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Choose Your Own Adventure: 30+ Outdoor Escapes

We live in an outdoor paradise. Lakes, mountains, rivers, and wonderful weather means every alfresco activity—from birdwatching to hiking, biking, and hot air ballooning—is within reach. This spring, soak in some fresh air and explore more.

Wise Villa Winery


Wineries are taking outdoor dining to grand new heights, with breathtaking views, fantastic pours, and indulgent bites. Check out Lincoln’s Wise Villa Winery (—the only winery in Placer County with a full-service Tuscan-style bistro—and dig into flatbread or filet mignon while basking in gorgeous sunsets and views of rolling hills. Chateau Davell Boutique Winery ( in Camino currently offers a charcuterie box to pair with their wines while you sit out on the terrace. One of the newer wineries on the block is Myka Cellars (, which—in addition to sustainable, craft wine—also serves a mouthwatering menu full of sandwiches, salads, and more (all made with locally grown ingredients from nearby farms).

Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park


It’s never too late to get in on the Gold Rush action. Go back to where it all began at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park ( in Coloma. Sift through the same sands as the forty-niners while basking in the history and the beauty of the area. Gold Bug Park & Mine ( in Placerville allows for gem panning (when open) and while it’s not technically outdoors, the mine is a treat to explore. Take it up a notch and plan a panning vacation at Bear River Campground ( in Colfax where there’s more gold to be found.

Community Observatory


Warmer weather and clearer skies make for perfect conditions to spot constellations and crescents. Join the Sacramento Valley Astronomical Society ( in Roseville for monthly star parties (once they resume) or check out their calendar for nightly sightings. Then, head to Salmon Falls Bridge in El Dorado Hills or Foresthill Bridge in Auburn for some stellar views. The Community Observatory in Placerville ( is also a great place to study the night sky on weekends. Catch a glimpse of major stars, planets, galaxies, nebulae, and the moon with heavy-duty telescopes during their “star tours.” You can also join them for “Solar Saturday” to sneak a close and safe peak at our closest star.

Rainbow Bridge


While you’re out and about how about trying your hand at some outdoor photography? Whether you’re capturing the sunset or having an impromptu shoot for your kids or canine, pick up some equipment at Action Camera ( in Roseville and head to any of the numerous jaunts local photographers love: Miners Ravine Trail in Roseville (well-maintained path that passes by several parks and features a stream, woodlands, large boulders), Johnny Cash Trail in Folsom (especially the bridge), Willow Creek Recreation Area in Folsom (many paths and trees, a little bridge, island of rocks, tree logs, boat dock), Beal’s Point at Folsom Lake (fantastic sunset lighting, sandy hills, views of the lake), Salmon Falls Bridge in El Dorado Hills (flower fields, bridges, streams, hills, rocks), or Negro Bar in Folsom (boat dock, views of the iconic Rainbow Bridge, cliffs in the background).

Folsom Zoo


What is the great outdoors without some animal action? Meet and greet with local animal celebrities at the Folsom Zoo between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Friday through Sunday. Admission requires advance online ticket purchase (none sold at the gate) and can be purchased at Find an assortment of reptiles, felines, canines, birds, primates, and more. If you’d like the zoo to come to you, Hawks Ranch Petting Zoo ( in Loomis has a mobile petting zoo, filled with goats, miniature horses, alpacas, chickens, ducks, rabbits, and even a miniature pig and donkey!

