Gold! The cry went up from Sutter’s Mill and brought tens of thousands stampeding into California from the four corners of the world. These ’49ers established hundreds of instant mining towns along the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Many of these historic and picturesque towns still exist, linked by California Highway 49, and retain their early architecture and charm, living reminders of the rich history of the Mother Lode.

California's First Road Trip Itinerary - El Dorado County

1. Placerville Hardware Store

Don’t miss Placerville Hardware Store, “the oldest hardware Store West of the Mississippi.”

2. Stagecoach Ride

Take a free Stagecoach ride from the Bell Tower every third Saturday of the month between noon until 3 pm.

3. Learn the History of Hangtown

Stop by Fountain-Tallman Museum to find out more about the history of “Old Hangtown” or schedule a guided tour.

4. Stock Up for a Picnic

Pick up some house-made sausages and charcuterie and picnic provisions to take on the road at The Farm Table Restaurant.

5. Explore the Gold Mines

At the Gold Bug Park & Mine, a self-guided audio tour takes you on an exploration 352 feet into a real gold mine.

Trace the steps of the pioneers driving north on Highway 49 to Coloma.

6. The site of gold discovery

It was here, on January 24, 1848, that James Marshall discovered gold, touching off the most enormous gold rush in history. Marshall Gold State Discovery State Park.

7. Grab a Bite

Argonaut Farm to Fork Cafe – Grab a bite at a cozy café where you will find organic and seasonal foods from the area.

8. Take a Scenic Hike

Dave Moore Nature Area. Stretch your legs on this one-mile loop trail that leads to the South Fork of the American River.

Once you reach the town of Cool, take a right on Highway 193.

9. Historic Georgetown Main Street

Georgetown Main Street looks much as it did long ago, with wide streets and historic buildings. Take a self-guided stroll of the main street and check out the eateries, art gallery, and unique shops with their trinkets and treasures

Then continue back to Placerville on the scenic Highway 193 following the magnificent ridgeline, crossing over the American River.