As you probably know there isn’t any shortage of history in the Sierra Foothills. That is especially true for the charming city of Placerville, California, nestled right in the heart of the Gold Country between Sacramento and the Nevada border.
Whether traveling to or from the South Lake Tahoe area; Historic Placerville is a must visit stop. Filled with everything a perfect day or weekend trip requires. Main Street is the jewel of Old Town Placerville complete with a gorgeous skyline of trees and snow covered mountains. Each building is a historical treasure providing rich history and architecture. Independently owned businesses offer unique and one of a kind experiences. There’s art, food, recreation, food, plenty of local wines, food, music, shopping, oh and did I mention the food? There are plenty of great eats here!
Here for the day or spending the weekend? If it’s a weekend trip; where better than the hotel that has accommodated such guests as Mark Twain, Elvis Presley, John Studebaker, Billy the Kid, Horace Greeley and Bette Davis? The Cary House Hotel was originally built in 1857 and catered to the rich and wealthy. Today the historic charm remains with added modern amenities for the best of both worlds.
Across the street from the Hotel is HeyDay Café; a family owned restaurant with a friendly atmosphere, delicious fresh selections as well as an excellent wine list featuring many local varieties. My lunch favorites include the Chicken with Tarragon Panini and the HeyDay Margherita Pizza. For a live look at some real history travel down the street from HeyDay, and you’ll find the Bell Tower, which was placed in the Tower Plaza in 1865. It was used as an alarm system for firefighters and stands today as a monument for the city’s current volunteer firemen and women. In addition, the Bell Tower serves as a gathering place for the many events hosted on Main Street throughout the year. For example right now, each weekend in December from 1-4pm catch DJ’s and live entertainment spreading cheer to shoppers and visitors with the sounds of the season. Classic and rare used books line the maze of shelves in the Bookery, you could spend hours here! Art lovers can find award winning art by local artists at Gold Country Artists Gallery and of one of a kind sculptures, paintings, glass, ceramic and jewelry art at the family owned Bennett Gallery.
Back to the food. If you have a taste for the Southwest, Cascada is truly unique. From the bar, try one of the specialty margaritas such as Nectar De Los Dioses. As far as entrees go, Puerco con Frambuesa tops my favorite list. It’s their savory pork tenderloin medallions sautéed in a chipotle raspberry sauce. You may have room for dessert, if so I recommend warm churros and a side of vanilla ice cream topped with a caramel sauce. Located in the remodeled Round Tent Building, Cascada combines small town charm with modern interiors and Mexican-Californian infused cuisine. When you’re not eating but thinking about cooking, stop by Tony Matthews. A unique specialty housewares and gourmet kitchen store. Here you can find everything from kitchen gadgets to candles to high-quality cookware and even gourmet cupcakes! Pre-order or take some home for later.
Moving down Main Street, a hidden treasure resides in the eclectic and organic Cozmic Café. All-natural and organic breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as signature smoothies. Located in the Placerville Soda Works building, which happens to be the oldest restored building in Placerville, built by John McFarland Pearson in 1859. Along with hosting live music, yoga classes and holistic workshops, you can also tour an actual goldmine in the back of the building!
Turn back the clock and satisfy your sweet-tooth. Become a kid again at Candystrike Emporium – Olde Tyme Candy & More. This is where the candyman lives….it’s like something out of a Willy-Wonka movie…irresistible! They stock over 110 different varieties of salt water taffy, roast and glaze nuts and make 35 types of their own fudge. Truffles and chocolates and vines..Oh my! Finally, cross Highway 50 after dark onto Coloma Street and Victorian styled homes are decorated for Christmas in a parade of lights including the Albert Shafsky House B&B, it looks just like Christmas!
Although this posts focus is on Main Street, venture just a little way in any direction and you’re sure to continue to uncover amazing the amazing treasures that make up Historic Placerville. On your next Tahoe trip, be sure to stop in a visit!