California & the West
National park tips: Here's where you can climb into someone's 13th-century home
Weekend Escape

Good cheer and glints of gold in Placerville, Calif.

Looking for a weekend escape? There's plenty of good cheer amid the Gold Country glitter in Placerville

You wouldn't be surprised to see a grizzled prospector with a pickax walking up Main Street in Placerville, Calif., with its diverting vestiges of Gold Country glitter and restored and lively period buildings. We saw more gold in the glint of wedding rings at the Eden Vale Inn, where the prime event was our pals' alfresco ceremony followed by much good cheer. That was followed by our bathing in the lovely outdoor soaking tub attached to Eden Vale's inviting $325 room. The tab: The weekend set us back a bit more than $400, but, man, was that cheese worth it.


Placerville travel photos: In the March 8 Travel section, several images accompanying an article about Placerville, Calif., were wrongly credited to Tom Bentley. The photos of the pizza, waffles and cheese shop should have been credited to Alice Bourget. —

The bed

The Eden Vale Inn (1780 Springvale Road; [530] 621-0901, is one of those places that has grown over time. Thirty years ago, the husband-and-wife owners bought the funkiest of barns on 10 acres in the Sierra foothills. That barn, with much hammering and nailing, evolved into their home and then into a rustically elegant inn, which opened six years ago. The grounds hold sprawling, delightful gardens filled with Buddhas and bowling balls, plus a gleaming pond. The rooms are appealingly decorated, with touch-panel controls for lighting, music and more. And the breakfast bounty was as satisfying as the plush bed.

The meal

The homey Heyday Café (325 Main St.; [530] 626-9700,; dinner entrees $12-$26) was jumping when we arrived for lunch, but seeing the high-quality selection (and selecting one) of the tap beers and wines soothed my nerves. Our waiter told us the cafe was always busy, pulling customers in with its famed homemade soups. Alas, the cafe had run out of lobster bisque, but salvation arrived in the form of a delicious seasonal vegetable pizza, whose kalamatas, yellow peppers, mushrooms and more tangoed well with my Acme IPA. The specialty salads rival the pizza offerings.

The find

Ever-so cheesy advice, but wow: Dedrick's (312 Main St.; [530] 344-8282, When a shop focuses on one thing, it can fulfill that focus with gusto. And with cheese. We bought Truffle Tremor and Ossau-Iraty cheeses, Rustic Bakery flatbread and some Tcho chocolate. We pulled off U.S. 50 into a picturesque wetlands area on the way home and had a simple picnic that brought tremors from the glory of that cheese. Dedrick's has a mere 300 cheeses to choose from.

The lesson learned

Take your camera through Eden Vale's statuary-filled gardens and around the peaceful pond. But if you are going to snap a photo of the horses in the picturesque little canyon next door, don't use a flash. Dang if those guys didn't bolt as if I were shooting flaming arrows.

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