GOLD COUNTRY'S GOLDEN TIME: If Solvang is synonymous with Christmas, and Los Angeles means summertime, Gold Country, to us, pretty much owns November. The trees along the western Sierra are in full glory, the warm-weather crowds driving Highway 49 have dispersed a bit, and harvest time at the area's many wineries has wrapped (so people can return to the business of tastings). It's a beautiful month, in short, just about as crisp as all get out, which is why we tell people to plan their Gold Country drives in mid-to-late fall, if possible. (Though perhaps not too late; our mid-November attempt to visit the stand of sequoias near Murphys was thwarted by snow.)
EDEN VALE INN: And our second recommendation? Focus your Gold Country trip on a single region or county if possible. Or, better yet, a city or two. Today let's love on Placerville, which gets a healthy dose of autumn color and happens to be the home of the Hangtown Fry, the eggiest, oysteriest dish this side of the Sierra Nevada. Eden Vale Inn is set against in a perfectly rustic area, so take note, foliage lovers. There are also a number of specials going on, like a midweek package (as well as some sweet winter rates starting after Thanksgiving).
WINERIES AND MORE: There are over 60 wineries in El Dorado County alone. Many of them dot the Lincoln Highway -- that's Highway 50, which Placerville is on -- and the area south of the highway. A laidback drive from Eden Vale Inn to Coloma, with a few tasting stops and someone who isn't tasting at the wheel, would be an ideal fall day. Oh, and you know Coloma, yes? Where gold was discovered? Only changed our state's future in a major way. A must stop for your El Dorado road trip.