city in and the county seat of El Dorado County, California, United States

Placerville is a town in El Dorado County in California's Gold Country. It was a key supply hub during the Gold Rush, and was California's third-largest town when it was incorporated in 1857. In 2021 the permanent population was around 11,000, but visitors flock to the town due to its convenient location halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, and also for its historic downtown, with many of the businesses housed in buildings that date back to the mid-1800s.

The historic fire bell found in the center of downtown Placerville.

Get in

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Map of Placerville

Placerville sits 39 miles east of Sacramento and 43 miles from Lake Tahoe. It is accessible from Highway 50 east and west, also Highway 49 east and west, and 193 south. Placerville also has a small private airstrip located a mile or two outside the city, and there is also commuter buses coming in from Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.

Get around

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By bus

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  • El Dorado Transit. Provides the most comprehensive public transit options for the area and commuter services to other foothill towns and Sacramento. Route 20 focuses on local service around Placerville itself.
  • 1 Church of Our Saviour, 2979 Coloma St. This historic Carpenter Gothic Episcopal church was built in 1865, and has been renovated several times. On November 17, 1977, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour.    
  • 2 Combellack–Blair House, 3059 Cedar Ravine Rd. This historic house was built in 1895. It served as a store for many years, but today is a private residence. The landmark house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) on February 14, 1985.    
  • 3 Confidence Hall. This historic Italianate style, Victorian brick building was built in 1860 to house the volunteer fire brigade. During its lifetime the building has served as the police department, jail, justice court, city hall, and public library. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) on January 4, 1982.    
  • 4 John Pearson Soda Works (Placerville Soda Works), 594 Main St. This historic rustic vernacular Victorian brick building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) on December 12, 1985. The building was built as a single story structure in 1859 to store ice. John Pearson's sons added a second story in 1897 to house a bottling operation after the business began selling soda water.    
  • Apple Hill. This is an area about 10 minutes' drive east of Placerville on Highway 50. There are dozens of apple ranches that cater mostly to Sacramento-area tourists who come seeking every imaginable product made from apples, such as cider, pies, donuts, wine, caramel apples, etc. Excellent family atmosphere. Some of the larger ranches have ponds, ducks, ponies, and picnic areas. Most of the ranches are open September to December only. A few stay open all year. Weekends in October can get very crowded.
  • 1 Community Observatory, 6699 Campus Dr. This observatory houses 17-inch and 14-inch telescopes and is open to the public on weekends in the summer and winter, and for special events (check their calendar). Visitors should check the website prior to arriving at the observatory as cancellations occur frequently due to clouds or weather. The roof of the observatory opens to the sky, so dress as you would for outside activities; there are no heaters and nowhere to warm up if you get cold. The Community Observatory was established in 2006 and is operated by a partnership of a team of volunteers, Folsom Lake College, the El Dorado County Office of Education and the Rotarians of Cameron Park. Cell phones are not allowed while at the observatory to reduce light pollution. Free, parking is $2 at the college.    
  • 2 Eddy Arboretum, 2480 Carson Rd. The arboretum is located at the Institute of Forest Genetics outside of Placerville. The first plantings were made in 1926, and today it contains what is claimed to be the best-documented collection of native and exotic pines in the world, in addition to many other native and exotic conifers. The arboretum is operated by the US Forest Service and open to the public during business hours.    
  • 3 El Dorado County Fair, 100 Placerville Dr. Father's Day weekend (the third Sunday in June). The fair was first held in 1859, and has been using the current site since 1939. It features four full days of exhibitions, contests and competitions, concerts and events, carnival rides, and fair food. There is a junior livestock auction and still exhibits, such as photography, artwork, homemade wine and homebrew. Friday night events in the grandstands usually consist of Mutton Bustin' and Humpz and Hornz Bull Riding. Other favorite and traditional activities, include cooking demonstrations, free kid workshops, a funnel cake eating contest, a bean spitting contest, and Big Wheels races. The annual John M. Studebaker Championship Wheelbarrow races take place on Sunday evening in the grandstands. The father and child look-a-like contest happens on the main stage Sunday as part of the Father's Day activities. During the rest of the year the fairground hosts other events including swap meets, concerts, family reunions, and cultural events.    
  • 4 Fountain & Tallman Museum, 524 Main St. W-Su 11AM-4PM. Museum exhibits focus on the natural and human history of the area, and include several Native American and Gold Rush artifacts. The museum is housed inside of the Fountain-Tallman Soda Works, which was built in 1852 and is the oldest building on Main Street. The historic rustic vernacular Victorian stone and brick building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 13, 1984. The original fountain works sold bottled, carbonated spring water to the miners, since the river and creeks were polluted from mining activities and thus unsafe to drink.    
  • 5 Placerville Speedway, 100 Placerville Dr (in the El Dorado County Fair & Event Center). This 0.25 miles (0.40 km) dirt track is a few miles west of downtown Placerville. Races are held most weekends in spring and autumn, with the pits opening at 2PM and the grandstands opening at 3PM. Grandstand tickets must be purchased online.    
  • 1 Placerville Hardware, 441 Main St, +1 530 622-1151. Having been in operation since 1856, this is the oldest continuously operated hardware store in west of the Mississippi; serves breakfast and lunch.

Drink

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  • 1 Powell's Steamer Co and Pub, 425 Main St. Pub that serves as a live music venue with a very large selection of beer on tap.
  • 2 Liar's Bench, 255 Main St, +1 530 6220494. Small, local bar with pool tables and dart boards.

Sleep

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Go next

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Neighboring destinations

  • 1 Coloma - The California Gold Rush began in Coloma in 1848 with the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill, and today travelers can visit the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park to see the exact spot where gold was found. In addition, the park has a recreation of Sutter's Mill, exhibits documenting the Gold Rush, and the opportunity to pan for gold in the American River. While much of the original town is now essentially a ghost town, there are a few lodging options and restaurants. For visitors seeking adventure, the American River is a popular whitewater rafting destination, and a number of outfitters offer trips that start in Coloma.
  • 2 Pollock Pines
  • 3 El Dorado Hills
  • 4 Plymouth


Routes through Placerville
SacramentoEl Dorado Hills  W   E  Pollock PinesCarson City
AuburnColoma  N   S  PlymouthOakhurst


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