Top 10 Things to Do in El Dorado

California has long been a popular state for people to visit. However, there are so many places within California that it is often difficult to choose where to stop.

El Dorado usually draws people in because of the name. Everyone thinks of the mythical city of gold, but the town of El Dorado is the real deal. Formed in 1856, it is just 4 miles from Placerville and was once a bustling hub during the California Gold Rush.

If you are in the area, it’s worth a stop whether you are alone, with friends, or with your family. This article will tell you all the fun things to do in El Dorado.

The 10 Best Things to Do in El Dorado, CA

Whether you’re just passing by or staying in El Dorado, you can make the best of your time there. There are several fun activities, but here are the top 10 on our list when it comes to things to do in El Dorado.

1. Go on a Gold Mine Tour at Gold Bug & Mine 

The Gold Bug & Mine is a great place to go if you want to learn more about the history of gold mining in California. Just a 14-minute drive (6.3 miles) away, the Gold Bug & Mine offers guided and self-guided audio tours.

The mine is in impeccable condition, and you can also visit the museum to learn even more. You can also pan for gems which is fun for the whole family!

2. Go Beer Tasting and Enjoy Live Music at the Mraz Brewing Company

If you’re up for a 24-minute drive (17.4 miles) to the El Dorado Hills area, the Mraz Brewing Company is a great place to kick back and relax with a beer.

Open 7 days a week, the Mraz Brewing Company often has live music events and different food trucks on the property. They also don’t mind if you bring your own food or get it delivered there!

With no less than a dozen different beers on tap, they also have cans and bottles that you can enjoy.

3. Enjoy Local Cuisine at Poor Red’s BBQ

Poor Red's BBQ
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You cannot go to El Dorado and not go to Poor Red’s BBQ. Just 0.4 miles down Pleasant Valley Road, this place has been a gathering spot for years.

The food is amazing, and their world-famous Gold Cadillac cocktail is one that all their patrons talk about. It is one of those local restaurants everyone loves and feels at home in. Worth a stop if you’re in El Dorado!

4. Try Horse Riding at Folsom Lake State Recreation Area

Folsom Lake State Recreation Area
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The Folsom Lake State Recreation Area is 24.6 miles or about 30 minutes from the village of El Dorado. It is a beautiful getaway with fun activities throughout the year.

The horseback riding through the area is exceptional due to the landscapes you will be surrounded by on the trails. There are fields of wildflowers in the spring and people enjoying the lake in the summer.

It’s also a great place for water sports and enjoying nature at its best.

5. Play Poker at Red Hawk Casino

Red Hawk Casino
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Just 10 minutes (6.2 miles) in nearby Placerville, entertainment awaits at Red Hawk Casino. This casino is a great place for a fun night on the town with your friends or partner. It has everything you want from a casino. They have great table games, fun slot machines, and even fine-dining restaurants.

It’s not like the smoky, dark casinos you usually see. It’s built to reflect its natural surroundings. The casino has breathtaking views of El Dorado County, and you will be tempted to spend hours there just admiring them. 

6. Camp in El Dorado National Forest

El Dorado National Forest
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The El Dorado National Forest is just 9 minutes or 4.2 miles from the El Dorado main street. The forest gets visitors from all around the globe due to its exceptional lakes, mountains, and campsites.

Even in winter, you can hike through one of the many trails and even do some skiing if the weather permits. The National Forest is well monitored, and you will receive warnings should there be bad weather or trail closures that will limit your activities in the forest.

7. Enjoy Star Gazing at the Community Observatory

Community Observatory
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The Community Observatory is a fun destination for individuals and families alike. Just 5.4 miles, or 11 minutes away, you can enjoy the experience of seeing the stars and planets through amazing telescopes.

The entire experience is free of charge, and they also host guest speakers from NASA and other special events. It’s a great way to spend time together as a family and learn more about our universe.

8. Go Apple Picking and Wine Tasting on Apple Hill

Apple Hill
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Apple Hill is where you want to go if you love apples and are in El Dorado in the fall. Just 17 minutes (11.3 miles) away, Apple Hill has a variety of activities in addition to apple picking. You can tour, enjoy live music events, fish, and even try apple wine tasting.

Apple Hill is open from August to December every year, and during this time, they also have a massive craft fair that draws people from all over the state. If you get there on opening weekend, you could enjoy the very first apples of the season!

9. Go Rafting with H2O Adventures

South Fork American River
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If thrills and spills are what you seek, you can always try whitewater rafting on the South Fork American River. A 25-minute (17.1 miles) drive will get you to H2O Adventures, which specializes in trips down the South Fork’s Class 2 and 3 rapids.

Depending on how much time you have, you can join a half, full-day, or overnight camping trip between March and November when conditions are ideal. 

10. Enjoy Fresh Farm Produce and Local Wine at the Boa Vista Orchards

Boa Vista Orchards
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Also in the Apple Hill area, Boa Vista Orchards are open all year. The drive is roughly 17 minutes (11.2 miles), and the Farmer’s Market can be found alongside Carson Road. Boa Vista Orchards is a fifth-generation farm, so you can bet they know what makes a good Farmer’s Market.

From fresh produce to beautiful trees, the market is a pleasant place to interact with the friendly locals and enjoy the peaceful surroundings of the apple orchards. You can also purchase local wines and ciders, and visit the Boa Vista Bakery for some delectable goodies.

In Summary

El Dorado may be a rather small town, but it remains a historic landmark thanks to its gold production during the Gold Rush. The town is the ideal place to stay, given its proximity to many fun destinations and activities.

Whether you want to relax, enjoy exhilarating outdoor activities, or simply explore, El Dorado delivers. The friendly people and quaint places also help to make your visit there more enjoyable.

One thing’s for sure, though, you can find something to do in El Dorado – one of the great treasures of California!

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

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