Family at Gold Bug Mine, El Dorado County

Affordable Family Fun in El Dorado County

Family-friendly fun shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. In El Dorado County, you can find affordable fun every day of the week that entertains kids of all ages.

We’ve got recommendations for a week full of fun activities that range from Gold Rush history to train rides.


Gold Bug Mine | 10 am – 4 pm daily April – October | 10 am – 4 pm weekends only (Sat/Sun) November – March
Step back in time when you enter the Gold Bug Mine! It’s a REAL gold mine from the Gold Rush days and the only gold mine owned by a municipality. Explore both the Gold Bug Mine and the mining museum. Find your riches in the gem panning trough. Be sure to visit the historic Stamp Mill and working Blacksmith Shop, and don’t miss Hattie’s Gift Shop!

Cost: Mine tours are $12 per adult, $10 for seniors 55+/Military, $6 for youth (ages 6-17), and free for children under 5.


Marshall Gold Discovery Park 
Explore the site where James Marshall discovered gold in 1848, setting off the California Gold Rush. Marshall Gold Discovery State Park is open to the public for hiking, picnics, and self-exploration.

If you’re looking for guided tours, Gold Discovery Tours tells the story and visits the sites of the Coloma Valley before the discovery of gold by James Marshall. Learn about the events leading up to the discovery, and hear the stories and history of the California Gold Rush and the town of Coloma. Tours are available for individual family groups from the same household only with proper physical distancing. Tours are offered at least twice a day, weather permitting (but not when the temperature exceeds 92 degrees).

Cost: $10 per car parking fee. Tours are $3 per adult and $2 per child.


El Dorado County Museum | 12 pm – 4 pm Wednesdays – Fridays
The El Dorado County Historical Museum, located in Downtown Placerville, features a rotating schedule of exhibits. Recent exhibits include The Gold Rush, Women on the Road, Placerville: Then and Now, and the Road to Tahoe. It’s open by appointment only. Reserve here.

Cost: Free


Sherwood Demonstration Garden | 9 am – 12 noon Fridays and Saturdays
Run by the UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County, the Sherwood Demonstration Garden boasts 16 themed educational and beautiful gardens – including a children’s garden with kid-friendly plants and interactive activities! All gardens feature sustainably grown plants chosen for the region’s Mediterranean climate.

Cost: Free


Community Observatory | 9pm – 11pm (after dark)
Create memories at the Community Observatory  – it’s your window to the night sky! Gaze at the stars through 17-inch and 14-inch reflecting telescopes on a clear night. Follow planets or the moon as they travel across the sky. Bring the whole family for an unforgettable experience in the El Dorado County foothills.

Cost: Free


Wakamatsu Farm | 10 am – 2 pm
During the spring and fall seasons, take advantage of the Wakamatsu Open Farm Days on the first and third Saturdays each month, where you can explore Wakamatsu Farm, the site of the first Japanese colony in America! Hike or stroll around the area at your leisure. Take a trip around the lake on the 1.5-mile wheelchair-accessible trail. Bring a picnic and chair to sit and relax. Interpreters are on-site to answer questions and share the Farm’s history. Visit ARConservancy.org/events to sign up.

Cost: $10 per vehicle, large vans, and buses additional.


Ride the Rails | Alternating Sundays
The El Dorado Railroad is the oldest railroad line west of the Mississippi River. Ride a piece of history on original Gang Cars used by railroad inspectors, officials, workers, and others to travel the rails. It’s great fun for all ages!

The round-trip train ride takes about 40 to 45 minutes and will return you to the place you boarded.  The maximum speed is 10 mph, and road crossing safety protocols are followed.

Cost: $8 ages 9 and up, $3 ages 4-8

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Affordable Family Fun in El Dorado County
Affordable Family Fun in El Dorado County
Affordable Family Fun in El Dorado County

Community Events Calendar

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April 25, 2024
4:30 pm Live Podcast: Ben Goldfarb
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