraflores Winery, 2120 Four Springs Trail, Placerville, CA 95667, Phone: 530-647-8505
13. David Girard Vineyards
© David Girard Vineyards
Nestled in the heart of Gold Country, less than a mile from where California’s first gold was discovered back in 1848, the David Girard Vineyards encompass 85 acres of meticulously cared-for vineyards. The estate specializes in producing Rhone and Provencale varietals including Voignier, Mourvedre, Marsanne and Grenache, among others, which are expertly blended to produce their range of inspiring wines. You can come and sample some of their wines by booking a wine tasting (held daily at 11am and 1pm), or join a Wine and Cheese Pairing at 3pm. If you would like a more in-depth wine experience you can book a guided STV tour of the vineyards (followed by a Cheese and Wine Pairing) or opt for the Sunday interactive Tasting and Cheese experience held in the vineyards
David Girard Vineyards, 741 Cold Springs Road, Placerville, CA 95667, Phone: 530-295-1833
14. Sherwood Demonstration Garden
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The Sherwood Demonstration Garden is a must-visit attraction for all avid gardeners and nature lovers visiting the Sierra Foothills. You can visit the garden to find out all about the latest research into sustainable gardening practices including water-wise gardening, pest-management practices and much more. The Demonstration Garden is divided into 16 separate themed gardens which are sure to inspire you. Some of the highlights of your visit will include the Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Butterfly Garden and the Mediterranean Garden. The best way to appreciate the garden is to join a guided tour.
Sherwood Demonstration Garden, El Dorado Canter, Folsom Lake College, 6699 Campus Drive, Placerville, CA 95667, Phone: 530-306-5153
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15. Narrow Gate Vineyards
© Narrow Gate Vineyards
Surrounded by a stand of towering Ponderosa Pines close to Placerville, Narrow Gate Vineyards strive to maintain excellent biodynamic farming practices to grow the best possible grapes for their intensely hands-on wine production. You can taste their classic French and Rhone varietals in their romantic candle-lit cellar from Thursday to Sunday or bring along a picnic to enjoy alongside a delicious glass of wine on the patio. A few of their most popular wines include a 2016 Voignier-Roussanne, their 2014 Cepages de la Ferme and their Lot 16 Chocolate Splash. The vineyard hosts several food and wine pairing events each year including the October Harvest Celebration and a Christmas in the Country event in December.
Narrow Gate Vineyards, 4282 Pleasant Valley Road, Placerville, CA 95667, Phone: 530-644-6201
16. Sierra Vista Winery and Vineyards
© Sierra Vista Winery and Vineyards
Located in an elevated position on the Red Rock Ridge in the Sierra Foothills, the Sierra Vista Winery and Vineyards offer not only delectable fine wines but also wonderful mountain views which you can enjoy while picnicking in the shady grounds. The vineyards are planted on the
mountain slopes, which offer a challenge for the vintners but seems to perfectly suit the vines, which produce several Rhone varietals. Visitors are welcome to come and sample the wines in the estate Tasting Room which is open daily (except for a few annual holidays) and are invited to bring along a picnic or join the Sierra Vista team at one of their regular wine events.
Sierra Vista Winery and Vineyards, 4560 Cabernet Way, Placerville, CA 95667, Phone: 530-622-7221
17. Grandpa’s Cellar
© Grandpa’s Cellar
The entire family can have a fun day out when you pay a visit to Grandpa’s Cellar in the Sierra Nevada foothills. The farm is situated at an elevation of 3100 feet, supplying the perfect cool-weather growing conditions required to produce bumper crops of delicious apples. A few of the activities you can anticipate enjoying at Grandpa’s Cellar include informative orchard tours (September through November), picnics, a nature trail and, of course, sampling some of the delicious apple products available – think Butterscotch Apple Sauce Cookies, fabulous apple tarts (17 varieties available), turnovers, strudels and cheesecakes. Grandpa’s Cellar is open from Wednesday to Sunday during the apple season.
