Entering from the barren, dry grassy hills of El Dorado Hills, into Placerville (pronounced plaa-ser-ville) is quite a treat to the eyes. Almost suddenly I am transported into a land with beautiful, tall Pine, Oak and Fir trees. Not just are the hills greener and the sky more blue and welcoming, all of a sudden I am brought to a small historic downtown of shops and restaurants on the streets that are filled with people loitering around town on a weekday afternoon. I go from unenthusiastic to ecstatic.
I park my car and head into the first shop I see, just to ask about the parking rules and I am greeted with some of the most enthusiastic women I have met. The women both shopping and working at Ambiance, a sweet store for women’s clothes, accessories and jewelry have a whole lot of suggestions for me to do and I begin to wonder if I will have enough time to do it all. I thank the ladies for all their suggestions and go about wandering around Placerville, which is also called Hangtown, from back in 1840s when people were hung there. Kinda creepy!
There is a historic hotel ( Historic Cary House ) right on Main Street, which is said to be haunted– if you are into that kind of thing. Further down there is also a small historic museum, for anyone who wants to know more about the history. It was, unfortunately, closed on the Monday that I went.
I enjoy small towns and this one in the middle of nowhere was was turning out to be great. Besides Ambiance, I highly recommend stepping into the Hardware store, which is the oldest continuous operating hardware store west of the Mississippi. As I walked by the little boxes of iron nails and hooks, the smell in that nook, transported me back to when I was young and had to dig through my grandfather’s box of tools for anytime the grownups needed help. Another fun stop is the Newsstand, with books with local informations, little gifts and lots of magazines. A better selection of local books and more is at Bookery. Browse the art stores on Main street and step into Gold Country Artists Gallery for a taste of colorful, creative local art.
Being in the area, means you have to be ready and willing to taste and drink some wine. It’s probably the most fun thing, after you’ve spent time wandering about the stores, talking to locals and shopping. The Wine Smith on Main Street is a welcoming place with a good choice. They also have a few bites to eat, although I chose to eat at HeyDay. Vegans do not have a great choice, but being vegetarian I could get a panini and soup. The fall flavors in the apple, onion and fennel soup were absolutely spot on.
My only little bit of confusion was to do with parking. I had to do a lot of looking up and figuring out what to do, as I had parked on the street and not in a garage. You are only allowed a 2 hour per day free parking, all over downtown. You can’t be smart and try and move it to a different spot downtown and try to park for free. Not even a garage. You must pay for every hour after that.
All in all, I had an great day, full of chancing upon the unexpected, meeting friendly people, being in a scenic hillside town, learning some history and making plans based on recommendations from the local people of Placerville.
- My number one take is always, ASK A LOCAL.
Take it or leave it. But definitely ask!
- Spend the day in town or club it with a visit to Apple Hill and Winery visits.
- Embrace the pace of life.
Take in being in a small town.
- Spend some money at local stores.
Even if you are used to Amazon! This helps keep towns like these running.