Spotlight Columns

Plan ahead for your best autumn ever

By From page B2 | August 22, 2012

Crazy as this sounds, we are just a few short weeks from the first day of fall. Yes, this feels like the wrong bio-rhythm, I know. But now that the kids are back in school, and the “Back to School” season is concluding, it’s time to turn yet another corner. Even if the weather is still in triple-digits. This, too, shall pass.

Your best autumn ever
As event planning goes, the autumn season “starts” in September and culminates with Thanksgiving. Then, Katie-bar-the-door! It’s time to crack out the Christmas decorations.

What’s a body to do?

A little planning goes a long way to help.

First, decide what activities you want to do. As the parent of any high school senior will tell you: the years fly fast. Take out a pad of paper and write down a “Family Bucket List.”

If you don’t have young people in your life, recruit some friends to join you in your activities. There’s no need to be lonely with so much to do here. Make an individual “Bucket List” if appropriate.

A few ideas to start
El Dorado County is wild with activity in the fall. There is so much to do here in “God’s Country” during the autumn months.

The Labor Day weekend marks the official opening of Apple Hill, just east of Placerville. The family ranches of Apple Hill seem to have something for everyone — and every taste. Bring your pocketbook for fun shopping, or bring some pocket change for fresh fruit and a picnic basket to enjoy at one of the many picnic areas there. There’s even a fishing hole at High Hill Ranch for the youngsters. (Parents be warned — you have to pay by the pound for any fish your child catches). There is live music at some venues on weekends, crafters and more. Visit for information.

The fall color is especially nice when visiting our county’s local wineries. There’s just something about the fall colors on acres of grapevines. El Dorado County offers hundreds of microclimates — from 1,500 to 3,500 feet. This, and the unique “terroir” (earth) of the area mean that some 50 varieties of grapes can be grown here. In fact, this is one of California’s oldest wine regions. There are some ranches in the county that still possess ancient vines dating back to the 1850s. There are modern vineyards as well. Visit for a listing of upcoming events, including “Sample the Sierra” in South Lake Tahoe on Labor Day weekend. You can also pick up a great brochure on El Dorado wines at the California Visitor Center in Town Center in El Dorado Hills. Thirty-five wineries are listed.

If a family educational outing is more to your taste, check out the historical Clarksville Ghost Town right here in our own backyard. Visible from the Highway 50 Bass Lake grade, the now-abandoned farm town of Clarksville was once part of the Lincoln Highway. Learn more by visiting

In nearby Coloma, one can view the area where James Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill – and touched off the Gold Rush of 1849. California and the world were never the same after that. Marshall Gold Discovery State Historical Park is just minutes up the road.

Want to try your hand at panning for gold? Gold pans can be purchased at the Placerville Hardware store (located at 441 Main St. in Placerville). You are free to pan for gold at any public foothill river. The kids will quickly gain an appreciation for why most miners’ hopes didn’t quite “pan out.”

Finally, for some “high” adventure before the first snows fall — hopefully, in November — check out the famous Rubicon Trail. Located in the majestic High Sierra near Lake Tahoe, this extreme 4×4 rock crawling trail starts at Georgetown, heads over the Sierra and ends in the Homewood area of Lake Tahoe. Visit to learn more about this rugged family adventure.

Once you’ve drawn up your list, take action. Set aside some dates on the family calendar. And then … get out and have the time of your life. Whether your plans for autumn are ambitious or serene, the memories you will make this fall will be memorable, indeed.

Send your event for consideration in Susan’s column to [email protected]

Susan Laird


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