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15 Incredible Things to do in Placerville

15 Incredible Things to do in Placerville

Make the most of your Gold Country road trip and check out a wide variety of fun things to do in Placerville. Team


6 min read

April 29, 2021

Feelin’ the Golden State wanderlust? Head to Gold Country’s Placerville and soak it all up. Recognized as one of the underrated small towns in NorCal, this former gold-rush town will captivate you. Thanks to the variety of things to do in Placerville, make the most of your Gold Country road trip and check out these fun things to do. It’s time to pack your bags and hit the road—Placerville is awaitin’.    

Fun things to do in Placerville

The iconic Bell Tower of Placerville is located in the middle of Main Street. The bell was ordered from England and cast in 1860.

1. Take a stroll along the Historic Main Street 

Main Street is the perfect place to begin your Placerville adventures. This quaint street is lined with restaurants and boutiques; admire the Bell Tower as you stroll around town. Feelin’ adventurous? Climb to the top of the tower and observe Downtown Placerville come to life.

While Main Street is extra festive during the holidays or during festivals, it’s never the wrong time to enjoy local music, food, and culture here. Plan your trip in advance around the Art and Wine Festival, Bell Tower Brewfest, Antique and Craft Fairs, Art on Parade, Girls Night Out, and the Festival of Lights (all open during normal circumstances). 

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2. Taste everything apple made at High Hill Ranch

Apple donuts, apple pies, apple cake—High Hill Ranch is all about, you guessed it, apples. As one of the most visited Apple Hill Farms, the ranch offers more than just delicious treats made with apples. Visitors can also fish for trout, ride a pony, and take a tour of the apple orchard. Whatever your (apple) jam is, you’ll find it here.

3. Smell the roses at the Sherwood Demonstration Garden

One of the most relaxing things to do in Placerville, California is spending an afternoon at the Sherwood Demonstration Garden—16 unique gardens in one. To experience peace and harmony, visit the Japanese Garden.

As you make your way to the Vegetable Garden, you’ll gain a better understanding of what to plant according to your soil. Wander your way down a brick path until you reach the fragrant Rose Garden, where crimson flowers compliment white gazebos. Each garden has its own theme, so why not visit them all?

4. Reach the stars at the Community Observatory

The Community Observatory (open under normal circumstances) is all about a stellar experience. Once the sun sets, don your cozy sweater, invite your beaux, and prepare to observe the night sky in all its glory—planets, galaxies, nebulae, and beyond are waiting for you. The Community Observatory isn’t just reserved for space enthusiasts; coming here with your special someone is one of the most romantic things to do in California.

Experience the thrill of whitewater rafting on the American River. For a more relaxed activity, opt for river floating instead.

5. Go Whitewater Rafting on the American River

One of the coolest things to do near Placerville is going on a river-rafting trip on the American River. The lower and middle forks of the river offer an enjoyable NorCal river-rafting excursion. Stock up on snacks, sunscreen, and don’t forget your float tube. If you don’t feel like rafting, the gushing river waters welcome fishing and kayaking as well.

Things to do in Placerville, California with the whole family

6. Pick apples at Boa Vista Orchards

Boasting some of the best U-Pick farms in California, Placerville promises a good time. Make your way to Boa Vista Orchards, where you’ll find apples and fresh produce of all kinds. Enjoy a family stroll in the lush orchards and handpick a few crisp apples along the way. Munch on freshly baked goodies after picking your own apples. We don’t know about you, but this is one of the most satisfying Placerville things to do.

7. Step back in time at Gold Bug Park

No trip to Gold Country is complete without a gold panning adventure. Placerville's historic Gold Bug Park is an actual mine from the Gold Rush era. While they panned for gold back then, visitors can look for gems these days. Regardless if it’s your lucky day or not, you’ll live it up at Gold Bug Park.

Munching on corndogs and funnel cakes and winning prizes are our favorite activities at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds.

8. Have a blast at El Dorado County Fairgrounds 

The El Dorado County Fairgrounds is where it’s all happening—concerts, festivals, livestock contests, and more. Participating in the El Dorado County Fair is one of the most fun things to do in Placerville, so if you’re visiting in June, get your taste buds ready to feast on funnel cakes and corndogs. Whatever you do, don’t leave before winning one of the festival’s contests. 

9. Pitch a tent at Finnon Lake Campground

Placerville’s Finnon Lake Recreation Area offers a setting like no other for camping. Tranquil and intimate, the campground offers an unforgettable waterfront experience. Set up your base at one of 19 campsites and let the good times roll. The lake is great for boating, fishing, and of course, family picnics. And if you can’t stay the night, hike and bike to your heart’s content before journeying on in Placerville.

10. Watch a local play at the Imagination Theater

Get in touch with your cultural side. We promise it’s a fun thing to do in Placerville. Where else should you go if not the Imagination Theater? This community theater has hosted award-winning performances for over 20 years. Perhaps you may not expect much from a small local theater, but excellent production and superb performances is what Imagination Theater delivers. Make it a family outing out at the theater. 

Placerville's top things to do with friends

Eldorado National Forest hides plenty of natural wonders. Discover them all one by one on a trip with your friends.

11. Make a trip to Eldorado National Forest

If you’re looking for a peaceful nature trip, Eldorado National Forest awaits. Encompassing almost 600,000 acres of lush grounds, this national forest is one of the best in the state. The stunning mountainous landscapes and crystal-clear lakes promise a delightful getaway. Old-growth forests of ponderosa pines and Coast Douglas-firs guide you to the hidden paths in the forest. Have Eldorado on your radar for your next weekend getaway with your friends. 

12. Learn about the town at the El Dorado County Historical Museum 

The El Dorado County Historical Museum is your trustworthy guide to the county’s history. Exhibits of the museum include documents, artifacts, and photographs portraying the rich history of El Dorado County. Learn about the Gold Rush era, logging industry, and history of the area. 

Want to bond with your friends? Hike a portion of the El Dorado Trail and experience the beauty of green pines and colorful native wildflowers.

13. Hike the El Dorado Trail 

Nothing beats a good hike. So why not make it the best one yet by trekking the iconic El Dorado Trail? Running a little over 35 miles, the trail consists of two railroad rights-of-way. Inhale the crisp air as you stroll among the green pines and California wildflowers. Look out for deers, foxes, skunks, and mountain lions. As long as you’re in good company, hiking the El Dorado Trail is nothing but fun. 

14. Go on a Haunted Hangtown Ghost Tour

Spooky locations, hunting spirits, and investigating the paranormal—Haunted Hangtown Ghost Tours is not for the faint of heart. Knowledgeable guides transport you to the town’s mysterious past. Did you know Placerville was once called Hangtown? Get ready to feel the ghoulish and ghostly presence and experience the paranormal at this haunted place in California

15. Shoot your shot at Hangtown Range 

If archery sounds like your definition of a fun time, look no further than the Hangtown Range. Open for both professionals and amateurs, the range is a great place to test your shooting and archery skills. Learn to use a bow, as well as automatic and semi-automatic weapons and pistols. Acquire new skills and blow off steam as you shoot your shot. 

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