el dorado county thanksgiving dinner

Top Thanksgiving family activities in El Dorado County

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 family-friendly activities in El Dorado County this Thanksgiving.

Visit a Gold Mine

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 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 25 – Sunday, November 27 from 10 am to 4 pm.

Children in Gold Bug Mine, El Dorado County
Make it an extra-memorable Thanksgiving by exploring a real gold mine at Gold Bug Park!

Watch the 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! 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 begins at 6 pm at the Courthouse.
>> Festival of Lights – Runs Friday, November 25 from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

El Dorado County Festival of Lights Christmas Trees | Photo: Bill Robinson
The Festival of Lights is back this year on November 26. Photo: Bill Robinson Studios

Get a Christmas Tree

Get a leg on the Christmas season by getting your tree. Make it a fun outing and visit one of the Christmas tree farms in El Dorado County (think hot drinks, kiddie train rides, and more). If you’re looking for more adventure, you can cut down your own tree (but be sure to secure your permit early, as they do sell out!).
>> Christmas tree farms in El Dorado County
>> Christmas tree permits in El Dorado County

Christmas Tree farm
The Christmas tree farms in El Dorado County aren’t just about trees, but also hot cider, mini train rides, and more.

Explore the Quilt Trail

Load up the car and make a game out of who can spot the most barn quilts along the bucolic backroads. Not your typical quilt, barn quilts are hand-painted public works of art that adorn and complement old barns, historic buildings, gardens, and other locations in El Dorado County. Discover these welcoming beacons of color (and history) for yourself.
>> Quilt Trail Map – Download your free map – and be sure to tag any photos you take with #ElDoradoCounty!

Barn Quilt at Rainbow Orchards, El Dorado County

Experience Gold Rush History

Go back in time at Marshall Gold Discovery State Park. Pack the leftovers, bring Fido, and enjoy a stroll through history along the American River. Day use facilities, the Visitor Center, and Blacksmith Shop are open.
>>Marshall Gold Discovery State Park – Day Use Areas: 8 am – 5 pm. Visitor Center and Museum: 9 am to 4 pm.

Views of Coloma from Marshall Gold Discovery State Park

Take a Hike

Work off the holiday meal, enjoy some fresh air, and stretch your legs with a hike. You’ll find numerous trails of varying lengths in the foothills and lower elevations, including the El Dorado Trail, Dave Moore Nature Area, and Cronan Ranch trail network.
>> Short hikes in El Dorado County
>> More hiking information

El Dorado County Film Map

Watch a Movie Filmed in El Dorado County

Why not watch a movie (or TV show) that was filmed in El Dorado County – and take a road trip to see it afterward? Find a list of shows shot on-location here.

Discover more holiday events and activities in El Dorado County.

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Upcoming El Dorado County Events

Top Thanksgiving family activities in El Dorado County
Top Thanksgiving family activities in El Dorado County
Top Thanksgiving family activities in El Dorado County
Top Thanksgiving family activities in El Dorado County
el dorado county wagon

Community Events Calendar

September 21, 2023
12:00 pm Live Music, Arts, & Quality Entertainment at The Green Room Social Club
4:00 pm Dinner Station Farmers Market
4:00 pm Dinner Station Farmers Market
September 22, 2023
9:00 am Open Garden Days at Sherwood Demonstration Garden
5:00 pm Live Music and Wood Fired Pizza Fridays
5:30 pm Malicious Monster Truck Show
7:00 pm Imagination Theater presents Clue Onstage