15 Best Things to Do in Placerville, CA

Placerville, CA downtow
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The United States is dotted with small cities that have major historical and cultural significance, making them prime tourist attractions.

One such city is Placerville, California.

Established in the 1840s, Placerville got its name from the placer gold found by prospectors during the legendary Gold Rush.

You can clearly see this period’s influence on the city’s downtown, with many buildings designed from 19th-century architecture.

Here, for example, you'll see the Main Street and the Bell Tower, dedicated to the city firemen.

Of course, Placerville still hosts many other destinations that should scratch the itch of many travelers.

Even if you may not be a huge history buff, you’ll still find a lot of places to go and things to do in the city.

Curious about what Placerville has to offer? Check out the list below.

Marvel at Main Street's 19th-Century Buildings

View of Main Street
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One of the many historical attractions in Placerville is its Main Street, right in the middle of downtown.

You’ll get to walk along streets lined with well-preserved 19th-century buildings, so it’ll be like you were traveling back in time to the Gold Rush.

While walking, you’ll also catch sight of the Placerville Bell Tower, another Gold Rush structure.

In 1898, the people of Placerville built the tower to alert the local firemen.

View of Main Street
Johan Jönsson (Julle), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Many blazes started at the gold mines because mining camps used to be made of flammable materials.

Centuries later, the Bell Tower is now the main gathering point for Placerville locals and tourists during important celebrations.

Parades also begin at the tower.

Sip Some Wine at the Boeger Winery

Another Gold Rush-era destination, Boeger Winery is Placerville’s premier wineries and vineyards.

This is no easy feat to do in a state famous for its wines.

If you ever find yourself in Placerville, make sure to visit Boeger Winery and try their famous concoctions.

In 1972, Greg and Sue Boeger took over the winery, with Greg handling the winemaking operations.

Greg continued the winery and vineyard’s illustrious tradition by innovating wine production.

Under his vision, the Boeger Winery came out with several award-winning wines, such as the Barbera varietal.

The Boeger Winery can be found at 1709 Carson Road, Placerville, CA 95667-5195.

Relive the Gold Rush at the Gold Bug Mine

Entrace to the  Gold Bug Mine
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Want to know what it feels like to be a gold miner in the Gold Rush?

Drive down to Placerville’s Gold Bug Mine to find out!

You’ll need to enter the Gold Bug Park to access the mine.

The Gold Bug Mine began in 1888 under the name Hattie’s Mine but was turned into Placerville’s hottest tourist spot.

Inside the mine, you’ll receive a guided tour as you traverse its wooden flooring and its well-lighted interior while feeling the cold air flowing in through the air shaft.

You can find the Gold Bug Park and Mine at 2635 Gold Bug Lane, Placerville, CA 95667.

Enjoy the Fruits of the Boa Vista Orchards

The Boa Vista Orchards is a family-owned business that has made its reputation and living through farming.

In the early 1900s, the Dutch immigrant Carl Visman, Sr., began farming the land that was first known as the Boa Vista Ranch.

Today, the Boa Vista Orchards is open 363 days a year.

Visit the farm, and you’ll be able to choose from a variety of fresh fruits and baked goods.

These products range from apples, Asian pears, peaches, grapes, apple ciders, fresh fruit juices, and delicious wines.

Moreover, you’ll also marvel at the terrific nature views around the farms.

The Boa Vista Orchards is located at 2952 Carson Road, Placerville, CA 95667-5113.

Get Lost in Nature at the El Dorado National Forest

View of El Dorado National Forest
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California is an unmissable state for campers, picnickers, and hikers, because of its multitude of natural attractions.

Of course, Placerville has one such spot for nature lovers, the El Dorado National Forest.

If you want to immerse yourself in the mysteries of nature, you can go camping or picnicking in the forest.

The forest itself hosts 80 campgrounds and picnic sites, so you’ll never run out of space.

You can also fish at the beautiful lakes, rivers, and streams that abound in the forest.

On the other hand, if you just want to observe local plants and wildlife, you can also hike along the forest’s several trails.

Start your adventure in the El Dorado National Forest, located at 100 Forni Road, Placerville, CA.

Learn Local History at the El Dorado County Historical Museum

In 1974, the El Dorado County Historical Museum opened to the public as a celebration of Placerville’s rich history.

You can virtually trace the city's history from looking at the museum’s various exhibits.

You can see artifacts used by the Native American tribes before and after the Gold Rush.

Likewise, many Gold Rush-era objects like gold pans are also on display.

Another rare artifact is an authentic wheelbarrow made by John M. Studebaker himself.

After the Gold Rush, the people eventually made their living through farming, ranching, and winemaking.

Entrepreneurs also began founding hotels and stores, while schools and churches also started sprouting up.

You can see many artifacts from this period on display as well.

Visit the El Dorado County Historical Museum at 104 Placerville Drive, Placerville, USA 95667.

Stop by the Fountain & Tallman Soda Works

Front View of Fountain & Tallman Soda Works
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Here’s another attraction on Main Street.

Built in 1852, the Fountain & Tallman Soda Works is the oldest building in Placerville and is now the home of the Placerville Historical Museum.

It also currently belongs to the National Register of Historic Places.

