Wine and mines may not be the most conventional combination, but it’s only natural in a place like Placerville and El Dorado County in California’s Gold Country. With a long, storied history in the California Gold Rush and hills upon rolling hills of vineyards, the county is popular retreat for thirsty history-buffs. Throw a rock and you’ll probably hit a building that’s older than your grandfather’s father, but grab a pint Cozmic Café and catch a new band that’s fresher than the salad on your plate. And as Placerville is only 40 minutes outside of Sacramento, on the way between San Francisco and South Lake Tahoe, there’s no reason not to stop by for a visit.

Photo by Wayne Hsieh via Flickr

Soak up history in an old soda factory, now the Placerville Historical Museum

Photo by Bill Thornhill via Flickr

From its humble beginnings back in 1852 as John Fountain and Benjamin Tallman’s Soda Works, supplying water to miners, to its current post as the Placerville Historical Museum, this building has seen a lot. Currently the oldest building on Main Street, the museum sets out to preserve the history of Placerville by arranging exhibits on the geology in the Sierra Nevada, early fires in Placerville, and, of course, the California Gold Rush.

What the travel blogs have to say:

California Road Trip 2010: Gold Country
Mardi – August 16, 2010

One blogger makes a stop at Placerville, drink local wines and checks out the museum.


Lincoln Highway : California
Jenny – May 6, 2012

A historical and autobiographical explanation along the Lincoln Highway, with a stop at the museum.


A pictorial of Hangtown, CA aka Placerville, CA
Stephanie Ruby Feldman – September 30, 2010

Some great photos of Placerville.


Some more historical attractions in Placerville:

Placerville Hardware Store, Inc.

The oldest hardware store west of Mississippi has been in operating for over 150 years. They even sell gold pans.

Church of Our Saviour

An Anglican church that has been around since 1861.

El Dorado County Historical Museum

A mining museum with digitized photos and folders and archival information on the history of mining.

Mining for information in Gold Bug Park

Photo by Caitlin Childs via Flickr

Engage all senses by visiting a real-life gold mine from the Gold Rush era. A simple audio tour takes the visitor underground into the hard rock mine to learn first hand the process of mining for gold. While there, visitors can have a pleasant picnic, visit the Blacksmith Shop, check out the stamp mill, take a hike around the park or get some more mine-education in at Hattie’s Museum.

What the travel blogs have to say:

Gold Bug Park Stamp Mill in Placerville
BW Beacham – June 12, 2012

A historical explanation of the stamp mill in Gold Bug Park.


Coloma: Eureka!
Linda – May 13, 2010

A blogger shares some awesome photos of the mine!


Gold Bug Mine, Placerville, California
Paisley Kirkpatrick – October 12, 2010

A travel blogger writes about her trip to the Gold Bug Mine.


Some more Gold Rush-era attractions in California’s Gold Country:

Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park

Another mine for more gold discovery!

The Gold Country Museum

In the town of Auburn, this museum has a replica of a hard-rock mining tunnel.

Chew Kee Store

There’s a colorful history of early Chinese immigrants to California during the Gold Rush at this stop in Amador County.

Wine tasting at one of the many El Dorado County Wineries

Photo by Tamara via Flickr

Though not as famous as Northern California’s Sonoma or Napa Counties, El Dorado County is one of the premier wine-growing regions in California. The area’s wineries are known for producing full and distinctly flavored wines, and most offer some sort of public tasting tours, with some even offering lodging and picnic facilities. Altogether there are more than 35 wineries in the county, and the combination of delicious wines and Sierra Nevada landscapes should be enough to keep travelers busy for at least a day or two. Take a look at the El Dorado Winery Association website for more information on wineries near Placerville.

Definitely visit these wineries in El Dorado County:

Boeger Winery

This winery offers visitors complimentary wine tastings on its inviting grounds, which include a patio, a redwood grove and a historic cellar.

Cielo Estate

A faithfully restored Victorian sits at the center of this 41-acre winery.

Fitzpatrick Winery and Lodge

A winery that produces 15 wines and has a massive log lodge with five rooms for guests.

Even more history at the El Dorado County Historical Museum

Photo by Seabee Cook via Flickr

Learn about gold mining equipment and the history of El Dorado at the El Dorado Historical Museum. With an ever-building collection of artifacts and opportunity to go for a ride in the historic El Dorado Western Railroad, this museum is the place to go for an exploration into the history of Gold Country.

What the travel blogs have to say:

Once Upon a Time in Placerville #5 : Photos from the El Dorado County Museum
Tina Dawn – April 13, 2011

A mine-fanatic volunteers at the museum and brings back archival photos of the mining village.


El Dorado County Historical Museum Photo Set
SeabeeCook via Flickr

There are a ton of great shots of the museum in this photo set.

Music, fresh and local food and local wines comprise the Cozmic Cafe experience

Photo by Eileen McFall via Flickr

Located in the historic Placerville Soda Works Building, Cozmic Café specializes in “natural food” and prides itself on its eco-conscious mandate towards local sustainable, organic farming. But don’t let those buzzwords dissuade you – with dishes like grilled, marinated portabella mushroom sandwich with pesto, organic sandwich, tomatoes, red onions, melted cheese and sprouts and the delectable historic setting, this place is righteous, in every sense of the word.

What the food blogs have to say:

Tuesdays in my Town – Pearson Soda Works Building and Cozmic Café
MoonshineJunkyard – August 17, 2010

A blogger shares some background information and cool local events at this cherished eatery/venue.


Don’t miss these other great restaurants in Placerville:

Sweetie Pie’s

Three guesses as to their specialty offering. Don’t worry, they serve breakfast and lunch and other baked goods, too.


An upscale restaurant in historic Placerville that serves authentic Mexican and Californian cuisine.

HeyDay Café

This relaxed café specializes in local wines and fresh food.

Cary House is a conveniently located hotel for foodies visiting Placerville

Photo by Silatix via Flickr

Each room at this hotel is uniquely outfitted with antiques, in-room coffee and amenities by Bath & Body Works, which allows modern luxury in an old world setting. Cary House is located next to Zia’s Cafe, the Courtyard Cafe, Highview Vineyards and is within walking distance to a ton of other restaurants, meaning it’s perfectly situated for those who just love trying new restaurants! In a novel feature, the hotel has reserved an entire floor for guests who are interested in sleeping next to ghosts, which is a good indication of just how long this building has been around, which, by the way, is since 1857.

What the travel blogs have to say:

Death Valley – Part 4
Deborah Garner – March 9, 2010

Some visitors stop into the Cary Hotel for a night.


The Cary House Hotel
Paisley Kirkpatrick – November 8, 2010

This blogger got a great ghost story about a salacious little lobby clerk.


For more options, take a look at these bed and breakfasts in Placerville:

The Albert Shafsky House

A romantic bed and breakfast in historic Placerville.

Bella Vista Bed & Breakfast

A small, beautiful B&B surrounded by natural wonders and wine.

Eden Vale Inn Bed & Breakfast

A rustic retreat in the American West.

See Placerville on the map:

Jessica Wei

Jessica Wei

Jessica is a Montreal-based journalism graduate who hails from Toronto and has a passion for writing. Find her on Google+.