Now that the weather has begun to cool off and there’s a touch of fall in the air, El Dorado County’s Gold Country is the perfect place to come spend a day or two if you need a change of pace from the ol’ daily routine.
We might be a little biased, but we think a rafting trip on the South or Middle Fork of the American River is the best way to start your weekend—but you already know that! What you might not know is how much else there is to do to round out your weekend.
After your river trip who wants to get in a car and head home - you’ll most likely want to take a shower and head off to a fabulous dinner so we’d like to suggest:
The small community of the Lotus-Coloma Valley is home to two beautiful B&B’s. The Coloma Country Inn is located in the heart of the Gold Discovery State Park and the Lotus Inn is in Lotus, right next to Café Mahjaic. The café, housed in an historic brick building dating back to the Gold Rush era is a great place for dinner. Their hand-picked wine list features small California wineries, and their upscale menu is updated frequently with daily specials. We love their Green Curry Ahi, and the Saganaki is delicious. Even the soup and salads are memorable, so don’t shy away if you’re watching your pocket-book. Did we mention all of their breads and desserts are homemade?
Now that you’re rested and well-fed, we suggest that you head up to Placerville for day two. Placerville was founded during the Gold Rush and reflects El Dorado County ’s agricultural and historic roots.
El Dorado County wineries are one of the Gold Country’s crown-jewels. You will find our wineries are producers of beautiful, award-winning wines - but are also friendly and down to earth. Complimentary tasting is available nearly everywhere. The appellation is known particularly for Barberas and rich Zinfandels, although Rhone varietals are growing in popularity. Several wineries also make dessert wines from Muscat Canelli grapes or classic Port varietals, so if you have a sweet palate there’s something for you too.
Our favorite is Boeger winery, which is the oldest commercial winery in the county, and makes consistently delicious & affordable wines. Don’t miss other favorites like Lava Cap and Madrona - or our newest winery, David Girard, which focuses on Rhone-style wines.
For more information on visiting these and other local wineries, visit the El Dorado Winery Association, where you can find maps, and additional info on special events.
A great way to spend the day with whole family is visiting Apple Hill. Among its many orchards, pie stands, craft fairs, and U-pick pumpkin patches, you are sure to find something interesting for kids and adults alike. For a complete list of Apple Hill’s ranches, orchards and events, as well as maps and directions, please visit AppleHill.com
Like many Gold-Rush Era towns, Placerville’s Main Street has preserved its historic buildings and small-town charm. A stroll down the street will take you past antique shops, art galleries featuring local artists, and a plethora of restaurants. Some local favorites for dinner are Café Luna & Lil' Johnny D. Carlos, both of which have an outstanding selection of El Dorado County wines. Tomei’s offers Italian dinners, a full bar, and a lavish Sunday brunch with live jazz. Gelato del Oro café is another option for breakfast/brunch, or a scoop of Italian Gelato. Try their “Frosted Rabbit” drink—it may be a million calories but it is also a little sip o’ heaven. For a casual dinner stop by Z-Pie, purveyor of gourmet pot pies and pints.
If you feel like putting together a picnic to enjoy at one of the wineries, you simply must check out Dedrick’s Main Street cheese, which has all the fixin’s for the most discerning picnic maker. Dedrick’s cheese, olive, and imported foods selection is outstanding - this stinky store is absolutely worth a visit if you’re any kind of foodie.
Main Street houses a few gems that you won’t find anywhere else. The Bookery is a fabulous used bookstore with an antique cash register that weighs about a ton and friendly dogs that love visits. Main Street News Company has been in the family for ages and is one of the West’s oldest news-stands. If you need a post-card to send home, this is place to get it. Another “oldest in the West” is Placerville Hardware. Whether you need 3-Penny nails, a cast-iron tea-kettle, or canning supplies, this place has it. The historic building and beautiful masonry and wood cabinets alone are worth a visit. For more info about Placerville and events like the Antique Faire September 25 and the Wine and Art Festival October 15 visit The Placerville Downtown Association.