What To Do In A Day Near American River Resort

Relaxing by the American RiverMaybe you come to American River Resort just for the camping . . . the nature, fresh air, sitting by the river reading a book, cooking over a fire, connecting with family away from routine and distracting technology.

But when you're ready to venture out into the neighborhood surrounding American River Resort, you'll find there's lots of things to do and see.

We've compiled this list of things to do when you've got a day to explore. Attractions listed lie within a 5 to 20-minute drive from here. In planning your camping trip, we encourage you to come a day early, or linger a day longer to expand your horizons in California's Gold Country.

See the links to the right for more ideas.

The Usual Attractions

The usual attractions are those closest to American River Resort. They're the "obvious" things to do, things we whole-heartedly recommend to everyone.

Marshall Gold Discovery State Park


A mile south in Coloma. It was here in 1848 that gold was first discovered touching off the largest human migration in history: the California Gold Rush. You can pan for gold, visit Sutter's Mill and other historic buildings, watch demonstrations, stroll along the river. Open areas and lawns are a great place for a picnic.

Marshall Park Website

Whitewater Rafting

Whitewater rafting

One of the most popular activities of the Summer, whitewater rafting on the South Fork American River brings folks from all over the world. Rafting companies make it easy, supplying all equipment, transportation, plus experienced river guides. American Whitewater Expeditions is here at ARR to help you get started.


The Not So Usual Attractions

When you've done The Usual, here's a list of other ideas to consider.

Wakamatsu/Gold Hill Walk & Historic Tours


Learn about the rich history of the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm, the first Japanese Colony site established in America. Just a 2.5-mile drive away, the site has a rich cultural history, dating back to its first inhabitants, the Nisenan tribe.

Wakamatsu website

El Dorado County Museum

El Dorado County Museum

In Placerville at the County Fairgrounds. Open Wednesday thru Sunday. Exhibits cover Native American culture, mining, logging, agriculture, ranching, Victorian life styles, early transportation and commerce. Caters to all ages.

Museum website



Gold Bug Mine

Gold Bug Mine

Drive 9 miles to 2635 Gold Bug Lane in Placerville. Don your hard hat to go inside the 362-foot hard rock mine. Gift shop, stamp mill, blacksmith shop, Hattie’s museum, hiking trails and gold panning. Park is situated on 62 acres.

Gold Bug Mine website

Placerville’s Historic Main Street

Downtown Placerville

Stroll down Placerville’s Historic Main Street and enjoy a variety of shops that include fabulous art galleries, unique antiques, old fashioned candy shop, the oldest hardware store west of the Mississippi. Sip some of the El Dorado County’s award winning wines and savor the flavor of locally grown products.

Placerville Downtown website

Apple Hill

Apple Hill

Visit Apple Hill and find a day filled with old-fashioned fun. Over 50 farms and ranches provide farm fresh fruit and vegetables, baked and canned goods, crafts and entertainment.

Apple Hill website

Wine Tasting

Wine tasting in El Dorado wine region

Go wine tasting at one of the more than 60 award-winning boutique wineries sprinkled the El Dorado Wine Country. From wine caves to vineyard tasting each winery has a special atmosphere that creates a memorable experience and a yearning to return.

Info and wineries map

Lotus Bonsai Gardens & Nursery

Lotus Bonsai Garden

A 5-acre, full service Bonsai garden and nursery displays all types of Bonsai including some 100-year-old trees. Owner Scott Chadd started work on his first bonsai tree 40 years ago.  

Lotus Bonsai Gardens website

Breweries Tour

El Dorado breweries

Take a brewery tour. Four great local breweries worth a visit: Jack Russell Brewery , Gold Hill Brewery (closest to American River Resort) , Old Hangtown Beer Works , Placerville Brewing Company.

Red Hawk Casino

Red Hawk Casino

Gaming in the Foothills. Red Hawk Casino blends a full complement of gaming excitement with the natural beauty of Northern California. Red Hawk features approximately 2,000 slot machines, 75 table games, six restaurants, four bars, and lighted, covered parking.

Red Hawk Casino website


Birding in El Dorado County

The natural scenic beauty of the El Dorado region makes the area a popular birding destination. Because birding is easy for all ages to enjoy, it is a great family activity that can lead to a lifelong hobby. Along the river and at Marshall Gold Discovery Park are great places for birding.

Places for birding near Coloma