Placerville, CA

"A real American hometown," "Historic gold town with a heart," and "Where the people are the real gold"

The Highway 50 Wagon Train, an organization that reenacts the Great Western Migration, trots down Main Street. (Credit: Ann McQuillen)

Placerville is an eclectic town with deep history in the foothills of California. Dating back to the gold rush, our buildings have been preserved and loved by locals and tourists who come here to eat and play. Surrounded by vineyards and an apple hill, the lush countryside appeals to all ages. And it’s a place where a quieter, slower pace of life is somehow carved out amidst the craziness of California. With a rich Gold Rush history, we’re historic and charming. With a rural, California location, we’re beautiful. With a real working downtown, we’re not just a tourist destination, we’re an authentic American hometown that is deeply connected to each other.

Hangtown Creek runs through Placerville and was a popular spot for miners to pan for gold. (Credit: Barbara Raines)

Our niceness stems from our collective caring and fervent passion for our town. We value our authentic hometown charm, where folks still conduct their business on Main Street and gather daily at coffee shops and eateries. It’s a place where everybody knows your name, from the homeless to the Mayor, we’re acquainted with one other. There are no strangers here. Walk into a restaurant or bar and it’s like you’ve come home. Friendly people are happy to share their love for our small town and all the festivals and fun stuff we love.

This is the type of place where people generally take the time, the time to talk with customers and local business owners, the time to unwind with various indoor/outdoor activities, and the time to enjoy natural beauty that is so prevalent here. Lots of caring and selfless people live in Placerville, and have continued to do so for generations; we think we’ve found the most comfortable place in America to call home.

Placerville, a good place to raise a family. (Credit: Kyle Burkhardt)

Stories About Placerville

Each year, hundreds of volunteers of all ages descend on our town to beautify and maintain it. We repair our parks, paint our parking garage, replant flower beds, and clean up the walking trail. This community service day is an example of our collective caring.

A broad spectrum of people pooled their resources to build a state-of-the-art Boys and Girls Club. Individual donations ranged from less than $10 to over $1 million, and when the multimillion facility was opened in 2016, it was debt free. Serving close to 300 kids daily, the Club provides meals, homework assistance, music and art lessons, commuter training, and lots of old fashioned love to kids who often face severe challenges at home.

A group of people called the Friends of the El Dorado Trail work weekly to maintain a walking trail through our city. This dedicated group of volunteers work closely with city staff and our police department to clear brush, limb trees, pick up trash and provide security on this valuable community asset.

To help solve the challenge with homelessness, local churches open their doors from November-March to provide meals and shelter during the winter months. Townspeople often clean up homeless sites, and turn out in mass for local events that support the Upper Room Dining Hall, a facility serving hot meals to the hungry 365 days a year.

An independent, 5-Star hospital in the heart of our town is an important part of our community. Marshall Medical Center’s commitment to maintain community wellness is seen in the free transportation it provides to our Cancer Center and in it’s program called the Community Care Network, providing free in-home care and support to the hospital’s sickest patients.

One of the biggest examples of our collective passion is the way we show up for community events. Our annual Tree Lighting ceremony at Christmas packs Main Street with holiday revelers. Our Christmas parade draws young and old alike to either participate in the parade or watch it. And recently, Amgen Tour of California passed through Placerville. With 192 countries watching these world-class bike racers, event organizers were amazed at the welcome they received in Placerville, stating that it was one of the best “pass-through cities” they have ever experienced.

Crowds gather to watch the Amgen Tour race through Placerville. (Credit: Wendy Thomas)

In 2013, we were one of 20 cities to have their downtown repainted in a national contest called “Main Street Matters.” Winners were selected based on their passion for their town.

Ann’s Story

I have a client who shared a story from several years ago. They were out wine tasting and decided to come to Placerville for dinner before they returned to San Francisco. They strolled down Main Street window shopping on a warm night until they discovered Bricks. They sat at the bar and had a great meal while talking with the bar tender who regaled them with stories of the foothills. Time got away from them and it was very late when they walked outside. They went out to get in their car only to discover it wouldn’t start. There was no one around, but as they were trying to reach AAA, a waiter from one of the restaurants walked by. He stopped and asked if he could help. They explained that AAA had a long wait for help and they wanted to go back to the bay. It was a 3+ hour trip to home. He told them to wait and went to get his car in the employee parking lot a couple of blocks away. He came back and jumped their car. They tried to offer him compensation but he just said “we’re a small town and we take care of each other.” That’s the town I live in and love.

Eddi’s Story

We moved from the North Bay in California to El Dorado County. We raised one son here and sent the other off to the Military after moving here. Both sons have come back to El Dorado County and one is now married with children of his own. The elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools have great teachers. There is the 4H and FFA and gymnastics and all sports available for our children. You can walk down Main Street Placerville anytime of the day or night and not feel afraid. Several times a year Main Street is closed for parades, craft fairs, Horse and Buggy rides, wine/beer tasting, and just plane fun. We have lived in a lot of places, but Placerville makes you feel like you are HOME.

Kacie’s Ride for Hope is a motorcycle event that takes place every year downtown Placerville. They close down Main Street for several hours and hundreds of motorcycles are parked the whole length of Main Street. This is the starting place for this charity ride for domestic violence. At the Bell Tower (at the center of town), speakers say a few words about domestic violence and a chaplain says a prayer for all the bikers and for all of the domestic violence victims. Next thing you know, hundreds of motorcycles are starting their engines for an 80 mile run. The end of the run is always in another of our little towns, Diamond Springs. They, too, are very accommodating to all of the motorcycle riders.

The ride for domestic violence victims is a big deal in Placerville. (Credit: Eddi Gilstrap)