Grandpa’s Cellar, 2360 Cable Rd, Camino, CA 95709, Phone: 530-644-2153
18. El Dorado County Fair
© El Dorado County Fair
Visitors who would like to experience the fun of a genuine county fair should schedule their visit to Placerville for June, when the town proudly hosts the El Dorado County Fair. The fair runs for three days and includes a wide variety of entertainment for the whole family. Activities to look forward to include music concerts, movies, live theater, horse shows, wheel-barrow races and a host of other entertainment. Children can see how sheep are sheared, watch livestock auctions or enjoy magic shows while parents will enjoy the wine and craft-beer competitions and the many craft exhibitions and demonstrations.
El Dorado County Fairground, 100 Placerville Drive, Placerville, CA 95667, Phone: 530-621-5860
19. El Dorado Trail
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The El Dorado Trail offers visitors to the Sierra Foothills the perfect excuse to pull on a pair of hiking boots and spend some time enjoying the great outdoors. The trail runs for over 35 miles through the heart of Gold Rush Country, following the former South Pacific and Michigan-California railroads. You can explore the trail on foot or by bike (or even on horseback) and parts of the trail are paved and suitable for wheelchairs. At the east end of the trail you can park your car at the Camellia Lane Trailhead or the Placerville Station. If you are planning to follow the full length of the trail you will find several attractive refreshment stops along the way. Historic sites to see along the trail include the Weber Creek Bridge and an old railroad tunnel.
El Dorado Trail, 2976 Mosquito Road, Placerville, CA 95667
20. Casa Ramos Mexican Restaurant
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When nothing but an authentic taste-bud tingling Mexican meal will do you can head to the Casa Ramos Mexican Restaurant in Green Leaf Drive. The Casa Ramos restaurants are named for their founder Marco Ramos, who opened the original Casa Ramos in Yreka in 1997. His signature Mexican dishes were so popular that Marco and his family now own and operate venues all over California. You can expect to find delicious, freshly prepared traditional Mexican cuisine side-by-side with more modern health-conscious options and a fun children’s menu. Vegetarians are well catered for and the restaurant offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Casa Ramos, 6840 Green Leaf Drive, Placerville, CA 95667, Phone: 530-622-2303
21. Sweetie Pie’s
© Sweetie Pie’s
Sweetie Pie’s Restaurant and Bakery is set in one of the original houses built on Placerville’s historic Main Street back in 1865. The historic building was then home to the Sheriff of “Hangtown” and the walls must have many tales to tell. Current owner Patty Clark set out to provide a comfortable place where visitors could relax over a cup of great coffee and a little something to sweeten their day. Today you can stop by for breakfast or lunch or just pop in for a quick cup of coffee and a pastry. The breakfast menu includes all your favorite egg dishes as well as great pancakes and waffles. At lunchtime you can choose from a good selection of salads, sandwiches, tacos and other light dishes.
Sweetie Pie’s, 577 Main Street, Placerville, CA 95667, Phone: 530-642-0128
22. The Independent
© The Independent
A warm and inviting atmosphere welcomes guests to The Independent Restaurant and Bar in Main Street, where you can expect to enjoy freshly prepared food accompanied by your choice of drinks from the well-stocked bar. Family owned and run, the restaurant strives to combine high levels of service with delicious food to ensure guests will want to return time after time. The great Sierra Foothills weather often allows you to enjoy your meal alfresco in the courtyard garden. Lunch menus include a large selection of salads, grills and sandwiches, while the dinner menu features additional signature entrees like Honey Almond Glazed Salmon, Butternut, Pancetta and Prawn Risotto and home-style burgers.
The Independent, 629 Main Street, Placerville, CA 95667, Phone: 530-344-7645
Bricks Restaurant is housed in a building constructed almost totally out of bricks, similar to most of the surrounding historic buildings on Placerville’s Main Street. The warm and inviting interior or the restaurant features artwork depicting the “old” Placerville, much as it would have been during the Gold Rush Days of the 1800’s. There is something to appeal to everyone on the extensive menu, which includes “small eats” (like ceviche, tacos and other “tapas”-style plates), and “big eats” (hearty filling dishes like lamb chops, meatballs, steaks and ribs). In addition you will find soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches and desserts. Drinks include many local wines, craft beers and cocktails.
Bricks Restaurant and Bar, 482 Main Street, Placerville, CA 95667, Phone: 530-303-3480