Folsom Lake


Did you know Folsom Lake has produced trophy-sized bass over 10 pounds? Or that it also holds rainbow trout, catfish, kokanee salmon, and bluegill? Try your luck and get in on the angler action at New York Creek, Deep Ravine Cove, Folsom Point, or Beal’s Point. An accessible fishing pier is also available on Lake Natoma at the Nimbus Flat park entrance, or you can check out “From the Depths” ( a local club that’s open to the public. But before you get hooked, don’t forget to obtain a California Fishing License at

Johnson-Springview Park


The easiest and most fun thing to do outside is have a picnic. Luckily, we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to perfect picnic spots. Choose from Promontory Park in El Dorado Hills (covered play and picnic area, plus water features), Livermore Community Park in Folsom (covered picnic area, BBQ pits, baseball diamond, water features), Kalithea Park in El Dorado Hills (views of the lake and mountains, covered picnic area, baseball diamond), Folsom Kids Play Park (shady trees, covered picnic area, separate play areas for older and younger kids, castle-like play structure), Maidu Regional Park in Roseville (ample fields, picnic space, access to the Maidu Museum and Library), Johnson-Springview Park in Rocklin (shaded picnic areas, BBQ pits), Royer Park in Roseville (ample picnic space, parks for older and younger kids, creek nearby, courts, horseshoe pit), Lions Park in Placerville (covered picnic areas, BBQ pit, sport courts, parks for older and younger kids, disc golf course) or Whitney Park in Rocklin (grassy areas, water feature, play areas for older and younger kids, covered BBQ).

American River Parkway


Over 350 bird species follow the Pacific Flyway from Bering Strait to South America, flying over California State Parks along the way, and spring migration brings more than a billion birds back into California. Folsom Lake, Lake Natoma, anywhere along the American River Parkway, Cosumnes River Preserve, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, Bass Lake Regional Park, and Effie Yeaw Nature Center house some of nature’s winged wonders—from different types of sapsuckers and woodpeckers to turkey vultures and owls. The Sierra Foothills Audobon Society ( and the Sacramento Audubon Society ( offer resources on birds that populate our area, and where and when to find them. If you’d rather bring the birds to your backyard, head to Wild Birds Unlimited ( or The Bird Shop ( in Roseville for supplies that’ll have them flocking to your neck of the woods.

Roseville-Junction Mural, painted by Ellie Gainey


A stroll through our historic downtowns is a nice way to spend the day. Placerville’s Historic Main Street brings the Gold Rush charm with its antique shops, used bookstore, candy shop, and the oldest hardware store West of the Mississippi. The Folsom Historic District is home to the public plaza and amphitheater, history museum, and Sutter Street Theatre, aside from boutique stores, stylish salons, art galleries, and some great restaurants offering outdoor dining. Downtown Roseville’s charming Vernon Street is a must-see destination. Its town square is great for picnicking and the street itself now has decking built on the sidewalks to accommodate outdoor dining. Take a walk past the World War II memorial, telephone museum, steam engine no. 2252 monument, and Mini Mural Competition.

Black Hole of Calcutta Falls


Waterfalls abound this time of the year. With overgrown flora and gushing fresh waters, these falls also boast beautiful trails: Sly Park waterfall in Pollock Pines is 33 feet high at the northeast part of Jenkinson Lake; Hidden Falls Regional Park in Auburn has a 30-foot waterfall and over 30 miles of trails; Dutch Creek Falls in Garden Valley has a rugged path to scenic twin waterfalls; Black Hole of Calcutta Falls in Auburn is a 40-foot fall at the end of an easy, quick hike over a wooden footbridge; and Bridal Veil Falls in Pollock Pines is an 80-foot seasonal, drive-to beauty off Highway 50.

Boarding on the Lake


Explore the outdoors on the backs of these gentle creatures and see the world from a whole new perspective. Boarding on the Lake ( in Granite Bay offers rides along Folsom Lake trails, through wooded forests and along the beach, while Shadow Glen Riding Stables ( in Fair Oaks offers western trail rides along the American River at Lake Natoma.



