Folsom is a city of about 73,000 people situated in Sacramento County. Despite being fairly populated, the city has many natural areas where you can escape the urban landscape and relax in nature.
Folsom has more than 300 acres of developed green spaces and almost 40 miles of bike trails. There are also many hiking trails.
Folsom is widely known for its beautiful bridges. Restaurants and coffee shops are situated all over the city, and there are several shopping areas, including Paddadio Shopping Center and Folsom Faire Shopping Center.
Many festivals and events take place in Folsom throughout the year, including the Go Medieval at the Renaissance Faire, Tap Folsom, Hot Jazz Jubilee, Folsomfest, and Folsom Gourd & Arts Festival.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in and around Folsom, California.
1. Learn About Local History at the Folsom Historical Museum
Located in downtown Folsom, the Folsom Historical Museum is where visitors can learn about the city’s long history and vibrant culture.
As you make your way through the museum, you’ll see exhibits highlighting the city’s history, from settlement through development. These exhibits hold many artifacts, including items related to the Gold Rush, the native people of the area, and the mining camps. Several events are also held here throughout the year.
2. Spend the Day Outdoors at Folsom Lake State Recreation Area
It would take an entire day or more to explore the vast 19,000 acres of parklands encompassing the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area. It’s a good thing there are two campgrounds on-site so that you can take two days or more to explore this beautiful area.
Situated in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, this park has endless things to see and do. There are two lakes – Folsom Lake and Lake Natoma.
Folsom Lake has beautiful views and is a great place to fish for perch, bass, and catfish. Natoma Lake has a paved bike trail circling the lake and is a great place to enjoy swimming, kayaking, canoeing, and water skiing.
Granite Bay is where you’ll find a supervised day-use area, home to a popular sandy swimming beach. This is where you’ll also find Beal’s Point and a canteen.
Other activities that you can enjoy in the park include hiking the 95 miles of trails, including the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, and picnicking at one of the many picnic areas scattered around the park.
3. Enjoy a Magical Dining Experience at Mystique Dining
Upon arrival at Mystique Dining at Folsom, you’ll be greeted by a butler who will whisk you away into a luxuriously-decorated and intimate dining area to enjoy an evening of fine dining and world-class entertainment.
The gourmet five-course dinner features an appetizer, soup or salad, and a palate cleanser. Guests can choose an entree of prime rib, Cornish hen, vegetarian lasagne, or macaroni and cheese.
This is all followed by dessert. When that is cleared away, the magic show begins. Enjoy 45 minutes of thrilling entertainment performed by some of the best magicians in the world.
4. Visit the Animals at the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary
Since 1963, the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary has cared for animals who aren’t well enough to be released into the wild. It started with one bear cub and grew to house many animals, including coyotes, prairie dogs, mountain lions, bobcats, wolves, and eagles.
Despite its name, it’s not a zoo, but a sanctuary where these animals are cared for in a safe environment similar to the one they came from.
Also on-site are a playground, butterfly grove, gift shop, and Fisher’s Bistro, which serves snacks, beverages, and light meals. Tours are available.
5. Find Some Great Deals at the Folsom Premium Outlets
Whether you’re searching for deals on items for your home or hunting for the perfect gift to take back to a friend, you’ll find everything you need at the Folsom Premium Outlets; you may even find some terrific deals on top brands.
This outdoor mall has 80 stores selling everything you can imagine, including clothing, footwear, jewellery, household items, and sporting goods. Some of the stores on-site include Michael Kors, Banana Republic, and Adidas.
There’s also a range of eateries, such as Taco Bell and Kristen’s Coffee Corner.
6. Learn About Prison Life at the Folsom Prison Museum
You’ve likely heard about Folsom Prison, and it was likely through the famed Johnny Cash song “Folsom Prison Blues,” which he performed at the prison itself.
Now, you can visit the prison made famous by that song. Well, you can visit the Folsom Prison Museum, located on the same grounds as the prison.
