Top 10 Things to Do in El Dorado County

Nestled in the heart of Northern California, El Dorado County offers a treasure trove of activities and attractions for visitors and locals alike. From exploring Gold Rush history to experiencing the great outdoors, there’s no shortage of things to do in El Dorado County. 

We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 activities you won’t want to miss during your time in this captivating region. So buckle up and get ready for an unforgettable adventure filled with history, excitement, and natural beauty!

1. Explore Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park 

Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park
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Step back in time and experience the excitement of the California Gold Rush at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. Located just an hour from El Dorado County, this historic park offers visitors the chance to learn about the region’s Gold Rush history through interactive exhibits, gold panning lessons, and guided tours. 

You can also visit the on-site museum, which houses artifacts, photographs, and displays that tell the story of the Gold Rush era. Don’t forget to visit the El Dorado Saloon, where you can experience Gold Rush Days and enjoy a cold drink in a lively, historical atmosphere.

2. Hike the Tahoe Rim Trail 

Tahoe Rim Trail
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You can’t leave El Dorado County without visiting South Tahoe Lake, 1 hour and 30 minutes and 48 miles away. Once you’re there, you must explore the trails. The Tahoe Rim Trail has some of the most amazing hiking trails in Northern California. Just an hour’s drive from South Lake Tahoe, this 165-mile trail encircles the lake and offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. 

The Tahoe Rim Trail is divided into eight segments. Each segment has its own unique features and challenges, so you can easily find a hike that fits your preferences. From dense forests and alpine meadows to volcanic rock formations and crystal-clear lakes, the Tahoe Rim Trail offers a diverse array of scenery to enjoy.

3. Go Fruit Tasting at the Apple Hill Farms 

Apple Hill Farms
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Indulge in the sweet taste of locally grown apples and other delicious treats at Apple Hill Farms. Located just 46 minutes from El Dorado County, the farms offer seasonal events, festivals, and an abundance of fun things for the whole family to enjoy. 

You can pick your own apples, sample apple cider, and enjoy homemade apple fritters, pies, and more at the various farm stands. Pack a picnic and enjoy it on the picnic tables present throughout the area. Enjoy a hayride through the picturesque orchards.

4. Embark on a Whitewater Rafting Adventure 

American River
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For thrill-seekers, a whitewater rafting adventure on the American River is a must! Just over an hour’s drive from El Dorado County, you can choose from several local rafting companies to guide you on an exhilarating journey through the river’s rapids. 

There are trips available for all skill levels, from beginner to expert, and many companies also offer team-building experiences for groups. After your rafting adventure, relax on the river’s sandy shores or take a refreshing dip in the water.

5. Tour the Historic Downtown Placerville 

Historic Downtown Placerville
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Take a stroll through the charming streets of historic downtown Placerville, just a 51-minute drive from El Dorado County. Discover unique shops, galleries, and restaurants in this quaint town, and take in the rich history surrounding you. 

Notable landmarks include the Bell Tower, the historic Cary House Hotel, and the El Dorado County Courthouse. You can start your exploration from the Town Center. Take a guided walking tour to learn about the area’s history.

6. Go Wine Tasting at Local Wineries 

Lava Cap Winery
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Treat your taste buds to award-winning wines at Lava Cap Winery and other local vineyards in El Dorado County. These picturesque wineries offer tasting rooms. Here, you can sample their finest vintages while enjoying the beautiful scenery. 

Many wineries also offer tours of their vineyards and production facilities, allowing you to learn about the winemaking process and other fun facts. Buy a bottle or two of your favorite wine as a souvenir.

The Lava Cap Winery is 21.3 miles from El Dorado County. You should be able to reach the winery in about 49 minutes

7. Explore Desolation Wilderness 

Desolation Wilderness
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For a true escape into nature, venture into Desolation Wilderness. This protected area is just a 20-minute drive from South Lake Tahoe. With its pristine lakes, waterfalls, and miles of hiking trails, you’ll feel worlds away from the hustle and bustle of nearby cities. 

Popular trails in the area include the Eagle Falls Trail. This trail leads to the stunning Eagle Lake and the Glen Alpine Trail, which takes you past several beautiful alpine lakes and meadows. You’ll need a wilderness permit for a day hike or an overnight trip. So get those before you head out.

8. Ski or Snowboard at Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort 

Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort
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Experience the best of winter sports at Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort, just over an hour’s drive from El Dorado County. From skiing and snowboarding to snowshoeing and tubing, this family-friendly resort offers a variety of activities and events for all ages and skill levels. 

With over 2,000 acres of skiable terrain and an average annual snowfall of 480 inches, Sierra-at-Tahoe is a winter wonderland that will delight both beginners and seasoned pros. After a day on the slopes, warm up by the fire with hot cocoa or a delicious meal at one of the resort’s many dining options.

9. Attend Events at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds 

El Dorado County Fairgrounds
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The El Dorado County Fairgrounds is just a 20-minute drive from El Dorado Hills. The fairgrounds host the annual El Dorado County Fair and other events during the year. From live music and food festivals to car shows and equestrian events, there’s always something happening at the fairgrounds. 

Check their calendar for upcoming events and plan your visit accordingly. In addition to the fair, the fairgrounds also offer a variety of recreational facilities, including a skate park, playground, and picnic areas.

10. Explore the El Dorado National Forest 

El Dorado National Forest
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Immerse yourself in the vast wilderness of the El Dorado National Forest. This expansive forest offers countless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, including hiking, camping, fishing, and rock climbing. 

With over 800 miles of trails, you won’t run out of places to explore. For an unforgettable experience, try hiking to the top of Pyramid Peak, the highest point in the Crystal Range, or exploring the unique rock formations at Lover’s Leap. 

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that calls this forest home, including deer, black bears, and mountain lions. The forest is an hour’s drive from El Dorado County.

11. Go Kayaking at the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area 

Folsom Lake State Recreation Area
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Discover the beauty of Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, just a short drive from El Dorado Hills. This popular destination offers a variety of outdoor activities, including boating, fishing, hiking, and picnicking. 

With over 75 miles of shoreline, Folsom Lake is an ideal spot for water sports like kayaking, paddle boarding, and swimming. You can also explore the area’s many hiking and biking trails or relax at one of the park’s scenic picnic areas.


From the rich Gold Rush history to the great outdoors, there are plenty of things to do in El Dorado County for visitors of all ages and interests. It doesn’t matter if you want an adventure, relaxation, or a mix of both, El Dorado County has something for everyone. 

We hope this list of top 10 activities inspires you to create unforgettable memories during your time in this enchanting region. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore the best of what El Dorado County has to offer!

Hey, if you stick around the area make sure to check out these other towns:

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