The best part about living in one of the nation’s top agricultural-producing states? A farmers’ market is at your fingertips just about every day of the week. Spend a crisp Saturday morning strolling through the 70+ vendor booths at the Historic Folsom Farmers Market (, pick up a bouquet of fresh blooms at one of the PlacerGROWN farmers’ markets ( in Auburn or Roseville, or grab just-picked produce at one of El Dorado County’s myriad markets starting in June (

American River Raft Rentals


Are the rivers and lakes calling your name? Whether it’s a relaxing kayak trip or an adrenaline-filled rafting trip, these places have you covered for all your gear. American River Raft Rentals ( allows for self-guided raft trips on the lower American River. Rent 4-12 person rafts, paddleboards, and 1-2 person kayaks. Adventure Sports Rentals ( offers regular and pedal kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to use at Lake Natoma. Sac State Aquatic Center ( offers kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes for a serene trip on Lake Natoma. Rafting at the South Fork of the American River starts this month and goes until September. Visit for a list of outfitters.

Yolo Ballooning Adventures


If you want a fresh perspective on your favorite California views, take flight in a hot air balloon. Float over Yolo County’s picturesque orchards with Yolo Ballooning Adventures (; fly high with Sky Drifters ( and enjoy picture-perfect views of the Sierra Nevada; or make a weekend of your adventure with Balloons Above the Valley ( in Napa (we recommend their “Voyage Above the Valley” package where you’ll enjoy first-rate accommodations, morning refreshments, and complimentary photos).

Local Roots Food Tour


There’s a reason Sacramento has been named the Farm-to-Fork Capital of the nation. Pound the pavement with Local Roots Food Tours ( and find out all the city has to offer in food, architecture, and history. Thirsty for adventure? Discover new watering holes with friends and family on the Sac Brew Bike ( where you’ll pedal through scenic Sac stopping at the best local, and locally owned, bars.

FIT4MOM Folsom Lake


Keep those quarantine pounds at bay (and take advantage of April’s cool weather) with outdoor workouts. Jazzercise Folsom ( is holding classes on the patio at Hawkins School of Performing Arts—blue skies only make these upbeat classes better. For the mamas struggling to carve out some kid-free time to exercise, FIT4MOM Folsom Lake ( is partnering with the El Dorado Community Services District to offer a “Stroller Strides” class. Get in some outdoor full-body conditioning while the kiddos stay entertained with bubbles and songs.

Granite Bay Golf Club


There’s nothing like a round of golf to help you unwind and recenter. Quiet, interrupted only by the satisfying thwack of a club meeting the ball, and walking lush lawns is as much the fun of golf as competing against friends. Granite Bay Golf Club ( delivers the complete package experience—scenic fairways surrounded by oaks and wetlands, a challenging course to satisfy your competitive streak, and a beautiful patio (as well as a top-notch kitchen) to toast your win. If you’re looking to sharpen your swing, head to the driving range at Haggin Oaks Golf Complex ( in Sacramento.

Auburn State Recreation Area


The Auburn State Recreation Area is a local favorite because it offers access to an abundance of outdoor activities like fishing, boating, mountain biking, and camping. Hike the Lake Clementine Trail to the scenic dam overlook. The waterfall-like runoff, with its roaring waters and bracing mist, is a great photo-op. You’ll also get a stellar bridge shot as the trail winds underneath the famed Foresthill Bridge (as seen in rom-com The Ugly Truth and a daring action scene from XXX). For state park details, visit; for trail information, visit

Lover’s Leap


Don’t know how to get started with rock climbing? REI Co-op ( in Folsom takes first-timers out to Auburn for an introductory course. The best part is the reasonably priced adventure includes the necessary gear. For the experienced climber, REI’s Classic Rock Climbing Tour offers the chance to sharpen technique and build community. Or take the entire family climbing at Quarry Park Adventures ( in Rocklin where you can scale natural granite walls, repel down a 60-foot drop, or challenge yourself with their Via Ferrata experience—a series of swinging bridges and climbing challenges. Also in aptly named Rocklin is Lover’s Leap—“the leap” being one of the best local spots if you’re looking for a more advanced adventure.   