During your visit to this fascinating museum, you’ll learn about the architecture of the building, the history of the prison, and about some of the quirky and scary things guards encountered while on the job.
As you stroll through, you’ll see exhibits housing items such as photos, contraband items that were confiscated from prisoners, newspaper articles about daring escapes attempts, weapons made by prisoners, and a model Ferris wheel made out of toothpicks that was constructed by an inmate.
7. Catch a Show at the Harris Center
Be sure to check if any events are happening at the Harris Center in Folsom. This beautiful 80,000 square-feet venue hosts world-class entertainment, including concerts, musicals, theatrical performances, and dance shows.
Since 2011, this popular arts venue has attracted local and national performers and is a premier venue for showcasing the culture of the area.
8. Get a Taste of Japanese Culture at Gekkeikan Sake
For more than 2,000 years, Sake has been a huge part of Japanese culture. Today, visitors to Folsom can sample traditional Sake at Gekkeikan Sake. This Sake brewery offers tours that allow visitors to see how this ancient alcoholic beverage is made.
Along the way, you’ll see a Japanese garden and koi pond. After the tour, you can head to the tasting room to try some locally-made Sake and snacks. A gift shop is on-site.
9. Visit the Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park
At the Folsom Powerhouse State Park, visitors can admire a powerhouse built in 1895, one of the first hydroelectric facilities in the country.
Currently, it’s on the National Register of Historic Places, and you can take a guided tour and learn all about its history and workings. This facility is so well-preserved that it looks the same as it did in the late 1800s.
10. Enjoy a Meal of Authentic Italian Fare at Visconti’s Ristorante
Visconti’s Ristorante is a favourite in Folsom. If you’re looking for quality, lovingly-prepared Italian fare, this is the place. This family-operated restaurant serves a wide variety of southern Italian dishes made from recipes that date back generations.
Relax in a cosy space with the sound of traditional Italian music playing in the background as friendly staff prepare your meal.
On the menu, you’ll find appetizers, salads, soups, sandwiches, pasta dishes, pizzas, calzones, desserts, and much more. Everything is made with the freshest ingredients available. After your meal, enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail.
11. Take a Ride on the Folsom Valley Railway
The Folsom Valley Railway features one of only several miniature-scale, steam-powered replicas in the country. It’s also the only 12-inch gauge railway left in the country, and visitors to Folsom have the chance to take a ride.
Board one of the miniature engines and embark on a ten-minute journey around a five-mile loop. Many events take place at the railway throughout the year.
12. Try Local Craft Beer at Red Bus Brewing Company
Red Bus Brewing Company is the only brewery in Folsom; it offers visitors a unique learning and tasting experience. When you tour this brewery, you’ll see how their creative beers are produced and have exclusive access to full recipes of all their creations.
The unique and fun tasting room features a 1968 Volkswagen Bus theme; this is where you can sample a wide variety of modern and traditional craft beers made right on-site.
13. Hike the Johnny Cash Trail
The Johnny Cash Trail is a unique hiking trail in Folsom that provides visitors with a beautiful escape into nature, and a peek into the career of one of the country’s most iconic musical legends.
This 2.5-mile walking and biking trail passes by Folsom Prison and joins with the Folsom Lake Trail. Along the way, you’ll see two beautiful bridges and displays honouring Johnny Cash’s career and connection to Folsom.
In total, there are eight works of art. There are two bronze guitar pick monuments and a Greystone Chapel featuring letters he received from inmates after his legendary performances at Folsom Prison.
14. Cool Off at the Folsom Aquatic Center
On hot days in Folsom, the best place to be is at the Folsom Aquatic Center. This is where you’ll find a variety of water attractions for all ages, including a water playground, water slides, a lap pool, and an activity pool.
There are lifeguards on duty to ensure the safety of visitors, and a spacious lawn with picnic areas is situated on site.