Places to Visit: Placerville California

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Placerville CA

Placerville is a vibrant community of vintners, farmers, merchants and artists who embrace its rich and colorful Gold Country history. Visit on your way from Lake Tahoe to San Francisco or Yosemite. Read More

  • In the heart of California Gold Country, Placerville was first called "Hangtown" after 3 miners were executed here.
  • It's located in close proximity to Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park and in renowned Gold and Wine Country.
  • Visit historic Main Street to check out the old hardware store and other merchant shops.
  • Picnic by the creek and visit the mine shaft at Gold Bug Park.
  • Located between South Lake Tahoe and Sacramento on Highway 50.


This is the heart of "Mother Lode" Gold Country. Sitting on Weber Creek, in the town of Coloma, located just north of Placerville, you can find the site of Sutter's Mill, where, on January 24, 1848, James Marshall first discovered gold, sparking the great American Gold Rush.

Before the Gold Rush days, the lands, populated with oak pine, cottonwood, sycamore and cedar, were inhabited by people of Maidu, Miwok and Washoe tribes, known for their skillful artisans who made fine baskets and tools. These days, El Dorado County is home to over 4 dozen wineries, as many farms and fruit orchards, as well as sections of ranchland. Visit Placerville's historic Main Street with its vintage buildings that carry a tremedous sense of Americana. 


Placerville is located 60 miles west of South Lake Tahoe on Highway 50 through El Dorado National Forest's beautiful Desolation Wilderness.


You'll know you've reached town when you see the historic Bell Tower, erected in 1865 as a fire alarm system. Placerville is home to boutiques and bookstores; cafes and restaurants; historic inns, hotels, bed & breakfasts. There are vacation rental opportunities. And it's in close proximity to campgrounds. Established as county seat of El Dorado County, in 1857, Placerville, offers important public services, including a county library branch location. In fact, the city's website boasts that "if you can't find it here, it's not far away."  Contact the Chamber of Commerce at (530) 621-5885.


  • Historic Main Street: This historic stretch includes Hangman's Tree Salloon and the old stone Soda Works. Placerville Hardware, at 441 Main Street, is the oldest hardware store west of the Mississippi River, and still does much the old-fashioned way with wooden crates filled with goods and stacked from wood floor to rafters.
  • El Dorado County Historical Museum: Located next to the county fairgrounds, the musuem offers exhibit tours of its regional artifacts. There's even an on-site research center. Open Wednesday - Sunday. Call (530) 621-5865 for more information.
  • Gold Bug Park: This 61-acre park offers hiking trails in addition to a museum and visitor center. Here you get to look at a 362-foot hard rock mine shaft, a rare opportunity in California's Gold Country.
  • El Dorado National Forest: This area of over 60,000 acres of alpine and subalpine forest and craggy granite rock is dually managed by National Forest and Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and offers miles of trail suitable for outdoor adventures of the highest order. Contact Placerville Ranger District at (530) 647-5415 for information. 
  • Coloma: Located just 7 miles north of town, you can pan for gold in the South Fork of the American River at Sutter's Mill. 

Getting Here

It's easy-as-pie to get to Placerville from South Lake Tahoe. Drive 60 miles west on Highway 50, and you're there!

Make Placerville a stop on your road trip from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite. From Placerville, you can drive south on Highway 49, through Plymouth and Fiddletown, part of the region's robust Wine Country. At Sonora, head south on Higway 108 to 120, which leads you to Yosemite National Park's western entrance on Big Oak Flat Road. It's only about 150 miles away!