Sacramento has all the convenience of a big city, but it hasn’t lost its charm. As the capital of California, Sacramento has a rich history, and as the capital of the farm-to-fork movement, the food scene here is like no other. California starts here!
Read on for more of our Sacramento City Guide and see what makes Sactown such a special place.
Visit the California State Capitol Building
Visiting the California State Capitol is fun and free. Both the Capitol and the grounds are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a California Historic Landmark. The Capitol building, a Neoclassical structure completed in 1874, serves as a museum and the site of the state’s working seat of government.
The California State Capitol Museum features exhibits on state history, including displays on each county in the state. You can even visit the chambers where the California State Assembly and Senate convene and see government in action if you’re lucky!
It’s even more beautiful outside. Stroll through State Capitol Park, a 40-acre park home to more than 200 trees and shrubs from around the world, including redwoods. It’s also the site of the World Peace Rose Garden, a half-acre plot filled with more than 140 varieties of colorful, fragrant roses. Cross 15th Street for a spectacular view of the Capitol building.
Check Out One of Sacramento’s Many Museums
With museums covering everything from art to railroad history, you’re sure to find one that piques your interest. Don’t forget to mark your calendars for free museum day in early February, when admission to all of Sacramento’s 28 museums is free!
Located next to the Capitol, the California Museum is “the official home of the California dream.” With three stories of exhibits on every facet of California history, as well as the California Hall of Fame, you’re sure to leave with a new appreciation for the state.
The Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park is two blocks from the Capitol. Built in 1856, the mansion is a stunning example of Victorian-era architecture. The residence of former governor Leland Stanford and designated National Historic Landmark underwent a 14-year restoration and reopened to the public as a museum.
You don’t have to be a car buff to be wowed by the vehicles on display at the California Automobile Museum. Located in a 72,000 square foot warehouse along the Sacramento River, the museum has an impressive collection of classic cars, muscle cars, race cars, and even stagecoaches and wagons.
Image courtesy of Lev Lazinskiy via Flickr
The Crocker Art Museum contains one of the state’s most impressive collections of California art, as well as one of the best master drawing collections in the world. It is the former home of Judge Edwin Crocker, a former Supreme Court Justice who spent his $1.8 million retirement settlement on a gallery and art to fill it. Today, the ornate Italianate mansion still serves as a gallery, and a 2010 expansion more than tripled its size.
Established in 1839 by Swiss immigrant John Sutter, Sutter’s Fort was an agricultural and trade colony in the Mexican Alta California province. It is one of Sacramento’s earliest settlements and the first non-indigenous settlement in the Central Valley. Today, visitors can tour the living history museum, its structures, and the grounds. Sutter’s Fort also hosts a number of hands-on history events that are great for kids, as well as free movie nights and yoga classes.
Take a Tour of Old Sacramento
Explore the origins of California’s capital city in Old Sacramento, one of the most well-preserved frontier towns in the country. In fact, it’s a National Historic Landmark District. With its Gold Rush-era buildings and cobblestone streets, Old Sac instantly transports you to the Old West.
Image courtesy of TravelingOtter via Flickr
It’s one of the more popular tourist attractions in the city, but don’t let that deter you. As the western terminus of the Transcontinental Railroad and the Pony Express, Old Sac has a rich history that you can delve into by visiting the Sacramento History Museum and the California State Railroad Museum.
Image courtesy of Nicholas D. via Flickr
You can also visit the Delta King, a riverboat that was once the primary mode of transportation between Sacramento and San Francisco. Built in 1927, the riverboat has been beautifully restored and now serves as a floating hotel, restaurant, and bar docked on the Sacramento River.
While you’re in Old Sac, don’t miss a chance to check out the Tower Bridge. As a city at the confluence of two rivers, you can bet there are tons of cool bridges in Sacramento, and the Tower Bridge is one of them. Walk across the bridge over the Sacramento, or stroll along the banks at River Walk Park.
