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As a Northern California native, I’ve been to Placerville about a dozen times. It’s one of our favorite weekend destinations for small town charm and outdoor adventure. Set right on the way to Lake Tahoe, you can’t miss Placerville.

So many people come up to this region for Apple Hill. While I always love Apple Hill, you also can’t miss Placerville itself. With many buildings dating back to the California Gold Rush era, you feel all of the historic charm that makes this town so special.

The Ultimate Weekend Guide to Placerville, California

Downtown Placerville to the countryside of El Dorado County, there are a handful of things to do. The downtown area is full of local restaurants and shops, and then you can go explore the farms of Apple Hill. If you stay for the weekend, you can also get up into the Sierra Nevadas.

This last month we spent a full weekend enjoying all that there is in the area, so I thought it was about time that I put together a proper guide. These are all of my favorite spots in Placerville, CA, after many, many trips.

Short on Time? Here Are My Top Picks for the Best Hotels in Placerville:

  1. Eden Vale Inn, for the best countryside bed and breakfast
  2. The Blue Lead Lodge, for the best vacation rental

The Ultimate Weekend Guide to Placerville, California

What to Know Before Traveling to Placerville, California

The Ultimate Weekend Guide to Placerville, California

Getting to Placerville, California

From Sacramento, you can reach Placerville by driving east on U.S. Highway 50, a journey of about 40 miles that typically takes around 45 minutes. If you’re coming from San Francisco, the trip involves taking Interstate 80 east to Sacramento and then continuing on U.S. Highway 50 east, covering a total of approximately 130 miles and usually taking about 2 to 2.5 hours.

Placerville Ca Weather

Seasons are big in Placerville and the surrounding area. If you want the river rafting season and farms open for apple picking, the best time is mid-summer to early fall. For snowbirds, the winter offers an entirely different experience with access to ski slopes.

Where to Stay in Placerville, California

Eden Vale Inn

This adults-only, bed and breakfast in the countryside is really a charming stay. I stayed here years ago, and loved the natural setting and the privacy of the property. It’s well done, with lots of amenities in room and gets frequently rated as a top b&b in Northern California. Book the best rates here.

The Blue Lead Lodge (Vacation Rental)

If traveling with a group or kids, I always recommend a vacation rental. The Blue Lead Lodge was one I’ve stayed at recently on invitation and really enjoyed. There were several amenities like a jacuzzi, private yard, and even an outdoor theatre. The home is really thought out well and has 4 bedrooms/3.5 baths. Book the best rates here.

Where to Eat in Placerville, California

The Smith Flat House

The Ultimate Weekend Guide to Placerville, California

One of my favorite more “elevated” dining experiences is at the historic Smith Flat House. It’s full of historic charm, and has a very diverse menu. You’ll find everything from coconut shrimp to jambalaya.

Bricks Eats & Drinks

A classic in downtown Placerville for all things American. This is an easy, walk-in meal in town if you’re looking for classics like burgers and pastas.

Heyday Café

My favorite bistro in town for a just all around good meal. It has that small town charm to it, and their menu is consistently good. On weekends, I would recommend a reservation for dinner.

Solid Ground Brewing

The Ultimate Weekend Guide to Placerville, California

Just outside of town, my favorite brewery also serves my favorite food. I come here at least once a trip just to eat. Their burger is out of this world, and they always have some fun creations with their fried chicken sandwiches and other bites.

Things to Do in Placerville, California

Stroll Downtown

The best thing to do in Placerville is to spend at least an afternoon going through downtown. Main Street is home to everything and you can park in one spot and start walking. A few of my favorite local shops are Midnight Kin, The Bookery, Planted on Main, Brass + Oak, and Dedrick’s Main Street Cheese. I always grab a coffee at Pachamama as well.

Explore Apple Hill

Depending the season, there is no better spot to spend an afternoon than in Apple Hill. The Sierra foothill town outside of Placerville is home to dozens of apple farms, wineries, and breweries. In the peak of “Apple Hill” season, the farms are open for u-picking and all the apple fun. I have a whole guide on Apple Hill here. Some of my must-stop’s are always Boa Vista Orchards for apple donuts, 24Carrot Farm for produce, and Joan’s Apple Bakery at Delfino Farms for their walkin’ pie. Do note that most of the farms are open seasonally.

Visit the Local Wineries and Breweries

The Ultimate Weekend Guide to Placerville, California

Placerville is surrounded by so many wine regions. The closest to start with is Apple Hill, my favorite two are Edio Vineyards at Delfino Farms and Boeger Winery. I love how friendly these wineries are, both allow children which is really great.

For breweries, there are a few to choose from, like Jack Russell Farm Brewery and Solid Ground Brewery, which are my favorites.

See the Historic Sites

If you’re looking to step back in time, stop by some of the historic sites. One is Gold Bug Park & Mine, where you can take a self-guided tour of a real mine. There is even gem panning (fun for littles) here too. Another spot to visit is El Dorado County Historical Museum for historical artifacts from the county.

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The Ultimate Weekend Guide to Placerville, California

PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!

These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.

1. Book Your Flights

Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

2. Book Your Accommodations

Use for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

3. Book Your Tours & Experiences

Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

4. Book Your Car

Use Discover Cars or to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.

5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access

Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.

6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are:


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