Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for family, friends, copious amounts of food, and perhaps a football game or two. For folks looking for something beyond that, or families seeking activities that don’t involve shopping or television, you’re in luck, for there are plenty of interesting, fun, and educational things to do in El Dorado County this holiday.

Check out our top 6 family-friendly activities in El Dorado County this Thanksgiving.

1. Festival of Lights

The Festival of Lights in Historic Placerville is an annual family-friendly tradition that’s a great way to kick off the holiday season! Sponsored by the Placerville Downtown Association, the old-fashioned festivities will close Historic Main Street and feature music, entertainment, visits with Santa, and more at various locations up and down Main Street. The tree lighting at 6 pm at the Courthouse.
Festival of Lights – Runs Friday, November 27 from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm. Call 530-672-3436 for information.

2. Gold Bug Mine & Park

Pack a picnic lunch (turkey leftovers optional) and head to the Gold Bug Mine and Park. This genuine gold mine, situated on 60 acres, is offering extended hours during Thanksgiving weekend. Take a self-guided audio tour of Gold Bug Mine or walk off that extra helping of pie on the newly opened Deer Hollow Trail. This interesting and educational self-guided walk explores the park’s unique mining history and how the landscape and natural habitats were altered in the quest for gold. The stamp mill, museum and miner’s blacksmith shop will all be open as well.
Gold Bug Mine – Open Friday, November 27 – Sunday, November 29 from 10 am to 4 pm.

3. El Dorado Western Railroad

Kids and kids at heart will enjoy the El Dorado Western Railroad, the oldest railroad line west of the Mississippi River. Take a ride on a special “Long Run” operating from Shingle Springs Depot to El Dorado Station and returning to Shingle Springs Depot on Sunday, November 29. This unique train ride only happens four times a year!
El Dorado Western Railroad – Open Sunday, November 29. To reserve your spot on the two-hour “Long Run” train ride call 530.626.8688.

4. Imagination Theatre

Make it will be a jolly holiday as everyone’s favorite practically perfect nanny, Mary Poppins takes the stage at the Imagination Theatre in Placerville. This supercalifragilisticexpialidocious musical opens Friday, November 27 and advance ticket purchase is strongly encouraged.
Imagination Theatre – Performances will be held Friday & Saturday, November 27-28 at 7 pm and on Sunday, November 30 at 2 pm. Purchase tickets online or call 530-642-0404. Cost: $17

5. Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony Farm

History buffs will enjoy taking a guided tour of the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony Farm, which boasts a rich tapestry of wildlife habitat and diverse cultural history that includes both the Nisenan tribe and Japanese immigrants fleeing the Boshin war in the late 1860s. This 272-acre site contains an eight-acre lake, three ponds, the original 1854 farmhouse, and turn-of-the-century barn and dairy. Mature children 12+ are welcome.
Wakamatsu Historical Tour – The tour will be held Saturday, November 28, 10 am-12 pm. Please call 530-621-1224 or email to sign up and get the meeting location in the Gold Hill area. Cost: $5/Children 12-18 years old, $10/Adults.

6. Historic Holiday Houses in Coloma

Celebrate an old-fashioned Christmas in Coloma with the Historic Holiday Houses at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. Thirteen historic buildings will be open to the public, each decorated for Christmas. Costumed docents will be on hand to welcome guests and bring history to life in these buildings. You’ll get into the Christmas spirit as you stroll through the lantern-lined streets; enjoy refreshments, caroling, music, wreath making, wagon rides, and all the sights, smells, and sounds of Christmas in this historic Gold Rush town.
Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park – Open Friday, November 27 – Saturday, November 28 from 10 am – 4 pm. For more information call 530-622-3470. Cost: Parking $8 – Event fee $5 per person (age 5 & under free)