15 Exciting Things to Do in Placer County - Yosemite Gold (2024)

Nestled in the heart of California, Placer County offers diverse attractions and activities perfect for families, adventure seekers, and history buffs alike.

With its rich Gold Rush history, picturesque scenery, and abundant outdoor activities, there’s something for everyone. So buckle up and get ready to explore the top 15 things to do in Placer County!

1. Explore the Historic Town of Auburn

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Located just 47 minutes and 30 miles from Sacramento, the historic town of Auburn is a charming destination that boasts a rich Gold Rush history. Stroll through Old Town Auburn and marvel at the preserved 19th-century buildings, antique shops, and quaint restaurants.

Don’t forget to visit the Placer County Courthouse Museum, which offers a glimpse into the area’s past through fascinating exhibits and artifacts.

2. Take a Road Trip to Nevada City

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A little over an hour’s drive (36 miles) from Auburn, you’ll find the picturesque town of Nevada City. With its Victorian architecture, this charming town feels like a trip back in time.

Catch a show at the historic Nevada Theatre or explore the nearby Empire Mine State Historic Park, which offers guided tours of California’s oldest, largest, and richest gold mine.

3. Go Skiing at Donner Ski Ranch

If you’re visiting Placer County in the winter, Donner Ski Ranch is a must-visit destination just an hour and a half away. Just under a two-hour drive from Auburn, this family-friendly ski resort offers skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing.

With lessons available for all ages and skill levels, it’s the perfect place to hit the slopes and make some unforgettable memories.

4. Hike the Numerous Trails

Placer County has numerous hiking trails, each offering a unique opportunity to explore the area’s natural beauty. Tackle the challenging Western States Trail, which stretches over 100 miles from Squaw Valley to Auburn. (Driving time: 1 hour and 17 minutes)

Enjoy a leisurely hike through Hidden Falls Regional Park (59 minutes and 35 miles), where you’ll be rewarded with stunning waterfall views. For a more moderate hike, try the scenic Stevens Trail, which follows the American River and offers incredible canyon vistas. (Driving time: 1 hour and 3 minutes)

5. Try Gold Panning and Explore the Gold Country

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Experience the history of the California Gold Rush firsthand by visiting Coloma, the birthplace of the Gold Rush. Just an hour’s and 42 miles drive from Auburn, Coloma is home to the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park.

Here you can learn about the discovery of gold in 1848 and try your hand at panning for gold. With interactive exhibits and guided tours, it’s a fun and educational experience for the whole family.

6. Go Rafting on the American River

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For a thrilling outdoor adventure, go whitewater rafting on the American River just an hour and 42 miles away. With three forks to choose from (South, Middle, and North Forks), there’s a rafting experience suitable for all skill levels. Several companies offer guided trips, making it easy to plan a day on the water and enjoy the adrenaline rush of navigating the river’s rapids.

7. Experience Gold Mining History

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Delve deeper into the region’s gold mining history with a visit to Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, just an hour and a half or 51-mile drive from Auburn. The park was once the site of California’s largest hydraulic gold mine.

Malakoff Diggins now offers visitors a chance to explore the preserved mining town of North Bloomfield and learn about the environmental impact of hydraulic mining through guided tours and exhibits.

8. Cycle the Johnny Cash Trail

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Music lovers and cycling enthusiasts will enjoy the Johnny Cash Trail in Folsom, about one hour and 50 miles away. This scenic bike path pays tribute to the legendary musician and offers picturesque views of the American River, Folsom Lake, and Folsom Prison. With various points of interest along the way, it’s a fun and unique way to explore the area.

9. Enjoy Outdoor Activities at the Sugar Pine Reservoir

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Sugar Pine Reservoir is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. With opportunities for boating, fishing, and swimming, it’s the perfect spot for a fun-filled day on the water. The reservoir is surrounded by picnic areas and hiking and mountain biking trails, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy. (Driving time: 18 minutes)

10. Take a Hike and Have a Photoshoot at the Foresthill Bridge

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Standing tall as California’s highest bridge, the Foresthill Bridge (42 minutes and miles away) offers breathtaking views of the American River Canyon below. This architectural marvel is a must-see when in Placer County. There are also nearby hiking trails that provide even more opportunities to take in the stunning scenery.

11. Take a Tour of the Dutch Flat Historic District

Step back in time with a visit to the Dutch Flat Historic District, a well-preserved Gold Rush-era town just an hour and 32 miles away. Take a self-guided walking tour to explore the unique architecture and learn about the town’s fascinating history. Dutch Flat is also home to charming shops and restaurants, providing the perfect opportunity to relax and enjoy the quaint atmosphere.

12. Go Wildlife Viewing at the Gold Country Wildlife Rescue

For animal lovers, the Gold Country Wildlife Rescue is an excellent opportunity to learn about local wildlife and the organization’s efforts to rehabilitate injured and orphaned animals. The rescue center offers guided tours and educational programs, making it both an enjoyable and informative experience. And it’s only 52 minutes and 30 miles away.

13. Explore the Maidu Museum & Historic Site

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Learn about the Native American history and culture of Placer County by visiting the Maidu Museum & Historic Site, located in nearby Roseville just an hour or 46 miles away. The museum features interactive exhibits, art, and artifacts that provide insight into the lives of the Maidu people. Plus, the outdoor historic site offers guided tours of ancient petroglyphs and bedrock mortar holes.

14. Go Swimming and Relax at the Granite Bay Beach

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Spend a day soaking up the sun at Granite Bay Beach, a popular spot on the shores of Folsom Lake just an hour and 46 miles away. With its sandy beach, picnic areas, and recreational opportunities, it’s the perfect destination for a fun and relaxing day out with family or friends. Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen and swimsuit!

15. Experience Placer County Shopping at the Westfield Galleria at Roseville

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Indulge in some retail therapy at the Westfield Galleria at Roseville, the premier shopping destination in Placer County about an hour and 44 miles away. This upscale shopping center features over 200 stores, including popular brands and local boutiques.

With a diverse range of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options, the Westfield Galleria is the perfect place to spend an enjoyable day shopping and dining in Placer County.

Hey, if you stick around the area make sure to check out these other towns:

  • 18 Exciting Things to Do in Auburn
  • 17 Things to Do in Colfax
  • 14 Things to Do in Foresthill
  • 12 Things to Do in Newcastle


With its diverse range of activities and attractions, Placer County truly has something for everyone. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventure, historical exploration, or simply a chance to unwind and enjoy the picturesque scenery, this California gem is waiting to be discovered. So gather your family, friends, or loved ones, and start planning your unforgettable trip to Placer County today!

15 Exciting Things to Do in Placer County - Yosemite Gold (2024)


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