Carmichael is a city of about 64,000 people in Sacramento County. In fact, it’s a suburb of Sacramento that has earned it the nickname of “The Secret Little City Within the City.”
Its central location not only provides easy access to the state capitol and its many attractions, but also to the American River and various outdoor recreation areas. Despite this central location, Carmichael is one of the quietest areas in the Greater Sacramento Area.
The weather is pleasant year-round, making it a popular destination for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. In Carmichael, you’ll find lots of parks, restaurants, cafes, and shopping areas, including Marconi and Walnut Shopping Center and Five Points Shopping Center.
Many festivals and events take place in the Carmichael area throughout the year, including the Sacramento Aloha Festival and the Healing Arts Festival.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in and around Carmichael, California.
1. Explore Ancil Hoffman Park
With almost 400 acres of parklands, Ancil Hoffman Park is the perfect place to spend the day hanging out with family or simply relaxing with a picnic.
The American River runs along the park on two sides, and there are many tall oak trees, giving it the feel of being far away from the city life.
If you’re looking for something more active, there are walking trails on-site. Along these trails, you’ll have the opportunity to see some of the wildlife that makes its home in the park, including deer and many bird species.
As you explore the park, you’ll also see refurbished Maidu Indian Homes.
2. Get a Lesson in History at the California State Capitol Museum
Situated in downtown Sacramento, the California State Capitol Museum is housed in a historic building constructed in 1869.
Inside the museum, visitors can learn about the city’s and state’s history by watching short documentaries in the museum theatre, viewing refurbished rooms, and checking out the exhibits that house many artifacts and other items of historical significance.
The Historic Flag Collection, Capitol Family Art, and The Contemporary Art Collection are just some of the exhibits. There are also beautiful murals and statues on display.
The California State Legislature is also located on the grounds. Outside the museum, you’ll see memorials and 40 acres of gardens and trees from all over the world. Guided tours are available.
3. Meet the Animals at the Sacramento Zoo
The Sacramento Zoo is devoted to conservation while educating the public about their role in protecting endangered species. This 14-acre zoo is currently home to more than 500 species, including amphibians, mammals, birds, and reptiles.
As you make your way around the grounds, you’ll see various animals, including giraffes, zebras, jaguars, and chimpanzees. Guided tours are offered.
4. Enjoy a Feast of Quality Fare at Matteo’s Pizza & Bistro
Matteo’s Pizza & Bistro is a beautiful restaurant with a cozy atmosphere and friendly service. This casual eatery specializes in pizza, and while Italian varieties are popular, international options are also available.
However, Matteo’s is known for more than just its pizzas: it’s also known for having an extensive menu filled with a wide variety of options to suit every taste.
All dishes are made using locally-sourced ingredients. Some of the options you’ll find on the menu include appetizers, salads, pasta dishes, soups, and main courses such as steamed mussels, fettuccini alfredo, and sherry chicken.
On the wine and beer menu, you’ll find more than 100 wines, a dozen beers, and a selection of specialty cocktails.
The beautiful outdoor patio has a garden and waterfall and is the perfect spot to enjoy a relaxing dinner on a warm evening.
5. Tee Off at Ancil Hoffman Golf Course
Since the mid-60s, Ancil Hoffman Golf Course has been a renowned golf course in the region. This beautiful 18-hole course has its fair share of challenges, but it’s suitable for golfers of all levels.
You’ll also find a driving range, chipping and putting areas, and a golf pro shop known for having some of the best deals around. Private lessons are available, and the Main Event Bar & Grill serves traditional American dishes for you to enjoy after a long day on the course.
6. Watch Live Entertainment at the Chautauqua Playhouse
Chautauqua Playhouse is a small, intimate theatre in Carmichael.
This long-standing establishment showcases a variety of performances during each season, including comedy shows, plays, and musicals.
Children’s entertainment is also showcased on certain days of the week.
7. Wander Around the Beautiful Jensen Botanical Garden
Charles C. Jensen started a garden in 1958 as a hobby. After his death, this garden was preserved; today, it continues to flourish and has become a popular attraction for residents and visitors alike.
Azaleas, magnolias, Japanese maples, and dogwoods are just some of the plants you’ll see as you explore the garden. The Nature Path for the Blind is a unique experience for the vision-impaired as it provides them with the opportunity to smell and touch a variety of plants.
On certain days of the month, gardening-enthusiasts can help with planting and maintenance in the garden.
8. Sample Local Craft Brews at River City Brewing Company
Since 1993, River City Brewing Company has created quality, tasty craft beers made with fresh, local ingredients. Some of the options on tap include Cap City IPA, Vienna Lager, Blood Orange IPA, and Haze on the River IPA.
The brewery also serves a variety of food options. Wine and cocktails are available as well.
9. Admire Beautiful Art at the Crocker Art Museum
The Crocker Art Museum is a well-established and very popular art museum in Sacramento. It’s one of the oldest public art museums in the United States.
Judge Edwin B. Crocker started the collection you see today in 1869. Since 1885, it has been on display for all to see.
As you walk through the galleries, you’ll see both local and international works of art. Drawings, ceramics, and paintings are just some of the works that are showcased.
Guided tours are available for those who wish to learn more about the history behind the art, and many events – including studio classes – take place throughout the year.
10. Learn About Nature at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center
The Effie Yeaw Nature Center is where you’ll learn all about the natural elements of the area. Inside this facility, you’ll see various exhibits showcasing many items, such as photos, interactive activities, and nature-inspired art.
The live animal display features local species such as turtles, rattlesnakes, owls, and various birds. A gift shop is also on-site.
11. Take the Kids to Fairytale Town
For more than 50 years, Fairytale Town has been a favorite attraction for children. It’s the perfect place for parents to immerse their kids in an educational environment that encourages fun.
There are 25 fairytale-themed play areas with interactive features. The petting zoo is where they’ll be able to pet and interact with farm animals such as lambs, pigs, and rabbits. The Alphabet Garden features plants representing each letter of the alphabet.
Throughout the year, various events occur at Fairytale Town, including concerts and storytelling sessions.
12. Visit the California State Railroad Museum
Situated in Old Sacramento, the California Railroad Museum is a vast complex featuring six buildings and a collection of trains.
The many exhibits house various artifacts, photos, documents, and memorabilia related to the history of the railroads in California and the rest of the Western United States.
Also on-site are 21 refurbished train cars and locomotives; train rides are available. Various events take place at the museum throughout the year, including special exhibits and educational programs.
13. Discover Science at the SMUD Museum of Science and Curiosity (Powerhouse Science Center)
Although this museum’s primary focus is to educate and entertain children, visitors of all ages will find the array of interactive exhibits fascinating.
As you explore the museum, you’ll be able to visit the planetarium and the nature discovery room. You’ll also have the opportunity to participate in an archaeology dig and experience what it’s like to embark on a space mission in the simulator at The Challenger Learner Center.
14. Dine on Traditional Mexican Fare at Cantina Azteca
Cantina Azteca is a casual, award-winning restaurant serving traditional Mexican dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
You’ll find a wide variety of options on the menu, including appetizers, tacos, tamales, burritos, soups, salads, tostadas, burgers, and seafood dishes.
Vegetarian and vegan dishes are available.
15. See Classic Cars at the California Automobile Museum
The California Automobile Museum is a 72,000-square-foot showroom displaying 160 expertly-restored classic vehicles.
Early models, hot rods, muscle cars, and race cars are among the types you’ll see on-site.
The exhibits change from time to time, so there’s always something different to see, and guided tours are available.