Join the Farm-to-Fork Movement
Sacramento’s ideal climate and year-round growing season means there is always something fresh on the table. Known as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital, Sactown boasts 1.5 million acres of farmland and ranches and is home to more than 40 regional farmers markets. If you only visit one, let it be the Sacramento Farmers’ Market. Located under the freeway, the market boasts a variety of fresh produce, plus butchers and fishmongers.
Nothing encapsulates this movement like the Farm-to-Fork Festival, one of the best free things to do in Sacramento. It’s a 10-day street festival held each September where you can stroll the streets and listen to live music while sampling food from a variety of local vendors.
Dig Into Sacramento’s Food Scene
Given Sac’s reputation as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital, you can count on a vibrant culinary scene with an abundance of great restaurants. Start the day with breakfast at Bacon & Butter and try the grilled cheese eggs Benedict: eggs Benedict atop a rich, buttery grilled cheese sandwich. There are tons of great coffee shops peppered throughout Sactown too, like Insight, The Mill, Chocolate Fish, and Pachamama.
Enjoy a satisfying meal at Orchid Thai, The Shack, Biba, Shoki Ramen House, or Mother. Fox & Goose Public House is a Sactown institution known for a great weekend brunch and one of the best vegetarian burgers in the city. There’s no shortage of taco spots in Sacramento, but Chando’s Tacos has rightfully earned a reputation as one of the best in town. Need something sweet? Look no further than Gunther’s Ice Cream or Pushkin’s Bakery, a gluten-free, dairy-free bakery famous for their zucchini bread.
Dive Bar is one of Sacramento’s most unique watering holes—literally. There is a giant fish tank above the bar where you can see mermaids swim!
Venture Into the Great Outdoors
Nestled in the beautiful Sacramento Valley, Sacramento is within proximity to tons of outdoor activities. Whether you like to hike, bike, or hit the water, you’re never too far from the fun. The American River Bike Trail runs along the banks of the American River and can be accessed from most parks along the way. The paved, mostly flat 32-mile trail begins in Discovery Park and terminates at Beal’s Point at Folsom Lake.
Image courtesy of lilszeto via Flickr
Cool down on a hot summer day with a whitewater rafting trip on the three forks of American River. EarthTrek Expeditions, Mother Lode River Center, and American Whitewater Expeditions run a range of trips through a range of rapids that are fun for all ages.
Appreciate Sacramento Arts & Culture
The Sacramento Convention Center is the heart of Downtown Sacramento’s entertainment district and holds a number of event spaces, including the Community Center Theater. It’s home to Broadway Sacramento, the Sacramento Ballet, and the Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera.
Image courtesy of Thomas Hawk via Flickr
Catch a movie at the Crest Theatre, an art deco movie theater in Downtown Sacramento that opened in 1912. It regularly shows new and old movies and hosts live music, comedians, and film festivals.
Did you know that Sac is home to more than 650 murals? You can explore the city’s murals on your own time, but if you really want to see something, check out Wide Open Walls. More than 40 artists from around the world flock to Sacramento every August to take part in one of the coolest mural festivals on the West Coast.
Start Planning Your Trip to Sactown
Sacramento is a special place, and Personal Express’ NorCal natives are proud to call Sac home. With offices in Rancho Cordova, Elk Grove, and Roseville, we live and work here, and pride ourselves on making sure our neighbors are covered with the right insurance protection.
Whether you’re wondering how you can save on auto, homeowners, or renters insurance, Personal Express can help create a policy that’s right for you. Just call 1-800-499-3612 or visit your local Personal Express office for more information.
- Visalia City Guide: Welcome to ‘The Gateway to the Sequoias’
- Bakersfield City Guide: Must-Sees in Southern California’s Hidden Gem
- Tucson City Guide: Where to Adventure in ‘The Old Pueblo’
- Fresno City Guide: Where to Explore Art, Nature & Local Culture in Fresno, CA