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Home to Coloma, South Lake Tahoe, Old Hangtown, and a rising star wine region of Fair Play, El Dorado County might win the crown for best all around tourist destination in California. Most know this region for its access to the High Sierra, passing right through the rolling tree-covered hills for craggier attractions. Yet, the county also has a reputation for being a historian's paradise — it was the town of Coloma where James Marshall struck gold, prompting the Gold Rush and causing the largest human migration in history to that point. And whitewater rafters sojourn to the South Fork of the American River to camp and then battle the ...

Home to Coloma, South Lake Tahoe, Old Hangtown, and a rising star wine region of Fair Play, El Dorado County might win the crown for best all around tourist destination in California. Most know this region for its access to the High Sierra, passing right through the rolling tree-covered hills for craggier attractions. Yet, the county also has a reputation for being a historian's paradise — it was the town of Coloma where James Marshall struck gold, prompting the Gold Rush and causing the largest human migration in history to that point. And whitewater rafters sojourn to the South Fork of the American River to camp and then battle the accessible Class III rapids. However, nestled within the wavy hills you'll also find surprises. Working farms open their doors to visitors (Don't miss a chance to explore the Bonsai Gardens or alpaca farms near Coloma); alfresco restaurants serve farm fresh Italian fare; hot air balloons drift atop the pines. Come face to face with bears in the national forests; fish or boat in the county's 160 lakes; or pedal to the town of Cool. If you're lucky, pan for gold and come home with more riches than you arrived with (or at least have fun trying).

Michele Bigley
About the Expert

Michele Bigley is the author of Northern California: An Explorer's Guide and Great Destinations Kauai from Countryman Press.

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Michele Bigley for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer