Rancho Cordova is a small city of about 65,000 people situated in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in Sacramento County, Northern California.
The city is known for its central location that provides visitors with easy access to nearby cities and towns, including Sacramento, which is about 12 miles away, and Rosemont.
Rancho Cordova is also known for its pleasant weather, an intriguing history that dates back to the Gold Rush times, and an abundance of outdoor activities. Rafting, kayaking, fishing, biking, hiking, paddleboarding, bird-watching, and canoeing are just some of the popular activities in the area.
The city is home to many historical sites, restaurants, parks, and shopping areas, such as Rancho Cordova Town Center, Zinfandel Plaza, and Capital Village.
Several festivals and events take place in Rancho Cordova throughout the year, including the Rancho Cordova International Festival and Wines of the World festival.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in and around Rancho Cordova, California.
1. Learn About the Railroad at the Sacramento Valley Live Steamers Railroad Museum Inc.
The primary purpose of the Sacramento Valley Live Steamers Railroad Museum Inc. is to preserve the intriguing history of steam railroading in the United States. This family-friendly museum in Rancho Cordova is suitable for all ages.
The exhibits detail the history, but the fully-functioning steam engine is the main draw for visitors. You can go for a ride on this steam engine, which has a main line of 6,300 feet. Along the way, you’ll see beautiful scenery consisting of trees, the American River, wooden trestles, and a 40-foot truss bridge.
2. Sample Local Craft Beer at the Burning Barrel Brewing Company
At the Burning Barrel Brewing Company in Rancho Cordova, the hardworking team strives to produce the best quality craft beers.
This brewery has more than a dozen craft beers on tap in the tasting room, and visitors are welcome to stay awhile and try out as many as they like. Golden Daydreams, Blackberry Vanilla Kisses, and Bitter America are just some of the brews available to sample.
3. Visit the Sacramento Zoo
Since it first opened in the late 1920s, the Sacramento Zoo has grown into a 14-acre facility that’s home to more than 500 animals including mammals, birds, and reptiles. The main goals of the zoo are conservation and education.
As you make your way through the zoo grounds, you’ll see a wide variety of species, including chimpanzees, jaguars, zebras, and giraffes. Guided tours are available.
4. Enjoy a Fun Afternoon at Monster Mini Golf
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a child or an adult looking for a fun day away from the norm; there’s something for all ages at Monster Mini Golf in Rancho Cordova.
By far, the top attraction at this modern facility is the 18-hole, monster-themed mini-golf course illuminated with black lights.
The facility also features an arcade, a prize centre, laser tag, a laser maze, and mini bowling. A concession stand serving snacks and beverages is also on site.
5. Reenergize with a Healthy Meal from Organic Delights Cafe and Restaurant
Whether it be first thing in the morning or dinner time, visitors to Rancho Cordova can always find a healthy and filling meal at Organic Delights Cafe and Restaurant.
The menu features a wide variety of delicious options, including salads, soups, sandwiches, and wraps such as the chicken salad sandwich wrap, veggie delight cheese wrap, and the veggie hummus wrap.
6. Get Outdoors at Hagan Community Park
Hagan Community Park is an 80-acre green space with many facilities for visitors of all ages. Relax on a blanket with a book in the open grassy area and enjoy the fresh air and natural surroundings, or walk or bike the trails adjacent to the park.
On-site, you’ll find athletic fields, barbecue areas, picnic areas, horseshoe courts, playgrounds, and tennis courts. Washrooms are also available.
7. Learn About the History of Cars at the California Automobile Museum
The massive complex at the California Automobile Museum in nearby Sacramento houses more than 160 expertly-restored classic cars. You don’t have to be a car enthusiast to enjoy this collection because anyone who has the opportunity to admire it can appreciate the beauty and history of each vehicle.
The vast collection includes a variety of early modern classics, hot rods, muscle cars, and race cars. The displays change from time to time, and guided group tours are available.
8. Climb to New Heights at the Granite Arch Climbing Center
Rancho Cordova is home to a state-of-the-art climbing centre that allows climbers of all types to challenge themselves. The 20,000 square feet of climbing space at the Granite Arch Climbing Center is suitable for top-roping, lead climbing and bouldering, and there are six auto-belay units.
While indoor climbing is the main draw, the facility is also home to an outdoor boulder park. Even beginners can get in on the excitement with a lesson from one of the expert coaches on site.
9. Tee off at Mather Golf Course
At the prize-winning Mather Golf Course, golfers of all skill levels can enjoy a game of golf year-round.
This 18-hole, par-71championship course designed by Jack Fleming features open fairways, various-sized greens, and bunkers for an added challenge. As a bonus, you’ll enjoy stunning views of the surrounding natural landscape.
Also on site is a pro shop, driving range, putting green and chipping green, and lessons are available. When hunger strikes, head to the Navigator Cafe where you can grab a quick bite to eat. Hot dogs and sandwiches are among the items available.
10. Admire Local Art at the Mills Station Arts & Culture Center
Since 2018, the Mills Station Arts & Culture Center in Rancho Cordova has been showcasing local artists through a variety of exhibits.
Some of the recent exhibits have included 1968: A Folsom Redemption, A Century of Suffrage, and PRIDE: A Civil Rights Journey.
Workshops and cultural demonstrations also take place at the centre, and the exhibits change from time to time, so there’s always something new to see.
11. SMUD Museum of Science and Curiosity (Powerhouse Science Center)
Although the SMUD Museum of Science and Curiosity in Sacramento is geared toward educating children through hands-on exhibits, visitors of all ages will find these exhibits interesting.
There are many things to see and do at this science centre. As you make your way through the variety of exhibits, you’ll visit a planetarium and a nature discovery room, take part in an archaeology dig, and experience a space mission simulator at the Challenger Learning Center.
12. Wander Around Old Sacramento State Historic Park
There’s so much to see and do at the Old Sacramento State Historic Park that you could easily spend an entire day there. This historic district covers 28 acres and lies along the Sacramento River. It features dozens of shops and restaurants.
As you make your way through the park, you can learn about local history at the on-site museums and admire historic buildings.
You can also embark on a river cruise, take a journey in a horse-drawn carriage, and go for a ride on a historic train.
13. Satisfy Your Hunger at Famous Burgers & Brew
At Famous Burgers & Brew, you can expect a delicious, high-quality meal every time. In fact, it’s said this eatery has the best burgers in Rancho Cordova.
Sit down in a cosy, relaxing atmosphere and browse the menu that features a wide variety of specialty burgers, sandwiches and salads. When it comes to beverages to go with your meal, you can choose between a tasty shake or craft beer.
14. View a Beautiful Art Collection at the Crocker Art Museum
The Crocker Art Museum started as a compilation of art collected by Edwin B. Crocker. By 1885, it was established as a museum. Today, the museum is one of the oldest of its kind in the United States and is one of the top attractions in Sacramento.
The permanent collection features a wide variety of artworks from local artists. There’s also a sample of American art and artworks from all over the world. These pieces include paintings, drawings, and ceramics.
Guided tours are offered by knowledgeable staff who provide a more in-depth background to individual pieces. A number of events are held throughout the year, including art classes and various educational programs.
15. Visit The California State Capital Museum
Situated in downtown Sacramento, the California State Capital Museum is part of the grounds that include the California State Legislature.
This historic property dates back to the late 1860s and features 40 acres of beautiful gardens with trees from all over the world, memorials and restored offices that are open for public viewing.
There’s also an on-site theatre where you can watch short films related to the history of the building and area. Public tours are available daily.