Granny May’s Strawberry Farm


Apple Hill has a slew of u-pick farms with fruit and veg that’s ripe for the picking come summer, like Patrick’s Berry Farm, Rainbow Orchards, Goodness Orchard, Sloan Winter Mountain Orchard, Harris Family Farm, and 24Carrot Farm. Visit and click on “Your Visit; You Pick Farms” for details. Spring is berry-picking time and Granny May’s Strawberry Farm ( in Granite Bay offers u-pick strawberries in May and blackberries in June. If you’re looking for a more immersive experience, Sloughhouse U-Pick at Davis Ranch ( offers cucumbers, peppers, squash, eggplant, and more for you to harvest yourself and purchase.

Sherwood Demonstration Garden


Start gathering ideas for this year’s garden by visiting Sherwood Demonstration Garden ( in Placerville. As you stroll through 16 individual gardens, pay attention to the plant labels for water-use information; they’ll help you decide what flower variety might be the right choice for your space. Then check out what’s in bloom at Amador Flower Farm & Nursery ( in Plymouth. With 14 acres to discover, a day here is the perfect alfresco diversion. Just don’t forget to glean a few tips from nursery staff so you can revel in your own garden this year!

Full Circle Yoga & SUP


The first signs of spring always give us a hankering for the water. Stand-up paddle boarding gets you on our region’s rivers and lakes; plus, the boards have enough room to bring your pup, too! Start by picking one up at SUP California ( in Folsom. Once you’re all geared up, head to one of the many Folsom Lake access points—Willow Creek Boat Launch, Folsom Point, Beal’s Point, or Negro Bar, to name a few. To take paddle boarding up a notch, try yoga on the water with SUP DOG Paddle Board Yoga ( or Full Circle Yoga & SUP (

Placer SPCA


Help your community by getting outside and making a difference. Download the Charity Miles app (, choose a route from the recommended paved trails, and get moving! For every mile logged, a corporate sponsor donates to the charity of your choice. If you’d rather use your hands, El Dorado County Habitat for Humanity ( can use some help with their Brush with Kindness program where you’ll provide exterior home repair and maintenance, like painting, landscaping, and replacing doors to benefit low-income households in homeownership. We can’t forget our four-legged friends who need some love at the Placer SPCA (—sign up as a volunteer and take a pup for a walk.

Miners Ravine Trail


A perk of our region is the plethora of paved trails. Whether you prefer a walk, run, or bike ride, Folsom’s 59 miles of trails offer you endless routes. One of our favorite biking adventures starts with picking up a rental at Folsom Bike ( followed by soaking in lake views as you begin your route on the Folsom Lake Trail. Hook onto the Johnny Cash Trail and stop for a bite on Sutter Street before heading back. If a jog is more your speed, the Humbug Willow Creek Trail meanders through scenic open space corridors. Other paved paths to check out? Miners Ravine Trail (8.4-mile heavily trafficked out-and-back route in Roseville) and the El Dorado Trail (7.9-mile moderately trafficked out-and-back route near Diamond Springs).

By Nelly Kislyanka & Tara Mendanha

Wise Villa Winery photo courtesy of Wise Villa Winery. Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park photo by Mary Sherer, @shererjoyjourney. Rock climbing photo by ©Soloviova Liudmyla - Rainbow Bridge photo by Jason Keinigs, @holoholoyolo. Folsom Zoo photo courtesy of the Folsom Zoo. Telescope photo courtesy of Community Observatory. Folsom Lake photo by Marvin Goda. Roseville-Junction Mural, painted by Ellie Gainey -photo by Holly Klein. Waterfall photo by James Wright, @thejimmythree. Horse photo courtesy of Boarding on the Lake. Veggie photos courtesy of PlacerGROWN. Raft photo courtesy of American River Raft Rentals. American River Parkway photo by Dave Anders, @oupcan13. Granite Bay Golf Club photo courtesy of Siegels Portrait Design. Rock climb photo by Ryan Martinez.Auburn State Recreation Area photo by Brett Macadam, @macadamphotography. Miners Ravine Trail photo by Erin Clements, @the_curious_crew. All other photos courtesy of their respective companies or organizations.