This building is important to Placerville history because it signified the town’s transition from a transient mining camp to an actual town.

Front View of Fountain & Tallman Soda Works
Bobak Ha'Eri, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It is one of the town’s first permanent buildings, constructed in the rock rubble style.

Formerly, the Fountain & Tallman Soda Works carbonated spring water, bottled it, and then sold it to the miners.

They couldn’t drink the water near the mines because their activity polluted the creeks, streams, and rivers.

You can visit the museum at 524 Main Street, east of Bedford Avenue, Placerville, CA.

Play Your Hand at the Red Hawk Casino

The Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians built the Red Hawk casino to celebrate their legacy as stewards of the land, as well as to anticipate a prosperous future.

You can see this dedication in the building’s design, which seeks harmony with nature and the environment.

Likewise, the Red Hawk Casino also offers several economic possibilities to the community of Placerville.

The 278,000-square-foot casino offers over 2,300 slot machines and 70 table games placed across an 88,000-square foot gaming floor.

Among the table games you can play are blackjack, baccarat, three card poker, and Ultimate Texas Hold’em.

The Red Hawk Casino is located at 1 Red Hawk Parkway, Placerville, CA.

Watch Races at the Placerville Speedway

If you love dirt track racing, you need to block off every Saturday night of your Placerville trip.

Why?

Every Saturday night, the Placerville Speedway holds races that attract all manner of dirt track racing enthusiasts.

Speedsters from all over the county enjoy these races, as well as scout their competition.

The Placerville Speedway is also one of California’s oldest race tracks, adding to its appeal.

You can enjoy the Placerville Speedway races at 100 Placerville Drive, Placerville, CA.

See Where it All Happens at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds

View of El Dorado County Fairgrounds
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If you happen to visit Placerville in June, you’re in luck.

That’s when the El Dorado County Fair starts rolling, where you can hear live concerts, attend food festivals, and even watch livestock contests.

Of course, festivals are incomplete without funnel cakes and corndogs, so make sure to treat yourself as well.

The El Dorado County Fairgrounds can be found at 100 Placerville Drive, Placerville, CA 95667.

Admire the Flowers at the Sherwood Demonstration Garden

Avid botanists or amateur gardeners must not miss out on going to Placerville’s Sherwood Demonstration Garden.

Situated at the Sierra Foothills, the garden has 16 different themed gardens for the viewer’s appreciation.

These gardens include the Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden, and the Mediterranean Garden.

Of course, you’ll be guided on your way.

Moreover, you’ll also learn about modern sustainable horticulture practices from skilled professionals at Sherwood.

If you want to protect the environment while gardening, you can learn all about water-wise gardening and green pest management practices, among others.

The Sherwood Demonstration Garden is located at 6699 Campus Drive, Placerville, CA 95667.

Go Back for Seconds at the Casa Ramos Mexican Restaurant

Of course, you can’t really appreciate California without tasting its wide variety of authentic Mexican food.

When you visit Placerville, be sure to go to the Casa Ramos Mexican Restaurant.

For about 20 years, the family restaurant has been serving scrumptious Mexican food to locals and visitors alike.

Among the restaurant’s many bestsellers are their macho burrito and camarones de la diabla.

You’ll never forget your first time trying Mexican food, and there’s no better place for that heavenly experience than Casa Ramos.

Drop by the Casa Ramos Mexican Restaurant at 6840 Green Leaf Drive, Placerville, CA 95667.

Stuff Yourself With Apples at the High Hill Ranch

View of High Hill Ranch
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Love apples?

If so, go to Placerville’s High Hill Ranch to get your fill of everything apple, from apple pies to apple donuts and apple fritters.

It’s also one of California’s most visited apple farms, so you’ll be sure to get only the best products.

If you do get tired of apples, you can distract yourself by trout fishing at the fishing pond or riding a pony at the farm grounds.

Otherwise, you can simply follow along a guided tour of the apple orchard.

The High Hill Ranch is located at 2901 High Hill Road, Placerville, CA 95667.

Have Some Delicious Pie at Sweetie Pie’s Restaurant and Bakery

Another historic building on Placerville’s Main Street is Sweetie Pie’s Restaurant and Bakery.

Built in 1865, the place used to be the home of the “Hangtown” sheriff, which only adds flavor to its baked products.

Today, the restaurant offers locals and visitors a tasty variety of baked goods, from pies to pastries.

You can stop by during breakfast for a hearty cup of joe and a warm slice of pie.

Aside from pies, you might also want to try their pancakes and waffles.

The restaurant also gets busy at lunchtime, when you can order light meals like sandwiches and tacos.

You can drop by Sweetie Pie’s Restaurant and Bakery at 577 Main Street, Placerville, CA 95667.

Final Thoughts

Even though the Gold Rush is long over, Placerville still has many attractions to delight and inspire prospective visitors.

You can learn about the city’s history as “old Hangtown” by strolling along its historic Main Street, or you can venture into the country to sample wines or look at pretty flowers.

When you visit Placerville, you might understand why people from all across the United States traveled all the way to the West.

After all, they didn’t just drop by for gold, but they also stayed for good.

Maybe you’d like to do the same?